Sunday, 29 October 2017

James Bond's Opponents

SMERSH
Mr Big
Rosa Klebb
Auric Goldfinger

SPECTRE
Emilio Largo
Horst Uhlmann
Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Others
Le Chiffre
Sir Hugo Drax
The Spang brothers
Dr No
Mr Sanguinetti
Francisco Scaramanga

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Piet Hein

Poul Anderson, Genesis (New York, 2001) is divided into Parts One and Two, each with an internal title page.

Part One, p. 1, has this appropriate quotation:

"To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
"Beyond the utmost bound of human thought."
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

No surprises there. We recognize both the name Tennyson and the relevance of the verse.

Part Two, p. 99, has:

"Was it her I ought to have loved...?"
-Piet Hein.

Observations
I googled Piet Hein. See here.
When I googled the quotation, I found only copies of Anderson's text.
Hein refers to Niel Bohr who is also referenced in Anderson's Three Hearts And Three Lions. See here.
In Anderson's use of the quotation, does "her" refer to Earth?

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Today In Lancaster

See In Preston Today.

A Pride march set off from and returned to Dalton Square. See image. There was food, drink and speeches. Speakers included the Mayor of Lancaster and the Conservative and Labour candidates in the current General Election campaign, Eric Ollerenshaw and Cat Smith, respectively. Ollerenshaw is homosexual and a veteran of Gay Liberation Front marches. There will be musical events in local pubs this afternoon and this evening.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The James Bond Canon

Novels by Ian Fleming.

TV adaptations: Casino Royale: UNCLE; unused scripts and treatments.

Prose fiction by Fleming based on screen treatments: Dr No; For Your Eyes Only; Thunderball.

Feature films.

Newspaper comic strips.

Prose fiction by other authors, including Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz, incorporating
"Murder on Wheels," a TV treatment by Fleming.

Film novelizations.

Comic books.

Video games.

Friday, 31 March 2017

A Few Coincidences

I am reading SM Stirling's Emberverse series in which many people, including the present Queen of England, have died and Prince Charles has become King Charles III. By coincidence, I recently heard part of a radio drama by Val McDermid in which many people are dying and the Queen is too ill to perform state functions so the Prime Minister asks Prince Charles to dissolve Parliament.

By another coincidence, I am rereading Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in which Mikael Blomkvist reads Val McDermid's The Mermaids Singing. The phrase "...mermaids singing..." is part of a poem by John Donne which Neil Gaiman quotes at the beginning of his novel, Stardust.

The Poul Anderson Appreciation blog has found many connections between SM Stirling, Poul Anderson and Neil Gaiman. We have also discussed Stieg Larsson in relation to Poul Anderson, e.g., see here.

Multi-Blogging

My mission today, which I chose to accept, was not to post on Poul Anderson Appreciation but instead to post on six other blogs. However, these posts should be of interest to readers of PAA and will be copied to that blog tomorrow:

Versions
Not Fanfic But
Swedish Comics
Temporal Intelligence
Logic And Timelines
Magic And Entropy

Versions

See Versions.

Generally, book publication presents a single version of a character whereas periodical publication and screen adaptations present multiple versions. However, there is a long history of different versions of a story. Hesiod and Homer present alternative birth stories of Aphrodite; Plato rationalizes them.

The Smallville and Arrow TV series present different versions of Oliver Queen played by different actors. Smallville is a prequel to a version of Superman but not a version that we have ever seen before. Everything important is happening before Clark dons the costume or flies, even Lois Lane knowing of his powers and agreeing to marry him.

There are two versions of Poul Anderson's Kith History (see here) and a few stories in his Technic History exist both in an original version and in a version that has been revised to make it consistent with the History, e.g., "Margin of Profit" (see here) and "The White King's War" (see here).

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Saving The Past II

See Saving The Past.

Alan Moore saves the Burroughs by writing a novel in which Alma Warren saves the Burroughs by representing the area in visual art. The titles of Alma's art works correspond to Alan's chapter headings.

Alan writes and Alma says:

"'That's what art's for. It rescues everything from time.'"
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 1171.

Right on.

Saving The Past

"'Sooner or later all the people and the places that we loved are finished, and the only way to keep them safe is art. That's what art's for. It rescues everything from time.'"
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 1171.

"Kine die, kinfolk die,
"And so at last oneself.
"This I know that never dies:
"How dead men's deeds are deemed.
-copied from here.

Hassan asks, "How could the city last?" but then goes home "...by child's short-cuts..." with, behind his eyes, "...towers and jewels and djinn, carpets and rings and wild afreets, kings and princes and cities of brass..." (p. 258). That is how the city lasts.
-copied from here.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Inversions?

