Synchronicity. The very evening I published the Star Trek Voyager post, I randomly flipped to a channel, early in the 11pm hour. To a number on the channel list I feel certain was random. I wasn’t sure what number I was typing. By this set up you may already have guessed what I found. None other than Star Trek Voyager.
There it was. Very occasionally I’ll do a random flip to see what’s going on. The channel I’d stumbled onto was called “Heroes & Icons.” I’d never heard of this channel before. I had planned to turn off the TV and sleep. Tthere was the face of the character Tuvok, looking perplexed, with ominous music playing and dark lighting. A mystery assailant was attacking crew members and Tuvok was on the case.
People can mock the concept of Synchronicity if they want, but I can attest that I had never watched this channel ever before nor knew of its existence. I can attest I had not seen Voyager on TV in man years. What are the odds the very day I wrote/published about it that I’d encounter it at random? I couldn’t believe it.
Although that very morning I had written that Voyager was still airing, I confess I was saying so to puff up the importance of my subject. I hadn’t seen it, myself, on regular TV and had only heard of its syndication airing (an impressive fact for a show off the air twenty years. I assumed it would be on the Sci-Fi channel, which I think still airs it, too. Maybe others, I don’t know.)
Today, before proceeding with other matters I turned it on again to see what would come up. On came the television show Rawhide. This is an old Western show, originally conceived of in the late 1950s and which clearly draws influence from the old radio dramas which preceded it. In other words, I think the show could have worked on radio almost just as well as on TV.
Rawhide is a good show.
I am not sure I’d ever seen Rawhide before but it’s typical of the Western genre set in the late 19th century. I had heard the theme song, which became a well-known Country-Western music song in its own right.
Okay, now. Whoever reads this may not believe this but the purpose of this place is for me to record any thoughts or experiences, or etc., that I want. I already opened this post with a long tangent on Star Trek Voyager and Synchronicity. If you’re with me, get ready for another.
Yesterday afternoon, I had some business in downtown Washington. It is very hot this week, and from late morning to early evening the temperatures, sun glare, and maybe humidity are all enough to make it physically oppressive during those hours. As I had business to do and under such conditions, and especially as the business I had to attend to went badly and ended up somewhat humiliating — a small psychological blow in addition to the physical as described — my mind drifted to humming a song that seemed suited. You may have guessed from this set up, too, what I am getting at.
Many times yesterday afternoon, the simple tune and lyrics of “Rawhide,” the song, turned over in my mind. Let me say again I was familiar with the song, but had (1) never seen the show, (2) wasn’t sure the song was from the show, (3) wasn’t completely sure there was a show named Rawhide, (4) had never been on the channel aforementioned (Heroes & Icons) before the 11pm hour of the night before, (5) had no idea of the channel’s schedule, (6) had no plan to return to the channel but did by chance this morning.
It was a good show and something compelled me to watch it to the end. I didn’t realize I was watching Rawhide until some of the transitional and mood-setting music in certain scenes, recorded by an orchestra, used variations on the tune to the song.
This is the song:
I don’t think my mind had drifted into the “Rawhide” song in a very long time, and again here within less than a day I see the show for which it was the theme song, as far as I know the first time I’d ever seen the show.
I think I’d been familiar with the song since the mid- or late-2000s, probably first encountering it via a download from one of the Napster-successors of the day, especially one I was on called WinMX. (I assume most of the market for music-sharing on those networks was replaced by Youtube, which is a worrying development, a Youtube monopoly.)
I don’t know what to make of this double-synchronicity. I know well that the usual attitude of skeptics, there must be some explanation you are overlooking. I have had experiences like these before, more often when I was younger, and I have no explanation for them. Mysteries of the universe, including events that do not align chronologically like the two I’ve described, are best not sledgehammered away with ultra-skepticism.
I have never read Carl Jung in a serious way, but like any reasonably educated person I am familiar with many of his ideas. I believe Jung coined the term “synchronicity,” and two major and identifiable ones in a row like this is no small matter. What is the significance of this?
