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INCREDIBLE CO-INCIDENCE: The Baffling World of Synchronicity by Alan Vaughan

INCREDIBLE CO-INCIDENCE: The Baffling World of Synchronicity


Pub Date: June 22nd, 1979
Publisher: Lippincott

The ""artfulness of our unconscious minds in creating our lives"" is the endless refrain of this anthology of coincidences. Nothing, it seems, is fortuitous; incredible coincidences are signs of ""synchronicity""--a term coined by Jung to mean ""acausal meaningful coincidences."" Alan Vaughan, a writer, teacher, and student of psychic phenomena, divides his 152 case histories into chapters and classifications: ""Close Encounters"" . . . of ideas, things, people; ""the Synchronicity of Synchronicity""; etc. All have the appropriate Ripleyesque air--like the casket swept to sea in a hurricane that wends its way 2,000 miles to its owner's home, or the lost wedding ring that shows up 40 years later in a potato. Most of the stories were solicited in the psychic literature. Some came through Arthur Koestler who was asked to judge a coincidence contest for the London Sunday Times. His favorite was the letter from a boy whose remote ancestor was a cabin boy consumed by shipwrecked sailors in a case of survival cannibalism--an incident foretold, including the name of the victim, in a Poe short story some 50 years earlier. Most of the book is devoted to the case histories, perhaps with the intent to overwhelm by sheer number. Alas, in spite of the amiable writing, interest palls; the punch lines are all too expectable. And, one becomes aware of the many forgettable coincidences which occur in everyday life--all the ""small world"" phenomena. Interest picks up at the end when Vaughan, theorizing, includes some cogent criticism from psychiatrist Jule Eisenbud, including the observation that tragic or not-so-happy coincidences are seldom reported and that synchronicity may amount to a ""cosmic copout"" in which causality is projected from within outward. Vaughan's response is more enthusiasm and more Jungian collectivity. No contest here for the already convinced. For the others? No contest either.