In the Afterlude of Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016), we read detailed descriptions of the partly sequential works of art in Alma Warren's exhibition. The art works correspond to several chapters that we have already read, even including one that I had forgotten reading! (This book is like several books.)

Suppose that the art works are real and that the previous chapters are stories written to correspond to the visuals of the art. Thus, the entire volume would be turned inside out. I do not believe that that is the author's intention. I offer it as one surreal imagining by someone still reading the Afterlude.

Here is another inversion. In one of the art works, a line-drawing, Oliver Cromwell lies asleep in bed in the midst of a battle. Alma's brother is unsure whether this means that Cromwell is unaware of the suffering that he causes or that he dreams of the battle. But it can obviously be both. He is unaware in waking life but his unconscious knows. This one piece of art seems to transcend the rest of the exhibition. But I have yet to read to the end of the Afterlude and am about to join the Lord Protector (not literally) in the realm of Morpheus.

Walking Back III

See here.

Maybe Snowy's walk to the mortal "end of time" takes so much of his time that, by the time he gets there, the Upstairs realm has advanced into its era when the demons regain their angelic status? No, because, as I understand the text, the fallen angels are still demons when Snowy has completed his return journey.

Either he has walked forward, then backward, along the first temporal axis and has endured through a short period of the second temporal axis or he has walked forward, then backward, along the first temporal axis and has endured through a long period of the second axis but has then endured backwards along that second axis. The latter would make life more complicated. In fact, he would be passing his outward bound self at every step of the way back.

It is not easy to think about more than one dimension of time (see here) and I may be getting this all wrong.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Walking Back II

See Walking Back.

Snowy, a ghost, is able to walk to what mortals regard as the end of time because his backwards-forwards dimension corresponds to their temporal dimension. Walking along a corridor above the mortal realm, he is able to look down through apertures at cross-sections of some of the world lines in that realm. It follows that Snowy's temporal dimension is at right angles to the temporal dimension of the mortal realm.

Although the last mortal dies a long time before the end of the universe, Snowy continues walking until he reaches that ultimate end. If he were to converse with the last mortal, then he would have to:

interrupt his "futureward" hike;
descend through one of the apertures;
rotate through ninety degrees so that his temporal dimension became the temporal dimension of mortals.

He would then be able to converse with a being who would otherwise appear to him as one end of a static world line.

The corridor along which Snowy walks is the lowest part of an "Upstairs" realm inhabited by ghosts and angels. Some of the angels have either fallen or been pushed down into a demonic role but will eventually regain their angelic status. But surely this "eventually" is in the far future of the temporal dimension of the "Upstairs" realm which is at right angles to the temporal dimension of the mortal realm? Snowy should not find a demon transformed back into an angel waiting to converse with him at what mortals regard as the end of time. This "end of time" is not the end of time for angels but is merely a remote point along one of their three or more spatial dimensions.

Story-Telling Media

A story can be narrated, enacted or depicted. Thus, the three story-telling media are narrative, drama and sequential art. Narrative can be verse or prose.

Alan Moore's Jerusalem has:

many chapters of prose;
one dramatic script;
one chapter of verse;
art panels on the cover;
one Joycean chapter that I skipped but must revisit;
streams of consciousness.

When we have read a dialogue from both POVs, we think that that scene has been exhausted but then we read it again as observed by a third party. Some incidents make more sense literally hundreds of pages later. I don't think that I will reread any time soon.

Life In Lancaster

Today in Lancaster: Chinese New Year. See Kinds Of Dragons, China and Adzel On Earth last year.

This year: dragons, dancing, music and food. A guy was selling what he did not want to call waffles so I told him just to call them Hong Kong waffles. Many of the performers are not Chinese and I met several non-Chinese friends in the crowd.

Yesterday, I anachronistically joined the Industrial Workers of the World in picketing a cafe while other comrades went further afield to demonstrate about more global issues.

Back home, I am just 100 pages away from the end of Alan Moore's monumental Jerusalem. It might not be possible to formulate an over-all assessment of the book. The earlier chapters now seem like a different novel.

Schlemiel

Here, I quoted and googled "schmendrick" and learned that one meaning is "apprentice schlemiel." Then I read:

"...such a schlemiel..."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 1066.

Coincidentally, 1066 is an important date in British history. Since that year, an absolute monarchy has gradually become a constitutional monarchy with a republican interregnum thanks in part to Naseby.

Am I on the same mental wavelength as Alan Moore? I am Marxist, not anarchist, practice meditation, not magic, and invoke "whatever gods may be," not Glycon. However, we are comrades in the Brotherhood of Being.

The Origin Of Genre Fiction?

Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), pp. 1055-1057.

