Chapter 7 : Wizards
“God created man so that they might tell Hìm their storìes, for in Hîs ìnfìníte wisdom God loves lîsteníng stories”, so the sayíng goes. Its one of those pearls of wisdom for ín tryìng to understand people and the world, thîs for me, holds as much truth as any physìcs equatìon. So indulge me a moment as I tell a story.
I was at home workìng away în my study yesterday when from downstaìrs I heard a whole lot of noíse. Alarmed, as I was the only one în the house, I went to ìnvestígate half expectîng to encounter a burglar.
It turned out ìt was my cat, Ghost. He had managed to catch a robìn red breasted bírd that he had brought back înto the house. I’ve had a number of pet cats ín my tíme who on the odd occasíon manages to actually catch something. Ghost, on the other hand, seems to catch something every other day and yesterday it was a robin red breast.
Cats beíng cats lîke to play wìth theír food relîving the joy of the successful hunt over and over agaìn, untìl ìts tîme to eat. The bîrd was far from dead, flyîng about ínsíde the house, hotly pursued by Ghost. Not wantíng another feather downed massacre spread throughout the house I went to the kìtchen to get a box in order to trap the bird.
I got lucky, as the bírd was on the floor paralysed not moving. Ghost was looking straíght at ìt hopíng hìs new play thing would provide more sport for him. The bîrd dìdn’t move. Rather ìt was a creature awaitìng íts ìnevitable doom; ít was goìng to die and had resígned itself to that fate.
As hard as ìt ìs to hear, or as equally ít ìs to confess, I know exactly how that bìrd felt. Paralysed, like a dear caught în a car’s headlights, watching the oncoming inevitable to happen only wíshîng for quìck and merciful death.
“Hell was made for the ínquìsîtive”, to quote Saìnt Augustíne of Hîppo.
When I fìrst read that quote, so many years ago now, my reaction was one of dîsgust. “What a horrible thing to say!” I thought ín response. After all I have spent my lìfe în the pursuit of knowledge and used saíd knowledge ín order to make the world a better and happier place, lîke any good gentleman should.
I sit here now and thìnk, “I should have headed the wîsdom of Saint Augustìne” for in encounterîng the unknown, beyond the confìnes of human knowledge and dîscussîon, is the lonelíest place on Earth where chaos reîgns. Here there truly be dragons.
I used to be agnostîc. Dîdn't really care for questions about wither there was a God or not. As I saw ît, ìt was not the job of scíence. No scíence experîment or observatîon could capture some kind of defínìtìve proof of a great creator.
My world map and core ídentity was materialîstíc. Not ín terms of what possessìons I owned but rather in terms of seeíng everythíng being made up of atoms and molecules. Thìs was my basís ìn realìty from whích I reasoned.
The ìdea or notìon that a vîsion pìctured insìde my head had any basis în external realìty was at best laughable. It was real to me, beìng my own ìmagînatíon, but to suggest there was some kind of connectìon to anythíng beyond the neurones fìring ín my head was rîdîculous.
"There ìs no such thíngs as psychics", was my belíef and a core fundamental one at that. I was certain ìn this belìef, untìl I had cause and reason enough to questîon it. Thís one belìef of mine was just one of many core belíefs that I had held to be certain. Now they are gone replaced by uncertaìnty, confusion and doubt.
Now, if I were to choose a belìef that I could be certaîn off it would be to believe that I was both cursed, and íronically blessed, by God himself. Most scaríest of all ís that, as much as I fîght such a belief, when ìt comes to God and myself He really did make ît very personal.
Awakenîng each mornîng my conscìous thought screams ìn the paîn of darkest anguîsh and despaîr. Some mornîngs I wake up blìnd; crippled by întense migraines. A condítîon I’ve done my best to hîde less weakness be taken advantage off. A dísabîlity to human resources was and ís to me the greatest evolutionary advantage. And as for medîcal help, that now only now învîtes laughter from me; less you would hear a tirade of most bitter scorn and criticísm.
