Synchronicities are weird. They’re even weirder when they go meta.
For example: after recently reading Diana Walsh Pasulka’s American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology (Daily Grail review to come), I thought it would be fun to write a short article on one of the fascinating topics covered in the book – synchronicities.
At the same time as I began putting this article together earlier this week, I also put out an unrelated call on Twitter for interesting podcasts that we could give more publicity to – and one of those was Erik Davis’s excellent Expanding Mind podcast. In looking for a feed of the podcast, I came across a recent chat he had with Diana Pasulka about her book. So obviously I listened in.
While I was listening to the podcast, Daily Grail writer Red Pill Junkie DM’ed me on Twitter to let me know he was working on an article about Tom DeLonge’s UFO research organization and how it was similar to an effort a couple of decades earlier by a tech entrepreneur named Joe Firmage (published yesterday here) – and, coincidentally, speculation as to whether Firmage had ties with…Diana Pasulka. I remembered Firmage, but hadn’t heard his name in more than a decade. So I was surprised when, on the podcast interview with Pasulka I was listening to, Erik Davis in passing suddenly brought up the name of…Joe Firmage.
Laughing, I DM’ed RPJ back to note the synchronicity. And, not two minutes later, Pasulka starts talking to Erik Davis about “so many synchronicities” happening in conjunction with her work and the UFO phenomenon!
Anyhow, I digress – but I thought it was a nice, meta way of pointing out how synchronicities can often seem more than ‘just a coincidence’, and can often have a powerful effect on us (see parapsychologist Dean Radin’s own crazy synchronicity tale for another example). Indeed, in American Cosmic, Pasulka notes Nietzsche’s opinion that these powerful ‘synch’ experiences are “the engines of religious belief”.
But are synchronicities powerful because they are more than just chance events? Orthodox science would say they are simply meaningless coincidences, but there are other ways of looking at reality that perhaps offer a model for how synchronicities could indeed be more than chance occasions.
Pasulka cites our good friend, UFO researcher and futurist Jacques Vallee, in explaining this alternative model, based on his own experience in computer and network architecture (along with his Bachelor Science in Mathematics and Master of Science in Astrophysics, Jacques also has a PhD in Computer Science and did early work on the ARPANET, the precursor to the internet), which asks whether the cosmos is at its core based on information, rather than time and space:
The theory of space and time is a cultural artifact made possible by the invention of graph paper. If we had invented the digital computer before graph paper, we might have a very different theory of information today… What modern computer scientists have realized is that ordering by space and time is the worst possible way to store data…
In the TEDx talk embedded below, Vallee offers the analogy of a library: in a small library, we just remember where certain books are in time and space, but in a larger library, we use a catalogue system built on the information associated with the books. And taking that analogy further, to the massive ‘library’ of information that Google catalogues, that information is stored and searched semantically on several levels via algorithms and code.
Jacques of course warns that he doesn’t mean the cosmos can simply be compared to a huge database: “I don’t mean to use analogues with current, crude technology. It’s something obviously much bigger, much more complex…but you get the idea.” But his analogy should be enough, he says, that we should “recognize dimensions as a cultural artifact – we create dimensions, because we have small ‘libraries’.”
The upshot of all is that, according to Vallee, if “we live in the associate universe of the software scientist rather than the Cartesian sequential universe of the space-time physicist, then miracles are no longer irrational events”. That, instead, “we may be traversing incidents by association”.
Using Vallee’s modern computer analogy, we might understand this better by comparing it to modern internet advertising systems. We are not surprised now when we’re thinking about something, such as buying new shoes, and then websites start showing us shoe ads. We know it’s not a coincidence, or synchronicity – instead, we’ve probably earlier done a Google search for shoes, or liked a Facebook post about shoes, or any other ‘tracked’ action based on our current desire for shoes, which the advertising algorithms are feeding off. But it’s only because we understand (to a degree) the mechanisms by which Facebook and Google etc. mine our actions and movements on the web that we see this as mundane (and actually intrusive), rather than some sort of mystical synchronicity.
So is it just that we don’t understand the mechanism of the cosmos enough to comprehend how and why synchronicities are occurring? And taking this further, does this also allow us to contemplate the possibly reality of the more heretical concept of ‘magick’? Futurist Mark Pesce covers some of the same ground as Vallee in his article “The Executable Dreamtime: Language, magic and the universe as code“:
There is a growing sense in the scientific and technical communities that when all of the specifics are stripped away, when the very essence of the universe is revealed, it is naught but code. And what is code, precisely? Language. Whether the stepping-stairs of the amino acid base pairs which comprise the genome, or the sequence of logical steps in a computer program, or the mathematical translations which can either occult or reveal a message, code is a temporal organization of symbols – first…next…last – which establishes the basis for both operation and understanding.
The idea of the universe as code has gained great currency from mathematician Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science (Wolfram Media, Inc., 2002) which posits that the processes observable in the universe more often obey computational rules than algebraic formulae. He goes on to state that an enormous number of disparate processes we see in nature – the expansion of space-time, quantum interconnectedness, and the growth of biological forms – all have their basis in the fact that the universe acts as an entity which is constantly processing codes, executing programs, engaging in an execution of reality. Wolfram has been trained both as a physicist and a computer programmer; his background in both disciplines makes him uniquely qualified to identify the common ground that lies between these seemingly entirely distinct fields.
…Whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, the arrow of the epigenetic evolution of the human species points to a time in the near future when the entire world will be apprehended as code. A forthcoming “Theory of Everything” won’t be a formula; it will be a program, a series of linguistic statements, which, like the words in a sentence, describe the execution of reality.
A simplistic analogy could be to think of the 3D shooter, which presents what appears to be a Cartesian world of three dimensions and time, which is actually code: functions, iterations, dynamically created objects (that might not exist when required to be observed by the player…hello quantum physics). And, of course, the Simulation Hypothesis takes this thinking to its logical conclusion.
For Jacques Vallee, synchronicities possibly provide evidence that reality is based on information, and how consciousness interacts and accesses it:
If you believe that the universe is a universe of ‘information’, then you should expect coincidences. You should expect, since we are an information machine – that’s what our brain is, it’s primarily an information machine and consciousness gives us the illusion of a physical world and there is an illusion of time – if this is the case, then you can expect coincidences. It’s like putting a keyword into Google or Yahoo!; you put it in and get a lot of relevant information back. That doesn’t seem strange to me because that is the way that information has been organized. Maybe the universe is the same way. If it is this way, then coincidences are nothing strange. It is just an indication that this is the way that the universe functions.
Whether he is right or not, it’s at the very least a fascinating concept to contemplate and help open our minds a little to other possibilities…