Dec 14, 2008

Synchronicity and Coincidence

Despite my inner desire to relegate synchronicity to the land of UFO sightings, alien abductions, the Yeti and Bigfoot, and other unproven, perhaps un-provable, mental distortions I must admit it often seems a power or force beyond my comprehension is at times responsible for some disturbing concurrences without apparent casual connection. I accept without question the numerous minor ‘coincidences’ that occur daily, but two events, somewhat more significant, come to mind, one just two days ago, and the other over a year ago.

A week ago I went to a local estate sale where I purchased several dozen books, one of which was the first paperback edition of The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. The book was eventually placed on a table beside the Beckett’s and Joyce’s and various biographies I was in the process of reading. While not a book to read it was something I intended to look at whenever I needed to clear the mind. I had noticed immediately the cover illustration was a cubist picture of Dora Maar by Picasso, though I didn’t recognize the actual painting. The following morning I was working the Daily Crossword in our regional paper. 15 across: Caspian’s neighbor – Aral Sea, 16 across: Somewhat dilatory – Slowish, 17 across: Captured back – Retaken, 18 across: “Dora Maar” painter – Picasso. I put down the pen. Dora Maar. I hadn’t looked at a Picasso book for months or thought about him, and certainly not Dora Maar, yet here she was, entering my life from two different directions in the space of twenty-four hours. Why, I have no idea. Simply a coincidence I suppose, to be considered for a moment or two and then shrugged off.

About a year ago I was upstairs reading, or perhaps writing, when my wife came in and turned on the television. I’m not fond of television and continued doing whatever it was I was doing, though my subconscious was evidently ‘listening’ to those other voices in the room. At the mention of Lucille Ball and “The Long, Long Trailer” my mind moved automatically to a higher state of awareness. In the mid fifties our family watched the “I Love Lucy” show religiously, but I don’t recall ever seeing any of her films. I don’t recall what they were saying about the Lucille Ball or the movie or why, perhaps it was going to air later that evening and what I heard was an advertisement. I returned to my book and promptly forgot about it. That night in bed I arbitrarily picked up a book from several I piled on the nightstand and opened it to my bookmark. It must have been a history, or perhaps a travel guide to the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, though for some reason I’m thinking it was about a town in Idaho, I really can’t remember. I began to read and when I turned the page the proverbial shiver ran down my spine, or at least my brain tingled. Here the author of the book was saying not to miss visiting the steep incline that had been used to film and important scene in ‘The Long, Long Trailer”. (I remember he mentioned the road used in the film had since been bypassed by a new highway which makes me question the Sierra Nevada location – if anyone knows for certain where those trailer scenes were filmed I’d like to know). Just a very strange coincidence I suppose but the next morning as I was turning the pages of the paper to get to the Crossword puzzle a short article on an inside page more than grabbed my attention. It was an article on the film “The Long, Long Trailer’!

Dec 1, 2008

Nishan Toor

Two days after Thanksgiving I went to the kitchen to make tea and found Whinkla sitting at the counter. He’d quietly made a pot of tea and was busy with his Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake.

“Whinkla,” I said, a little surprised, “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Then be thankful I’m not a burglar after your first editions,” he laughed.

“Thanks for making tea,” I said, “but what brings you here so early in the morning?”

“I was sorting through a box of papers yesterday and found these,” Whinkla said, placing a rubber-banded roll of papers on my kitchen table, “and thought you might be interested.”

“What are they?” I asked.

Whinkla smiled, “They’re sketches and drawings created by Nishan Toor.”

“Never heard of him,” I said.

“No, not many have I suppose,” said Whinkla, “unless you happened to have lived in Southern California.”

“Where did you get them?” I asked, as Whinkla slipped off the rubber bands and began to unroll the sheets.

“That’s a story Larry, but to keep it short and simple I bought them at an estate sale in the mid sixties.”

“Tell me more,” I said.

“Well, discovering these drawings, and something else I haven’t told you about yet, got me thinking about my days in the southland. Handling these pages resurrected many pleasant memories. As I lay in bed last night I relived one of those days. It must have been 1966 and my parents and my grandmother, my dad’s mother, were making their regular weekend circuit of garage and estate sales in the Pasadena area. For some reason I’d decided not to hike up to Mount Wilson and instead tag along with them. Well, sometime during the morning we found ourselves at an estate sale in Altadena. In retrospect I see now it must have been the home of Nishan Toor, who I assume had recently died. I can’t remember much of what was for sale but my grandmother, knowing my interest in art, noticed a table covered with a variety of drawings. As I’ve mentioned before my grandmother was the consummate garage sale shopper and before I knew it she had talked whoever was in charge to sell her, that is me, a bundle of the drawings, some photographs, and the other object I mentioned for only a few dollars. I married a few months later and packed a lot of personal things away, including the Nishan Toor sketches. I hadn’t forgotten them but I didn’t think about them very often either, that was until a few days ago.”
I watched as Whinkla unrolled the collection of drawings, architectural plans and photos. Most were on tracing paper and quite small.

“So why have you brought them here Whinkla?” I asked.

“I knew you’d be interested and like to look them over,” Whinkla said, “and you’ve got a computer. I thought you might do a little cyber research on Nishan Toor for me and let me know what you find. I’d hate to see these things eaten by mice, or damaged even more in some way. If there was a society, or someone truly interested they might make a nice gift, might even be worth a dollar or two. He was primarily a sculptor, I think, and some of his work, like a statue to commemorate World War I soldiers was, or is, located in Paris, France. There’s a picture or two showing him with the statue, and the other item I have is a plaster bas relief maquette of a panel I think must have been for the pedestal supporting the statue.”

“Let’s go to the computer,” I said, “and take a look.”