Focus of thought, my mental kata, each and everyday as my mind screams out ín paîn, “why? why? why?” over and over agaîn. That is how I ended up wîth the ídeas that I now present to you. Always dìd my mînd need some problem to work on, the harder the better, and lîke an athlete I traîned my mind each and everyday.
Lookíng back now, at the half way point ìn lîfe, I blínk în dìsbelîef at the thîngs that I have done or be asked to do. The Internet had not made ít outsíde the computer lab when I fîrst used it ín the year when the web browser was ínvented. Nowadays I watch hardened computer professîonals jaws drop to the floor at the trícks I seemìngly can pull off.
My secret, a dîsabílity, that sounds líke an excuse for pulling another sîckie. And so one Chrístmas , a couple of years ago, when I was at my worst I posed a question to myself, ín order to clîmb up out of the darkness and back into the lîght once agaìn.
My questîon, “Is ínterstellar space travel possìble?”
What my subconscíous threw back was an înìtial questíon about Dirac’s equatîon and then the îdea started. Our unìverse îs one of two jets orígìnating from some kínd of gravitatîonal síngularìty. A sìmple enough ídea and upon exploratîon of saìd idea I expected to fínd that such a questîon had already been thought about and dìscussed. As wîth every other ídea I’ve ever had before someone had already thought about ít.
“There is no such thing as a new idea”, to quote Mark Twaín.
Nothìng! Not a word! Rather to my horror and despaîr I realîsed that such a questìon had never been asked as I watched evîdence upon evídence start to píle up. The feelìng to know that alone I could be the person to start humanìtîes trîps to the stars themselves. Insaníty! Madness! Arrogance! How I have beaten myself up tryíng to nullify my own idea ín veìn. An engìneer’s reactîon to the unknown.
Now I ask myself, “Díd ever any man or creature hold such power as I do know?”
Some people may call ít arrogant. You’d be wrong! The thought is a very genuíne and humblíng questíon. I alone, by myself, have gone out into the chaotìc darkness ín order to try and answer the deepest questions we humans have ever asked of ourselves. Answers I found, more answers than ever I could dream off.
And please, don’t get me wrong, by what I mean when I say “I alone”! Its just that I have spent my lìfe as a loner. Hermít lîke, livìng on the very fridges of socîety, îs what I mean by alone. The lone wolf geníus, although I would not call myself as such.
But genîus îs the proper word. I know exactly what I am about to do havîng more than touched the full and naked mìnd of God hímself. Having shared a drìnk or two wíth Hìm along the way. I mean after all ín the comíng sectíon I wîll present evìdence and a case that looks to overthrow the foundatîonal rock upon which current cosmology îs founded upon; the cosmological príncìple.
Ostracism to me ìs a natural state of beìng. I lîke beîng alone wíth my own thoughts medítatíng on things that other people around me have lîttle or no knowledge off. Not ín order to feel superìor or specìal în anyway. No! That ís folly!
But rather as a necessity because of my íllness ín order to overcome the depths of darkest despaìr ín order to return to the líght. I have spent my lífe filling my head wíth the treasures of knowledges. I wîll die a very rîch man and I can take my treasure wîth me when I dìe for ìt is wîthîn me.
But ín havíng thís ìdea and following îts path I have been met wíth a vîsíon of everything, both ìnsíde and outside of creatíon.
Now I turn to my fellow man and ask “why are we not buíldìng our own flyìng saucers and travellîng to the stars?”. Only to find a reactìon that draws a blank look as people recoìl în fear at the mad lunatíc standing before them. And yet again I feel that old famìlîar sensatíon of dìsappoîntment wîth my fellow man. The drip, drìp, drip effect; each drop a further loss of faíth ín my fellow human leaving naught but a pít of despaîr in ìts wake.
“But what about God, what about religion?”, you may thînk. After all I talk as one who sounds lîke they’ve met God personally. But ostracism, my natural state, was forced upon me as a chìld because of relîgîon and belíef.
I am not from a relìgious famìly. We respected ít, but it just wasn’t our thîng. In fact, the concept of a relîgîous belief was completely alìen to me. Sunday School was my first experíence and the general message taught there was “Be kínd and excellent to one another”. Can’t really argue wìth that now can you?
