Sunday, July 7, 2013


When one works around media and representations of media one runs into an amazing amount of coincidences. For fun you can pretend you are constantly running into psychic phenomenon. "Oh my god," I might say "I was just having a pointless discussion in which I insisted, for some complicated, mostly random reason, that Catcher In the Rye has sold more copies than all of Kurt Vonnegut's books put together. Then I walked to the front desk and the first patron I saw handed me a copy of Catcher In the Rye! Pick a number between one and a thousand, buy me a lottery ticket, I am white hot!" But psychic fun times aside, what these coincidences really tell us is:

1. Famous media, artists, stars and etc. of a culture seem terribly exhaustive, but are actually a smaller set than we might think and can be almost entirely represented in one suburban library.

2. We talk about this famous stuff constantly. I mean constantly. We order and structure our social and mythic universe with this stuff and we communicate regularly with it almost as language in itself.

3. If you keep mixing these matching sets (items 1 and 2 here) of even thousands and thousands of things a couple of them are going to come near enough together that they'll stand dramatically out. "What are the odds?" You will ask in amazement. They are about even.

I have been listening to a live version of this completely extraordinary Van Morrison song, Listen to the Lion (this all is a link if you care to hear). My co-worker came over to put a cart in order and in my enthusiasm I insisted he listen to it. He always does this sort of thing willingly for me for about five seconds, and then he talks. I can't fault him for this, I mean, what's he going to do, stand there stupefied for almost nine minutes? I'd do the same probably. Besides, his talking gave me the opportunity to launch into some long, made up history lesson about how (get ready) sometimes there's a truly great artist and it looks like they will be the major future of a medium, but they turn out to be a far more idiosyncratic and individual mastery. Astral Weeks and this era of Van Morrison was an example of this, where it seemed like some fusion of jazz into rock was destiny. I cited how Rolling Stone used to rank this album like, number two or three all time (it is now 19, superseded mostly by old albums, the only newer ones to knock it back are Born to Run and Nevermind). To further illustrate my point I then cited how Ursula K Le Guin seemed, actually around the same time, to be the future of Science Fiction/ Fantasy, once upon a time. It merely turned out she was (is) as great as it gets, but not really a movement or direction so much. He was actually pretty polite about my slightly over enthusiastic professor mode, despite it going on for a bit longer than it did here.

I went home and my wife and I decided to watch the movie The Five Year Engagement. I will deprive you of my review, but I will say the soundtrack is made up almost entirely of Van Morrison songs and covers of Van Morrison songs. It was eerie. You can call it mere coincidence if you want, but I say something was up. As I was reeling from this there came a knock on the door. I opened the door and a thoughtful looking old woman stood there. 

"Yes?" I asked.

"I am Ursula K. Le Guin." She said "And I have come to appear in your blog post."

Coincidences are coincidences, but how did she know about the blog post?

Special bonus part:

You can have an exciting coincidence too! You have just encountered one simple five minute blog post among who knows what else you've read or seen recently and now, to achieve magical coincidence, you need only accidentally run into one of these before time runs out; Catcher in the Rye, Kurt Vonnegut or any of his books, Van Morrison, Rolling Stone Magazine's top albums, Bruce Springsteen or Born to Run, Nevermind or Nirvana or Kurt Cobain, the move The Five Year Engagement, or Ursula K. Le guin. Good luck on meeting the magical world of the psychic.


  1. Kurt Vonnegut is pictured and part of an article that I have not read yet in current issue of Vanity Fair. Your hypothesis (sp?) seems to be valid.

  2. What time zone are you writing from?

    1. I believe I might be one hour in your future from your post time, but can't tell. Central here.

  3. I do recall, from the misty depths of the long past, when you tinkered with the idea of posing as a newspaper astrologer. You seemed to relish the thoughts of whimsical advice that were churning in your head.


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