Update 13-Dec-2017: This article was written when I was only a few months into my journey through Sync. They key information and links in this piece remain accurate and relevant, and I will be leaving it here in its original form as a record of my early impressions of the field. In time I will publish a new ‘Introduction’ which will incorporate insights gleaned in the time since this original piece was released, but there is no rush to do so because this article still serves its intended purpose: an introduction to the field of Sync. If you find this introduction interesting then you are encouraged to check out my more recent article: ‘The Sync Books – What a Trip‘.
The term ‘synchromysticism’ sounds like the kind faux-intellectual, New Agey nonsense one might expect to find peddled by psychedelic-fuelled hippie-wannabes lurking in the ‘dark corners’ of the internet. It turns out that in many cases this is pretty close to the truth. Dig a little deeper, though, and you may soon come to realise that this field of inquiry yields more fascination with (and insight into) our existence than most other areas of ‘alternative research’ combined. In this article I will provide a brief overview of my own research into ‘sychromysticism’, with focus on the topic itself, the online community and its key people, and the value it may offer those who explore it for themselves.
Synchromysticism: A Very Brief Introduction
The following video by Joe Alexander (see below for more information) is what first got me interested in the topic. To this day it appears to be the most popular ‘synchromysticism’ video ever produced, with millions of views on YouTube and coverage in several mainstream media publications. If you watch this video and see/feel no value/intrigue in the information/ideas presented, this article might not be for you at this point in time.
Note for the Reader: How This Article Is Written
The article is centred upon a compilation of the key information I have found during my research into ‘synchromysticism’. New visitors to this site should bare in mind that, as an independent researcher and content creator, I am interested in the social dynamics and history/chronology of ‘alternative research’ and related online communities, as well as the content/claims of that said research/communities. Moreover, I use this website as both a means to share my research with others, as well as a method for documenting and archiving that information for future reference. This article therefore is neither standard prose nor reference material, but rather something of a combination of the two.
1) Long story short
2) Carl Jung and Synchronicity
4) Jake Kotze
5) Alan Green
6) The Sync Books and 2014 Sync Summit
7) Joe Alexander
8) Apohenia – A Closer Look
9) The Value of Skepticism
10) 2001: A Hoax Odyssey – Stargate to the Present
Jake Kotze, the man who takes credit for coining the term ‘synchromysticism’, describes it as thus:
“The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance.”
Kotze began blogging on the topic around 2006, and his work went on to influence/inspire a number of other individuals who started writing their own blogs and producing videos. Much of their work focused on the coincidences to be found in Hollywood film. By 2011, there were enough people involved in the burgeoning online community for the production of a collaborative work entitled The Sync Book, compiled and edited by Alan Green, featuring 26 separate chapters by 26 separate contributors. This was followed about one year later with a sequel, The Sync Book 2, following the same format and with 26 new contributors. These books were promoted in conjunction with the website thesyncbook.com which remains active to this day. New podcasts featuring prominent members of the ‘sync community’ are posted to the site regularly and can be downloaded free for two weeks, after which they are placed behind a paywall.
Kotze and others have been interviewed by the likes of Red Ice Radio, the Corbett Report and Vinny Eastwood. In 2014 a small group of them convened for a ‘Sync Summit’ in Olympia, Washington, which attracted a number of guest speakers including Rodney Ascher of Room 237 fame, and Marty Leeds, who is well-known in alternative circles for his ‘mathemagic’/’sacred geometry’ work. Videos from the summit suggest the event attracted a crowd in the low dozens.
It was at the 2014 Sync Summit that Joe Alexander (barelyHuman11) premiered his Back To The Future Predicts 9/11 video. An updated version was posted to YouTube in July 2015 and a few months later received unprecedented attention from the mainstream media, with articles appearing in The A.V. Club on October 19, The Washington Post on October 20, The Atlantic on October 21, The Mirror on October 22, and The Metro on October 23, among many others. This coincided with ‘Back to the Future Day‘, on October 21, 2015, which was a significant date in the timeline of the Back to the Future series.
This mainstream coverage helped the video reach a much wider audience than ‘sync’ videos typically enjoy, and as at April, 2017, the video is listed by YouTube as having had over three million views. Despite the sudden attention, the broader field of synchromsyticism does not appear to have grown commensurately, and to this day remains a fringe (and largely unknown) element of the broader ‘alternative research’/’conspiracy’/’truth’ segment online.
