Over the weekend I found myself in the “Twilight Zone” as a result of those odd coincidences that occasionally pop up as one goes about one’s life. I’m working my way through Season 2 of the Twilight Zone box set and Episode 7 is, as almost all the stories are, a beautifully crafted tale starring a young William Shatner (the episode was first aired in 1960) in the role of young man who arrives in a small town and starts putting pennies into a fortune-telling napkin dispenser. Throughout the story, he becomes more and more convinced that the coincidental and random generalisations written on each 1 cent ticket are in fact accurately describing the future life for both himself and his girlfriend. As always, Rod Serling puts a twist in the tale but I won’t spoil it for you. The coincidence here is that over the next 24 hours coincidence popped up while reading. The eerie connection was between a book I’m reading and a news article that I read on Sunday was, as always, bizarre and fascinating in equal measure.
I read a reasonable amount and I’ve found, as I’m sure many people are aware, that the more you read the more the world seems connected, coincidental.
On Saturday evening, I was reading a horror story entitled ‘The Horror at Red Hook’ which was written in 1927 by one of the most famous (to those in the know!) horror writers of the early twentieth century. I’ll tell you his name later if you haven’t already guessed. There is a passage in the story that goes like this:
“…where Suydan had his basement flat, there had grown up a very unusual colony of unclassified slant-eyed folk who used the Arabic alphabet but who were eloquently repudiated by the great mass of Syrians in and around Atlantic Avenue…most of the people, he conjectured, were of Mongoloid stock, originating somewhere in or near Kurdistan – and Malone could not help recalling that Kurdistan is the land of the Yezidis, last survivors of the Persian devil-worshippers…”
I’ve edited the passage a small amount as some of the author’s sentences are very adjective-heavy and some are as long as most people’s paragraphs.
H P Lovecraft was a very well-read man and his attention to detail in crafting his stories occasionally borders, in my view, on the maniacal. His books are certainly educational if you are fascinated by folk-lore and the exploration of the darker sides of human nature. It was the mention of the Kurds that struck me (and here’s the coincidence) due to the fact that presently, as a result of the ongoing problems in Syria (civil war is an appropriate phrase), a young Turkish monk, Father Joaqim, is welcoming displaced Syrians coming across the border from Syria. He has helped revive an old monastery and he has been helped in his mission by some of the refugees. On being asked who it was had been helping to revive the fortunes the monk replies:
“They were Yezidis. They moved in after the last monk died. They looked after the monastery very well.”
The thought of a Syriac Orthodox monk being grateful to Yezidis, sometimes reviled as devil-worshippers by Muslims and Christians alike, was a novel one.
I had never heard of Yezidis before reading the Lovecraft story. Why did I decide to browse the story of the monk on the BBC Website? Does any one have a spare penny?