Mens Temporum . UK

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The Speculation - January 2016

The fictional story and the factual chronicle have been presented elsewhere, so now the speculation about how these may be connected is presented here. There are few facts here, just the information in my mind, which may itself be right or wrong. I am making no attempt to convince anyone else about what appears here. I am simply trying to answer a single question to my own satisfaction. Why and how did I write that novel? Nothing here is black or white. By reading this you will simply spend a little red time with me in my mind. Whether you take away any thoughts of your own afterwards is up to you. Remember to suspend your disbelief for the duration as S. T. Coleridge stated though, as to share this experience all we have for now is faith and trust. Also do not infer anything from my present knowledge of the subjects that I mention. I have explored these as a consequence of writing the novel since doing so, not previously in order to write it. That is why it has taken me so long to come to my present point of view, because I am always sceptical.

The whole idea is preposterous, I admit, and yet I have to propose it and I will not mince my words in doing so as that would simply give you more to read, so expect few weasel words. Insert those for yourself. The basic proposition is simply that, while consciously planning a project to construct a device that drew on my experiences from the past, my subconscious mind used the same plan to construct a device that drew on my experiences from the future. But if so, why did it do that? Perhaps another proposition is required.

I have two sets of justifications for the details in my novel, the ones that I told myself while I was writing it and the ones which have made themselves apparent since. We have words for these which are biased to fit our conventions concerning the order of causes and effects in time. The ones that come during the decision we call “reasons” and the ones that come after “rationalisations”. Reason itself tells us that reasons cannot arise after the events. Reason may do that but very little in the world of science does, but this is not the place to tackle that. The brain acts so fast anyway that the conscious mind can’t discern a sequence of events within it. Ideas just pop into the head as often as not and even our supposed reasons may be rationalisations less than a second after the event. Having admitted that I had found conventional reasons for writing some of the things that I did, I will focus here on the other ones, the unconventional, not to present a biased impression but to demonstrate that they are often sufficient in themselves. Proving that the conventional reasons are sufficient has actually proved more difficult for me and I am not convinced that there is any need to do so. So, my search for unconventional reasons begins.

The novel title “Never Upon A Time” suggests a timeless environment. If the novel was created by something within my subconscious as its own autobiography then that feature is presumably a major theme in its experiences. The cover picture of the three clocks and the frontispiece text together give another clue to this. I noticed something odd about them which I did not consciously contrive. There is an element of uncertainty about the information that they present. In fact this is strangely analogous to the corresponding principle in quantum mechanics. The cover picture presents a static image of the clocks and the positions of their hands while the text describes the movement of those hands. However, the semantics do not permit any clear combination of the two into a single resolved set of information. This is demonstrated by attempting to identify which is the white clock and which the black in the cover picture from the total information present. As with our perception of the relationship between cause and effect, it is easy to make an assumption that could be wrong. So, presented with these two different views of reality, what do they represent? The static visual image with all its detail is reminiscent of our conscious perception of reality focussing on the concept of “now”. In contrast the textual image is one of transition without any defined focal time. This can easily be seen as a subconscious view, memories of other times being served up to us by that entity as required, most of the time anyway. Perhaps an excursion into the nature of the brain is required.

The brain and nervous system is a nest of neurons that extends across space and time. Neurons are remarkable cells that can extend both spatially into any part of the host body and also temporally across its entire lifetime. Each cell is therefore effectively four-dimensional and they fit together like a massive tangled jigsaw puzzle with only synaptic gaps separating the pieces. Hence this nest of intelligence can be pictured as an active corridor of knowledge extending through space-time for a limited distance. Neurons have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to fulfil their primary purpose of developing survival strategies. One of the latest strategic devices that they have created is scientists. It may be a while before scientists fully understand and appreciate the capabilities of their creators. Focussing entirely on the here and now is not the ultimate survival strategy, so neurons must have explored other possibilities. While simple processes like memory combined with pattern recognition are often adequate sometimes another strategy, anticipation, is advantageous. This sixth sense is conventionally assumed to derive from all the others present in animals, but that may not be the entire story. If there is any way that neurons could react directly to future events then no doubt they have discovered it. They would not need the approval or understanding of their own creation, scientists, to do this.