2006: Jake Kotze begins blogging about ‘synchronicity’ in film and coins the term ‘synchromysticism’
2011: Alan Abadessa-Green compiles and publishes the Sync Book with contributions from 26 authors
2012: The Sync Book #2 is published with 26 new authors
2014: A Sync Summit is hosted in Olympia, Washington, attracting a small audience of a few dozen people, as well as some relatively high-profile speakers
2015: Joe Alexander’s Back to the Future Predicts 9/11 receives massive mainstream attention, soon reaching millions of views
Present: thesyncbook.com continues to host older videos and regularly publish new podcasts featuring prominent members of the sync community
The term ‘synchronicity’ is said to have been coined by Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who is also credited with coining the ‘archetype’ and ‘collective unconscious’ terms/concepts, which along with synchronicity play a key role in the broader discourse of synchromysticism. The following are key quotes from Jung’s own work which provide a foundation for understanding the meanings of each of the three key terms/concepts cited:
Synchronicity (from the 1960 book Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle)
It is impossible, with our present resources, to explain ESP, or the fact of meaningful coincidence, as a phenomenon of energy. This makes an end of the causal explanation as well, for “effect” cannot be understood as anything except a phenomenon of energy. Therefore it cannot be a question of cause and effect, but of a falling together in time, a kind of simultaneity. Because of this quality of simultaneity, I have picked on the term “synchronicity” to designate a hypothetical factor equal in rank to causality as a principle of explanation.
Archetype (from the 1964 book Man and His Symbols)
My views about the ‘archaic remnants’, which I call ‘archetypes’ or ‘primordial images,’ have been constantly criticized by people who lack a sufficient knowledge of the psychology of dreams and of mythology. The term ‘archetype’ is often misunderstood as meaning certain definite mythological images or motifs, but these are nothing more than conscious representations. Such variable representations cannot be inherited. The archetype is a tendency to form such representations of a motif—representations that can vary a great deal in detail without losing their basic pattern.
Collective Unconscious (from a 1936 lecture entitled The Concept of the Collective Unconscious)
My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
In simple terms
Here is my own very general summary/interpretation of the three key terms/concepts:
- ‘synchronicity’: a meaningful coincidence. For example, you think of your friend, and then they call you out of the blue. This has meaning to you, and it does not appear likely that you thought of your friend because they were going to call you, or that they called you because you thought of them. Thus there is no ‘causal’ relationship between the two phenomena, but they represent an obvious significance, an apparent connection, to you.
- ‘archetype’: a pattern of personal traits which seem to manifest in separate individuals. For example, the archetype of the ‘jester’, whose major characteristic is the use of humour, not merely as a means to amuse himself but also to influence those around him. Think of Jim Carrey’s characters in The Mask, Batman Forever, and The Grinch, and consider that the similarities between these characters go beyond their jokes and green colour. Note that archetype is not limited to fictional characters.
- ‘collective unconscious’: information innately available to humans across time and place. It is accepted that newborn infants somehow ‘know’ how to breathe when born, instinctively. The concept of the collective unconscious goes much further and posits that information beyond basic survival habits are also ubiquitous throughout humanity, not genetically, but in real-time, as though by telepathy.
So long as you have a basic understanding of what is meant by these terms, most of what is meant by synchromystics when speaking of them will be clear to you.
A note on Carl Jung
A detailed analysis of Jung’s work is obviously beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say that, as with any other prominent ‘psychoanalyst’, ‘psychologist’, or ‘psychiatrist’ from history, Jung is guilty of pathologising human nature, and claiming speculation as science. The information contained in this section is made available merely for contextual reasons, and is not to be interpreted as an endorsement of ‘Jungian psychology’ in general. That said, the following quote from from page 89 of Jung’s Man and his Symbols (available here as a 60mb pdf) may resonate with many readers:
There is, however, a strong empirical reason why we should cultivate thoughts that can never be proved. It is that they are known to be useful. Man positively needs general ideas and convictions that will give a meaning to his life and enable him to find a place for himself in the universe. He can stand the most incredible hardships when he is convinced that they make sense; he is crushed when, on top of all his misfortunes, he has to admit that he is taking part in a “tale told by an idiot.”
According to Stanford, the etymology of ‘mysticism’ indicates that that its Greek root meant ‘to conceal’, and derivative words mean/imply ‘initiate’. A separate source corroborating this claim can be found here. Therefore it is fair to say that, etymologically speaking, ‘mysticism’ has something to do with hidden/protected information and the teaching/seeking of it. In contemporary times, of course, the term has been adopted and appropriated by all manner of persons (including deceived and deceivers) and therefore has no single, widely-understood meaning.
