"While Freud was going on this way, I had a curious sensation', Carl Jung wrote. 'It was as if my diaphragm were made of iron and were becoming red-hot -- a glowing vault. And at that moment there was such a loud report in the bookcase, which stood right next to us, that we both started up in alarm, fearing the thing was going to topple over on us. I said to Freud: 'There, that is an example of a so-called catalytic exteriorization phenomenon.'"

     From a well-shuffled deck of fifty-two playing cards, the odds of dealing a hand of thirteen specified cards are about 635,000,000,000 to one. In dealing the hand, there exist as many as 635,000,000,000 different hands that may possibly appear. And apparently these billions of hands are all equally likely to occur. Are statistics at odds with the possibility of a higher, transcendental force? Not really; it's the agency that's debatable, the result stays the same. And there is no way of knowing the agency, so why worry about debating it? The real problem comes about when the concept of pattern is brought into the equation.

    Carl Jung believed that where it is plain that no causal connection can be demonstrated between two events but a meaningful relationship exists nevertheless, a principle called "synchronicity" is operating. In The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Jung describes how he began to observe coincidences that were connected in a meaningful way, providing numerous examples. He believed the phenomenon of synchronicity was connected with the influence of archetypes comprising humanity's collective unconscious. Physics in the twentieth century had begun to explore the possible role of consciousness in the physical world. "Physics," wrote Jung in 1946, "has demonstrated...that in the realm of atomic magnitudes objective reality presupposes an observer, and that only on this condition is a satisfactory scheme of explanation possible. This means that a subjective element attaches to the physicist's world picture, and secondly that a connection necessarily exists between the psyche to be explained and the objective space-time continuum." Jung recognised what other scientists have now begun to: that the scientist, just by his very attention, effects the outcome of an experiment.

     I was fascinated by the idea that matter and consciousness are connected, operating as interwoven aspects of a unified reality, and it found its way into The Land of Decoration. It echoes the thinking of Kepler and Pico; Leibnitz's "monad," a spiritual microcosm said to mirror the patterns of the universe, based on the premise that individual and universe "imprint" each other, acting by virtue of a "pre-established harmony"; and Schopenhauer, who, like Jung believed everything was "interrelated and mutually attuned." Karl Pribram, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, has proposed that the brain may be a sort of "hologram," a pattern and frequency analyzer which creates "hard" reality by interpreting frequencies from a dimension beyond space and time. On the basis of such a model, the physical world "out there," is, in Pribram's words, "isomorphic with", corresponding or similar to, the processes of the brain.

    We may soon discover that the universe functions not as some great machine, but as a great thought, unifying matter, energy, and consciousness.



stories and things



leaving the text alone

Beckett and mysticism

why real directors are writers

Dr Seuss and Tom McCarthy

why the novelist's job is harder than God's

the thing about autobiographical fiction

how to write a successful novel

George Herbert and Judith McPherson

the value of not doing

thoughts on TLOD

don't judge a book

things I was thinking when writing TLOD

time, words, are the enemy

the master's voice


why I didn't want to write anymore

the value of not knowing

when do you give up on a book?


what makes a book great

divine fancy


time, identity and fiction