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Sunday, April 18, 2010

a Coincidence? I Don't Think So ! (Non-Political Diversion)

And now for something completely different-a weekend diversion from politics


The late Bernard Levin, author, columnist, raconteur diverting from his exploration of the east side of Manhattan in his book "A walk down 5th Avenue" (highly recommended even for the most jaded native born New Yorker for its didactic exploration of the buildings running from CPS to the Met) wandered into things metaphysical.

Waxing lyrically, and as Google will quickly show, wrongly, about the famous winding staircase in the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe New Mexico (who was that mysterious carpenter?" he asks mystically, implying that yes, perhaps it was that carpenter of old who disappeared as mysteriously as he arrived. The internet blandly advises that any jobbing carpenter, working with wood which was not as exotic as the mystery makers of old (or propagandists for a good cause) made out could, using tried and true water soaking/bending methods, easily make the circular shape. Simple physics also explain how it is held in place-not some magical force.

Moving on from the staircase whilst still in a mystical mood, Levin states that a coincidence which is beyond all rational explanation is like the brief drawing back of a curtain to things normally unseen. This descriptive quality and flight of language which surfaces now and then is why I love reading writers like Levin as their once in a while soaring, thought provoking word imagery impresses deeply and stays in ones consciousness.

I have to agree with his curtain analogy, whilst I am not given to spiritual contemplation or the sometimes off the wall speculations-telekinesis etc, but there have been two or three "coincidences" I have experienced which to me absolutely defy rational explanation. The fact that they are such banal happenings adds substantial weight to the mystery as they strip the experience of any emotionally driven context i.e. they just happen.

The latest, and the first for at least twenty years, happened yesterday. In my younger days I was a great fan of the humorist James Thurber. I read all his books and "New Yorker" articles and of course loved his cartoons ( "alright, have it your way, you heard a seal bark" said the husband to his wife in a bored looking fashion whilst she sits bolt upright in bed startled. Of course behind the bedstead stands a seal with outstretched flippers-pure whimsy).

One of my favourite stories was a satire on the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950's, a sort "crucible" with a Midwest sense of humor. The story goes along the lines that a well presented Goose was wandering about and a hen (I think) commented "there goes a very proper gander".You can figure it out for yourself where the story went from there I am sure.

The last time I read that story, or heard anything about it was easily forty years ago . Whilst returning from a walk yesterday out of the blue the phrase "there goes a very proper gander" popped into my head for no reason whatsoever (I appreciate there is no such thing mentally as no reason whatsoever but obviously I mean to say that there was nothing immediate or in the recent past that I could discern which would create the thought-certainly there are no geese of any sort in the main street area).I mused that I doubted Thurber’s brand of gentle humor would find any audience today and forgot about the train of thought at that point.

Later that night I was going thorough the postings on the Sarah Storm report ( a constantly updating list of news reports about Sarah Palin) to see if there were any interesting background items for a blog. There appeared to be none and I was just about to click off but decided to scroll down to one more item.

This was an item about how Keith Olberman was a big fan of James Thurber and one of his favourite stories was "A very proper gander". To me there is no way in the world (this one anyway) that finding that item is a coincidence. The fact that the Olberman item was where it was is just that, a fact of publishing. The fact that this obscure story title, which I had not heard or seen in decades, popped into my head a few hours before it appeared on the blog site is, I think, something to do with precognition-or is simply an astonishing coincidence. As a rational, conservative person I should think it is a coincidence but frankly, it is not. Neither is "Al Luplow's catch" which story relation will do for another time.

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