Coincidentify

This past week The Rupture published my review of Permanent Exhibit by Matthew Vollmer. It's a good book, so make sure to check it out and to read the full review now because I want to expand a little bit more about the coincidences that led up to its publication.

I talked a bit about synchronicity and weird coincidences in the review. How I might open up the book to the place where I stopped reading every time I opened it. How the last chance we had to vote Netanyahu out of power, I was reading Permanent Exhibit, a series of essays written over the course of the 2016 election, the last chance we had to make sure DT never got power. I began to read with a dual sense of hope turning to horror. It felt strange, like the timing of events held some secret significance. Weird again that the same day that the issue dropped, DT engineered a diplomatic crisis by recommending that Bibi deny entry to two Democratic Congress members, which of course Bibi did.

It all felt meaningful, though I'm aware that that meaning can be simple: elections happen quite frequently, I saved myself considerable time searching for my place in the book, horrible people in power do horrible things all the time. The coincidence outside of those facts is something more like an appreciation of beauty. It makes me wonder if a lot of what I find to be poetic is based on this kind of association, that timing is as much a connective tissue as similarity, the way it is in tropes such as similes and metaphors. Close readers who have checked out The Voyager Record can probably remember me mentioning more than few coincidences in the book. Coincidences might be the fuel of the obsessive thinking that led to me writing about the record. You can stop just short of magical thinking by pointing out the coincidence just as an observable fact, a tallying of events, so long as you don't say that one is happening because of the other. Then you cross over into magical thinking, but what's the matter with that? Isn't language a magical art?

For a while as I was working on the review, I thought it might be cursed. Not really cursed, but cursed artistically. I had originally agreed to cover the book for one venue, but because of a decision they made to review books by Nazis I decided that I did not want my review to appear there. I was able to find a new venue for it, but while I was putting it together they closed their doors and rebranded because—let the full measure of the coincidence sink in—the outcry in the writing community over the venue's parent publisher putting out a pro-Israeli novel that contained copious stereotypical depictions of Muslims in it.

There isn't a verb besides "coincide" to describe how things might take place at the same time. Things can't be coincidenced or coincidentified. There isn't a language that exists to allow you to force these things to happen together. And yet it happens all the time. Maybe part of what makes these incidents seem so unique is just that there isn't the vocabulary to describe what it is we are doing to them.

[Top image: "Message from the Synch Television" by we-make-money-not-art is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 ]

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