In any event, the neologism ‘synchromysticism’ therefore means, both literally and practically, something to do with meaningful coincidences and their hiding/revelation. This is not far from the definition given by the man who coined the term (cited earlier):
“The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance.”
Claim to fame: Coined the term ‘synchromysticism’.
Basic bio: South African male, now apparently living in Winnipeg, Canada (where he has resided for at least ten years); appears to be approximately 35-40 at present.
- Brave New World Order – His previous blog which was last updated 2008;
- ‘The Sync Whole’ – which was last updated May, 2016. The archive figures on the right of the latter blog suggest he made more than 200 posts in both 2009 and 2010, but since then has gradually dwindled to just a few per posts year.
- ‘Seallion’ Vimeo account – currently hosts 43 videos, but only one new video has been posted in the last twelve months.
- ‘Seallion’ YouTube account – currently hosts approximately 80 videos, but only one new video has been posted in the last twelve months.
It appears as though Kotze’s output of synchromystic content has declined to almost zero. Kotze does not appear to have attended the 2014 Sync Summit, but did record a video with Alan Green during the latter’s roadtrip to Olympia, available on the relevant page on thesyncbook.com
Below is a non-exhaustive list of interviews in which Kotze has taken part (information from which has served as the basis for some of this article):
- Unknown interviewer (YouTube publish date: 31-Mar-2015): Link
- Kira Young (1-Jun-2016): Link [Slightly painful interview, but gives insights into Kotze’s ayahuasca use/promotion]
For the purpose of future reference, below is also a list of Red Ice interviews featuring Kotze from about a decade ago:
- Red Ice Radio (19-Oct-2006): Link [Behind paywall]
- Red Ice Radio (29-Mar-2007): Link [Behind paywall] [Also available on YouTube in parts – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4]
- Red Ice Radio (20-Dec-2007): Link [Behind paywall] [Available on YouTube in parts – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9]
- Red Ice Radio (6-Jul-2008): Link [Behind paywall] [Also available on YouTube in parts – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4]
Claim to fame: Compiled and edited The Sync Book (volumes #1 and #2) and appears to have been the chief organiser of the 2014 Sync Summit (see below).
Basic bio: In his interview with (now-defunct?) Critical Mass Radio in 2012, Green says that he is 32 years old, which would mean he is now in his mid-thirties.
Online footprint: His website allthehappycreatures.com has not been updated since the 2014 Sync Summit.
A recent episode of Always Record (#173, also available on YouTube), recorded 22-Mar-2017, may have have been his first reappearance on the scene in about 12 months. It would seem that Green struggled with the lack of growth in the sync community following the unprecedented success/exposure of Joe Alexander’s video in late 2015 and, more or less, took a year off as a result. The following is quoted from about 12 minutes into that episode:
“It [Alexander’s] was a viral video. So what happens with that? Everyone pays attention to it for a day and then its gone, it goes back into… they’re onto the next thing. The next day its some panda bear getting kicked in the nuts, whatever, and (the) internet completely moves on. And there was just something really frustrating about that situation, because I believed so strongly in the value of what we were doing, more than just trying to create, like, a funny internet video, or anything like that. So there was something really frustrating in that, after working so hard for so many years… combined with all the other shit that’s happened in my life…
The ambition for me was something where it was like, ‘well I could keep convincing myself this was worth doing because… once people see this, we’re just some people in the corner of the internet somewhere, and once people see it then they’ll get it’, and then a bunch of people saw it, and they didn’t get it, and then my life was falling apart, and it was really hard to keep motivated…
What I’ve discovered in just the last few months that I’ve… become re-inspired is, it’s nice because taking that much time away, all that ‘ambition’… all those reasonings (and) ideas are kind of gone, and its just for me at this point. The dangerous thing that happens when you drop all your sort of mental filters, or you embrace the abyss, and there’s this flood of schizophrenic psychedelia flooding your brain and your senses, and how overwhelming that is. For me, the artwork, or creative content, becomes the only way to process it, and its so cathartic and necessary for me that I realise… it was probably necessary that I step away for as long as I did… now I’m at the point… I know that whatever I throw into that river, that media-saturated landscape, I don’t expect to have this major reverberation per se, I just know I need to fuckin do it, for me, for my ability to process what I’m experiencing.”