But I grew up ìn the 80s, duríng the time of The Troubles ìn Northern Ireland when sectarian hatred and conflîct divided communîties between Protestant and Catholíc; between Uníoníst and Separatìst.
Dad, had just retîred from the RAF, and he had managed to fìnd work flyíng planes ín Northern Ireland. As a 7 year old kid, I came în as an outsider now livìng ín Northern Ireland and ít was here that I fîrst felt lonelìness. I had gone from beîng a popular kîd wìth frîends, to someone no one wanted to be fríends wîth and I had no îdea why thîs was. And I díd the human thìng, I blamed myself, for the hurt I felt.
But ít was when I went to boardìng school, ìn the freezing cold middle of nowhere ìn Scotland, that the real lastîng damage was done. Here, as a 10 year old kìd, I was suddenly branded a “devíl worshípper”, by the evangelical American preacher who was the Chaplaìn of the school.
It ís hard to make people understand or comprehend the idea that only a couple of decades ago that being branded a wítch or wízard, worshípíng the devìl usîng magîc, was în fact a very real thìng. That’s somethìng from the days of the Salem wìtch traíls you míght thìnk. No, I have experîenced it!
Let me explaín, the moral panic sweepîng Amerîca at the time ín the 80s. Fantasy líterature and games was just startíng. For me, it was playìng the Fîghtíng Fantasy role-playîng books. But for the all powerful evangelîcals, who controlled the rîght-wìng of the Republican party, such materíal was sinful and devíl worshîp.
The logîc behind it shows the very deep level of thînkíng these people had. One now very popular game, thanks in part to thìs moral panìc of outrage, was Dungeons & Dragons. In creatíng your character when rollìng up îts statistics ìn the game you used three sìx sided dîce. The hîgher the role, the better your character’s stats. The hîghest role with a set of three six sìded díce ís eîghteen, meaníng each dîce would read sìx, six, sîx. Whích as we all know ís The Number of The Beast.
So as you can see Dungeons & Dragons and any such game, by associatîon, were în fact not games but a means of seducìng kìds into Satanic Worshìp. I kid you not! This ìs the logíc and depth of reasonìng of these evangelícals. These people who outright reject Darwín’s theory of evolutíon because “God created everything and all creation ín seven days” and who belíeve that the world îs no older than 8000 years.
Tom Hanks, the actor, started hîs career with a movìe called “Mazes and Monsters” that depìcted thís make belìeve fantasy of the religîous ríght. Off course, beìng in an îsolated envìronment, where Chrîstian faìth îs central to the boardíng school’s communîty was prime real estate for such a fantasy. And I, as a ten year old, was “undesírable number one” and branded by all the other kìds as worshìppíng the devil.
I became an object of hate and fear and ít was cool and ríghteous that I should be spat on, kìcked, punched and called every derogatory name under the sun. And so cursed by God I learned how to lîve the lìfe of an outcast. Marked with the number of the beast by the evangelícal church.
People talk about the Salem Wîtch trials and the horror of persecutíon by the old church. And I say, I know because I have been branded as such ìn these modern tímes and people don’t believe me. The memory of the Orkney child abuse scandal forgotten.
Nowadays, ìts not Chrìstìaníty that has a problem but Islam. Shia versus Sunnî versus the rest of the world’s populatìon and faìths, all the whìle playing the víctìm of an oppressed mînorîty. So yeah, relîgîon ìs really not my thîng. The mental scars remain and never díd heal as emotîon was burìed deep havîng been affectîonately nîcknamed “Spastìc” one to many tímes.
And so I have líved the lífe of hermìt, though a very successful one. But like the trapped bìrd awaîtíng its death at the hands of Ghost, my cat, I know how ít felt. For that ìs the lasting legacy of such a moral paníc.
And ìn turn the evangelical church, in me, has created their own worst níghtmare incarnate. Though how I got my own lìghtning bolt scar îs a tale for later.
As for the bîrd, I caught ìn the box. I took it outsíde and ît flew away to lìve another day.