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Book, sync

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
The Books Ink bookstore in Portland, Texas.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – While I was in Corpus Christi, Texas a few weeks back, I stopped at a few bookstores to see if they were interested in carrying my book, Rock Catapult.

One of the bookstores was Books Ink, in suburban Portland and operated by a fellow bibliophile named Jennifer Hay, who, coincidentally, had been featured in a Corpus Christi Caller-Times article a few weeks earlier (picked up in other publications as well, headlined: "Corpus Christi, Portland bookstores create community and grow readers.

Hay had told the Caller-Times in the article: "I want to make reading fun for kinds. Make it not a chore. They get to choose their book and do with it what they want. Kinds that like to read will become adults that like to read," she said, adding, "I've been in homes where there are no books and if there are no books you don't develop a love of reading."

So very true. I was very fortunate to grow up in a home of educators, writers and intellectuals. Books have always been a part of my life, leading to my own life path of becoming a writer.

When I arrived at Books Ink, in a bland-looking strip mall in the semi-industrial Corpus Christi suburb of Portland, I had trouble finding it at first. And then, in a short open corridor, at the end, a bunch of cats were clustered near the front door.

Jennifer Hay and her bookstore cats get a meal.

After Jennifer had fed the bookstore cats and did a few other things, we began talking about my book – and then books in general. I asked her if she had any books on the fairies known as “brownies.” As a matter of fact, she said, there had been a book on the subject and she was determined to find it for me. Further conversation led me to realize she was not only an animal lover, but the book lover she comes across as being in the Caller-Times article.

As I stood in a book-jammed aisle (the sale of romance novels, she said, keep many used bookstores afloat), I looked and saw a book I had seen referenced in D.W. Pasulka’s recent book American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology, which I reviewed here at Red Dirt Report back in March.

I wrote, in part: “Talking about synchronicity, specifically, in relation to a person in her book, Pasulka acknowledges that it happens not just to those aware of the paranormal. She has her own "uncanny" experience involving a Friedrich Nietzsche book that helps further confirm the very real nature of synchronicity.”

The book Pasulka referenced was The Gay Science, which Nietzsche wrote in 1882 and was considered one of his most personal writings, and featuring the greatest number of poems in any of his works published in his lifetime.

The book was translated from the native German to mean The Joyful Wisdom, but was changed to The Gay Science in English translations in the 1960’s. Nietzsche was demonstrating a propensity toward any rigorous practice of a poised, controlled, and disciplined quest for knowledge, and is typically translated as "science".

So, I had to get it. I also picked up a few other books as well, and am waiting for a title on Carl Jung Hay is mailing to me. Interestingly, it was Pasulka talking about Jung and synchronicity on page 108 of her book that captured my attention. Little did I know that just weeks after reading about The Gay Science, it would nearly jump off the Books Ink (or is that Book Sync?) shelves. 

"Synchronicity, as defined by Carl Jung, is the coming together of inner and outer events that are not causally linked but are very meaningful to those who have the experience," she wrote. "The UFO community is not the only community that experiences synchronicity. In my research into Christian communities, I found that many people interpret synchronicities, or meaningful coincidences, as signs from God ..."

Continuing, Pasulka writes that she mentions all this because of Nietzsche's The Gay Science, a book that a friend had recommended. But Nietzsche's misogyny was off-putting to Pasulka. Nevertheless, female friends told her to look past Nietzsche's bad behavior and get something from it. Something Pasulka describes as a "full-blown synchronicity" took place as a result of the Nietzsche book, and on New Year's Eve not too long ago. In the book, which Pasulka reads on New Year's Eve, is where Nietzsche affirms life on a New Year's Eve. And then, Nietzsche essentially talks about synchronicities in the form of "personal providence." Or, as "profound significance," as Nietzsche explains, where things happen for a reason, "bad or good weather, the loss of a friend, a sickness, a calumny, the non-receipt of a letter, the spraining of one's foot, a glance into a shop-window, a counterargument, the opening of a book, a dream, a deception - shows itself, immediately, or very soon aftewards, as something 'not permitted to be absent,' - oit is full of profound significance and utility precisely for us!"