It would seem Green has done more than anybody else to promote and organise the sync community, and it all took a toll on him eventually. His name is listed as the registrant of thesyncbook.com which was registered in July, 2011 (around the time The Sync Book #1 was about to be published). Videos from the Sync Summit suggest that he was the primary organiser/convener of the event, a notion supported by his appearance in a promotional video leading up to it. Below is a non-exhaustive list of interviews in which Green has taken part (information from which has served as the basis for some of this article):
- Red Ice Radio (23-Oct-2011): Link
- Time Monk Radio (20-Jul-2012): Link
- Corbett Report (17-Oct-2012): Link
- Vinnie Eastwood (15-Oct-2012): Link
- Vinnie Eastwood (12-Dec-2012): Link
- Blue Sky Symposia (19-Jan-2013): Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
These appear to be the ‘high water marks’ of the synchromystic community/field of inquiry. SB #1 was published on September 11, 2011, and as of April 2017 has a 4.7 average review rating on Amazon across 23 customer reviews. SB #2 was published on November 26, 2012, and as of April 2017 has a 4.8 average review rating on Amazon across 9 customer reviews.I have not yet read either book, and have been unable to find pdf copies onlines. It goes without saying that they are high on my reading priority list.
The best place for information regarding the 2014 Sync Summit is the relevant page on thesyncbook.com. During his recorded presentation at the summit, Green notes that there are about twenty people in the audience. It is interesting to note that of the dozen or so guest speakers at the 2014 Sync Summit, several either no longer seem to have any direct involvement in ‘sync’ work, or do so very rarely. They are listed below in the same order as they appear in a 2014 promotional post on Alan Green’s site. Next to each name is the edition of The Sync Book in which their chapter appeared (if it all):
Alan Green (Sync Book Press) – Editor – Still active [see Section 6 of this article].
Rodney Ascher (Room 237) – None – Still a film director, does not appear to have much to do with ‘sync’.
Joe Alexander (BarelyHuman11) – #2 – Dormant? [See Section 7 of this article].
Frater X (Middle Chamber) – #2 – Dormant? Website appears barely touched.
Marty Leeds – None – Still a content creator but does not appear to have much to do with sync – latest sync post on his site from early 2015.
Will Morgan – #1 – Still active via thesyncbook.com podcast 42 Minutes.
Scott Onstott – #2 – Still an author but does not appear to have anything to do with sync.
James Evan Pilato – None – Still runs his website but does not appear to have anything to do with sync.
David Plate – #2 – Still active via thesyncbook.com podcast Always Record (although has not been on the show since late 2016).
Ezra Sandzer-Bell – #2 – Inactive. Website now parked.
Michael Schacht – #1 – Active via own website (although only one post in last twelve months).
Andras Jones – #1 – Still active via thesyncbook.com podcast 42 Minutes.
Also of note is that the promotional video for their indiegogo campaign leading up to the Sync Summit, as of April 2017, has less than 1,000 views. It would appear that thesyncbook.com is not only the hub of sync work at this point in time, but the only major driving force keeping the ‘community’ active.
7) Joe Alexander
Claim to fame: Produced Back to the Future Predicts 9/11 – the most popular sync video ever published.
Basic bio: Says he says he is a basketballer (and part-time model) who lives (or has lived) in Italy and Israel, and grew up in China (where his father worked).
- Apparently no website of his own.
- YouTube channel BarelyHuman11 currently hosts ten videos.
- Secondary YouTube channel Apophenia Productions currently hosts three videos.
- Has apparently taken part in several podcasts through thesyncbook.com but they are all behind the paywall.
No new videos have been uploaded to his channel since BttFP9/11. A video featuring two new interviews was published to the syncbookpress YouTube channel late 2015. One interview was conducted a few days before, and the other a few days after, BttFP9/11 went viral.
Interviews available on YouTube:
Joe Alexander lists ‘Apophenia Productions’ in the credits of his videos and has both a YouTube and Vimeo account with this name. The term ‘apophenia’ has a fascinating meaning and history of its own. From Slate:
A German scientist named Klaus Conrad coined apophanie (from the Greek apo, away, and phaenein, to show) in 1958. He was describing the acute stage of schizophrenia, during which unrelated details seem saturated in connections and meaning. Unlike an epiphany—a true intuition of the world’s interconnectedness—an apophany is a false realization. Swiss psychologist Peter Brugger introduced the term into English when he penned a chapter in a 2001 book on hauntings and poltergeists. Apophenia, he said, was a weakness of human cognition: the “pervasive tendency … to see order in random configurations,” an “unmotivated seeing of connections,” the experience of “delusion as revelation.” On the phone he unveiled his favorite formulation yet: “the tendency to be overwhelmed by meaningful coincidences.”
