It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards

Today I will let the concept of synchronicity crash into my ongoing speculations on how to talk about art in a way that is meaningful to a greater audience.

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, whereas they are unlikely to be causally related. The concept of synchronicity was first described by Carl Gustav Jung.

Jung coined the word to describe what he called “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” Jung variously described synchronicity as an “acausal connecting principle”, “meaningful coincidence” and “acausal parallelism”. Jung introduced the concept as early as the 1920s, but gave a full statement of it only in 1951, and in 1952 he published the paper, Synchronizität als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhänge (Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle). 

I do not share Jung’s idea that life is an expression of a deeper order, I do believe it is rather random, or incidental.  But I do like his thinking on synchronicity as an accidental happening which we understand or experience to be meaningful. To me synchronicity becomes a fascinating possibility to create (often unconsciously) meaning out of random coincidences. In this way I see synchronicity as a sign of our creative talent.

Jung also believed that in a person’s life, synchronicity served a role similar to that of dreams, with the purpose of shifting a person’s egocentric conscious thinking to greater wholeness. A somewhat enticing idea.

The concept of synchronicity is not a testable scientific concept, but might still be useable in reflections on art and meaning. Say; when an audience experience a strong personal sensation in the company of certain kind of art, it might all be due to serendipity, but the concept of synchronicity might still help us to talk and reflect upon what actually happens, to formulate verbally what kind of relations come into existence in a meeting which is experienced as meaningful.

5 Comments

  1. Hi. I think this concept is descriptive of one value of ‘blogging’. When I decide on a theme for the next few blog posts, I find myself watching for nuances in my life/surroundings which might ‘fit’ the theme. And as a result of watching for ‘colours in the month of November’ (for example), I encounter colour, where I might not have previously paid any attention. In this way, I experience that ‘greater wholeness’. Jane

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