Lawrence Weschler’s Taxonomy of Convergences


Here is a map in my diary of Lawrence Weschler’s “Taxonomy of Convergences” that the writer has been working out in the past five issues of his Substack.

His idea of “convergences” — when something resembles something else, or makes you go, “that reminds me of…” and you make “free associative linkages” — has been a big influence on me. (See my blog tag: “Convergences.”)

Here is an example of a convergence from Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences

late Rothko vs. the moon landing

In this recent taxonomy, Weschler proposes a spectrum of things that resemble one another, ranging from an imagined but not real connection (“apophenia”) to a connection that is being deliberately concealed (plagiarism).

The only trouble is that these marvelous pieces have been sort of buried in his numbered Substack issues, so I’m hoping by sharing these images from my diary and direct links to the pieces, maybe it’ll make you want to click through. It’s a lot to sift through, but it rewards the sifter.

First up is an introduction to the concept of “convergences.”

Second is Apophenia, Chance/Accident, and Affinity, or “inchoate projections, vague coincidences and misty affinities” in which there is no real underlying connection other than the one we make.

The third installment is “Co-Causation,” or “that part of the widening spectrum where if things happen to look alike, it’s because they’re likely to be drawing on the same sorts of sources.”

The fourth installment covers “Direct Influence” and “Invocation,” or, “the kind of things that happen as one artist or thinker or group of such artists or thinkers impacts upon another—both forward and backward, and consciously and unconsciously.”

The fifth installment covers Allusion, Quotation, Appropriation, Cryptomnesia, and Plagiarism. (My favorite of the batch.) Weschler ends at a point on the spectrum in which things resemble each other for a reason, but the reason is being hidden from us.

I suspect that some of us are wired to see these convergences more than others. But I also think this way of seeing is very infectious. (I call it “the world keeps showing me these pictures.”)

Source: austinkleon

Lawrence Weschler’s Taxonomy of Convergences