Thursday 28 July 2011

Fever Diary - 6th February 20--

We are going to have to come to some convention on time. I favour BW and AW – Before Wigan and After Wigan. AW, of course, used to denote everything that comes after the moment I stepped off the end of the pier and into whatever this turns out to be. It allows me to write, without fear of the usual rolling eyes and discreet tapping motion at the temple, about the wake state and the dream scene in a fashion that satisfies anyone reading this journal.

I have had doubts about my own subconscious. Some of the things I have seen here seem unlikely to have emerged from my own mind, despite the wealth of Verne, Wells, Huxley and Zamaytin that I know I absorbed over time.

One thing, however, convinces me that this world is of my own construction. Here, in the AW, there is no such thing as an out of print author. I have just used a machine that acts rather like a literary jukebox. All English language texts of any age are contained within it and can be printed (complete with glossy cover and binding) or transferred to a hand-held device where they can be read at leisure. Who else but a vainglorious author could conceive of such a thing? To never be so lacking in readership that your oeuvre is pulped and forgotten, but to live on, for any individual of any period in subsequent history, to hold in their hand as if newly published. If only the lost library of Alexandria could have been preserved in this manner for subsequent generations, we could have been bored by several more Greek tragedies and a Rameses pyramid inventory.

I have used the machine to transfer the principal works of every author on my reading list to the device lent to me by Miss Statton. I would have preferred the printed option to the glowing screen, but I was shocked by the costs involved and opted instead for the ethereal versions.

One of the titles I have obtained by this method is ‘A Brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking. In it, there is much on the subject of infinity and of the beginning of all things. I have no way of knowing if the ideas contained within it, as arcane and peppered with diagrams and equations as an Aleister Crowley notebook, are credible or not. But they are unsatisfactory.

Scientists are measurers. They mark out the world in increments that please themselves. They like numbers and proportions and if no scale exists against which concepts may be weighed, they will invent one. Therefore, the concept of one ‘big bang’ to jump start the universe is a comforting one – just as the idea of a flat earth beyond which nothing can exist, was comforting to the ancients. But to the rest of us, particularly those who live through their imagination, it is, as I say, deeply unsatisfactory. A poet has no problem with infinity. Writers have dealt with eternity far longer than Copernicus. But ask a scientist what comes before the primary combustion and you will see a tidy collection of shifty eyes and vague gestures accompanied by mumblings concerning cyclical entropy and chaos theory.

I, for one, have no problem at all with the eternal. A random bacteria on a random rock near a viable star in one small speck of an infinite universe is a concept I can both conceive and appreciate. But perhaps, only After Wigan.

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