The first novels were comedies of manners.
James Hervey, a theologian, contrasted human transience with divine eternity.
Hervey influenced other theologians and the Graveyard Poets.
Later Graveyard poets focused on graveyards, not on God.
The first Gothic novelists followed the later Graveyard poets.
Gothic fiction was the first genre.
Gothic novels were followed by ghost stories, horror fiction and fantasy.
Frankenstein was both a Gothic novel and the first science fiction novel.
Edgar Allan Poe wrote Gothic fiction, then invented detective fiction.
Bauhaus independently influenced the modern Goth movement.
Like Hervey and Alan Moore, David J of Bauhaus came from Northampton, the center of England, with "...its churches, murders, history and ghostly monks." (p. 1057)

Addendum: Superman is transitional between sf and superheroes as Frankenstein was between Gothic and sf. See here.

Addendum II: For some discussion of the issues in this post, see here.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Walking Back

I have to disagree with a fictional incident as described in Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016), pp. 999-1000.

First, imagine that I walk from point A to point B and then return. I depart from A at 1:00, arrive at B at 2:00, immediately turn around and arrive back at A at 3:00. Of course, I neither meet nor briefly converse with myself shortly before arriving at B.

Secondly, imagine that I can walk backwards in time:

depart from A at 1:00;
arrive at B at 2:00;
immediately turn around;
arrive back at A at 1:00.

In the second case, I would be passing myself at every moment of the outward and return journeys.

In Jerusalem, Snowy Vernall walks, carrying the eighteen-month old May on his shoulders. (They are ghosts whose ectoplasmic bodies are permanently the size and shape that their material bodies had when they died.) Snowy and May inhabit a space of at least three dimensions. (Other dimensions are mentioned but we can only visualize three.) Their (at least) three spatial dimensions are, of course, backwards-forwards, left-right and up-down. Snowy walks along a very long corridor. The world lines of the mortal world are below the floor of the corridor and parallel to it. Thus, Snowy's backwards-forwards spatial dimension corresponds to our, not his, temporal dimension. Snowy has a temporal dimension. He perceives, thinks, talks and walks. All of these activities take time. His temporal dimension is at right angles to ours and might (or might not) correspond to one of our three spatial dimensions. He should no more meet himself on his outward and return journeys than I do when walking from A to B and returning to A.

Literary Comparisons

We compare Alan Moore's Jerusalem:

with Poul Anderson's The Corridors Of Time here;
with Anderson's The Winter Of The World here;
with Anderson's "Time Patrol" and There Will Be Time and with an idea in his The Day Of Their Return here.

Now we should add that, as Moore's temporal pedestrians approach the end of life on Earth, they emulate HG Wells' Time Traveler. Thus, they are in the very best of literary company. And, since my reading of the text is continually interrupted, e.g., by blogging and by walking from Morecambe to Lancaster, I have yet to learn how their journey into the far future is going to end.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Crisis

We referred to DC Comics Crisis on Infinite Earths here while discussing the Smallville TV series. Now we should refer to it again while discussing Alan Moore's Jerusalem.

"A jackboxer from the Manhattan saltbogs of 5070 had managed to bring down a young ichthyosaurus with his whorpoon..."
-Alan Moore, Swamp Thing: A Murder Of Crows (New York, 2001), p. 85.

"...barbed and ornate wolf-killing 'vulpoons'..."
-Alaon Moore, Jerusalem (New York, 2016), p. 970.

A "vulpoon" is not the same as a "whorpoon" but the coinage was sufficiently similar to make me reread Swamp Thing. Both are future weapons. Jerusalem, astonishingly, moves into what we call the future although ghosts can walk there.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Wisdom Of Henry George

"...Henry reckons Mister Lincoln only wants to get them slaves out of the cotton fields down south so that they can be put to work in mills and factories up north."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 902.

Sure but the Civil War, changing slaves into free workers, is a social revolution, nevertheless. The next revolution will be workers' control.

"If he dies and someone else gets born next week who's a completely different person what has got no memory of ever being him, in what way is that Henry George?" (p. 915)

Right on.

"...what he wants the most is his whole life again..." (p. 916)

I don't. In the unlikely event that there is a hereafter, I hope that it will be an opportunity for continued learning and growth.

Comics In Prose Fiction

Some characters in novels must read comics. Stieg Larsson tells us how the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo got her nickname, "Wasp," but David Lagercrantz tells us instead that she named herself after the Marvel Comics Wasp.

In Alan Moore's Jerusalem, a boy growing up in Northampton in the 1960s reads about:

Iron Man battling Kala, the Queen of the Underworld;
Spiderman fighting the Vulture;
Superman and Batman meeting when young;
the Skrulls;
the Human Torch;
Starro the Conqueror;
the Baxter Building;
Avengers Mansion;
the Fortress of Solitude.

