Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kerouac, Krishnamurti, Burroughs, and the number 23

It struck me yesterday that my two biggest literary influences, Jack Kerouac and Jiddu Krishnamurti, have the same initials: J.K.

I don't know where thoughts like that originate, or where they go necessarily, but this particular one went to more thoughts about synchronicity and connections and then I found myself playing around with the number 23 enigma.

2 = the # of authors
10 = J's number in the alphabet
11 = K's number in the alphabet
23 = the total

So I did some net-surfing and found out that the "23 enigma," as it's called, may have first been noticed by beat author William S. Burroughs! How weird is that?

According to Wikipedia, Robert Anton Wilton, co-author of the Illuminatus! trilogy, credits Burroughs "as being the first person to notice the 23 enigma: Wilson, in an article in Fortean Times, related the following story:

I first heard of the 23 enigma from William S Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch, Nova Express, etc. According to Burroughs, he had known a certain Captain Clark, around 1960 in Tangier, who once bragged that he had been sailing 23 years without an accident. That very day, Clark’s ship had an accident that killed him and everybody else aboard. Furthermore, while Burroughs was thinking about this crude example of the irony of the gods that evening, a bulletin on the radio announced the crash of an airliner in Florida, USA. The pilot was another captain Clark and the flight was Flight 23."

Read all about it here: 23 Enigma.

I first learned about the "23 enigma" from the Jim Carrey movie, The Number 23. Notice that the initial sounds of Jim and Carrey sound like "J" and "K"? Never mind, let's not go there.

I'm not a believer in numerology, per se. In fact, thanks to J.K. #2, I think beliefs are the source of all conflict on this planet. If people didn't "believe" that things are supposed to be a certain way, what purpose would violence serve in the first place? Should is a much more evil word than most people realize. Especially but not exclusively regarding religion. Like my beat friend Charlie told me yesterday about the time two LDS evangelists accosted him on the street and he pointed his finger in one's face and stridently asked, "Why do you need some fictitious person up there to tell you to love him [pointing now at the other proselytizer]?" They walked away.

For sure, humans seem to have some innate bent toward beliefs. And we love to be told what to do. Or have some external authority to blame for our actions.

All that said, I'm not so sure we aren't given clues from time to time about what our purpose is. Jack's purpose had to be writing On the Road and becoming the voice of the beat generation. The world notices individuals who find their purpose and live it.

At the bar yesterday, someone brought up Tiger Woods with the usual awe I hear whenever he's mentioned. I said something about how he was just one of those people who happened to be lucky enough to figure out what he was "born to do." I think we all have something we're "born to do." The sad thing is, most of us don't seem to figure out what it is. We stop looking somewhere along the way, beaten down by "schooling" and authorities of every stripe and the well-meaning discouragements of others whenever we dream big.

What were you born to do?

Maybe the number 23 holds a clue.



rory said...

So the question is are we supposed to not say suppose?

Or should we not use the word should?

And if we supposed to do something should we not?

Is the opposite of should, should not,

so should we, should not?

This makes my head spin.

I hope it made yours.

to the beat of a different beat.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Sometimes it makes my head hurt, and sometimes it clears it completely! I guess the point is not to "should" or "shouldn't" ourselves to the point of suffering. And/or when we use such words, use them consciously and deliberately, fully aware of their implications and ramifications.