Skip to content

Occupy Another Way

Monday 28th November, wind has dropped, quiet skies blue and grey. Warm as early summer, and brillant sunshine yesterday. Colder last night, a clear moonless sky, and this morning the air feels chilly outdoors, which means not a lot, as this year without a summer slides into a year without a winter, but it cheers me up a little, irrationally.

Entries in this occasional secret-diary-in-an-unlocked-drawer have been interupted by a flurry of activity in my family's gothic Forever War. Seems I can sneak a few days behind the lines again, so where was I? The Athens Referendum that didn't happen, mm, the question having been rendered kind of superfluous by the advertising.

[Interestingly, the Communists in Greece and my favourite Devout Capitalist, Bill Bonner, over on The Daily Reckoning, hold exactly the same opinion on bailouts, and the economic crisis generally. Can't Pay? Don't Pay! Stop being so stupid, you cannot solve a debt crisis by piling on more debt! And (my favourite) Don't you Realise, Practically All of this idiotic mega-Euro-Aid money will go straight, same like Famine Aid in the most corrupt country in Africa, into the pockets of the worst offenders???! But nah, not really that interesting. Devout capitalists and devout communists have two defining qualities in common: they are obliged by conviction to be ruthless, and equally obliged (it's a rare hobby with the kind of politicians who get into office, sad to say) to be passionately, intelligently interested in economics.]

I visited Occupy St Pauls, during my absence, with Gabriel in tow: I donated some books and rations, and had a look around, very quietly. Gabriel read the posters, approved of some objectives, and disapproved of a young man soap-boxing a few of the faithful, who said "f**k" (often!) right in front of a church. Disrespect is a serious crime, in the eyes of our younger generation, have you noticed that? I took some phone-photos, but I can't show you, because our household network isn't working at the moment. Next time I'm passing, if they're still there, and I hope they will be, I'll take a copy of Kairos and overtly give it to someone. Kairos (1988) opens in St Pauls. I used to visit that echoing great shell often, when it was still free entry, and became attached to the memorials, particularly Viscount Melbourne's door, which seemed to me the Door In The Wall of all Doors In The Wall, that old genre favourite, the portal into another dimension, set in dark and mighty stone indeed. And guarded by the angels of the Last Trump, just to remind me that as far as we know, no matter what else gives, there is still only one way out of here....

So then I wrote a story about the opening of that door, and what might lie beyond the end of the world.

Meanwhile, the neutrinos that "travelled faster than light" in September are still hanging on, I see, and threatening the Standard Model in intriguing if not novel ways. Multiverses! Even tachyons are back! Hey, I remember tachyons, from Frijof Capra's The Dao Of Physics, not to mention Gregory Benford's Timescape. But I should be used to the I have been here before feeling: it's the fate of any onlooker on the science game. In fact, I've come to find theories and novel observations more appealing when they've grown up a bit, when they have some conversation: like quantum mechanics, for instance. Been around a long time, challenging the coolness-quotient (you can't believe this unless you're prepared to accept total weirdness as the basis of everything)... and now, only this year, the weirdness starts to give way before pure mechanical improvements, more delicate equipment that allows "us" (well, one or two of us) to observe superposition in the flesh (er, if I've got that right); quantum effects in the macro-world, and quantum uncertainty that does not mysteriously vanish, on the contrary it's all around us, essential to the processes of biology (cf Henry Nicholls, on uncertainty in biology and evolution). But how strange the timing of these things seems, don't you think? It's almost as if those neutrinos knew we needed a new order, a new mysterious explanation, to get us out of this cul-de-sac; to set us on a different path

Always, already, there is another way. A different path that we could take, a different universe we could be inhabiting, unawares, and if we just take the right turning, make the right measurement, we could be there, it could be our observed reality. I've been fascinated by this idea, this feeling, as long as I've been a science/fiction writer, because of the immensely fertile resonance between society, consciousness and science, on this cusp. A new universe in a tiny statistical deviation too far, trembling on the edge of becoming. A feeble grassroots movement, with barely a glimmer of existence, that could change the world.

And could it happen? Certainly, it's happened often. The twist in the tale is that when a mighty revolution is successful, everyone just thinks the world has always been this way. What, are you nuts?. There was never any weirdness in quantum mechanics, and infinite economic growth was always, obviously a most pernicious fiction.