Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

Have you ever had an uncanny experience?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I certainly do sometimes wish I had made that telephone call, but it seems to me that if I could travel back in time and retrieve that slip, I still wouldn't make the call. The man whose name and number I had on my desk might have offered me a real golden opportunity, but there might have been future ramifications and consequences that would have turned the opportunity into a misfortune. Here is an interesting and pertinent quotation:

Let no man despise the secret hints and notices of danger, which sometimes are given him, when he may think there is no possibility of its being real. That such hints and notices are given us, I believe few that have made any observations of things can deny; that they are certain discoveries of an invisible world, and a converse of spirits, we cannot doubt; and if the tendency of them seems to be to warn us of danger, why should we not suppose they are from some friendly agent, whether supreme, or inferior and subordinate, is not the question; and that they are given for our good?

                                          Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

I have had many premonitions of danger in my lifetime and have experienced misfortunes when I disregarded them, but I don't regard these others as "uncanny." I believe we are often given what Robinson Crusoe calls "secret hints and notices of danger" and that we often tend to ignore them to our regret.

(I love your story about the guy you met in the bar. That's uncanny!)

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Don't you sometimes wonder, though, what opportunity may have been awaiting you had you made that phone call? Life is full of missed opportunities and, yes, absolutely, there are some we are probably better off not experiencing, but time and place play such a crucial role in everything we do.

Think how those people feel who should have been in the Twin Towers on that fateful day but,for one reason or another, weren't there. Hindsight also creates situations that, without it, we would not give a second thought to.

The day before my father died (suddenly), he phoned my house -he had NEVER phoned my house before-  and wanted to speak to my youngest son( aged 4 at the time) because  - actually I do not even remember the reason- but he was sleeping so I just chatted to him briefly, wished him a good night's sleep and never spoke to him again as he died at his desk at 8am the next morning! Where there forces at play here? 

My other experience is probably not "uncanny" in the sense you intended, and it doesn't have a supernatural element but - and you've heard this story before - "...met a guy in a bar..." Anyway, my friend asked him a very random question about soccer and asked him to guess where I was originally from - we were 6000 miles from home at the time!! I, at this point had not spoken. He answered correctly - down to the town I was born in! ...So to cut a long story short - we have been married for more than 26 years! Now, what if he had chosen to ignore my over-zealous friend?

Jung's theories are inciteful and interesting and do bring elements together into a whole rather than events or occurences remaining isolated. This in turn creates a connection that may otherwise have escaped notice and it is on analysis that the "co-incidental" nature of seemingly random events becomes apparent, creating

meaningful coincidence between internal and external events

but personality is definitely a factor in interpretation and

influences one’s thought and action.

In The History Boys by Alan Bennett, it is clear how opportunity and experiences mould young minds and shape futures:

truth is less important than having an original perspective

which reinforces the idea that individual perception is very much at play - even when strange phenomena seem to encourage us to lean one way or another - or make that call!! 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I have had only one really uncanny experience in my life. I was sitting in my small office with my desk cluttered with papers, as usual. One slip of paper on which I had written a name and phone number rose straight in the air and started to move all the way across my desk directly at my eye level. The window was closed. There was no draft in the room, no fan or air-condition going. What was uncanny was that i knew what was going to happen. The note sailed slowly and sedately across the desk and then, when it reached the other end, descended directly into the empty waste basket. All I knew about the man whose name and phone number I had written on that slip of paper was that he was a stranger and that I was supposed to call him. But when I looked down into that black waste basket I decided there was no way I was ever going to call that man, regardless of whether it was a supernatural experience or just some atmospheric or other phenomenon I didn't understand.

Carl Jung believed there is no such thing as a coincidence. He believe in supernatural phenomena--which helped to cause his historic rupture with Sigmund Freud. I am inclined to side with Jung. I still, after all these years, can't help feeling that some invisible presence was protecting me and warning me not to have anything to do with the stranger whose name was on that slip of paper.

Have you ever had a truly uncanny experience?

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial