Fluke by Joseph Mazur

Fluke by Joseph Mazur


Author:Joseph Mazur
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780465040001
Publisher: Basic Books
Published: 2016-02-23T16:00:00+00:00

Story 4: The Golden Scarab Story

Scarab (or Scarabaeidae) is the name given to a family consisting of a particular classification of beetle. Their large body, metallic colors, and club-shaped antennae distinguish them. June bugs and Japanese beetles are just a few of the most common seen in the United States. Carl Jung once had a patient tell him of her dream about a golden scarab. Sitting in a chair with his back to a closed window and listening to the dream, he heard a gentle tapping on the window. He turned to see a flying insect tapping the windowpane from the outside, as if to get his attention. He opened the window and caught the insect as it flew in. It was indeed a scarab. Jung took this coincidence to be a model example of what he called synchronicity, the simultaneity of two events that come together in time and space by means that cannot be explained by chance.

If the dream of the golden scarab is an example of synchronicity, then we would not be able to know the odds of its happening. It falls into a category different than the rocking chair story, but like that story, it is also one of critical timing. Had the scarab tapped on the window a half-hour later, the story would have been different. There might very well be a synchronicity in the universe, but this story surely involves chance. That being said, we should keep in mind that the young woman’s dream brings in the hidden variable of the collective unconscious, which cannot be ignored.

June bugs are common in June. A June bug could have tapped on the young woman’s window as she was having her dream. Had she heard it in her sleep it could have affected her dream. Our dreams are often a mix of unconscious and conscious experiences sometimes influenced by real sounds and lights. A person could sleep through a real thunderstorm while dreaming about being in the middle of one. So, the question for us is this: what are the chances that a scarab tapped on her window during her dream? And what are the chances that a scarab tapped on Jung’s window at the same moment that the woman was telling her dream?

Jung does not tell us what time of year the encounter happened. It could have been June. Judging from my own scarab encounters, I would say that the answer to the first question is roughly 29 to 1. I encounter at least one June bug tapping on my window screen at least once a year, and almost always in June. The answer to the second question is more challenging. The odds of a scarab tapping on Jung’s window is also 29 to 1, but that does not take into account the very important precise timing of two other events, the interval in which the young woman is having her dream and Jung’s encounter with the scarab at his window. And that’s the puzzle for which we must make assumptions.


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