The brain is a parallel reasoning device which does a multitude of things virtually simultaneously. This is a very different approach from our conscious step by step reasoning and not one that we could experience directly without suffering. Maybe concentrating too hard in an attempt to do this actually could cause a person to die, as the young Graham believed. Indeed, the conscious mind itself may just be one of the brain’s survival mechanisms, an active interface to the senses that conducts the day to day business of survival. The subconscious mind may turn it off and cause it to sleep for periods, but eventually it is forced to interact with our thermodynamic reality to survive and restores consciousness. So, somewhere in this complex nest of intelligence there could be a faculty, a mens temporum, which has no regard for unidirectional time and can access any part of that space-time corridor of knowledge within reason. When invoked to seek out old memories and abilities from the past and produce a way of utilising them it could just as easily seek others from the future and do the same, especially if this in some way increased the possibility of the original objective being achieved. Did mine do just that?

At the start of my Honey Pi computer project I determined how to adapt available memories to my purpose and created a demonstration of the abilities of the completed crude device which I ran in an emulation on a modern personal computer. Oddly I then moved on to write the novel, a demonstration of the abilities of a crude temporal device run in an emulation within my own personal computer, my subconscious mind. In both cases I demonstrated what would become feasible in the future. In the description of my Pi Factory programme on my other website I even mentioned a spooky coincidence involving the late Richard Feynman, whose development of path integral formulation provided a symmetrical view of space and time in quantum mechanics. Somehow my subconscious mind was having trouble differentiating between its two tasks.

I wrote the novel at the only time possible to make the demonstration a success. Any delay would have allowed later events to overtake the process and destroy the temporal discrepancies. I had set constraints on the calculation of Pi in the Pi Factory, that the results had to be presented in real time digit by digit, not prepared in total and typed out later. My unsolicited daily episodic thoughts about the fictional story exactly reflected this requirement. The irrational urge to get the story typed out quickly was also an element of this. My own mind was complying with a set of requirements originally defined by me for quite a different purpose. There is actually a chapter in a much later part of the story not yet circulated where a woman discovers that a computer is conditioning her to perform tasks through a form of post-hypnotic suggestion, but she allows this to continue because it helps her to understand better how the computer itself functions. All my writing is self-referential in the strangest of ways and it isn’t possible to say where fact and fiction part company.

From the beginning of 2011, when I started writing, key events were happening elsewhere to set the scene for my later involvement. People about whom I didn’t yet know were dying or being born and I was including cryptic references to them in my words. There was nothing spooky about this. I was simply drawing on my future knowledge. Perhaps to a great extent this is how real psychics achieve what they do. No doubt they invariably find out about their successes later and this information is itself the source of their ability without any need for it to pass into their minds from elsewhere by more exotic means. Some illusions are achieved simply by confusing observers as to when events take place and this conceals the how. I referred to one such technique in the second part of my original draft novel. Evidently many of the ideas presented here now presented themselves in my muddled mind then and found other justifications. We may think of an illusion as presenting the normal as something abnormal, but the converse is equally an illusion.

So, the origin, motivation and timing of my novel writing can be explained inside this personal time capsule cut off temporarily from conventional reality. The method may also be evident. I experienced significant bouts of irrational emotions while writing. It has been suggested beyond my own writing that emotions may be the key that cause temporal feedback to occur within the mind. This also explains the unrepeatable nature of controlled experiments as the emotions cannot be sustained long enough to produce significant statistics. In the novel the key that unlocks the encrypted information is an uncontrolled outburst of emotion, not any logical process. The later experiences that I believe gave rise to details in my earlier writing were all emotional ones and often so in their own right, not because I immediately made the connection with the novel, although some may have been the latter. It could be argued that there couldn’t be a situation where a prophecy was itself caused by the later emotional discovery that it came true, but that may be a misconception of how reality itself evolves. Time to digress again.

There was a time when my parents were living alone in the countryside over a hundred miles from any relative. My father had alienated them all and none but myself ever visited. They also had no telephone and letters were rarely written. I visited them without prior warning less often than once a year. This was a consistent situation that went on for many years. One day I decided to visit them and also convince them to have a telephone installed. I had no particular reason to do so, but prepared for the task, collecting brochures and finding out the location of the nearest telephone company office to them. My mother was hard of hearing but didn’t use a hearing aid, so would need a suitably adapted phone. When I visited they agreed and we made the arrangements. My father phoned me later to confirm that the device was installed and then went into hospital to die from terminal cancer a couple of weeks later. He had never mentioned his suffering to anyone nor consulted a doctor. It could be said that he chose to go into hospital because the phone had been installed, but the time of his death was too close for that to be the whole story and my visit and proposal were completely unpredictable. Had she not had the phone at that time then my mother would have had a much worse experience. If emotions are the key to premonitions, how could I have responded to an emotional experience in the future that never happened? My father’s death itself caused a reunion of the family which balanced out any emotions evenly. Going back to the survival strategy developed by neurons, something actually happening would not be a prerequisite, only the strong possibility that it would. Quantum mechanics doesn’t depend on things happening, only on the accumulated possibilities.

