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Strange Coincidences

February 17, 2007

Have you ever learned something strange,  a new vocabulary word, and suddenly, the new piece of information is everywhere? For a while I thought it was just a heightened awareness thing, not the universe consipiring with (or against?) me. But it seems, at least for today, that my life is ruled by a book I have never read.

For my English seminar class, I’ve just finished reading “The Moviegoer” by Walker Percy. In this book, the narrator meets a man on a bus and it is mentioned that he is reading a book called “The Charterhouse of Parma”. This is such a minor fact in the novel that it would have absolutely had no bearing on my day, except the next book I opened (checked from the libray- just for fun) was “Twin Tracks” – a historical book that reads like a cross between chaos theory and six degrees of Kevin Bacon (except with 19th and 20th century people of letters). One of the many links of people described in a chapter about the connection between “Encyclopedia and Vitamins” was Marie-Henri Bayle, the real name of the author of…. yes, you guessed it: “The Charterhouse of Parma”, a novel that somehow has gotten past the radar of this English major for twenty years (not, actually, a hard feat. I am consistently underread by my peers). A novel about an aristocratic Italian family that was the 2nd most famous work of a 19th century French writer and one that I am nearly 100 percent sure that I have never ever  heard of its existence until today. And then I stumbled upon the Charterhouse of Parma twice, in two wildly different books.

Is Marie-Henri Bayle stalking me from beyond the grave? And what sort of title is “The Charterhouse of Parma”?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 9, 2007 9:50 am

    The theory is you could possibly see 10 Charterhouse of Parmas daily, but would never notice it until you have some sort of interaction that makes the record “active” in your memory.
    A less rigid view would use lots of “Karmas”, “Patterns”, “Collective consciousness”. If that’s your cup of tea.

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