A paranormal song
Questions arose about the anti-Covid measures in school. Students were spraying the desks with virucidal spray and then wiping them down with blue paper towel from a roll. For two days, the rules changed, requiring the teachers to both spray the tables and wiped them down. Then the rules were changed again, the teachers should spray the tables and then the wiping down should be carried out by the students.
A colleague who posts Feelgood Friday tunes to the staff pondered what tune might capture the mood of the spray controversy. There were none that sprang to my mind.
Driving out of Cheltenham after school, an idea sprang to mind. A punk record from the 1970s, Germfree Adolescence by X-Ray Spex seemed an appropriate sort of song for our attempts. Not the best known song of the era, it is a very distinctive sound, probably not the best to create a weekend feelgood feeling.
Five minutes late, on BBC Radio 6, Steve Lamacq announced that the next song was from a live performance on the John Peel Show in 1978, “From X-Ray Spex, it’s Germfree Adolescence.”
There was a spooky feeling, as if there had been some psychic connection. Why would an obscure record from more than forty years ago have been played within minutes of my thinking about it?
Was this a moment of synchronicity? The psychologist Carl Jung coined the term “synchronicity” for moments that had no causal relationship, but were connected in meaning. There could be no causality, how could there have been? How could my thoughts have had any causal connection with the playlist of a national radio station?
Jung used his idea of the synchronicity of causally unconnected moments that had a shared meaning to argue for the existence of the paranormal, yet it seems an unnecessary conjecture.
Everyday there are countless events encountered, countless moments that have the potential for connection with other such moments, but there are no links. In the abundant experience of everyday life, it seems likely, logical even, that there should at least be some moments that are apparently connected,.
However long the odds may have been, and they are very long for the number of songs that could have been played is probably immeasurable, the playing of a record within minutes of my thinking of it is a coincidence. The events are not connected in meaning. Synchronicity is reading into a moment a significance that does not exist.
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