Starting My Task

[This entry appears to be in some sort of code]

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I miss having ready access to books.  The first books I got my hands on, other than children’s primers and such like, were of my mother’s collection of books.  Father’s too, but they were all about business, construction, architecture and such.  I don’t think I ever remember him reading anything for pleasure.  Then there was the school library, and, as soon as I was old enough to have my own ticket, the public library in the centre of town.  Miss Agnew, the librarian there never did quite get used to the rate at which I consumed books.  “Och, Master Ballard,” she would say, “Surely you’ve no read all them all so quickly?”  But I had, and more.  University, of course, opened up so much more in the way of books available to me, although, by then, much of my borrowing was related to my studies.

And now, I have none.  Now that I have need of something more academic in order to try to understand this damned journal. I have only those books that were in my bags when I left the Cove, which are very precious to me now, but not a great deal of use.  Somehow I doubt this castle has much in the way of academic material, and if I am truly in the realms of the Middle Ages, such books as there may be will be extremely beautiful, hand-written, and almost no use to me whatsoever, aside, perhaps, in my recently acquired task to guide young Rachel in the direction of salvation.  The library at Jasper Cove is now lost, unless the universe is playing tricks on me, and I have no idea where I might find another.  Perhaps if I had one of those internets that Wren and Gwyn spoke of, I might find something of use there.  Wren did say it was like having all the world’s libraries in your hand.  I never did get a satisfactory explanation of how that was achieved. It must be something technological.  Either that or they use very small print and it comes with a magnifying lens.

I wish I had a library now, or at least a decent biography of John Dee.  I did read a book about him once; it was one of Mother’s many books on the Elizabethan era.  Outside of the Romantic poets and Arthurian legend, Good Queen Bess was one of her favourite subjects.  I remember quite a lot of it because he was such an interesting character. John Dee was a many-learned man; advisor to said queen, mathematician, astrologer, occultist, alchemist and Hermeticist among other things.   I remember that he was originally from Wales, born around the 1st quarter of the sixteenth century and died shortly into the 17th.  Or, so history would have us believe.  Now, my dear friend Greyson has somewhat thrown that part of history into disarray.  Funnily, I do recall reading that his gravestone has never been found, and that parish records of the era are missing.  If what Greyson told me is true, that would explain a lot. Either way, I need something to help me understand this damned journal.

The first entry in the journal is from 1582.  From my perspective, that was 310 years ago, but looking out of the window at the castle grounds, one might be forgiven for thinking that it is 300 years in the future.  And, from Gwyn’s perspective, it was 430 odd years ago.  I think I will stick with my personal time-line; otherwise I shall go mad trying to make sense of things.  That year would have been in the latter part of his life, when, I seem to recall, he started trying to talk to angels. That would make sense, since he mentions that in this entry.  Now, I am a little uncertain on angels.  I remember discussing their nature with Rev Elverson on many occasions, with my view tending towards the sceptical. Of course, that was before I met any – there were two or three in London, one of whom proved a lively debater on the matter of free will, and there was one when I first arrived in Jasper Cove.  And yes, they did have wings.  Or maybe that was just my perception, shaped by years of church-going.  For all I know, they might be golden featureless statues.

I can certainly agree with Dee’s concept of multiple realities and infinite possibilities and us being just one aspect of that.  Given that I have lived in three alternative realities other than the one I once foolishly believed to be THE reality, it would be totally illogical not to.  I’m not so sure about invisible forces; does he mean something impersonal, or is that an oblique reference to some kind of god.  I would like to think he meant the former.  After all, magnetism, gravity, or electricity even, are invisible forces and we have, to some extent determined the laws that govern those and how they affect the world.  More so in my time than his, certainly in respect of electricity.

His thought seems to be that these “invisible forces” are related so some “base particle”. He says that he identifies this “base particle” as the Philosopher’s Stone.  Now there, I am not so sure I understand his reasoning.  As I remember it, the Philosopher’s Stone was a base substance that could be transmuted into silver or gold, which seems a much weaker principle than one that could be transmuted into an entire reality. Maybe the “Stone”, as Dee imagines it, underlies the “Stone” of the more mainstream alchemists, his being more fundamental than theirs, just as atoms underlie molecules, which underlie all physical things.  Not that he would have known of those things then.  Not in the way we do today.  Or maybe he did.  Even the ancient Greeks had some concept of atoms, albeit of a different sort.

I am struck by his idea that his base particle may not even have a physical existence, yet it still exists, and can be measured and manipulated.  Could he have been thinking of a purely mathematical concept?  Could his “base particle”, his “Philosopher’s Stone” be a purely mathematical construct; some mathematical equation from which all others can be derived?  The idea appeals to the mathematician in me. Maybe the perceived reality is a representation of that mathematics, just as a mathematical equation that, of itself, is purely an abstract construct, yet can be represented by drawing a graph, or, in reverse, something concrete – a circle, for example, being represented by an equation in the form X2 + Y2 = R2.   Could reality be the same? Given his comment about our reality being like a ripple on an infinite lake, I can see how that might work.  It is entirely conceivable that if one knew the properties of water, and the mathematical properties of waves, it would be possible to calculate, and even to predict, the properties of one particular ripple at any given time.  Thus, therefore, perhaps, if you could find his “base particle”, one could do the same for any given reality.  That is an almost mind-numbing thought, and probably would be considered heretical. Especially in his day and probably even mine.  Hillaire would have enjoyed that discussion, I suspect.

The idea appeals, and I find myself laughing out loud, remembering how I was once trying to convince Wren that mathematics was useful because it could describe the path of stones from her catapult.  I wonder what she would make of the idea that mathematics could describe everything.  I miss that child.  I do hope she is safe somewhere.  I cannot believe that Alec would not arrange safe passage for them to somewhere.

I do not know who, of my acquaintances here, I could even begin to discuss these various ideas with. But then, it is probably wiser that I don’t, given Greyson’s warning about the danger it brings, except in the most abstract of terms and entirely divorced from the journal.  All this philosophical thought is giving me a headache.  Perhaps it is time for a break.  Maybe a barefoot break in the company of a carven stone and if I am very lucky, my arboreal friend.

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