Ev'rybody's doin' somethin', I heard it in a dream.
But when there's too much of nothing, it just makes a fella mean.
- Bob Dylan
This isn't what I've been meaning to post for days now, but it seems I need to post this before I can clear my head of it.
One afternoon in Los Angeles in the winter of 1976, the week he began compiling his notes on various branches of the UFO cult "the Order of Melchizedek" for what became Messengers of Deception, Jacques Vallee stood curbside at Sunset Boulveard and hailed a taxi. He looked downstream at the rush hour traffic, raised his hand towards several oncoming cabs, and one swerved into the curb lane and stopped for him. After a short ride, during which Vallee did not discuss his current research, he paid his fare and accepted a receipt. He stuffed it in his wallet and thought nothing more of it, until two days he noticed it was signed Melchizedek:
I cannot afford to write this story, because I cannot expect anyone to believe it. At the same time I cannot sweep it under the rug. There is only one Melchizedek listed in the LA phone book, and I have the receipt signed by the driver right in front of me. [Reproduced in the book: "2-21-76 Receive $6.25 for taxi fare from Roosevelt Hotel to 3321 S La Cienega, Red & White Cab #98 M. Melchizedek."] It was this incident that convinced me to put more energy into understanding the nature of such coincidences.
Vallee, who is both a computer scientist and a UFOlogist, invested his energy in Information Theory, which led to his model of an Associative Universe.
Time and space may be convenient notions for plotting the progress of a locomotive, but they are completely useless for locating information.... What modern computer scientists have now recognized is that ordering by time and space is the worst possible way to store data. In a large computer-based information system, no attempt is made to place related records in sequential physical locations. It is much more convenient to sprinkle the records throughout storage as they arrive, and to construct an algorithm for retrieval based on some type of keyword.....
The Melchizedek incident that I experienced on February 21, 1976 suggested to me that the world might be organized more like a random database than like a sequential library. Since there is only one person named Melchizedek in the LA phone book, I have to conclude that mere coincidence cannot explain this incident. Alternative explanations are equally inadequate, unfortunately. I did not discuss my research with the driver, so a hoax is out of the question. There could be a well-organized conspiracy against me, of course, to put lady taxi drivers on my path with names related to my current reading interests, but the motivations of such conspirators would be rather obscure! Fortunately, another avenue of explanation exists.
If there is no time dimension as we usually assume there is, we may be traversing events by association. Modern computers retrieve information associatively. You "evoke" the desired records by using keywords, words of power: you request the intersection of "microwave" and "headache" and you find 20 articles you never suspected existed. Perhaps I had unconsciously posted such a request on some psychic bulletin board with the keyword "Melchizedek." If we live in the associative universe of the software scientist rather than the sequential universe of the space-time physicist, then miracles are no longer irrational events.
If it isn't yet clear, then yes, this too is about Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake. Or rather their Second Life, in limbo and online. Or perhaps not even that. Because their existence, even virtual existence, appears irrelevant to the dizzying links-within-links radiating from their absent centre.
If our universe functions associatively - which we might expect, if both it and our consciousness are holographic - then our dwelling upon a subject may be the equivalent of an evocation: a calling forth of information both useful and irrelevant. If we are using the associative tools of computer science to enhance our cosmic file request, what we conjure up could appear both miraculous and terrifying. Or a conspiracy so vast, with ourselves in the middle of it, that we can hardly conceive it. Though it is our conception, our meta-fiction, unaware.
Some things - some stories, places, and names - are simply strange attractors. Invoking them is to create a gravity well, a distortion of reality, in which everything else seems to run towards them. The Johnny Gosch case may be many things, but it is also that. The distortions can be abetted by human tricksters, deluded or disinforming, but synchronicities and oddities abound which cannot be explained by them, unless you're the kind of person who can broodingly conclude Vallee indeed was the target of a well-orchestrated conspiracy to put in his path unusually-named cabbies related to his research. Thinking "Gosch" triggers a cosmic Googling, and suddenly, Gosch is everywhere you look. And it doesn't just seem like that; that's how it is.
Remember how Jeff Gannon became so strangely enmeshed in the Johnny Gosch story, it became plausible to imagine they were the same person? And how that apparent twinning was exploited as evidence they were identical, rather than allegorically congruent? The recurrence of "JG" for instance: Johnny Gosch, Jim Guckert and Jeff Gannon. (And we may as well add now "Jon Gaskell.") That the incidental anagram of someone acquainted with Jeff Gannon became the lynch-pin to a theory linked to Gosch - well, naturally. That's precisely the kind of plausibly weird synchronicity the universe loves to toss back at us when we dwell on such things. But in such cases, the strangeness is greater than the sum of the conspirators, unless we regard the universe as a co-conspirator. And perhaps we should.
There are conspiracies, and mysteries, and horrors. But if you feel like you're in a Thomas Pynchon novel, then congratulations: you wrote it.