He reads Strange Tales, Fantasy Masterpieces, Fantastic Four and Thor with "Tales of Asgard" by Jack Kirby.

I remember the Skulls, Starro and the regular Superman-Batman team-up in World's Finest Comics.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Illusion Of Free Will

Alma Warren in Jerusalem (London, 2016), like Alan Moore in Voice Of The Fire, reads New Scientist. Of Alma, we read that:

"She's convinced that no-one really needs free will as long as there is a sustainable illusion of the same to stop everyone going mad." (p. 782)

James Blish's character, Dana Lje, had already addressed the issue:

"'...there are never motives behind actions. All actions are fixed. What we call motives evidently are rationalizations by the helpless observing consciousness, which is intelligent enough to smell an event coming - and, since it cannot alter the event, instead cooks up reasons for wanting it to happen...'"
-James Blish, The Quincunx Of Time (New York, 1983), p. 76.

When Dana received messages from the future informing her that she was going to practice an elaborate deception in order to join the Earth intelligence bureau and marry its director, she listed the advantages to herself of this course of action and those advantages became her motives. Thus, she consciously experienced the rationalization that usually occurs unconsciously.

Streets And Cities II

I forgot to mention here that the first of these fictional walkers around Northampton was the author himself in the concluding chapter of the previous novel, Voice Of The Fire. Moore's narratives impart information about urban geography and history which was sadly lacking in my attempt at a fictional urban walk. See here. I have suggested here how this literary technique might be applied to an sf or superhero series.

Does it make sense when some characters enter a hereafter that comprises an unfolding of their familiar urban environment into higher dimensions? It would if the hereafter were our mental projection but why should it be? People arriving in a new continent or on a new planet find the unexpected.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Streets And Cities

In Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016), named after one city and set in another for sound symbolical reasons, the characters spend a lot of time walking through city streets, thinking. I tried, and failed, to write like this about Lancaster. See here and image.

Works of fiction can present fictional walks around real cities or fictional cities. There are a lot of both kinds of cities in these blogs:

Great Cities
the fabulous city of Ys
James Blish's flying cities
Isaac Asimov's planet-wide city of Trantor
Archopolis
Chicago Integrate
San Francisco Integrate
Metropolis

The United States of Earth DC is a patchwork of cities that do not exist on Earth Real. It is after midnight in Lancaster and I still aim to watch a Smallville dvd. 

Batman

"...an old black-and-white Batman and Robin where the couple drove around in a completely ordinary 1940s car and Robin pushed his cardboard mask up on his forehead while conversing with his costumed pal in public."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 808.

Here, Alan Moore writes a novel in which a character reminisces about a Batman cinema serial. Moore has also written the Batman for DC Comics, most notably in The Killing Joke. I disagree with the author about this work. See here.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Reality

In Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016), pp. 805-806, Alma Warren:

walks through Northampton;

thinks about people, issues and memories;

supposes that all the other pedestrians are similarly preoccupied;

reflects that reality is all these "...illusions, memories, anxieties, ideas and speculations, constant in six billion minds." (pp. 805-806)

If, by "reality," we mean everything that exists, then reality is much more than the contents of six billion minds on one planet. If we mean the world as experienced by humanity in general, then she is closer to being correct. However, the world is bigger than our ideas of it. If A and B converse about the world, then three factors are involved:

A's world-view;
B's world-view;
the world.

The third factor is bigger than either or both of the first two and is full of surprises. For example, I would have denied that there could ever be a Jeremy Corbyn movement inside the British Labour Party. And, while the Corbynites must be encouraged to organize and campaign, I think that it remains a dangerous illusion to believe that the Labour Party itself can ever be or become the instrument of social transformation. Indeed, Corbyn is compromised and held back by the Parliamentary Labour Party which has tried to remove him despite his overwhelming endorsement by the membership.

Having identified reality with the contents of six billion minds, i.e., with the sum total of all our world-views, Alma goes on to reflect that:

"The actual events and circumstances of the world are just the sweaty and material tip of this immense and ghostly iceberg..." (p. 806)

However, I believe that material and economic conditions and circumstances determine world-views, not vice versa. Accumulation of a surplus led to class divisions which led to kingship which led to the idea of the divine right of kings. The abstract idea did not precede the social relationship although it was possible for generations of humanity to believe that the idea had come first. The idea was thought to have existed first in the mind of God or in the minds of the founders of civilizations...

Alma reflects that:

"...no individual being can conceivably experience...the entirety..." of reality (p. 806)

- and therefore wonders:

"...just whom or what is reality real to." (p. 806)

But she has answered her question. No individual being can experience all of reality. Reality can be real without being, in its entirety, experientially, real to anyone. I argued with a guy who kept trying to say that, if an event was not experienced, then it did not happen, to which I replied "non sequitor." There must have been events before the first conscious being began to exist, as a result of which that being began to exist.

