Synchronicity and Synesthesia

Synesthesia and synchronicity have got to be two of the greatest words in the English language.

Synesthesia was the name of the radio program that used to come before mine on Trent Radio in the late 1980s. It was the creation of a woman named Leah Tremain who quickly became, and remains, one of my favourite people in the world. Our friendship was sparked by radiophonic proximity, and kept burning by a sort of double-reverse cuckold maneuver that we both unknowingly participated in, only learning the details of which when she was in Switzerland (or was it Sweden, I can never remember) and I was in Texas years later.

One dictionary definition of synesthesia is:

a sensation that normally occurs in one sense modality occurs when another modality is stimulated

In other words, “hearing colours” or “tasting sound.”

I told you it was a good word.

Synchronicity, on the other hand, means:

the relation that exists when things occur at the same time

That’s a far less dramatic definition, but the concept is interesting when you overlay reality on it. Like The Police did.

I had a small outbreak of synchronicity this weekend. I suddenly had a need to produce well-formatted reports, as PDF files, from a webserver. For two different clients. Elections PEI needed a nice-looking Supplementary List of Electors for the upcoming election, and Yankee Publishing needed nice-looking credit card transactions reports.

Fortunately, a smart bunch in Romania came to the rescue.

Interakt is a Bucharest-based software development house that produces a very sharp tool called PDFReports that happened to fill two voids for me this weekend almost perfectly (for those of you more techincally inclined, I’ll follow on with a more detailed review over on the Reinvented Labs website).

So I spent half the weekend lining up the last names of untold Gallants, Macdonalds and Doirons, and the balance lining up VISA, MasterCard and Discover payments. Synchronicity.

Next week: symmetry.


Kevin's picture
Kevin on September 15, 2003 - 15:19 Permalink

Well Pete, it’s hardly as exiting as your story, and won’t make me a dime, but this past weekend in the space of 15 seconds I discovered that Julia, Ellie, Ryan, his partner Shauna (sp?) and myself all have had a life long fasination for the same flower — Brown Eyed Susans; each of us for different reasons and completely unbeknownst until that moment.

Ken's picture
Ken on September 15, 2003 - 16:26 Permalink

Isn’t sychronicity more like when I scream someone in China jumps in response, or when you call a friend and they call you as you are about to pick up the phone — like some sort of psychic frequency that links people?

Synesthesia — nice!

Kevin's picture
Kevin on September 16, 2003 - 00:33 Permalink

Yeah, or like the time Andy was calling Grove and so was I and I ended up talking to Andy. This was during mechanical switch times. Anyway, that’s how I would look at it — same way as you Ken — but I constantly hear people refer to cascading coincidence (sp?) as synchronicity.

Ken's picture
Ken on September 16, 2003 - 00:42 Permalink

Synchronized events are different than synchronicity, which is from Carl Jung

Synchronicity is the occurrence of two events that are not linked causally, nor linked teleologically, yet are meaningfully related. Sometimes people pick up he phone to call a friend, only to find that their friend is already on the line.

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on September 16, 2003 - 07:20 Permalink

This is not to say it can’t occur between synchronized swimming partners—for example, when one calls the other on the phone.