It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. I was a single man but was not in possession of a good or even a bad fortune. I was a starving student in college in San Francisco, and I found myself in want of a room. It was June 16th, 1984. I had just read Ulysses. This was a novel by James Joyce, written in Trieste, Zurich, and Paris (1914-1921). Though in some ways it parallels the adventures of Ulysses in Homer’s Odyssey, it mainly tells in great detail many incidents of the life of Leopold Bloom and those around him on the single day of 16 June 1904. This commemorated the date Joyce first went out with Nora Barnacle, whom he had met a few days before, and which has since become celebrated in Ireland and elsewhere as Bloomsday. Perusing the bulletin board in the Student Union I found a room for rent on Taraval, not too far from campus, but what made me certain I had found my future lodging was the name of the land lady: Nora Stone. It reminded me of James Joyce’s Nora Barnacle, so I called her up right away and made my appointment–with Destiny!
I wish I could say that we were married, I sired seven children with her, and we lived happily ever after on Taraval, but this, alas, was not my fate. We did have many adventures until we both failed to come up with the rent and were duly evicted. I saw her sporadically over the years and recently while searching online for her e-mail address I discovered that there is an actual Nora Stone. The Nora Stone is a stone that was found on the Island of Sardinia, in the Mediterranean Sea, in a town called Nora, that was inscribed with ancient Phoenician writing! The Phoenicians were a sea faring people who hailed and sailed from what is now called Lebanon. Though not known for their literature they needed a way to inventory their goods and keep track of their transactions, and thus was born, purely for practical purposes, the alphabet! This startling innovation was adopted and adapted by the people the Phoenicians traded with, and is still used today. In fact, I’m using it now to write this very sentence you are reading at this precise moment. Thanks, Phoenicians. And thank you Nora Stone. Both the rock and the woman.
Nora Stone, it turned out, was an English Major, among many, many other things, the main one being that she is as an Astrologer, and about a year ago she said all the stars were aligned and she set me on my present course of writing, in earnest, as up until then I was pretty sporadic and lackadaisical, and we all know the importance of being earnest.
While in college I studied with Nanos Valaoritis, who was a Greek Poet who had been in Paris during the days of the French Avant-garde theatre of Eugène Ionesco, and others of that ilk. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1921. Studied Classics and Law in the University of Athens, English literature at London University, and followed courses of Mycenian Grammar with Michel Lejeune. at the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes of the Sorbonne. He was well versed in Literature, both in Greek, French, and English. He performed Homer’s Odyssey in Greek, accompanied by lyres and drums, and I saw him give a reading as the warm up act for a punk rock performance in an artist’s loft. In short, he spanned the whole history of Literature from ancient to contemporary.
I took his course in Poe and Baudelaire, and another class in Creative Writing, and there is one thing that he said that came back to me, almost as the memories of Marcel Proust’s childhood came back to him when he ate the madeleine dipped in lime infused tea. Nanos was talking about writing, and how certain creative states are akin to symptoms of madness. Namely, the feeling that everything is overlaid with a lattice of meaning. You are driving and notice the number of the license plate of the car ahead of you is the same as the address of your destination. This is just one example in a whole string of meaningful coincidences. I don’t recall if Professor Valaoritis made the connection in his lecture to Carl G. Jung’s concept of Synchronicity, but I recalled his words vividly when I came across Jung’s theories in my subsequent studies. A few years ago I started remembering my Professor’s words, and concurrently, started encountering the word “lattice.” For instance, I met someone who had named their dog after the Actor Harry Dean Stanton, which made me think of a scene in Repo Man where the lattice of meaning is discussed:
Miller: A lot o’ people don’t realize what’s really going on. They view life as a bunch o’ unconnected incidents ‘n things. They don’t realize that there’s this, like, lattice o’ coincidence that lays on top o’ everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you’re thinkin’ about a plate o’ shrimp. Suddenly someone’ll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o’ shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin’ for one, either. It’s all part of a cosmic unconciousness.
Otto: You eat a lot of acid, Miller, back in the hippie days?
Miller: I’ll give you another instance: you know how everybody’s into weirdness right now?…
One of the inside jokes in Repo Man was that all the repo men were named after different brands of beer. Miller was kind of a burned out hippie, but he was also somewhat the sage.
I also saw the word, “Lattice,” in a book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, where an antique dealer has a jade box with a lattice pattern etched on it. At this time there were numerous other occurrences of lattices. There were a lot of other signs and portents in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but I will save that discussion for later. Suffice it to say that I began to pay attention to the “lattice” of meaning that overlaid everything. I let it guide me in my choice of books to read and other things, and it hasn’t lead me astray. The signs are like bread crumbs left for me to follow. Skeptics may scoff at such things, but once you open your mind to the idea of Synchronicity, and look for such signs and portents, it is like the Universe, or god, is speaking directly to you. I am careful not to get carried away, taking some random occurrence as a bad omen, predicting the world will end in a fiery conflagration. By the way, I talked to Nora Stone earlier this evening and she told me that some religious cult had predicted just such an apocalypse scheduled for tomorrow, but if you are reading this, it means that it didn’t happen.
I have recently been getting a lot of signals from the word “Labyrinth,” which has led me to an actual labyrinth out behind St. Phillip’s church where I had an intense, mystical experience of synchronicity. A labyrinth is a path that you follow, and while it is convoluted with many twists and turns, you will reach your destination if you follow it faithfully, with many revelations and epiphanies along the way.