"This World And Nearer Ones"

The title of this post is a phrase used by Brian Aldiss. See here. I think that the phrase is particularly appropriate to some alternative reality fiction - starting with the fact that every work of fiction is set in an alternative reality. See here.

In Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016), Alma Warren reads Herbie. See image. She refers to "...the once-important Comics Code Authority..." (p. 785) but does not mention that the Authority was overthrown when an issue of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing was published without the Authority's approval.

Alma illustrated the cover of an Elric book by Michael Moorcock although this cannot be exactly the same Michael Moorcock who is quoted on the back of Jerusalem. She is friendly with fellow artist Melinda Gebbie although Alma's version of Melinda Gebbie cannot be married to the author of Jerusalem.

Alma shops in Martin's Newsagent - see image - where she converses with Tony and Shirley Martin. I expect that, like Michael Moorcock and Melinda Gebbie, the Martins also exist in (at least) two worlds.

Alma has seen Tony Blair and thinks about both David Keogh and Leo O'Connor. See here. It's a strange world - or two or three.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

'tHooft

In Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016), Alma Warren reads 'tHooft. Alma asks: why do different laws apply to subatomic particles than to stars and planets?

Why not? Hegel argued that quantity affects quality. It would be more surprising if nuclei and electrons were exactly like stars and planets. Maybe several micro-states correspond to a single maxi-state?

Alma thinks that:

"...if there's no quantum indeterminacy, then there's no free will." (p. 782)

But there is no free will in any case. Freedom is absence of constraint, not randomness. People are most predictable when acting freely. A pacifist saint will not kick a dog that bites him whereas an aggressive drunk will.

Alma wonders why populations, like masses, are predictable whereas individuals, like particles, are not. Asimov makes the same comparison in his Foundation series. James Blish demonstrates determinism in The Quincunx Of Time as Alan Moore does in Watchmen.

Falling One By One

"'What was it Mephistopheles said? "Why, this is Hell, nor am I out of it." The totems are falling all around us as we sit here. One by one, Rosenbaum; one by one.'"
-James Blish, "A Dusk of Idols" IN Blish, Anywhen (New York, 1970) , pp. 105-135 AT p. 135.

"Ideas of self, ideas of world and family and nation, articles of scientific or religious faith, your creeds and currencies: one by one, the beloved structures falling.

"Whooomff.

"Whooomff.

"Whooomff."
-Alan Moore, "Clouds Unfold" IN Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), pp. 757-775 AT p. 775.

Blish ends a short story by telling us that our totems are falling. Moore ends a chapter by telling us what those totems are: ideas, faiths, creeds and currencies. Moore also provides sound effects.

An uncanny textual parallelism.

Consciousness

St Michael comments:

"I keep up with the continuing argument over 'Intelligent Design', although if one subscribes to late twentieth-century ideas of consciousness as an emergent property, the disagreement vanishes. If self-awareness can emerge from systems that have passed a certain threshold of complexity, then is not the expanding universe of space and time, by definition, the most complex system that can possibly exist?"
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 769.

Hold on there, Michael. I think that an individual human brain is more complex than the cosmos considered as a system of galaxies? Also, that the universe was simple before it became complex? Thus, it was not originally complex/intelligent enough to design itself.

Why should awareness arise from mere complexity? An analog computer, however complex, merely applies rules to symbols without exercising any awareness/consciousness/knowledge/understanding of the meanings of the symbols. Thus, the computer simulates but does not duplicate intelligence. An artifact that did duplicate intelligence would be not an analog computer but an artificial brain.

Empirically, only brains generate consciousness and brains exist only in organisms. Naturally selected organismic sensitivity to environmental alterations quantitatively increased until it was qualitatively transformed into conscious sensation. From this I deduce that organism-environment interaction, not mere complexity, is necessary for consciousness - also that that interaction cannot have been designed.

Miracles And Me

In Alan Moore's Miracleman, the Qys inhabit vast structures from which they can look down through apertures at wardrobes of alternative bodies held in stasis in underspace.

In Moore's Jerusalem, builders and souls inhabit a vast structure from which they can look down through apertures at the static world lines of the three dimensional mortal realm.

I think that there is some parallelism between these two scenarios.

I would like to read a prose novel by Alan Moore in which Michael Moran/Marvelman/Miracleman flies down to converse with other characters. Moore certainly transformed MM into a character substantial enough for treatment in a purely verbal medium.

"Now. Here. Me."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), "CLOUDS UNFOLD," pp. 757-775 AT p. 757.

