A special place in time and space


climbing up

(The Sultan’s Elephant, London 2006)

Of all the things I’ve witnessed in my life, few have been as spectacular and magical as when The Sultan’s Elephant travelled through time to London in 2006, looking for a little girl. The little girl was a twenty foot tall wooden puppet. The elephant was 42 feet tall, which is rather poetic. It happened and I was there: many memories and stories were recorded back then. The girl’s neo-gothic wooden spaceship crash-landed in Victoria, near where I was working at the time. It really happened: click on the link below the photo, and here. I don’t know if I have a medical condition with a name, but I weep when I see or hear something beautiful. It was a special place in space-time, recorded in the fabric of memory.

No matter where I landed in my own life and my internal religious debate, there would always be the uncertainty principle: As an atheist, I have to consider that although God died as a supernatural being with an interest in my welfare, I may as well resuscitate him. Because as we have looked deeper in science, so we have had to ask more questions and we still seek answers. They’re all out there, in space-time.

Space-time is really quite a simple thing to understand (I think): It’s the concepts of time and three-dimensional space regarded as fused in a four-dimensional continuum. I’ll explain how much space we occupy as individuals in relation to the size of the universe:

As you read this, you occupy an area of space in three dimensions: You have X, Y and Z axes; You have a depth, a height and a width; You can be measured in three ways. Personally, I’m 5 foot 4, about two feet from shoulder to shoulder and about a foot thick at my chest: I occupy an area of space about 18,432 cubic inches in size. I’m much smaller in metric: 1.63 metres tall x 0.6m wide and 0.3m deep; I occupy a space about the size of a pillar box. Never mind that I’ve chosen that particular comparison and that I’m full of stories; That is my personal space within the vastness. Give or take, a post box is a good measure of most people.

Here’s the clever bit: You, me; that post box, will still be there tomorrow, or a minute from now. We’ll still occupy our area of space but that in itself is moving through time. The difference of course is that the pillar box doesn’t have a choice. But that’s another story. Regardless of willing, we are in a three dimensional space, constantly. With every decision, catalyst, observation or whatever, that space splits and other timelines are created. That’s yet another story.

There are some things in science which are so weird that we can’t comprehend them. Maybe there was a creator: not necessarily “God” but something so far advanced from us that we might see it, or them, as a creator. It’s recursive and it’s a paradox. It’s material for the fiction writer.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am indeed a writer now: I’m comfortable with that. I write, I don’t make any money but I’m happy. Knowing what I believe to be true about life, the universe and everything so far, I’m content to just get by and leave a legacy. In a parallel future universe, researchers and historians might happen upon my writing and it may be noteworthy. I may or may not know if this happens but the fact that it could means that it already has: That’s quantum mechanics again.

As I’ve documented here before, I read and research a lot; mainly scientific stuff for the sci-fi side of my job. Quantum mechanics and physics are things which I now find simple concepts because I’ve read and written so much around the quantum universe (multiverse). But like in so much of my writing, there is a very simple parallel: Writing fiction, which is what I do. Because quite simply, in fiction, anything is possible and can be created. And that’s really what quantum theory is, but it’s real. So in a way, I don’t write fiction; I write fact.

Even away from quantum distractions, my stories usually have two things: a basis in fact and a degree of plausibility. Then they get more complicated and interesting on individual bases: That’s when they take me on a ride. Before we set off though, I’ll have characters in mind, based on people I know and with elements of myself, all mixed up: Characterisation is great fun. Recently, some of my stories have been concentric in themselves, with one story telling the making of another. A Tale With Many Strings, The Unfinished Literary Agency and Cyrus Song were some of the most enjoyable stories I’ve ever written. Cyrus Song especially, was based on persons and feelings close to me. To anyone outside though, it’s still a rather special story, which has gained me a little more recognition.

And so, having created a rod for my back, I needed to write the next one; I needed to go further out into this world I’m discovering, in my profession and in life. As I realise just what a small part of existence this life represents, I delve deeper into the next world, in my research and my writing. I need to strike a balance between working on new stories and editing the anthology of the older ones. I need to find time for Infana Kolonia. I need to slow up a little and deal with some things in the “real” world too. I happen to be tending a herb garden on my windowsill: Seeds which I planted and which are sprouting. I hope to report on all things botanical if the little wonders continue to grow as they are. Who knows what stories I might tell. In any case, my next one has a working title of Terra Incognita and it’s another longer story but darker than my more recent whimsies.

Even though my visible output may be less prolific than once upon a time, it doesn’t mean I’m not working. It’s just that where I find myself now, I have to tell longer stories. I’ll always be here.

So yet again, art and life come together in my world. I’m still exploring and with each answer, more questions are posed. And so I explore more and ask more questions. And it does carry on, beyond the time we have on this earth. Thank “God”, or whatever it is which has the answers.

Past, present and future are all linked: That’s a fact. Grasp the concept of space-time, then become even more confused about where it is you’re headed.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go but I think I’ve ended up where I intended to be.”

(Douglas Adams)

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