Seeing this stunned the author.

The aphorism in Nietzsche's book "stopped" Pasulka cold, leaving her with an "uncanny" feeling and that The Gay Science was now a "scary book" that was reaffirming things in her own life. As Jung, himself, had written the following: "Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those with eyes to see."  Agreed. And Pasulka wrote, in addition, "(S)ynchronicity is not such a big deal, and, in fact, if you're doing things correctly, it is how the world functions."

Personally, I have discovered this myself. The fact that I happened upon the story in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times about Books Ink and Jennifer Hay, led me to going down to Corpus Christi and Portland, Texas to promote my book, to meet a bibliophile like Jennifer Hay, and to have a sychronistic experience in her store, after finding The Gay Science  (and a Jung book - and Kafka book) on her store shelf. It was all supposed to happen. A revelation!

When I finally opened The Gay Science, the first page I read - 182 - highlighted what Nietzsche called "mystical explanations," writing: "Mystical explanations are considered deep. The truth is that they are not even superficial." The prior page, I should note, features Nietzsche's famous (or infamous) statement "God is dead." But is it taken out of context when you read, in part, "Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him."

(Paramount Pictures)

Synchromystically, as I was writing this Dust Devil Dreams piece, a new article from writer and thinker Jasun Horsley (we wrote about his book Prisoner of Infinity recently and are working on his latest, The Vice of Kings) wrote a very thoughtful and, frankly, hard-hitting review of Pasulka's American Cosmic.

When Wonder Occludes Objectivity: American Cosmic Unveils the Temple of Techno-Religion" is a no-holds-barred look at Pasulka's book, which, at the end, becomes "a full-on narrative a'la Whitley Strieber, by way of Dan Brown." He notes that while Pasulka is Catholic, she sits on the fence, as it were, 

Writes Horsley: “At no point does she raise the question of whether all realities are created equal, or of how a reality generated by belief, persuasion, media technology, Hollywood entertainment, and sophisticated forms of perception management is anything but an elaborate deception—hence not reality at all. Like her colleague Jeffrey Kripal, only with considerably more skill, Pasulka plays to both sides of the auditorium, the skeptics and the believers, including religious believers.” (bold emphasis ours).

Writes Horsley: "Pasulka wants to make science compatible with religion via a mix of quantum indeterminacy, postmodernism, Buddhism, and New Age spirituality, but she may be too divided in herself for building such a heavenly ladder." In the next, and final, line, Horsley concludes: "For a Catholic, the idea that God needs our belief to act is nothing less than heresy."

It sounds as though D.W. Pasulka may need to write a follow-up book to American Cosmic. All I know is that I got a lot out of it, and her Nietzsche reference really opened a door for me. 

MOTHMAN-RELATED SIDE NOTE: Back in January I wrote in "The devil you know" about a "dream" my son had while he was sleeping in the back of our vehicle as we drove over the Interstate 40 bridge at Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, where a barge hit the I-40 bridge in May 2002 and knocked the bridge into the river. With all the rain we have been getting over the past month, the Arkansas River is flooding again and today two barges broke free and hit the dam, something officials said could be "catastrophic." Today I-40 at Webbers Falls, and another highway over the river are closed, causing tremendous problems for motorists in that area of Oklahoma.

As I wrote in January : "So, driving over the I-40 Arkansas River bridge, well, I had a bad feeling. I could not help but think about the lives lost and the fact that I have been plagued with dreams in recent years of me involved in an accident where my car goes off the road and into a body of water … So, as I crossed the bridge and got to the other side, a family member in the backseat who had been sleeping and knew nothing of the bridge collapse and did not know the Robert S. Kerr Reservoir of the Arkansas River, suddenly awakened and talked about a dream of being in a car and falling into the water and swimming away. Needless to say, coming from this particular family member, I was utterly stunned. A complete sync with the I-40 Bridge collapse of 2002 (when The Mothman Prophecies film was released) and the actual collapse of the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River at Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1967."

Photos by Andrew W. Griffin, unless noted otherwise.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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