The language of “not a coincidence”

In an earlier post I have contrasted a case of synchronicities with a case in which coincidences were explainable by someone’s (hidden agenda). If it is possible to frame the coincidental events in this way, the sense of “meaningfuless” vanishes, and thus we would no longer (by definition) see them as synchronistic. (It doesn’t have to be, however, a “causal” explanation in the mechanistic sense which Jung seems to prefer; certainly, if there is a social agenda behind coincidental events, then Jung’s notion of causality wouldn’t even be applicable.)

Such cases are often described using a typical phrase, too: namely, the phrase “not a coincidence”. When we say this (“Surely this is not a coincidence!”) we mean to imply that there is an explanation frame, and that the explanation is in terms of someone’s agenda. It can be the agenda of a known or unknown person, or even that of a group, an institution, a state or the like (even of an abstract projected entity such as a divinity or “the universe”): an agenda implies an agent, albeit not necessarily a specific one.

Once again (similarly to the language of “just a coincidence”), this turn of phrase hides the framing activity by means of a pithy formulation. This is not surprising: whether it is a rhetorical context or merely a case of prejudiced subjectivity, we tend to hide the fact that we promote certain frames — that’s part of what makes the framing effective in the first place. But once more, it is not the reasoning which makes the “sense of meaningfulness”, the numinous appeal, disappear. When we point out an agenda behind apparently coincidental events, what makes the feeling of “meaningfulness” disappear is the explanation frame itself. And that frame can be imposed without making any explanation explicit, indeed without providing an explanation at all — simply by implying that there is one. It is precisely at this point where the language of “not a coincidence” comes in and functions similarly to the language of “just a coincidence” (and also, we might add, similar to the mechanistic or “energetic” explanations Jung called “causal”).

By Leif Frenzel

Leif Frenzel is a writer and independent researcher. He has a background in philosophy, literature, music, and information technology. His recent interest is Jungian psychology, especially synchronicities and the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.

alchemy allegorical style archetypes causality dark side death dreams eros erotetic arch film frame analysis ghost-story style ghosts ghost story style horror-story style intertextuality Jung philology liminality literature magic methodology mirrors mystery mysticism myth adaptation style narrative analysis pathologizing persona personal note personification projection psychoid romantic love self-knowledge self-knowlegde shadow soul spirit subjectivity surrealism symbols synchronicities technology three-episodes style time