The Police and Synchronicity: All Access
by robert aziz
Twenty-four years ago in 1983—when I had completed in the form of my MA thesis my first serious work on the then highly esoteric subject of synchronicity and was about to embark on another stage of research on that same subject that would ultimately take the form of a book-length manuscript—I was watching a new music show on TV when it was announced the soon-to-be-released album by The Police would be titled Synchronocity [sic]. Of course it would not take long before millions worldwide—the album went 8xplatinum in the US alone—would know that the title of that new release by The Police was in fact Synchronicity.
For me personally confirmation came some two weeks later when the album became available for purchase. Sure enough, there, on its cover, Sting could be seen reading a copy of Jung’s own book on the subject. I should perhaps note at this point on Jung’s behalf that this was not the first time Jung, in the form of his writings or person, had actually made his way onto the album cover of a number #1 rock band. Unbeknownst to many, Jung also appears as one of the iconic audience members on the cover of the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
That Jung and his work should have even come onto the radar screen of The Police was in its own right intriguing stuff for me. ‘But where, if it all,’ I further asked myself, ‘were The Police in their understanding of Jung’s work?’ An answer to that question was forthcoming as I moved from image to word and descended into the carefully crafted lyrics and music of Synchronicity. Here was an understanding that was anything but casual. I immediately sat down and wrote a short article on the album, which I forwarded to A&M Records Canada. At A&M, Jim Monaco, who was in charge of the Synchronicity tour, got right behind my article and decided without any delay whatsoever that it should become part of the A&M publicity package for the Synchronicity tour. Some fun stuff was to follow—interviews with radio stations in Vancouver and Montreal, an exclusive, very small-numbers news/social gathering with The Police and backstage passes for their concert the following evening. All three guys—Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland—were incredibly interesting to speak with and it was no less evident in person during the afternoon news/social event than it had been in their album that The Police certainly did know their Jung. It was at this time they each signed my article.
The Police disbanded in 1984 at the conclusion of the Synchronicity tour. It is now 2007—some twenty-four years from the time their Synchronicity album was first released—and The Police are about to embark on The Police Tour 2007. A lot happens in twenty-four years. In 1981, I was convinced I had written everything I would have to say on the subject of synchronicity and its implications for Jung’s work. Today, two scholarly books later, I can safely say that that was an entirely erroneous assumption. Hexagram 24 in the I Ching is titled The Return. The archetypal motif of the return, as I have explained in The Syndetic Paradigm: The Untrodden Path Beyond Freud and Jung, is not about coming back to an old place as such; rather, it is about coming to an entirely new place by way of an old place” (see p. 144 & p. 243). At this moment of return, I offer my 1983 commentary: The Police—Synchronicity and C.G. Jung.
The Police—Synchronicity and C. G. Jung
Robert Aziz (June 1983)
In their latest album, Synchronicity, the British-based group The Police introduce their large international audience to a concept, which was developed by the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung (1875- 1961)—a concept which has remained, even to a great number of those familiar with Jung’s intricate psychology, esoteric knowledge.
Jung, who was the founder of Analytical Psychology, first introduced the term synchronicity in 1930. His principal essay on this subject “Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle,” a copy of which we can see Sting reading on the back of the album cover, did not appear, however until 1952. The concept of synchronicity is based on the idea that the individual, through the unconscious, has access to an “absolute knowledge” which is not bound by the limitations of space or time. Jung’s primary source of material for this hypothesis was to be found in his study of dreams especially those which were of a parapsychological nature. For example, an individual dreams of a woman he has not seen nor heard from for several years coming to his house to visit. The next day, to his amazement, having received no notice of her planned trip, with the exception of the dream, he finds her at his front door. This is what Jung described as a synchronistic experience; for, the individual achieved a knowledge of the woman’s visit, not through the senses, as is normally the case, but rather through the unconscious. The lyrics of Sting’s (Gordon Sumner’s) Synchronicity I, which are delivered with a clean rock sound characteristic of The Police, give expression to these very ideas.
With one breath, with one flow
You will know Synchronicity
A sleep trance, a dream dance,
A shared romance.
We know you, they know me
The synchronicity phenomena indicate that the unconscious is able to transcend the space and time factors as they are known to us. With respect to the former, it would seem that space has been transcended when, for instance, one has an accurate inner knowledge, possibly in the form of a dream or fantasy, that a friend, who is living hundreds of miles away, has suddenly taken ill. This type of synchronistic experience is not at all uncommon. With respect to the time factor, it would seem that it too can be transcended. The synchronistic experiences which are of a precognitive character demonstrate this quite well. As an example of a precognitive synchronistic experience, we can return to the man’s dream of being visited by a woman whom he had not seen for years. In this case, the unconscious transcended the time factor by providing knowledge of an event which, according to our everyday conscious perceptions of life, belonged to the nonexistent future.
Jung’s concept of synchronicity provides, therefore, an image of a psyche which, not being restricted by the limitations of space and time, participates in the events of nature as a whole. Consequently, “meaningful parallels” emerge between inner psychic experiences and the various types of external events.
A star fall, a phone call,
It joins all,
The idea of “meaningful parallels” is presented in a particularly interesting way in Sting’s Synchronicity II. On the one hand, there is “Daddy,” whose instinctual side is on the verge of violently erupting having been so completely repressed by modern urban and family life. On the other hand, we are presented with what one may safely assume is an allusion to the emergence of the creature of Loch Ness in Scotland.
The secretaries pout and preen like cheap tarts
on a red light street,
But all he ever thinks to do is watch,
And every single meeting with his so called superior
Is a humiliating kick in the crotch
Many miles away something crawls to the surface
of a dark Scottish lake
Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
He sees the family home now looming in the headlights
The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door
of a cottage on the
Shore of a dark Scottish lake
With the hypothesis of synchronicity, Jung felt he had achieved, from the point of view of psychology, an understanding of the nature of the phenomenal world that was analogous to that of modern physics. Both had achieved an understanding of reality that went beyond our everyday notions of solid bodies, empty space, cause and effect, space and time. Physics understanding of this new frontier was for the most part quantitative in that it was expressed mathematically. Jung’s understanding was, in contrast to this, principally qualitative in that it addressed the problem of “meaningful parallels.” Both views, Jung had hoped, would eventually come together creating a new unified scientific model—a new world view linking the psychic and the physical. It is a scientific goal which, given the limited knowledge of psychology and physics, is at present unattainable.
Effect without cause
Sub-atomic laws, scientific pause
To view a scanned copy of the original article including The Police signatures click here.