Kurt Vonnegut and Synchronicity

Levels of synchronicities are often apparent during emotionally charged experiences, evident in a story that Kurt Vonnegut related to writer Alan Vaughn, which he included in his book Patterns of Prophecy.

Anyone who came of age during the 60s understands the unique role that Vonnegut’s books played in the culture of that time. In Cat’s Cradle, he talked about the karass, a group of people who unknowingly work together to achieve some common goal. You knew you were a member of a particular karass when meaningful coincidences happened between you and other members of that group. But in Vonnegut’s world, there was a danger that you might mistake a random coincidence for a meaningful one, which meant you were involved in a Granfaloon or false karass.

Vaughn wrote to Vonnegut and asked him where the idea had come from about people being linked through meaningful coincidences. Vonnegut’s response is included Vaughn’s Patterns of Prophecy. It’s a remarkable example of a synchronicity involving emotions and death—the death of Vonnegut’s sister, who was suffering from cancer, and the death of her husband in a tragic accident – all within twenty-four hours.

One morning Vonnegut apparently felt compelled to call his brother-in-law, whom he never phoned, and who was in a train that minutes earlier had plunged off an open drawbridge in New Jersey. As Vonnegut was calling him, news about a railroad accident came over the radio and Vonnegut knew his brother-in-law was on that train, even though the man never took trains. Within an hour, he was on a plane headed for New Jersey. By the end of that day, Vonnegut and his wife had adopted his sister’s six children. His sister died the next day.

Vonnegut’s experience involves two aspects of synchronicity. Precognition or foreknowledge of an event was evident in his sudden feeling that he should call his brother-in-law. Clairvoyance, also called remote viewing, was evident with Vonnegut’s certainty that his brother-in-law was on the train mentioned in the radio news flash.

The terminal illness and death of his sister, of course, added to the emotional levels of the incidents.

This entry was posted in vonnegut, writers. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Kurt Vonnegut and Synchronicity

  1. terripatrick says:

    This is a powerful story – and even more meaningful for the six children.