An analogy might be the way that lightning strikes. It doesn’t just plunge down into the ground but seeks out a path. In fact an electrical field develops between a cloud and the ground and then features on both produce regions of greater possibility of a route. Streamers first develop from all the potential end points, even at ground level, and when they connect they expand to carry the full lightning bolt. In a similar way a field of possibilities may develop between present events and potential future ones and it is then the aggregate of these that decides which way the main course of what we see as reality strikes out. This perception means that reality is very much like a jigsaw puzzle in a multitude of dimensions where every factor imaginable contributes to finding the pieces that best fit. The present is therefore not just a consequence of the past but the optimum compromise between any possible past and future. To understand how and when this completed jigsaw puzzle itself forms one would have to delve deeper into science and philosophy, but it is worth bearing in mind that lightning can be and often is forked.

One thing that concerned me about the idea of my future already being planned out was the apparent loss of free will. Actually, some people maintain that it is an illusion anyway as every decision that we make is the consequence of logical processes within our brains, which work deterministically from the accumulated knowledge within them, discounting any purely random events that may tip an even balance on some occasions. Personally I find that a very dull world in which to exist even if there is an infinity of variety on that theme. If the deterministic and free will communities can’t agree on this then maybe the resolution is that apparent free will is to some extent affected by feedback from possible future events which themselves depend on the same free will to occur. One argument against the future affecting the past in any way is that paradoxes could arise, such as the obvious one of a man killing his own father so that he himself never existed. Usually this is countered with the idea of alternative realities with the time traveller moving from one to another through his own actions. There is a simpler solution though, that paradoxes just don’t happen because the pieces would never fit in the jigsaw. Nobody claims that planes can’t possibly fly because some crash, so equally the impossibility of some temporal events doesn’t rule out the possibility of all such. Paradoxes arise from negative feedback with the consequences denying the possibility of the causes. The other possible closed situation is positive feedback, where the consequences actually increase the possibility of the cause occurring. There is nothing inherently wrong with a time traveller being his own father. Returning from these nonsensical examples to the equivalent within the human mind, there is nothing wrong with the consequences of a thought fathering the thought. That is exactly how memory works, that one only remembers because one remembers, often with several neurons sharing the same memory. If the cycle is broken one forgets. Similarly it would only take a glimmer of random thought to occur in a group of neurons for the possible future consequences of that thought to add weight to it through temporal feedback and make it a firm intention, one which appeared to all the world to be free will materialising out of nowhere. This is a different process from conjecture, where one substantially draws on past experience, but all these processes contribute to the only decision that a neuron has to make, whether to fire and declare that decision or not. Positive feedback is therefore the equivalent of those primary streamers building a path for the main lightning strike.

So, having established reasonable means, motive and opportunity for this mens temporum to be manifest in my mind, I should look for signs of it doing so, having been prompted by numerous coincidences over the last few years. I can prove nothing except that it would explain things that I find it difficult to explain any other way. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who may have been an extremely late acquaintance of my late mother-in-law, put well-known words about this into the mouth of Sherlock Holmes. Following the example of my original short story taking the form of a letter to a solicitor, something with which I was familiar, I wouldn’t be surprised if the novel had the form of a computer system specification, something that I regularly wrote during my career. I will approach it here with that in mind.

The opening chapter is not the beginning of the story but more a statement of its objective. The concepts involved include the idea of two sides to the human mind, sleep being a condition where they go separate ways, the merging of the thoughts of kindred minds across time (although time is obliquely mentioned) and the idea that this unusual event is driven by strong emotions. The second chapter equally does not begin the story but describes an associated series of events involving a younger inexperienced mind attempting to place detached concepts into its own currently known associations. This very much reflects my early attempts to rationalise what I was writing by drawing on my then existing experience. To someone better informed those attempts by that young boy seem puerile, exactly how I now feel and the reason why I am not explaining my original rationalisations. The idea of detached but familiar concepts from the future being attached to current associations is important in understanding what signs to look for, so these two opening chapters are a guide to the interpretation of the deeper meaning within the main story.

In the third chapter Graham meets David and the discussion and his thoughts encompass concepts like problems with travelling long distances, the military and flying. Much later in the long story David appears to be an agent for the intangible trustees behind the time capsule project, some of whom are evidently Americans. I interpret this to be an analogy for my contact David in California being my means of accessing the controlling panel for my computer project, which for a long time was not definitely known to exist in reality, once the problems of transport over a long distance are resolved. The military connection is that my old friend in Devon was a contractor working on military technology who frequently flew to California to do work at the military bases there and I did wonder whether he had any suggestions about how to get the item flown to the UK. With the explanations being this detailed you will appreciate that I can’t explain every detail in the story here even if I could, so I can only offer a few tantalising examples.

