Here’s why co­in­ci­dence works for us

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Okay, it’s an un­ex­pected com­ing-to­gether of things or mo­ments. So what? Why does any­one care, and why’s it worth think­ing about or laugh­ing at? The fact is that hu­mans are in­trigued by the un­likely, and maybe there’s the hint of some magic at work. The ap­peal of co­in­ci­dence, from the mild to the ex­treme, lies in the fact that there’s a con­nec­tion be­ing made be­tween things that don’t seem to have much to do with each other. Philoso­pher and writer Arthur Koestler, who wrote ar­guably the only deep in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cre­ativ­ity, in­vented a word for this: ‘biso­ci­a­tion’. Maybe it’s not worth a new word, but the point is that we ap­pre­ci­ate co­in­ci­dence best when we think that two un­re­lated things are meet­ing. In the very first pic­ture we looked at (page 82), there are two things in play. One is the re­al­ity of street stuff: a mu­ral and a mo­tor­bike. Apart from the fact that one is parked in front of the other, they have no con­nec­tion. But there’s a sec­ond frame of ref­er­ence – the graph­ics – and by ma­nip­u­lat­ing them to bring eyes and wing mir­rors to­gether, the cross-con­nec­tion is forged. it’s also, by the way, the foun­da­tion of most jokes… but that’s an­other story.

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