Synchronicity is probably too strong a term for something so common as the experience finding yourself at the nexus between what you’re reading and a great song, but the weight of the experience makes me want it to apply.
A few years back I was rereading Fahrenheit 451. Like many others I’ve been struck dumb by Ray Bradbury’s vision of the future, and how close to the mark he was about so many things. His vision of a world sanitized of anything that could make people uncomfortable, most of all literature, is disturbing to say the least. It’s dark vision of the world often leads to it being presented and viewed in the most aggressive of terms. It’s world is a dangerous one and we should fear finding ourselves there.
I put my iPod on shuffle and began reading. As the story opened and Guy meets Clarisse, the shuffle landed on Hem’s “He Came To Meet Me.” It stopped me. This gentle, warm song played perfectly as the two walked along and spoke to each other. This intimate conversation, which begins to challenge Guy, was perfectly matched to the music, and the scene changed for me. The book changed for me.
It amplified the humanity of the book, and it finally sat perfectly in the same world as Dandelion Wine and Bradbury’s other remembrances of his youth. I saw Ray’s love for his wife Margaret, and felt the comfort I feel talking with my wife. I was moved by the warmth of Sally Ellyson’s voice, which became Clarisse’s voice, haunting the rest of the story. I let Hem score the rest of the book for me and found their elegant music fit more than I would have expected.
I was thinking about this while reading Ted Chiang’s short stories. I raved about him earlier, I’ll let you look back there for more on his talents. I mention him again here because he touches often on how our preconceived notions can be changed by new experience, and often when we don’t expect. It’s always fun when our favorite artists feed our dreams, but we should thrill when the softer voices around us whisper us awake.