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Pool of life

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This bust of synchonicity discoverer Carl Jung is in Liverpool, not far from the manhole cover that Bill Drummond thinks is very significant.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Play David Bowie’s “Space Oddity’ backwards on a guitar and see what happens.

More than 30 years ago, Ian McCulloch of the Liverpool-based alt-rock band Echo & The Bunnymen did just that after having a dream where the lines “Fate, up against your will. Through thick and thin. He will wait until you give yourself to him” manifested itself.

McCulloch told Britain’s Guardian newspaper that he credited the lyric to “God.” Once he woke up, McCulloch said he began working the chords out while playing “Space Oddity” backwards.

“By the time I’d finished, it sounded nothing like ‘Space Oddity,’” McCulloch recalled.

Continuing, the lyrics of the song that would become “The Killing Moon” (a song McCulloch claims is “the greatest song ever written”) poured out of the burgeoning songwriter.

“The rest of the lyrics came quickly, almost as if I knew them already,” McCulloch said. “The title and a lot of the astronomical imagery, such as ‘your sky all hung with jewels,’ came about because, as a kid, I’d always love The Sky at Night and Star Trek, and I remembered the moon landing. I was up all night wishing I had a telescope.”


In the 2012 John Higgs book The KLF: Chaos, Magic & the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds, (reviewed here) in a chapter titled “Sirius & Synchronicity,” we are introduced to idiosyncratic musician/producer/sync-head Bill Drummond.

Drummond had been obsessed with a band he was representing – Echo & The Bunnymen – and the fact that a “bunny rabbit” – “Echo” - appeared to him on their record sleeve. Drummond felt strongly about this band (cold – to play in Iceland) and another band he represented, The Teardrop Explodes (hot – to play in Papua New Guinea) would play at the same time. Drummond hoped an alchemical “something” would occur as they played at the same time, over presumed “ley lines” beneath Liverpool, running along Mathew Street and beneath a certain manhole cover.

Only Echo & The Bunnymen would play their gig in Iceland. And Bill Drummond hoped for something to happen. Something wonderful.

Writes Higgs: “In the summer of 1983, Bill Drummond walked to Mathew Street and, at the exact time that the Bunnymen went on stage in Reykjavik, he stood on the manhole cover.”

Drummond wanted to “evoke Echo,” the magical rabbit he found on an early sleeve.

Standing on the manhole cover as Echo & The Bunnymen played their gig, Drummond waited. But nothing happened, at least that he could tell. And he took a bus home. Drummond would hold a similar sync experiment on the same manhole cover in 2013, as part of his The17 musical “art-choir” project, which took place around the world.

In 2001, some 17 years after “The Killing Moon” was a hit, the song appeared in the opening credits and scenes of Donnie Darko, a film involving a “six-foot tall bunny rabbit” named “Frank,” which we’ve addressed before. Perhaps this was the delayed evoking of Echo? Curiously, in the Director's Cut of the film, "The Killing Moon" was replaced (and added elsewhere in the film) and replaced with the INXS ballad "Never Tear Us Apart." While it's a great song, it didn't have the kind of enigmatic eerieness that "The Killing Moon" has.

I dig a little deeper in a prior Dust Devil Dreams piece "Under blue moon I saw you."


Psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who coined the term “synchronicity,” never visited Liverpool, England. However, he “visited” Liverpool in a dream, which he recalled in his unforgettable autobiography Memories, Dreams & Reflections (which we reviewed here).

In his dream, which occurred in the late 1920’s, Jung finds himself in Liverpool, a city he had not visited, with Swiss companions on a dark and rainy night.

“The various quarters of the city were arranged radially around the square. In the center was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island. While everything round about was obscure by rain, fog, smoke and dimly lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight. On it stood a single tree, a magnolia, in a shower of reddish blossoms. It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and were at the same time the source of light.”

It is as if Jung is describing the Tree of Life. Recall in Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain (2006) that a pool “is in the “center of it all,” along with the Tree of Life. This pool could also be interpreted as the Fountain of Youth, sought by early Spanish explorers, as featured in The Fountain.

Jung continued, noting that in his dream the surroundings were dark and “extremely unpleasant,” in the center of it all. But it was this “vision of unearthly beauty” which was allowing Jung to live.

Continued Jung: “Liverpool is the ‘pool of life.’ The ‘liver,’ according to an old view, is the seat of life, that which makes to live.”

SIDENOTE: It is here that I should note that David Bowie’s new album – Blackstar – is syncing most heavily with me (it’s playing in the background as I write this) and I think this Jungian imagery of the liver and its importance in this sync/dream message is apropos, considering Bowie’s death was due to liver cancer and Bowie’s repeated words in the song “Blackstar” – “in the center of it all.” Additionally, in the "Lazarus" video, a song off of Blackstar, Bowie is dressed as he was on the back cover of his 1976 Station to Station album, where he is seen drawing the Tree of Life (Sephirot).

As Peter Koenig, at the Laughing Gnostic notes: "In the 1976 song 'Station to Station' (Bowie) mentioned the occult doorways to other planes of reality when he described how to travel down the Cabalistic (or Kabbalistic) Tree of Life. From Kether to Malkuth. That is, from Godhead to Earth."

After Jung’s autobiography was released, the artistic community of Liverpool took note. A bust of Jung would eventually appear on Mathew Street, not far from the Cavern Club where The Beatles would get their start. Perhaps the notion that Liverpool was this creative hub was true Liverpool being the “center of it all,” considering its role as a seaport taking folks to a new life in America. Of course, Bowie left his home in England and moved to America in the mid-70's. On the Blackstar track "Dollar Days," Bowie says that if he never sees the "English evergreens" he's running to, "it's nothing to me." (Read the full lyrics here).


As I noted in my review of Blackstar, I first listened to the album in its entirety while watching the last 40-or-so minutes of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, after HAL attacks astronaut Frank Poole (sync "Liverpool"). And while he was believed to have been killed, when he runs out of air, in Arthur C. Clarke's 3001: The Final Odyssey, that Poole wasn't killed, but was actually "freeze-dried" by the cold and vacuum of deep space and brought back to life in the year 3001, resurrected, it would seem, 1,000 years later. Poole would be present to see an unbelievable future and witness much - while being a link to the past.

I think this Poole idea may sync with Bowie - the "Starman" - who "fell to Earth." Only that he has recently returned from whence he came. I doubt that we've heard the last of David Bowie. And his legacy is rising to the level of myth. Many will be inspired by Bowie for many years to come. Bowie gave us so much. And there's still so much to understand. That said, let's remember what Jung said: "“If you are a gifted person, it doesn’t mean that you gained something. It means you have something to give back.”

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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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