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Nothing to do with me, honest

I have been collecting coincidences relating to my novel ever since I wrote it years ago. Today I found a corker, purely by chance as I have no idea who the people involved are or what they do.

In 2009 Laura Ann Masura (Who?) was involved in a serious motorcycle accident and fellow musicians held a benefit for her. These included Billy Corgan (Who?) and other members of the group the Smashing Pumpkins (?). A special one off group including Corgan and others named the Backwards Clock Society (?) performed at the event.

How could any of that relate to my novel? It can't but ... The novel was based on an idea in a short story that I wrote unintentionally in 2009. It is centred around a time machine of sorts known as The Pumpkin, which has the display of clocks that appear in my avatar in it. The large red clock at the top of the display usually goes backwards. The people who use the machine try to prevent bad events, such as Laura's accident, from happening by getting information about them from the future.

It's just a coincidence though, nothing to do with me at all, except that I found this information while searching the Internet for theories regarding the possibility that information can be passed backwards in time. It is a strange fact that I can never do research into this subject without finding coincidences that suggest that it can even though the theories seem to say that it can't. It's hardly a common association to encounter, bad events, pumpkins and clocks going backwards, though, is it? Very peculiar.


Collective consciousness? Same idea, or a piece of the idea. I once knew a guy whose last name was Schnobel. My German girlfriend (at the time) said "What?!" That's his name I explained. "That word means like a big snout." And sure enough he did have a big snout, a-aaand the personality to go with it. How's that for a coinky-dink?
I wouldn't attribute the coincidence to collective consciousness as many would but simply to information travelling backwards through time. It is assumed that writers base their stories on things that they have found out in the past, but I seem to have based significant portions of my writing on things such as this which I found out in the future. We know that we can recall past memories, but is it possible that we can also recall future ones? When we write fiction we open our minds to every possibility, using our imagination to its fullest extent. In doing so do we even sense the faint messages from our future minds? When we pluck names at random from our minds to give to our characters, where do they come from, someone that we knew or someone we will know? If I didn't keep getting distracted by these coincidences I might find out what the current scientific thinking is on this.

Ideas such as collective consciousness tend to be grouped together as paranormal, but I consider that word in itself to be biased, implying that normality is already clearly defined and these things will always be beyond it. I would describe the specific phenomenon that I am contemplating as being preternatural. That word can be seen as synonymous with "paranormal" nowadays, but more precisely refers to things which may be normal but have not been explained by science yet. According to Wikipedia preternatural phenomena are often anthropomorphised in everyday language, resulting in our talk of "gremlins" in systems or claims that "fairies" did something. In my case I originally attributed my unintentional excursion into fiction writing as having been caused by an "errant muse". The assumption is that eventually such things can always be rationalised into something natural, but in my case I have rationalised it into something pragmatically preternatural. It is through such encounters that we expand our comprehension of the natural world.

As writers we ought to take care to use the most appropriate words when we write. It adds an extra dimension to our writing so long as we don't annoy readers by making them look in their dictionaries too often.
In my attempts to understand the nature of my coincidences I am careful to avoid what psychologists call confirmation bias, i.e. intentionally choosing things which support one's suspicions. I would sum this natural hazard up with the Confucius-style remark "The man who seeks the source of a river eventually gets his feet wet." This particular coincidence did not come to my attention because I was looking for anything connected with pumpkins. I had not mentioned them in my search criteria in Google (or was it Bing? Whatever). However, I also have to consider whether the search engine itself is inclined towards confirmation bias by taking into account previous searches that I have made on the assumption that I have a lasting interest in a specific subject. As I do not recollect ever having searched for anything about pumpkins, having never had reason to do so, I don't think this can be the case, so my discovery of these facts does appear to be pure coincidence. It does show how cautious one must be though.

I find it particularly annoying that search engines like Google inject targeted advertisements into web pages on other subjects as a result of past searches. If they gave it any thought they would realise that the most unlikely thing for anyone to have an interest in is something that they recently bought. I have no doubt that if I searched the Internet for a custom made coffin for my eventual interment and bought the same, then thereafter I would be plagued with advertisements for custom made coffins, presumably on the assumption that I was a very conscientious serial killer in need of a constant supply. (Come to think of it, Google may have filters for that sort of thing, but maybe Bing doesn't.) No, it is very dangerous to assume that search engines give us an undistorted view of reality. Even if "the truth is out there" it probably isn't evident on the Internet as such.
Maybe I need to review my thoughts on collective consciousness. Apparently the key man in the Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan, created a website called "EverythingFromHereToThere" in 2009. Here's an extract from Pitchfork.com about it.

Here's how Corgan himself describes it: "This is not a place of judgment, nor a place of making proof. We begin with the idea that there is a God. We begin with the undying belief that there is a unifying intelligence that manifests itself in Every-thing."

On the site itself, Corgan writes that "The purpose of this website is to discuss openly and without fear concepts of Mind-Body-Soul integration," and he makes sure to point out that the site isn't intended to promote any particular religion and that he respects all faiths.

Perhaps there is an idea of collective consciousness there, but it's nothing to do with me. Curious though.

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