She read the legend under the picture: “the image shows a clouded sky beneath a full moon. There is a wordless sign showing only a pointed hat, of the kind often worn by wizards…”
How strange she thought, how and when had they managed to take this shot? The full moon was there alright, and the sign. But the clouds? There was none in this quiet corner of the Universe. She’d made sure of that. There was rain too, but, as visitors sometime said, it came from nowhere. She was proud of her work, the careful terraforming, the ever blue sky, the manicured landscapes, the small lakes… and, of course, the popular little village, with the delightful green, and the wizard cottage… The picture must have been doctored, edited as the saying went. Still, “they” hadn’t shown much respect, whoever “they” were.
Perhaps she should be more careful now when allowing those space transports to disgorge tourists on her planet. She should set rules, like “no editing of pictures!” Here there was no cloud, and the moon was always full. So she had ordained.
It goes for colours, type-faces, places, objects, smiles, books… The human spirit is attracted, inspired, by “things”, in a fashion that appears random to the observer (“tastes and colours…” goes the French saying). But it isn’t. There are reasons for everything, and randomness is often a metaphor for “we can’t explain this”.
Julian is attracted by – universes. Worlds, galaxies, star systems… Or should I write “multiverses”: the existence of multiple universes that rarely intersect, merely coexist, and, mostly, in ignorance of each other? He knows, has read about, that most physicists, mathematicians, philosophers, are generally skeptical about the concept. Generally, but sometimes not. And Julian is attracted by those writers who are less than skeptical, the party of the “cosmic inflation”, and its far away consequences. Julian believes in the Two Moons of Huraki Murakami: he too has seen them…
Sarah, who’s a far better mathematician than her husband, is willing to discuss strings theory and other quantum wonders, and let him indulge in his quest. He too is after the “Ultimate Nature of Reality” [*]. I do understand, and she does, that Julian seeks his inspiration from serious subjects: history, science, philosophy, the “thinking” authors of weird and wonderful stories.
So it goes for time: our Julian is obsessed by it. His hero is, of course, Marcel Proust, and he’s often written about Marcel, and written him into his stories, as himself or as his little prisoner. I am fascinated by this, as it links to his other obsessions, his writing style, and, finally, his love for both Sarah and Melissa, the two women in his life, the inspiration for his writing. There are reasons to believe that, for Julian, his friend Melissa is a reincarnation of the docile Prisoner, dear to Marcel, his Albertine…
But Sarah has another theory: Julian wishes to be Albertine, someone’s property, or, to be precise, his wife’s. So that Melissa maybe Julian, in the end, just in another “universe”. This intrigues me too, as often Melissa has told me she wished to be Julian, to live in his skin. Poor soul. What I keep to myself, for now, is that Melissa has also claimed to be Sarah, to “merge” with her.
Sarah, Albertine, Odette, Julian, Melissa, Swann? Julian is “à la recherche”, in this universe, or, as necessary, in another. Which writer is not?
[*] “Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality”, by Max Tegmark, was reviewed by Brian Rotman in The Guardian of February 1, 2014.