I have tagged this post ‘Religion’ as the closest of the existing categories I have to capture this discussion. But I don’t know how to proceed further with such thinking except to read Jung or his successors, but I don’t really want to.
The episode of Rawhide I saw was Season 3: Episode 6, first aired November 1960. Clint Eastwood is one of the protagonists in Rawhide, playing a cleaner-cut type of the character for which he later became emblematic in a long series of movies.
The plot: The group of cattle drivers encounters a former stagecoach robber who is on a mission to repay all his victims from ten years earlier, and then turn himself in. Because of the looseness of the law in the Old West, this is best done by tracking down victims and secretly dropping off the money and slipping away.
The group helps the reformed robber get to the final town he needs to get to, for it’s in the same direction they’re going. They repay $250 to the town’s bank. But it turns out someone in the town had framed him ten years earlier, had stolen the entire town’s savings of $11,000, and had shot dead the popular bank clerk.
The local sheriff and mayor are mixed up in this plot and kept it a secret for ten years. Agitated locals, led by the sheriff, form a posse and insinuate that may lynch the reformed robber, or at least fast-track his murder trial and hang him that way. Eastwood, a junior hand in the group, starts to figure out the frame-up, devises a plan to expose the plotters, and does.
Eastwood is the co-hero of this particular story, along with the head of the cattle driving group who agrees to help the reformed robber in the first place, putting himself at some risk.
What to say about Rawhide. Sixty years is not a short time (1960 to 2021), and the era depicted is about 90 years earlier still (ca. 1870), 150 years before our time.
The idea of linear progression is our civic religion. From a very-bad Distant Past, to a somewhat-bad Moderate Past, to a better-but-still-bad Near Past, to a still-bad-but-much-better Present, to a hopefully better Future, the last achieved through constant and unrelenting striving against The Bad People, who are of an identifiable demographic who “cling” to this and that (as someone famously said in 2008). This is what I see as our civic religion, and the dominant American historical-cultural narratives are now all based this premise, a form of worship of Progress. In other words, I have no doubt at all — zero — that any of the priests of our civic religion were to watch and analyze/interpret this episode of Rawhide, or any episode, they would get angry and produce a laundry-list of grievances against it, maybe even try to start a social-media mob to get it canceled for some inane reason. Such is not in the realm of parody but happens pretty regularly now. As such I’m always a little surprised when very-old TV shows or movies still air on TV. Even Star Trek Voyager of the 1995-2001 period, has plenty of episodes which would draw ire.
The funny thing about or civic religion is how there are so many heretics to the religion, people who basically disbelieve the central premise of the civic religion that the past is horrifyingly bad and one gets one’s moral worth through eternal striving against the past and against any supposed remnants of the past, an eternal political-cultural purge apparatus now seems built into our system. The wave of statue-topplings and name-changings goes on. The latest I hear is people are demanding bird names change because the people who named them one or two hundred years ago had some kind of impure political views as judged from the early 2020s. The America I know by now will have some people make noise, complain, about the ever-more-bizarre Jacobinism of our time, but the institutions with power over such things will fold.
Clint Eastwood himself stands out as against this tidal wave. I don’t know what his personal views are. I think he is a longtime Republican. I don’t know if he actively supported the Orange Man at any point, either the wild days of 2015, or through the Orange Man’s presidency. I don’t know what he may have thought during the disputed election drama going on a few months, except that he was too smart to say the wrong thing once things got heated and people started getting arrested by the hundreds.
Clint Eastwood the man is less important, anyway, than Clint Eastwood the artist (actor, director, movie producer), and the latter really stands out as a living tie to the days of a culture basically wholesome and optimistic, as I see it. May he live and continue working for years yet to come.
I’m going to write a little about a recent Eastwood movie I saw next, Richard Jewell (2019) but this post has already sailed well past a good length limit.