As Kant observed, every self-conscious being thinks:

"I see -,
"I think -,
"I know -,
"I am -."

Fill in the blanks.

The transcendental self is common whereas the empirical self, when the blanks have been filled in, is not. However, the transcendental self is a temporally enduring subject of consciousness spatially separated from temporally enduring objects of consciousness, including other subjects. That much at least is common.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Destructive And World-Changing Events

History has turning points like the agricultural revolution and the World Wars. Such world-changing events are reflected in mythology, e.g., by the Flood, the Ragnarok and Armageddon, and also in modern works of fantasy:

in DC Comics, the Crisis on Infinite Earths destroyed the multiverse where characters who were fictional on one Earth had been real on another;

in Black Easter and The Day After Judgment by James Blish, the demons win Armageddon, thus changing the theological regime;

in Jerusalem by Alan Moore, a chimney called the Destructor symbolizes the destruction of dreams and hopes and affects the way that people think so that their ghosts and memories smoulder and Heaven itself burns.

Events on these fantastic realms affect the everyday world:

"'If Mansoul itself wiz on fire up in this new century, then wiz it any wonder you've got living people doing stupid bloody things like that?'"
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 727.

The speaker nods towards a suicide bomber eternally exploding in the hereafter.

Upstairs

Upstairs is a place from which it is possible to look down on cross-sections of world lines in the mortal realm. It follows from this that the world lines of bodies Upstairs are at right angles to the world lines of bodies in the mortal realm.

However, is Upstairs also a place that changes along the same temporal dimension as the mortal realm so that it, Upstairs, is in a different state in the early twenty first century than it was in the late twentieth century? This latter proposition would entail that world lines Upstairs are parallel to those in the mortal realm.

It is also possible that, since I am blogging while reading, I am getting it all wrong. However, in that case, my errors will be way stations along the road towards completer comprehension.

Two Scenarios

Neither of these scenarios corresponds exactly to what is presented in Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016). However, I clarify simplified scenarios in order to approach an understanding of greater complexities.

(i) Two people, A and B, time travel. They meet in 2025, then, shortly afterwards from A's point of view, they meet in 2006. The meeting in 2006 is not necessarily shortly after the meeting in 2025 from B's point of view. It might be some time before or a long time after. While in, e.g., 2025, the time travelers live through that time in the same way as anyone else. Also, either A or B can meet his older, then younger, self while time traveling.

(ii) A and B do not time travel but move around in their three (or more) spatial dimensions like anyone else. However, our temporal dimension is one of their spatial dimensions. Some other dimension, possibly one of our spatial dimensions, is their temporal dimension. They meet in 2025, then, from both their points of view, meet again in 2006. While in, e.g., 2025, they see not a man walking along a street but the man's world line extending along the street's world line. They cannot meet themselves.

I clarify these scenarios because I wonder whether aspects of both are present in the text.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Completing Causal Circles II

See here.

The same logic, i.e., consistency between propositions, is applicable to any narrative whether or not the narrative involves time travel. Thus, if we know that E occurred and if we also know that E could have occurred only if deliberately caused by Bill, then we validly deduce that Bill deliberately caused E. If we ask, "What would have happened if Bill had decided not to cause E?," then the answer is that E would not have occurred.

If E occurred and if we think that it could only have been caused by Bill but are reliably informed that Bill did not cause it, then we can only conclude that we were mistaken to think that only Bill could have caused E. The only impossibility here is the following sequence:

E occurred;
only Bill could have caused E;
Bill did not cause E.

None of this is changed by the additional datum that Bill time traveled from after E to before E in order to cause E.

Two Perspectives

SPOILERS etc. I am discussing details in Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016) on the assumption that blog readers either have read the book or don't mind being told details.

It has been said that there is a lot of violence against women in Moore's works. There is more in Jerusalem. It is all perfectly valid. There is a lot of violence against women in life which fiction, however fantastic, reflects.

Here, a violent rape is perceived from two perspectives hundreds of pages apart. In the mortal realm, a policeman tells a published poet that a prostitute has been attacked. In the immortal realm, ghosts witness the rape and can see that a demon is driving the car. The novel seems to have rambled but is pulling itself back on course towards a major event in both realms.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Completing Causal Circles

This post on the circular causality paradox has been occasioned by reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016), BOOK TWO: MANSOUL, Forbidden Worlds, pp. 675-714, but the example has been simplified for discussion purposes.

Assume a single, continuous, immutable timeline:

at time t3, Bill learns of event E that had occurred at t2;

Bill time travels to t1;

between t1 and t2, Bill realizes that E will occur only if he deliberately causes it;

so what happens if Bill decides not to cause E?

