Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

– Auric Goldfinger (yes, the baddie in Goldfinger)

Remember the fractals? In “Seeing the Curl“, I suggested that coincidence could be a fractal curl.

In the last week, I think I’ve been falling down the fractal slide, a little like Alice down her rabbit hole. Either that, or I’ve slipped into Cheap Tabloid Horoscope World.

“This week, Piscilibrarians, you’ll uncover money you didn’t know you had. And watch out for technology. It’s not your friend!”

Every IT problem that could come to pass came to pass. In fact it didn’t pass. Each one of them set up shop, moved in the lover, had brats, who all got ‘flu… The mac, the laptop, the tablet, the printer, the ‘phones. I’m surprised the traffic lights didn’t start telling me where to go: “Don’t bloody walk. No! OK – now!” [just as a 10-ton truck careered out of control].

Mind you, the money wot was hid was good. I’d massively overpaid the tax man and ridiculously underpaid my expenses. It’s not new, it’s not gained any interest, but it’s honestly mine, so I’m not complaining.

But you know how you can go for months without anything ever “happening”? For some people, life just butts its way into thrills and excitement, doesn’t it? Being discovered as the wild face of yesterday while picking your nose in the photo booth, or perhaps eaten by an escaped and rabid dolphin at a beach party -good examples, both, of life just “happening”. So often, you just get on with it, though, don’t you? You know, you think, eat, have feelings, do more or less the same thing as you wander along. You make things happen yourself; you are – you believe – the agent of change. External interference seems minimal (“ah, but is it?”); nothing happens. Well, irritating although the IT cauchemar [pretentious French for ‘nightmare’; I can’t call it a nightmare without putting tongue firmly in cheek] was, its seeming randomness was definitely a happening. As was the cash being refunded – and in both cases, I felt as tho’ they’d happened without me doing anything.

And there’s the widgimaflip*: the sort of thing that scriptwriters (and novelists) love. The events’ seeds had been sown way back (idiots overpaying their taxes, for example) and forgotten. Only the beloved honesty (anality) of the tax man altered the single-minded (egocentric) unravelling of the Imp life. And you see, there’s the fractal! The butterfly flap of Swindon’s finest junior tax inspector caused a minor earthquake in the Imp household (I splashed out on someĀ  fine peanut butter, in all probability).

Ah…glad I got that off my chest….


*patent pending; the Widgimaflip will be 2012’s most thrilling metaphorical and metaphysical linguistic and conceptual invention….


Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?

– Margot Fonteyn

I hope you enjoyed that period of Imp quietude. I had nothing to say. HOWEVER… that’s all over now.Ā  What an odd blog it would be if the point was just silence. Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy, he of “in Duran Duran before they made it” fame, once told Smash Hits that as a student he was asked to run a talk on anarchy. He agreed. Then didn’t show up. “‘Cos that’s the point of anarchy, innit?”. I thought that was really clever. When I was 12.

Now, today, I’d like to witter on about superstition, fate, coincidence, pre-determination, randomness. I am very grateful to the ever-patient ear of the imp’s lover, who smiled politely as my babbling brook ofĀ  consciousness tickled these ideas by the river this week, and who then pushed them to grow. Any blame liesĀ  entirely with the author, however.

OK. Let’s take two extreme views:

Extreme 1) There is no higher power (god or gods)

  • no afterlife
  • no purpose in life except life itself (ie continuation of the organisms that make life – see past Impery on this here)
  • As one of my personal heroes said (yup, it’s Mr William Hicks), it’s just a ride.

Extreme 2) Our lives are – to a lesser or greater extent – governed by a power higher than ourselves (god or gods)

  • live life carefully, according to that power’s (moral) code, because (a) there is an afterlife and reward or retribution for your actions and (b) the code says you have to strive to be good to one another (viz. Bill & Ted)
  • your life is (again, to lesser/greater degree) determined by that higher power’s whims/grand plan [the hamster died to teach you about hygiene; your boobs fell off because you were vain enough to like them; etc etc]

Now, I’d always thought that these two extremes were just that: at opposite ends of the spectrum; unmixable. But then I was hit by a thought, inspired by going back to the idea of us just being cell-carriers, and nothing more. And that thought was this…

Part 1: Throughout nature, everywhere we look (and the better science is at seeing, the more this seems to be the case), there are patterns. Not random weirdnesses, grand exemplars of uniqueness after uniqueness, no, but each and every individual thing is made of the same building blocks, the same patterns – fractals, basically. Yes, there’s singularity – each leaf, each snail, each fingerprint, each person, is different. But when the Darleks call us “carbon creatures”, they’ve got it right. There is newness, from development and growth (evolution), but it is based on what has gone before, inspired by surrounding conditions, and born of what potential already exists within the evolving organism.

Part 2: Now here’s the bit that surprised me. What if – and remember, ideas should always seem batty at first – what if there are patterns not only in cell growth? If you think about it, we can see patterns in geology: erosion, mountains, rock formations, glaciers, caves. And in the weather, too: cloud formations; rainbows; low and high pressure etc.Ā  So that, to me, says that actually, there are not random happenings, but rather there are sometimes huge, sometimes tiny fractal-like patterns of “nature”, that guide these processes.

Part 3: So – what if there are patterns in the way our lives flow, just as there are in these other things? Not ‘cos of a god on high (extreme 1), but in a way that also contradicts extreme 2’s view that everything is completely random? That would bring about a link between the two ideas, wouldn’t it?

Think back to your last funny coincidence, or sense of something prophetic; the strong feelingĀ  that you just knew something would happen. If you’re religious, you might have seen it as something from your god. If you’re not, you may have rationalised it (“my brain knows how to predict things without my consciousness being aware of it”).

What about a third view (after all, being binary is so dull)?

What about it being a case of you spotting the coming curl in the fractal? And that fractal being the flow of the life that is around you? I say “the life that is around you” rather than “your life” for a reason.Ā  It may just be a ride, but we’re all in it together, this primordial soup. It doesn’t mean that the meaning of life is determined by any god, but it doesn’t mean it’s entirely random, either. Nor does it mean that this posting draws a final conclusion…Just enjoy the ride.