A fascinating synchronicity to share (though based on the sad news of someone’s passing): I’ve been slowly working my way through the new book from Jeff Kripal, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal. Jeff’s publisher kindly sent me a copy to peruse, but it’s taken me a long time to get through the book as I’ve been ultra-busy recently getting both Communing with the Gods and the latest instalment of Darklore out the door, so by the time I’ve been getting to relax with a book it’s after midnight and I’m already eye-balled out after proof-reading all day.
Anyhow, a large part of Mutants and Mystics addresses the links between the pioneers of the superhero genre and paranormal topics. So when I saw the news last week of the passing of Alvin Schwartz, former writer of Batman and Superman comics, and creator of the character of Superman’s alter-ego Bizarro, I wondered whether Jeff Kripal’s book discussed Schwartz. Later that night, on picking up the book and opening it to my bookmark from a few nights previous, I started the new section “Waking Up Inside a Story” on page 237. Here’s the first words I read: “Alvin Schwartz began writing comics in 1939”.
Now, ordinarily that would make me say “wow!” and have a bit of a laugh at the general weirdness of things. But in this case, it goes even deeper. You see, Kripal’s book (like his previous release, Authors of the Impossible, available from Amazon US and UK), is *all about* how the paranormal and general weirdness such as synchronicities seem to suggest that we are ‘being written’ by something else (an extension of Fort’s “we’re property”, if you will). He addresses these types of experiences specifically in this ‘pitch video’ for Scott Hulan Jones’ documentary based on Authors of the Impossible, leading off with the bizarre and frightening account of another comic book legend, Doug Moench:
In the section about Schwartz that I went on to read, Kripal references a number of anomalistic experiences that Schwartz underwent, and the fact that these synchronicities were mentioned in a section which I had began after experiencing one myself was enough to raise the hair on my arms:
[T]hese anomalies began to fall into a consistent pattern. They seemed to connect to one another, to refer to each other in complex metaphorical ways… He began to realize in his own italicized terms that “in the multilayered universe, as it really exists, there are clumps of events that belong together, that are related in a kind of noncausal grouping, their connection having to do with value and meaning rather than material events” [A Gathering of Selves, p. 83].
Following C.G. Jung, he would call these patterns “deeper currents and vital synchronicities”. In effect, these strange events were now making up their own story, as if they were taking on an independent life of their own. In my own terms, Alvin Schwartz was entering the stage of Realization, that is, he was beginning to realize that even as he wrote, and especially when he wrote, he was being written, and that the paranormal, like the person, is first and foremost a story.
Rather a jarring experience, I have to say. Add to that my coming across the video of Jacques Vallee (posted yesterday) the following day, in which he also references these sorts of strange coincidences, and what it might mean for our conception of reality, and I’m currently feeling a bit like there’s a glitch in the matrix…