The answer is that, if Bill were the kind of person who, in those circumstances, would decide not to cause E, then E would not have occurred and Bill would not, between t1 and t2, be deciding whether to cause it. There is a relevant event in Audrey Niffeneger's The Time Traveler's Wife. Knowing that a picture has been seen undated in the future, the artist decides to date it...but later trims the date off. But I think that I first encountered this aspect of circular causality in a short story by Brian Aldiss.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Eternal Questions

"...this had all occurred a billion times before."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 678.

In "Eternalism," does each event occur just once but timelessly or many times, thus recurrently? Are we static or repetitive? If the latter, have there been a billion or beginningless repetitions?

In Jerusalem, time traveling ghosts can relive bodily experiences or remain disembodied. Thus, they can live again a billion times.

The Dead Dead Gang is given a task to perform, does not know how to perform it but does know that it will be performed. This is possible given the dual premises of time travel and an immutable timeline.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Hereafters

Again I wonder about the value of detailed fictional accounts of a hereafter. Or are they fictional? We might differentiate four kinds of accounts:

(i) ghost stories or other fictional works in which survival is a mere fantasy premise;

(ii) works in which, although the author does believe that there is a hereafter, he does not claim to know any of the details and therefore must invent such details for fictional or allegorical purposes, e.g., CS Lewis' The Great Divorce and The Last Battle;

(iii) works of fiction set within what the author believes is the real hereafter, e.g., Richard Matheson's What Dreams May Come; Arthur Conan Doyle's The Land Of Mist; some passages in Aldous Huxley's Time Must Have A Stop;

(iv) works that simply describe the alleged hereafter, e.g., the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

In which category is Dante's Comedy? Alan Moore's Jerusalem is somewhere between (ii) and (iii), I think.

Some Ovid

("Ovid banished from Rome" by Turner.)

I was puzzled by an Ovid quote in Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016):

"Neve Liturarum pudeat: qui viderit illas. De Lachrymis factas sentiat esse meis." (p. 633)

After struggling with a dictionary, I googled. See here, lines 13-14. This fits the context. It is as if we have been transported to a literary hereafter where all the texts and their meanings are preserved forever.

Neil Gaiman's Library of Dreams contains all the books that have never been written, maybe including the adventures of Alan Moore's Dead Dead Gang? - although those adventures do exist as a fiction within the fiction. The Gang are surprised to be told:

"'Tetsy and I count ourselves amongst your most ardent admirers, and now here we are, right in the middle of your "Choking Child" chapter, saying all the parts of dialogue that we've already pored over a dozen times.'" (p. 624)

This is something that I imagined in childhood: reading a narrative in which I was a character, then looking up to see that the events described in the narrative were happening.

Meanwhile, the Library of Dreams must have a small annex for all the works that did get written?

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Temporal Scenery

HG Wells' Time Traveler sees his environment accelerated forward or backwards. Some time travelers see nothing. A philosophical article on "Doctor Who And The Philosophers" argued that, if a time machine travels from London, 2000 AD, to Manchester, 1900 AD, then the visible, tangible vehicle should be seen moving slowly south throughout the twentieth century.

Alan Moore's Dead Dead Gang in Jerusalem (London, 2016) walk along a bridge from which they see that:

"...several different eras were all happening at once.'" (p. 618)

Structures crumble, vanish and reappear and historical periods are superimposed.

"...the sky was marbled with the light and weather of a thousand years..." (p. 619)

Quite a thing.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Salamanders

In Jerusalem (London, 2016), Alan Moore describes the Great Fire of Northampton, 1675. This is historical. However, he describes the Fire as witnessed by time traveling ghosts who see the Salamanders in the flames. This is fantasy. Moore's Salamanders, resembling young women with flames for hair, do not speak but merely laugh whereas, in Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates (London, 1986), Salamanders, here called "yags," converse with the magician who has conjured them. (pp. 259-269) They sound like violins and assume "...roughly human shapes..." like "...burning giants." (p. 260)

The Anubis Gates, involving gods, magic and fantasy time travel, is on the same wavelength as Jerusalem and as Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.

One of the Jerusalem ghosts lists the kinds of elementals for us:

Salamanders, fire;
Undines, water;
Sylphs, wind;
Gnomes, Urks or Urchins, earth.

Lastly, without looking it up now, I think that Narnians saw Salamanders deep underground?

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Roaming The Universe

(The Boroughs, Northampton, 1965.)

Are dead souls free to roam the universe? I doubt their existence, let alone their mobility. However, speculative fiction about the hereafter can both delight and enlighten.

In CS Lewis' The Great Divorce, the dead can:

remain in the grey town that will turn out to have been Hell;
take the bus to the foothills of Heaven, then climb into the mountains;
haunt libraries to see if their books are still being read;
bother those women we call mediums.

