"The Twenty-Three Enigma" – Phenomenon Or Phony?

"The Twenty-Three Enigma" – Phenomenon Or Phony?
“Basically, we live in chaos, we know we can’t control anything, which is terrifying, but somehow numbers give us this parameter, and that’s how we define things. We compare salaries, we compare height, we compare weight” (Schumacher). Numbers play a huge role in the lives of men and women, from serving as a way to monitor the time, to paying for groceries at the supermarket. Be that as it may, each and every number has a specific and unique significance attached to it. Many are commonly known, such as thirteen, which is said to be unlucky. Seven is supposedly the heavenly number, while 666 represents the Devil. While most numerals have very clear meanings, others are more secretive about their intentions. Twenty-three is one of those numbers. There are various myths surrounding this strange digit – some being its origins, meaning, and how it is applied to people throughout history.

The very beginning of the twenty-three enigma is unknown. However, it was rediscovered in the 1960’s by William Burroughs. He was introduced to twenty-three for the first time by Captain Clark, a man who ran a ferry from Tangiers to Spain. Clark bragged to Burroughs one day that he had been running that ferry for twenty-three years without incident. That same day, Captain Clark’s ferry boat sank, killing everyone on board. Burroughs was only further astonished when he went home later that day and turned on the radio in time to hear that TWA Flight 800 (two to the power of three is eight) had crashed. Out of all the passengers on-board, 230 died. It was said that the plane went down due to an explosion with originated in seats 23J and 23K. After that, William Burroughs began to see twenty-threes everywhere and he kept journals filled with his episodes with the number.

The meaning this number projects could be seen as a matter of opinion. Josh Siegel, a numerology expert, believes that twenty-three signifies something new. He describes this idea further by saying:
If you take a look at the number twenty-two and see it from the perspective of a Cabalist, they believed, essentially, that God manifested this world as we see it, in twenty-two different steps. This phenomenal world where things happen, we see, live and breathe in, was manifested through – symbolically – the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. And here we are, in this twenty-second place if you will, so what’s twenty-three? If everything that we see and everything around us is based on these twenty-two principles, what’s twenty-three? It breaks it, it breaks it wide open. It created an entirely new manifestation. So you can see how the number twenty-three can be associated with virility (Siegel). For some it could be a lucky number; others, a curse that precedes disaster and death. To those who are simply fascinated to its obsessive nature, it may be just a method to occupy the mind.

“When you really come down to it, if you look at the history of the world, the main religion has really been superstition. It's magical thinking” (Schumacher). Despite that being said, people still seem to tie its meaning into Christianity. An example is the 23rd Psalm which is about living without fear. The book of Revelations has twenty-one lines in its final verse, and a total of twenty-two chapters, showing a progression of twenty-three. It also uses the numbers four, seven and twelve frequently, and the sum of those three numbers is none other than twenty-three.

Although it is considered lucky by some people, it seems that many major disasters are directly or indirectly linked to twenty-three. Firstly, there is the sinking of the Titanic, which took place on the fourth month, the fifteenth day, and during the year 1912. If you separate each digit and add them together you will receive a grand total of twenty-three. A more recent event, being hurricane Katrina, is also associated with this deadly digit. This storm, which was considered the third deadliest ever in the United States, formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005. The United States of America declared war on Germany on December 11th, 1941; twelve plus eleven is twenty-three. To top it off, the Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11th, 2001 (9+11+2+1=23).

Many people and groups are also linked to twenty-three. The Knights Templar, for instance, had twenty-three Grand Masters. In addition, they were arrested in France on October 13; tenth month and thirteenth day. The New York Yankees won the World Series twenty-three times, starting in the year 1923. The founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the religion of Mormons, was Joseph Smith, who was born on December 23rd, 1805.

The history of the world is littered with twenty threes galore. For instance, Julius Caesar was stabbed twenty-three times, and he was also born on the twenty-third day. As well, Adolf Hitler organized the National Socialist Congression on January 23rd, he then tried to seize power on November 23rd. Hitler later tried to kill himself in April 1945 (four, one, nine, four, and five make twenty-three). The most prominent figure in history that is connected to the twenty-three enigma is William Shakespeare. In 1610, he was forty-six years old, also during that year the King James Bible was first published; in that edition, if someone were to turn to Psalm 46 and count forty-six words into he passage, they would land on the word ‘shake’. If they were to then do the same from the end backwards, they would come to rest on ‘spear’. A little bit spooky. He was, also, born on April 23rd, and he later died on the same date. Furthermore, Shakespeare died in the year 1616 – sixteen plus sixteen equals thirty-two, and his first folio was published in 1632, both thirty-twos are twenty-three reversed.

Before anyone could understand this next quotation, they would have to comprehend the Law of Fives. The Law states that every situation and event can be reduced down to the number five. As five is the number of chaos, the Law implies that everything in the world has a foundation of discord. The following excerpt is from The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson:

The Law of Fives is perfectly true. Everybody from JAMS to the Dealy Lama agrees on that. But you have to understand it more deeply now, Joe. Correctly formulated, the Law is: All Phenomena are directly or indirectly related to the number five, and this relationship can always be demonstrated given enough ingenuity on the part of the demonstrator. That’s the very model of what true scientific law must always be: a statement about how the human mind relates to the cosmos. We can never make a statement about the cosmos itself – but only about how our senses (or our instruments) detect it, and about how our codes and languages symbolize it (Shea and Anton 742).

To simply put it, it states that if a person were to search hard enough for something – the number five, in this case – then, without a doubt, they would find it. This is exactly how twenty-three plays its game, a game in which it is exceptionally good. Still, no matter how many strange occurrences that it is involved in, it is still just a number. Maybe it is a number that has peculiar beginnings, muddled meanings, and bizarre appearances throughout history, but that does not change the fact that it cannot influence people or events. There are book filled with plenty more outlandish happenings that could lead someone to believe in the twenty-three enigma. Any man or woman could look at themselves and find their life besieged with these types of coincidences. However, like Sir Francis Bacon once said, “The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses” (Bacon).

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