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Book Review: Sidewalk Oracles

This 2015 book by Robert Moss is subtitled “Playing With Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday Life.” It’s an easy, first-person read built upon the premise that “the world speaks to us through coincidence and chance encounters.” But only if we are listening.

gordon meyer holding book

I’m not typically hooked by a book’s title, but this one grabbed my attention. Largely because I once bought the charming “Professor Pam’s Urban Divination Deck” from an Etsy shop, and one of its archetypes is “the mysterious puddle” — a phenomenon that happens on our front sidewalk. Furthermore, a life-changing book I’ve read is Coincidance: A Head Test, written by personal saint Robert Anton Wilson. Given these two signs from the universe, how could I resist this book? After all, there’s the old saying that “coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Clearly, this book had something to teach me.

The book includes many of the author’s personal stories of synchronicity, which I wasn’t so fond of, as it’s often like reading someone else’s overnight dreams. But he made them as interesting as possible and justified their inclusion by quoting Mark Twain — “I do not wish to hear about the moon from someone who has not been there.”

Thankfully, the bulk of the book is not about the author’s experiences with synchronicity. It’s about recognizing and discovering your own meaningful coincidences. And the book is filled with interesting exercises you can use to tune in to "messages from the universe.” One of these is bibliomancy, or “book-dipping,” which is a basic way to put this whole bit of nonsense to a test. But, fair warning, sometimes you learn what you need, not what you want.

Just a few of the many snippets that caught my attention:

  • The term synchronicity is a modern invention of Jung’s. He coined it because people have a hard time talking about coincidence.
  • The term kledon refers to something you hear, such as a snippet of conversation. Or, I suppose, from a spirit radio. See wikipedia for more.
  • The term kairomancy is the author’s coined word that refers to divination by recognition of meaningful moments.
  • Every so often a synchronistic event is simply a rhyme, rather than an obvious coincidence.
  • The term weird has a fascinating etymology.
  • If you’re of a scientific mind, consider that synchronistic events (and déjà vu) may be related to happenings in parallel dimensions. (See time-reversed interference, which is an actual subject of study.)

If you’re going to read a book like this, I highly recommend that you give yourself permission to imagine — a sadly repressed trait among contemporary adults. (See another review I wrote for more on this.)

I bought my copy from the Amazon. Your local woo-woo shop will likely have it, if not another half-dozen books by this prolific author.

Comments

Craig Conley

"Your local woo-woo shop"! I'm now picturing a brick-and-mortar storefront with the sign identifying it as "Your Local Woo-Woo Shop." I'd shop there! I'm actually there now, in a parallel universe.

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