Hell, Heaven or Earth: fairly comprehensive.

In Alan Moore's Jerusalem, the Dead Dead Gang:

have amazing adventures, adding time to their directions of movement;
give each adventure a title like an episode of a series;
in 1645, watch Cromwell writing a letter to his wife on the eve of the Battle of Naseby;
in 2025, eavesdrop on a black woman berating a Council Department on her mobile -

- the supernatural, the historical, the mundane and everything between. We join them in imagination and reflect on life along the way.

Planes Of Reality

When the angle walks upon the mortal world (see here), he wades through the ghost seam which comes as high as his thighs. (p. 548) Watching from Upstairs, Michael sees "...the stacked-up planes below." (p. 550) "...underneath the ghost-seam..." are "...the twining spark-lit fronds of coral that were living people..." (p. 551)

I think that the mortal world should comprise the world-lines not only of human beings but also of every material object and particle? Michael thinks that the angelic fight is affecting the lower planes. This would mean that, in the temporal dimension of Upstairs, the history of the mortal world was different before the angelic fight than it was during the fight.

When the Dead Dead Gang watched Parliamentarians before the Battle of Naseby, I thought that they were time traveling in the mortal world. However, the text sometimes implies that they are in the ghost-seam, e.g.: "...the ghost-seam's murk..." (p. 577) Is the ghost-seam both a plane above the mortal world and the mortal world as seen by ghosts? This is the sort of uncertainty that we have on first reading a complex text. I remember, with Watchmen, not knowing how many super-powered beings there were and not realizing that Rorschach had been in our faces from page 1.

I have only just passed the half way point of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Ghosts, Dimensions And History

Of course, ghosts and their environment are ectoplasmic, not material, so they do not need an extra dimension although apparently some spiritualists welcomed the idea of extra dimensions. Ectoplasm has been exposed as fraudulent. See here.

Fiction about time travel can be used to impart information both about dimensions and about history, as in Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016). The ghost John thinks that Prince Rupert was Charles I's son, not his nephew.

Ghosts make excellent time travelers. See here. Being invisible and intangible, they cannot alter past events. Thus, Oliver Cromwell writing a letter to his wife is unaware that John is reading it over his shoulder. (Cromwell's statue (see image) holds a Bible and a sword, representing theory and practice.)

In Jerusalem, a suicide bomber spends eternity in his exploding form. Other ghosts give him a wide berth.

Cromwell and suicide bombers: two phases of our history.

Mythical And Modern Cosmologies

Myths focus on Earth and even on one part of Earth whereas modern cosmology shows Earth as minute. Works of fantasy reflect this dichotomy:

in James Blish's Black Easter, a conjuration in Italy triggers Armageddon - but how is the rest of the universe affected?;

in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, the Endless are personifications of Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, Delight/Delirium and Destruction throughout the cosmos yet seem to focus almost exclusively on Earth;

in Alan Moore's Jerusalem, the angles/angels focus on Earth and do so through Northampton.

When an angel strides across the mortal world (see here), we realize, on p. 551, that this is specifically the human mortal world, not the entire universe. So maybe there is at least one more dimension involved - one that enables the "angles" to bypass innumerable galaxies and to focus on the surface of a single planet?

The Angel On The World

Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016).

Angels are called "angles" or "builders" but I'll stay with "angels" if that's ok. An angel strides above the mortal world:

"His naked feet...appeared to walk upon the writhing coral carpet that was what the mortal world looked like seen from Upstairs." (p. 548)

How many dimensions are involved here? (We have been told that there are ten or eleven in total.)

The length of the carpet is its temporal dimension;
its breadth and depth are two of its three spatial dimensions;
its third spatial dimension is rotated out of sight;
the angel also has three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension;
however, his three spatial dimensions correspond to the length, breadth and depth of the carpet;
his temporal dimension might correspond to the invisible third spatial dimension of the carpet?

Thus, a mere four dimensions are sufficient to account for the angel on the world.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Angels

(The image is from Lucifer by Mike Carey, published by DC Comics.)

""...the Master Angle Mikael himself, conflated with Saint Michael of renown..."
 -Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 535.

For some reason, angels are called either angles or builders. The description of the Master Angle's "...face, wide as a circus tent..." (p. 552), rising into view over the handrail of a balcony as he hauls himself upward reminded me of a similar scene with the giant Michael chained below a railing in Lucifer but I was unable to find that picture to copy here.

In Jerusalem, some chapters, like the encounter between the prostitute and the published poet, are novelistic narratives whereas the conflict between the two angles reminds the reader of fight scenes between super-powered beings in graphic fiction.