Wednesday, April 08, 2009

"The magic circle jerk"

"...keep in mind that when lots of things come together unexpectedly, it's not necessarily synchronicity. It is just as possible -- in this case, far more possible -- that you have stepped into the magic circle jerk of mutual self-admiration."

~ Christopher Locke, writing recently about "cultural creatives" on the Mystic Bourgeoisie blog

Amen, Chris. And there's more, much more in that post and on Chris's blog. That snippet stuck out for me because it reminded me of my gullible daze, when the very air was infused with Meaningful Coincidences, and I kept running into the same people who knew the same people who knew the same people (and, oh, what a small world it is, we all marveled), and they were all so into the same loopy esoterica, and they were all so happy and smiling and duplicitous*...yes, those were the daze. I defected years ago,** but the circle remains unbroken.

In any case, you'll be pleased to know that Chris Locke is currently hard at work turning Mystic Bourgeoisie into a book, and not a moment too soon, as far as I'm concerned. For now, though, I think that reading (or re-reading) the post I quoted from above is a terrific way to wrap up Guru-Free Week, which ends at midnight tonight.

I'll be back tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, with a real post of my own, but for now, I'm off to do whatever it was I was doing before I interrupted it to do this. G'night for now.

* Okay, not all of them were duplicitous. But a sufficient number were to make me notice something was amiss. Finally I figured out that duplicity was simply part of the New-Wage mindset.
** Despite my defection from the ranks of the gullible, I'm not totally dismissing the existence of meaningful coincidences. Perhaps a bit of clarification is in order. Here 'tis.


Anonymous said...

Duplicity in other word REGURGITATION.

Cosmic Connie said...

LOL, Anon. Regurgitation, indeed.

Cosmic Connie said...

Just for the sake of clarification: My snarkiness about synchronicity in this brief little post is not a categorical dismissal of the existence of meaningful coincidences (or synchronicity, if you will), in my life or the lives of others. After all, as my life partner Ron pointed out to me, our own relationship has always been imbued with some of these very types of coincidences.

The "gullible daze" to which I referred was both a specific time in my life and a mindset – a time and mindset in which EVERYTHING was infused with Special Significance. This was back when I was in the “oh-wow” stage of metaphysical discovery, and I kept running into people who were interested in the same esoteric things, or knew the same odd people, as I.

It seemed so amazing back then, but in retrospect was really not all that remarkable, since all of these people belonged to the same types of organizations of “like-minded people,” and hung around the same metaphysical book nooks or magick shoppes or whatever. If you were interested in the arcane, sooner or later, and usually sooner, you would meet someone who knew someone you knew, and who was interested in the same stuff you had just read about in some spiritual book or in one of those ubiquitous freebie metaphysical magazines. Granted, most of this stuff was far less mainstream then than it is now (and there was no Internet to speak of back then), but it was rarely difficult to find someone who shared your interests, no matter how wacky.

And yet it seemed we were always expressing amazement when we met another like-minded person, and we invariably read some deep meaning into the meeting, and congratulated ourselves, at least implicitly, on being so evolved and aware as to recognize these profound connections. And we all believed that “Everything happens for a reason.” (We always nodded wisely when we said or heard that phrase, as if we knew exactly what it meant.)

Nowadays, of course, the New-Wage marketers and Internet hustlers are still banking on people’s need to believe in synchronicity and deep meanings and “a reason for everything,” although ever since the advent of “The Secret,” they’ve been more likely to invoke the Law Of Attraction than anything else. “It is no accident that you came to this web site,” the solemn copy reads, giving credit to LOA and/or your own high level of evolvement rather than to something so mundane as Google.

In the Mystic B blog post to which I linked in this post, Chris Locke makes a passing reference to a type of pseudo-synchronicity that, in my view, mirrors what I often experienced back in the daze. The point he was trying to make was that synchronicity is not necessary to explain the curious fact that one keeps running into the same New-Wage authors over and over, who quote each other, and write Special Introductions to each other’s books, and praise each other’s names. They are, after all, members of the same big circle jerk – as were, on smaller scales of fame and fortune, my former fellow suckers…er…seekers and I.

