Friday, December 22, 2006


Sitting in a bar in Trelew - at 2 in the morning after 18 hours on a bus from Rio Gallegos through the endless repetition of the flat unchanging plains of coastal Patagonia - I ate a large pizza, drank a beer, and thought about the concept of synchronicity. More to the point, I had four thoughts related to this concept, thoughts which stood out from the continuous monkey-like chatter of a mind mostly numbed by a long bus ride, and each of which produced a moment of clarity - a brief refreshing silence in my own inner monologue and an equally refreshing sense of oblivion to the noisy, chaotic, smoky Argentinean bar. I scribbled each of the thoughts in my best cursive on the place-mat - a dirty-white paper square bordered by a simple design of green grass and red, yellow, and blue flowers - in front of me and took great pleasure in the act of writing in cursive and in the way that words, when written in this font (even the worst most messy attempts at cursive), have a habit of flowing together and running with immense ease from each to the next. The first realization was that one could sit and observe a hunched, middle-aged balding Argentinean - slightly overweight and wearing thick glasses - eating a hamburger in a bar with his family in the middle of the night, in the same instant that one could rest in a modest, simple kitchen in southern Chile talking to the owner - a woman named Chila - and a campesino - slightly drunk on wine and with an obsession for John Kennedy and Elvis Presley - whose greatest pride is his calloused, rough hands and whose greatest love is the forest, the land. If you choose to view time as a consecutive series of moments, then these two moments, in being timeless, violate such a series. Such moments, when experienced, feel limitless, as if being simultaneously possible at any given chosen instant. This for me, then, is synchronicity: that two such moments as these could be occurring simultaneously not only with each other but with the rain falling softly on a window of a red farm house in a gray morning in the tiny Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands; and with a couple - holding hands and standing completely still and close - in a moment of silent reverence in front of a painting in the Louvre in Paris; with bread baking in Barcelona and a street market in Tangiers and a child coming into the world in Dakar...

Strictly speaking in terms of the definition of synchronicity (described as the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection), there must be an apparent relation between the events in question. It seems to me that if one can see beauty in all events occurring in the world, or in those that might occur (as I believe is an aspect of eastern religions like Hinduism), then this common quality is enough of an apparent relationship to meet the above definition. If one takes no stock in the ethos of eastern religions, then perhaps the above definition needs to be modified.

The second thought that bubbled up like a small ephemeral sphere of mountain air appearing at the surface of a sulfurous rank tar pit was the following: So inextricable how deeply beautiful and wonderful, and at the same moment sad and terrible, the world can be. Each of these two extremes is capable of feeling deeply blinding to the point of apparent absolutism. Thus for some is suicide the solution to depression, to briefly cite an example. The fact that these extremes are capable of occurring simultaneously, or even of being experienced in the same instant, defies human reason and rationality. Memories of the 'Sorrows of Young Werthe' come now, unbidden, to the mind.

The third thought: In the time that it takes to write these words, someone has been killed or hurt with malicious intent in an atrocious and brutal manner, and in this same brief period of time someone has been loved or has loved with epic selfless passion and purity of heart. Realization of the truth of this synchronicity, it seems to me, leads to a vision of beauty great enough to bring a tear to the eye of even the stoniest and statuesque of solemn stoics.

The final: If I had loved and never been hurt, or been hurt but had never loved, I would say let the universe persist with its infinite and infinitely random and chaotic collection of possibilities and impossibilities indefinitely. But in both worlds have I dreamt and raged and thus I say let it all come to an end - disintegration, collapse, ruin - without reason or warning (as it will); I welcome it with a smile and a sigh.

Because of the unavoidable fact that transferring thoughts to words can only be done in a progression from one letter to the next, and from one word to the next - the simple process of which thus creating the illusion of a beginning, a middle, and an end - it seems that the above four thoughts arose in the order that they are now posed. Upon reflecting, however, I really can't claim that the thoughts didn't all occur in the same instant, a small microcosm of synchronicity, serving as a model, perhaps, for the thoughts of all mankind.

1 comment:

John M. said...

With such passion.
Now, Now, Drew.