I awoke this morning around 4 AM in Daytona Beach, Florida. Had to catch an early flight to come back home to Austin after spending a weekend visiting with my family, especially my newborn niece and 2-year-old nephew.
My girlfriend (whose birthday is June 23rd) picked me up at the airport but her phone had fallen and broke yesterday so that added some complications to things. Later in the afternoon she acquired a new phone and called me at exactly 4:23 PM.
Today is Shakespeare's birthday, he was born on April 23, 1564. He died on April 23, 1616.
In his book Coincidance, Robert Anton Wilson examines a vast net of seemingly never-ending synchronicities in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, including those having to do with the number 23. Shakespeare is involved in it all and he gets tied in with legendary Irish king Brian Boru who died at the Battle of Clontarf which took place on April 23, 1014.
The Easter Rising, an organized Irish uprising against the ruling British, was originally scheduled for Easter Sunday April 23, 1916 but because ammunition arrived late it began on Monday April 24th. The principle culprit behind the Easter Rising, namely Padraic Pearse, is frequently mentioned throughout the Wake and Joyce even knew Pearse personally because he took a Gaelic class from him once.
On my two flights and all throughout this past weekend I've been reading both Finnegans Wake and Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger Volume II. Volume I of Cosmic Trigger (arguably RAW's best book and one which I hope to write a review for soon) prominently features the number 23 and the synchronicities that accompany it.
Wilson explains that he first heard of the 23 enigma from William S. Burroughs who told him a story about a boat captain named Captain Clark who ran a ferry between Tangiers and Spain. Clark told Burroughs one day that he'd been running the ferry for 23 years without any accidents. Wilson solemnly notes, "That very day, the ferry sank, killing Clark and everybody aboard."
That evening Burroughs put on the radio and the first thing he heard was a news report about a plane crash that occurred on its way to Miami from New York, the pilot was also Captain Clark and the flight was number 23.
This led Wilson to start keeping track of coincidences involving 23 that he encountered and he realized that (among other things) Euclid's Geometry opens with 23 axioms, 23 in telegrapher's code means "bust" or "break the line" while the 23rd hexagram of the I Ching is "Breaking Apart," and he continues:
I was even thrilled by noting that in conception Mom and Dad each contribute 23 chromosomes to the fertilized egg, while within the DNA coil of genetic metaprogramming instructions there are unexplained bonding irregularities every 23rd angstrom ... 23 was my spiral staircase, my intuitive signal.The most important part of the book's story occurs on July 23, 1973 when Wilson thought he had begun to receive contact from the Sirius star system. The "Dog Days of summer" are associated with the star Sirius (known as the Dog Star because it's the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major) and begin on July 23rd each year. (Scanning the Dog Days page on Wikipedia I came across a quote from John Webster's play that was first performed in the year 1623.)
It's worth noting that I completed Cosmic Trigger Volume I back on January 23rd of this year.
* * *
"Where the lisieuse are we and what's the first sing to be sung?"
- Finnegans Wake, p. 432
Now, some tidbits on the number 432.
As already mentioned, I'm in the middle of reading Robert Anton Wilson's very engaging autobiographical book, Cosmic Trigger Volume II. I've just finished the chapter entitled "The Square Root of Minus One & Other Mysteries" in which the author briefly delves into the basics of mathematics and Einstein's relativity to highlight the awe-inspiring inexplicable fact that mathematics (a human invention) is always absolute and verifiable in the world we live in. It almost seems to be of divine origin.
With that in mind, we now take a look at Joseph Campbell's mathematical mind games as presented in two of his books, Occidental Mythology and The Inner Reaches of Outer Space.
Campbell notes that a Chaldean priest in Babylon named Berossos wrote an account of the history of Babylonia in which 432,000 years elapsed before the coming of the mythological flood came and wiped everything out, beginning a new cycle. Strangely enough, this resembles the cosmic cycles in the Icelandic Edda where, on the Doomsday of the Gods, Odin's heavenly warrior hall Valhalla will see 800 fighters entering through each of the hall's 540 doors to wage war at the end of a cosmic cycle.
540 x 800 = 432,000.
In the Hindu sacred epics, the number of years they calculate our current cosmic cycle to last (until it concludes and then another begins) is exactly 432,000 years. The astonished Campbell concludes:
So that we have found this number, now, in Europe, c. 1100 A.D., in India, c. 400 A.D., and in Mesopotamia, c. 300 B.C., with reference to the measure of a cosmic eon.It gets even more interesting as Campbell explains how the Babylonians managed to calculate (to a precision that was just slightly off) the precession of the equinoxes, that is, the very slight wobble of the Earth on its axis that causes the stars to be in a slightly different position in the zodiac each year. The precessional lag is extremely small, just 1 degree every 72 years. Thus it takes 25,920 years for the zodiac to go the full 360 degrees of a circle.
25,920 divided by 60 (the basic unit of time measurement still to this day) = 432
It is as though the ancient observers of the stars all independently managed to calculate the rate at which the universe inhales and exhales.
Campbell quotes "a popular book on physical education" which states that a person of good conditioning who exercises regularly will have a resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute.
60 beats per minute equals 3,600 beats per hour
3,600 x 24 = 86,400
86,400 divided by 2 = 43,200
A computer program has found that the optimal number of dimples on a golf ball is 432.
The diameter of the Sun is about 864,000 miles (divided by 2 that's 432,000). The diameter of the Moon is 2,160 miles (that equals half of 4,320).
Pretty startling, huh?
Read plenty more about it here and here and here.