In any case, my own “gullible daze” had faded away years before I met Ron (or before we finally caught up to each other, for there did seem to be a sense of destiny about the whole thing. Call us romantics and scoff if you will…). The point I wish to make here is that even after I had become disillusioned with the things that had once held me in thrall, I still had, and have, enough openness to magic and meaning to be able to recognize that Ron was far more than just another person who liked the same obscure singers and authors I liked.

And now (or soon), back to my regularly scheduled snarking.

Xanadu Xero said...

My take on Synchronicity:

Sometimes the three cherries just line up.

Cosmic Connie said...

XX: That needs to be on a T-shirt or a bumper snicker!

Peter Fellows said...

I guess the question is: what is the connection between any seemingly meaningful event and ourselves? Is it only that WE give certain random events meaning, or does the 'universe' conspire in some way to respond to our little journey through life?

Perhaps, it's a process similar to dream construction (if you subscribe to the idea that dreams are more than the product of neural fireworks). In a dream, every event has meaning because we 'create' the incident from the 'stew' of our subconscious (or something).

So perhaps we unconsciously project meaning into certain events and then perceive that. Perhaps it is not unlike something happening and then saying, "That reminds me, I have to..."

I suspect that if that is the case, then everything WOULD have meaning but not in the sense of "Why is my dog staring at me? What does it mean?" (To which the answer is probably, "It means he wants the sandwich in your hand!"

Perhaps when our mind is focused upon a certain subject (and if we are predisposed to the idea that events have meaning) then we tend to notice these coincidences more.

We just adopted a rescue dog Saturday. He is a lab mix. Suddenly everywhere we go there are people walking labs!

We went to the vet and when we came out of the consulting room there was a yellow lab in the waiting area. One moment later another came in the door (dragging his 'master' behind him). We had been going to this vet for years with our cats; don't even REMEMBER seeing a yellow lab before, let alone three at the same time.

I remember it being the same when I first got my Macbook Pro. Suddenly I was seeing them everywhere. "What's up with that? Did everyone suddenly get the same idea?"

For me, the 'cosmic' question remains: is it all just unconscious projection, or is it the universe (God, angels, spirit guides) 'speaking' to us in some meaningful way... or is there some other kind of interaction going on between us and the World?

The search for an answer to THAT question intrigues me.

Happy that I 'coincidentally' stumbled upon your blog; it's definitely one of my favorite web destinations.

mojo said...

Heh. I consider myself a total word nerd, yet I never once thought of the connection between duplicity and duplication. Well done!

Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for the compliment and the thoughtful comment, Peter. The rational part of me says that for the most part, we assign our own meanings to things...and, yes, we tend to see more of the things we're focused on. Unlike the LOA apologists, I don't think that any spurious Universal "law" is necessary to 'splain that.

But the romantic in me likes to believe in, if not a cooperative Universe, then at least in the occasional meaningful coincidence. And though I adopt a mostly snarky attitude here, I too remain intrigued by the very questions you ask in your comment.

By the way, congratulations for adopting a rescue dog. As it happens, I've been working on a "doggy" post, off and on, for the past several days. And I actually had mentioned yellow labs in that post.


Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Mojo. The word "duplicity" has been in my head a lot lately...maybe because of that movie that's out now.

Cosmic Connie said...

This seemed kind of relevant to my rambling clarification above...

Last night, just for the heck of it, I watched a movie that was obviously geared to pre-teen girls, "Aquamarine." Ron was spending the night with a pal in Austin, prepping to go feral-hog hunting in the Hill Country this AM. "Daddy's gone a-huntin', and Momma's gonna watch a silly flick," I told the cats and dogs.