The article above is claiming that ‘apophenia’ was introduced to English in 2001 by Peter Brugger. I have not yet had the time to track down the primary evidence to support this assertion. Several other secondary courses, however, do corroborate the claim that Klaus Conrad was responsible for the root term apophanie (Skepdic, The Guardian). The notion that Brugger was somehow responsible for either introducing (or, at the least, popularising) the term ‘apophenia’ is supported by this 2001 study which lists him as co-author and cites Conrad when discussing the term.
In any event, the commonly-accepted meaning the of the term was well-established by the time Alexander began producing videos. His decision to use the term, therefore, deserves attention. Why would a person interested in promoting and popularising ‘synchromysticism’ label his productions with a term which implies that those who give the field any serious attention may be either suffering from, or on the verge of, schizophrenia? Perhaps Alexander discusses this in one of the interviews behind the paywall at thesyncbook.com. I would ask him about this myself but he does not appear to have any direct method of contact.
9) The Value of Skepticism
For those who are new to the field of ‘synchromysiticism’, it is certainly worth familiarising yourself with the concept of ‘apophenia’, as well as ‘skeptical’/’scientific’ challenges to the broader notion of ‘synchronicity’. This article, which uses (and explains) basic probability to illustrate the fact that coincidences should be expected to occur regularly, may be a good place to start. Although published by the ‘Committe for Skeptical Inquiry‘ (think Carl Sagan), the content of the article itself is valid. That is, their use of relatively simple mathematics to demonstrate that seemingly-unlikely events are in fact often very likely, is logical and based on legitimate mathematical concepts. That coincidences, even seemingly-unlikely ones, occur every day is not in and of itself surprising or even remarkable. That those of us who begin thinking about these sorts of topics then start to notice more coincidences in our lives is also not surprising. Those who want to get full value from their own exploration of synchronicities in art and pop culture – and life/existence in general – may be well-served by learning about the inevitability of coincidence before attempting to find meaning in coincidence.
10) 2001: A Hoax Odyssey – Stargate to the Present
Although I first saw barelyHuman11’s video a fair while ago – probably not too long after the original version was published circa mid-2015 – I only began looking further into ‘synchromysticism’ earlier this year. I have been a regular listener of fakeologist.com since Jan/Feb 2015, and the administrator of that site, ‘Ab Irato’, has a tendency to play Crime of the Century by Supertramp as an intro/outrro song for his podcasts. I was aware of the apparent 9/11 connections featured on the artwork of Supertramp’s 1979 album Breakfast in America, and one day decided to procrastinate by taking another look at it. Soon I found the artwork for …Famous Last Words…, and instantly made the connection between the wire-walking and the 2015 Robert Zemeckis film The Walk (which I had learned about through barelyHuman11’s video).
This led me down a rabbit hole from which I haven’t even tried to escape. Over the past two months I have reviewed the work of many other individuals interested in these areas, and also made several major original discoveries of my own. I outlined more of my findings in Full Member Update #3. Altogether I have slowly but surely synthesised what I consider to be a novel (new) framework for understanding:
- ‘Synchronicity’ in art and life
- The 9/11 event in particular
- Technology, the human condition, and this existence
I will be presenting an overview of these findings in a new work which will serve, at least until my Dinoskeptic project is complete (and possibly thereafter), as my single most important production to date. I have created a new website specifically to host and promote material related to the endavour. My plan is to make the video available to all Full Members of this site as part of membership (i.e. no charge), and then offer it to the public via a Vimeo-based pay-to-stream service. The benefits of doing so are several-fold. I will be able to:
- Test out the Vimeo pay-to-stream service (and concept) before using it to distribute the Dinoskeptic film
- Learn and practice film promotion techniques to prepare for Dinoskeptic post-production
- Generate a passive income stream which, if successful, will be very useful given that I will, after the Dinoskeptic filming phase is complete, be practically broke
- Potentially attract a different audience segment to my primary site, given that the new site is hosted entirely separately and based on a very different area of research/content
See the new site: www.hoaxodyssey.com
I hope to have the piece published and available to Full Members of this site by April 12, which is one week before I am currently scheduled to depart Brisbane to begin filming for Dinoskeptic. If the feedback to the piece is positive, I will then make it available to the public as soon as possible (ideally before I depart for Brisbane). Stay tuned!
11) Additional Resources
Below is a more artistic approach to synchromystic content creation, apparently produced by Jake Kotze and/or an associate of his named ‘Jim’:
If you prefer the written format, here is just one example of what synchromystic blog posts look like.
If you are interested in checking out The Sync Book or The Sync Book 2 for yourself, then consider purchasing your copy via the links below.
It won’t cost you a cent more than purchasing directly from Amazon: you have nothing to lose, and I have a few cents (perhaps even a dollar or two) to gain 🙂