Synchronicity 1 & 2 were written a few days ago and posted yesterday night. I have Dilberts blog in my favorites which I read once in a week. I came home early today afternoon and was checking my email. I happened to open Dilberts Blog too. This is what I came across.
I’ve said before in this blog that it feels to me as if all of my ideas already exist, and I’m nothing but some sort of antennae. Every time I have an idea, no matter how strange, that idea inevitably finds its way to my door from some other source. It’s freaky.
The first time I saw this phenomenon was in 1990 when I had been cartooning for about a year. One day, I sat down at about 4:30 AM and wrote a comic about opera singer Placido Domingo. My gag involved the fact that there was a fake version of him called, naturally, Placebo Domingo.
I was quite proud of my pun. Later THAT SAME DAY, I opened up the San Francisco Chronicle and started reading the comics. A syndicated comic called Farley had a joke about an opera singer named Placebo Domingo.
I just checked, and there are 460,000 hits on Google for that pun. I guess it is somewhat obvious. Still, what are the odds of drawing it in a newspaper comic in the morning and reading it in a newspaper comic within hours?
Skeptics will point out, rightly, that it would be more amazing if coincidences didn’t happen. You don’t notice all the things that could have been coincidences but weren’t, so when they happen they seem special in our minds.
I mention the Placebo Domingo story because a similar freaky thing happened the other day. But this one takes it too a new level. Let me see if I can give you chills. I promise I’m not making this up.
On August 14th, a fascinating article ran in the NY Times. A number of people recognized it as the sort of thing I would like, and forwarded it to me. The gist of the article is that an Oxford philosopher has a serious hypothesis that our lives are nothing but a computer program developed by someone else. Perhaps humans of the past created us as a hobby. The idea is that we have no physical bodies, we only think we do. This notion is standard science fiction stuff, but now it has risen to philosophic consideration.
That article was published on August 14th. One day earlier, I had an idea for a movie plot that felt as if it came out of nowhere. I quickly typed it out in the Word document that happened to be open – the same one I am using now for my blog posts. I’m going to paste my notes below, without editing, so you see it exactly as I wrote it.
--- begin ---
It's about people trying to download themselves to computers when humanity is at an end.
They discover they are already the downloads, in a loop of history
You can tell it's a program because of reused code in the form of memes.
Deja vu is memory leak
Clues you are in a program
No free will
You keep forgetting where you put things. Everyone does.
The program is crashing.
Some humans are like self correcting code. They spring to action trying to fix the program. They try to debug humanity.
Whole movie is program code analogy
--- end ---
Now you might say, rightly, this is a little bit like the Matrix, and a little bit like The Sixth Sense, and a little bit like my own book, God’s Debris, and a little bit like lots of other things. That’s all true.
The freaky part (chill alert) is that the main idea in my movie plot is that the characters discover their true nature as program code by noticing coincidences in their lives. For example, they see people who look exactly like other people they know, but aren’t.
The reason for all the coincidences in their so-called lives is that the program in which they live was written hastily. It reuses a lot of code. There are only a few hundred types of people, with minor variations. It was easier for the programmers to prevent duplicate people from ever becoming friends than to create 6 billion unique avatars.
So as I’m thinking about being nothing but code in a program, and thinking that the way you discover your true self is by realizing the coincidences in life are clues, a dozen people forward me an article about…being…code…in…a…program.
Freaky or Synchronicity? Perhaps ,as he himself states, it would be more amazing if coincidences did not happen.
I get Times of India and the Hindu at home. I try to do the Mindbender quiz in TOI supplement. On 22nd Aug. this quiz appeared. "What common English word has the letters'WSP" in that order without any letters between". I gave up and looked up the solution which was 'neWSPaper'. I turned to HINDU and was struck by this headline 'Vikas WSP's Expansion plans. The entire article didn't say what this 'WSP' stood for!