Even though some parts of the movie were over-the-top saccharine, it had a sweet message about friendship. And at one point one of the land girls, Hailey, was trying to 'splain to the mermaid, Aquamarine, about why humans go all out for love.

Hailey: And I know there's a reason why everybody wants [love] so much.
Aquamarine: And what's that?
Hailey: It's the closest thing we have to magic.


And you know, it sort of is.

PS ~ Regarding the above-mentioned hunt, alas, no hogs were to be found, but who cares? The hunter is back home safe. And in a little while, we're going to go out and gawk at more wildflowers.

Lana said...

" 'It is no accident that you came to this web site,' the solemn copy reads..."

Saw (was led to) a site like that this morning! And I said, "Right. You started following me on Twitter, so I clicked the link to your site. No big mystery." Several eye-rolls later, I exited.

I believe in synchronicity and other interesting consciousness stuff that some research backs. What I find annoying is the True Believers' insistence that they know how the universe works. Then they make a cottage industry out of it.


Several months ago I enjoyed wild boar slow-roasted in red wine. It was really good! Couldn't bring myself to eat the leftovers though -- had too much time to think about worms and stuff.

Cosmic Connie said...

I think you and I are on the same page re synchronicity, Lana.

The wild boar dish sounds wonderful, actually. There's a great restaurant that is sort of in our neck of the woods called Karl's At The Riverbend. They specialize in some of the most exquisite wild game dishes.

Now I'm getting hungry...

RevRon's Rants said...

While I like to think of myself as being inherently pragmatic in my approach to things philosophical, I would hate to consider a life wholly devoid of "magic." I think that we could benefit from a child's perspective, by acknowledging that there are things in our universe that are grand and wondrous, the mechanics of which we have little understanding.

Of such naiveté is the joy of watching a sunset borne, unencumbered by the minutia of gravitational pull, atmospheric refraction, and the like. Certainly, we can ponder and attempt to explain the hows and whys of the experience, and would be remiss in our intellectual evolution if we were to ignore those factors.

It is the sense of wonder, beyond the details, that drives us to learn and grow. As we educate ourselves in the processes that form our experiences, we are driven to even greater wonder, and to higher levels of "magic," which we may eventually analyze and quantify. The "magic" of the moment may be displaced, only to be replaced by yet another seemingly incomprehensible phenomenon.

Thankfully, we have the capacity to remember those wondrous nature of past events, even after we have grasped the science behind the magic. And hopefully, we are able to hold tight to that capacity for wonder as we touch the things in our future that so deeply touch *us.*

I met a woman some years ago who loved many of the obscure things that I loved. We knew each other's thoughts before we spoke them, and finished each other's sentences on more than one occasion. After all these years have passed, we understand how we came to appreciate some of the same things, and how we knew what the other was saying before the words were formed. It wasn't magic. Yet even now, I can look into her eyes and feel drawn to know her even more, to touch upon that which is still draped in mystery. And at the same time, I find myself compelled to be a better man, a better person, because of her presence in my life. And even though I can understand much of what draws me in and what inspires me to be better, at the core remains that same magic that twinkled in her eyes in those first moments.

I don't claim to understand it, and wouldn't cast my logic aside in attempts to quantify and explain it, but I do know that it remains a powerful force for good in my life. I'd be a fool to cast it aside, clinging only to those things that I can wrap within some mathematical formula. I would sooner kill a child than eliminate that which makes childhood wondrous and adulthood joyful.

Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Ron, for that eloquent comment.

Everyone else: can you SEE why I love this man so much? :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

You flatter me, Connie. In truth, I've been lacing your brownies all this time. :-)

Perhaps everything I said in my last post could be summed up much more succinctly by saying that while we understand the fact that eating an apple provides nourishment to our body, it is the undefinable joy of its flavor on our tongue that makes us reach for the apple in the first place, and heightens our anticipation of taking that first bite.

Cosmic Connie said...