1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


A Very Curious Coincidence
Herman King  February 4, 2010

I believe everyone at one time or other has experienced a "curious coincidence," an unexplained synchronicity. The great psychoanalyst Carl Jung constructed a cohesive scientific-philosophical theory from such incidences.  When I was young (isn't that when everything that is interesting in our lives happen)? I experienced several "curious coincidences." The one that stands out in my memory involved the poet-art critic Sadakichi Hartmann. He died in 1944 and I think he  may have already died  when I had this particular experience. I was living in Lewisburg, West Virginia at the time.  I had checked out a very interesting book in the local library. (Parks and libraries were always my favorite haunts no matter where I lived). This book, "Minutes of the Last Meeting" was a biography of Hartmann written by Gene Fowler. Hartmann was quite an eccentric character, which was the reason Fowler was writing about him. As an art critic he bemoaned the art world being taken over by those he described as "linoleum designers." An observation I found funny and agreed with. He would enter Fowler's home to dine with the author's family, at the same time making wisecracks and critical remarks (such as "this knife is dull like the company I'm keeping,)" not very nice considering Fowler was writing a book about him and enhancing his fame. 

Hartmann was part German, part Japanese, and since this occurred during World War Two he became paranoid and hid out for a time on an Indian reservation. Roosevelt had incarcerated Japanese-Americans and German-Americans were also discriminated against so who could really blame Hartmann? But he popped up one day and Fowler finished the book.  Now for the "curious coincidence." I knew Hartmann wrote poetry in free verse and was influenced by his Japanese wife.  I wanted to read some of his work but couldn't find any.  I scoured every library in miles, going through every anthology I could find. I searched book lists, wrote inquiries, all in vain. Must be a very minor poet, I had begun to think. Then it happened. I was prowling through the local library one day, sifting through the shelves from top to bottom.  Then Ker-plop! A small volume in pristine condition fell from a top shelf and landed right in front of me.  A volume of poetry by Sadakichi Hartmann! It appeared to have been privately printed and had never been checked out. I was thrilled and stupefied. I don't remember much about the poems, though I thought them rather good.  

What had caused this book to apparently materialize and offer itself to me? My focus on finding it? Jung's "synchronicity?" There are also two other theories to consider. The quantum theory of non-locality and Rupert Sheldrake's "morphic resonance." There are experiments that validate both theories. But you'll have to look them up yourself. After all these years I am still rather shook up over the experience.