Entropy: (communication theory) a numerical measure of the uncertainty of an outcome.
Coincidence: An event that might have been arranged although it was really accidental.
If you have read Jasper Fforde’s books about the intrepid fictioneer Thursday Next perhaps what I am about to talk about will make more sense than I suspect it will to everyone else. If not, then why the heck not?
At one point in book…I actually can’t remember which precisely but I suspect either the second or third instalment, Thursday’s Uncle Mycroft (a name most apt, but now makes me forget that Microsoft is real) designs an entropy scope. Basically this is a jar of rice and lentils that will separate themselves completely from each other when shaken if there is an unprecedented amount of “coincidence” in the vicinity. (The need for this device is because the bad ‘guy’ can manipulate coincidence and therefore entropic events, to the point of cascade failure and thus resulting in danger and life threatening situations to Thursday Next and those around her.)
It has come to my attention recently that this would not be such a bad tool to have at ones disposal, in the last week or two the occurrence of such ‘coincidences’ surrounding me have become more pronounced than usual, a slightly befuddling experience for sure. Now, I am not a believer in coincidences particularly, I believe they occur simply because you become more aware of your surroundings and are therefore more likely to spot and isolate such incidents that would not have come to your attention otherwise. In fact I would go so far as to say I generally agree with Buffy when she says;
“Giles, there are two things that I don’t believe in: coincidence and leprechauns.”
— Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Faith, Hope and Trick” Season 3, episode 3.
Now, I know for certain that I don’t believe in Leprechauns, I also know that there are a great deal other things that I do not believe in or subscribe to…a higher being of any format for one, which is a discussion for another time perhaps. As for coincidences… well, that ones a little harder for me to disagree with lately, I suspect, in actuality, it is because I read about the entropy scope that I have noticed the increase of coincidences surrounding me.
For example; yesterday I went to what could be loosely termed a ‘book club’ but in actuality is just three friends using reading as an excuse to meet up since one of us has recently changed jobs (we worked at the same place before). We have just read “The Gospel According to Larry” – Janet Tashjian, in which the band U2 is mentioned on a few occasions. So there we are sitting in a Moorish/Arabic café (the type of café is sort of important, if only to illustrate the randomness of the event) talking about a young adult book about anti-consumerism and the environment, amongst other things, and I looked up and there on a shelf with a selection of tea/coffee/chocolate for sale was, rather randomly a book about U2. Now is that coincidence, just plain weirdness or merely that I noticed it because I was thinking about U2 at the time and therefore this…item seemed out of place so my subconscious picked it up and then promptly prodded me into more focused awareness? What was a book about U2 even doing in that particular setting? It was completely out of place, out of context, yet there it was, sitting on a shelf, not, I might add, wearing a hat, so therefore it wasn’t in disguise and cannot be excused.
So, when do things move from: ‘huh’? To coincidence, to entropy to ‘ohshitohshitohshit I’m in trouble’? And if so, what am I in ‘trouble’ for? If someone sees a leprechaun please don’t tell me, I can’t have all my beliefs ruined in one day!
So, if any one does have an entropy scope, might I borrow it for a short time? It’s getting a little hinky around here and I’m not sure whether or not I should perhaps up my ‘Defcon’ alert to ‘concerned’.