Saturday, January 10, 2009

Or are they?

Is there a word for when you learn a vocab word and suddenly see it everywhere? Or read about something relatively uncommon, then within a few days see another reference to that something completely unrelated to the first instance in which you read about it? A word other than "coincidence," that is.

Here are two that I will share with you, which I recently experienced.

1. I recently finished a book called Fevre Dream. It's a vampire novel that takes place in the 1800s primarily aboard a steamboat called the Fevre Dream...which is named after the Fevre River in Galena, Ill (which is nowadays called the Galena River). FWIW, it was a very good book. Anyway, the other day I was working at the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS), and I was typing up/editing/reformatting a list of photos/daguerreotypes that the WHS has in their cased image collection. One of the images was of Galena, Ill. and the Fevre River. How often do you come across references to the Fevre River? Honestly. They even have this image digitized, so you can all see it! ::ooh, awww::

2. I've never seen the Godfather movies. However, tomorrow I am going to watch the first two with a few of my SLIS friends (apparently it's best to pretend that the third movie never happened?). Tonight I was watching Family Guy and they had an interlude thing where Peter declares to the horror of his family that he "never cared for" The Godfather. I just thought that was weird since I had plans to see it tomorrow.

That's it.


At 1/10/2009 7:48 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...


At 1/10/2009 8:02 PM, Blogger Emily said...

words cannot describe how much i hate that word.

At 1/10/2009 11:42 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

You're describing the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Wikipedia defines it thus: "The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon occurs when a person, after having learned some (usually obscure) fact, word, phrase, or other item for the first time, encounters that item again, perhaps several times, shortly after having learned it. This is a specialized version of the effect of serendipity."

At 1/10/2009 11:53 PM, Blogger Emily said...

Ooh, thanks Sarah. Wonderful reference work! Perhaps you should consider going into the library and information sciences. ;)

I personally like how the phenomenon was named.

So, do you guys follow the Jungian explanation or the Townsend explanation?

Wikipedia Article

At 1/14/2009 7:13 PM, Anonymous joleen said...

I read a sci-fi quantum physics related book that referred to that phenomenon as synchronicity and I have always used that term. But the authors probably just made that up.

At 1/14/2009 7:24 PM, Blogger Emily said...

What book?

According to, "synchronicity" is defined as thus:

2. Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related, conceived in Jungian theory as an explanatory principle on the same order as causality.

Sounds apropos. Just not as specific.

At 1/14/2009 8:33 PM, Anonymous joleen said...

Weird. Another example of synchronicity at work. The book was either the Illuminatus or Schrodingers Cat trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson. Just the other day I heard a reference to Schrodingers cat on a sitcom while flipping through the channels.


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