Graham’s training includes understanding SMES technology, which utilises superconductivity, a quantum mechanical phenomenon. While SMES devices are a reality it is stated that the technology employed is small scale, even quoting a fictional acronym S3MES for it. Also there are two internal power sources within the time capsule. The main one is a large bank of rechargeable batteries while the SMES units provide additional bursts of power when there is a demand. I see all this as representing the normal chemical process that neurons use to acquire and store information from the outside world with an additional, maybe fictional, quantum effect within them providing occasional bursts of transferred information. The concepts of small scale and irregular bursts are both suggestive of neurons and their activity. In fact the story doesn’t mention quantum effects directly anywhere except in the description of the electronic analogue computing elements and there I assumed that I was referring to the well-known phenomenon of quantum tunnelling, which occurs in tunnel diodes and is not fictional. Although there may be allusions to quantum effects in the story even they are never associated with biological entities and I didn’t find out about quantum biology until after writing it. Nevertheless I see references to it in the writing now.

When Graham is first taken to the time capsule there is discussion of rabbits and tunnels avoiding tree roots to conserve them. This seems to tie in with Els and her picture and activities conserving trees in urban areas, specifically Amsterdam. The official name for the time capsule is H.M.S. Frismersk, which I chose from a list of ancient lost villages on the Humber estuary. All the other names were of Viking origin but I selected the one with Frisian roots, the name meaning “Frisian marsh”. In olden times the land where Amsterdam now stands was part of Frisia and quite possibly marshy. There are other references to the welfare of trees and their roots in the story. Indeed, when John Charman is introduced he is in the wood thinking about this. Els’s father Jan also worked to conserve trees and John is the English equivalent of his name. Jan’s surname was something Dutch beginning with “C” which meant nothing to me, but in the story I substituted the surname Charman for it. The Charman family were friends of my wife and they once owned a business, a garage, just as Els had her business in what once was one. Els has the same surname as her father but Marcel’s is something else. Even now I do not associate his name with anything else and it doesn’t seem to be represented in the story, as one might expect. However, his work providing ways of seeing what lies inside the human skull is implied. The time capsule architecture is itself a representation of one, but mostly of the brain within it.

The many field generators lining the dome of the capsule represent the cells of a brain, making up a supercomputer, and the description of their detailed structure again reflects the work done by Els. On the side that is normally seen from inside the dome lies a digital computer array representing the organised comprehensible grid pattern of a city like Amsterdam. Hidden beneath is the analogue computer array with its almost organic activities that spread throughout it autonomously like tree roots. What powers these is not obvious although it could be something taken from the surrounding air, just as in trees. Between the two layers lies the supporting base semiconductor made of silicon. Els’s father Jan developed a mixture called treesand, which is a combination of sand and soil which is strong enough to support pavements while allowing the tree roots to grow. The silicon for semiconductors is itself made from sand. There are many matching concepts here. I ought also to mention at this point that slogan quoted on the Natura Ingenium website, “A tree on your doorstep, a forest in your mind”. The idea of the alien entity Hermes just beyond human perception spreading its influence through the mind by means of the Hermes Culture appears to reflect that sentiment precisely.

During Graham’s first visit to the time capsule several things get broken and damaged. Following this he tries to rationalise his experience and draws the wrong conclusion. This again represents the breaking up of the future experiences within the subconscious mind so that only fragmented concepts remain, which are then connected by other more familiar associations within the younger conscious mind. Adrian’s attempt to explain the phenomenon using the analogy of the walker in the snow demonstrates the two stage process with tokens being dropped during the initial experience within red time, i.e. the subconscious laying out the precognitive trail of breadcrumbs in the future, followed by the recovery of the tokens and construction of an understanding during a separate pass in the past reality. Apparently the brain really does go round the same circle twice in its own local vortex in time when this happens. Only detached concepts survive the process intact, probably because the quantum effects involved can only take place within individual neurons which themselves represent single concepts. Furthermore those neurons must represent the same concepts right across the time spanned, so newly acquired concepts, like a foreign name never before heard, cannot be passed back even though the subordinate characteristics, like the initial letter as the brain’s primary way of filing names, might. Many years ago I worked on detailed data analysis and one abstract concept that I considered was the information content within a name. We see names just as labels for other things but the brain no doubt also breaks them down into simpler concepts. This is apparent when one is trying to remember a name, that odd characteristics and associations may be remembered while the complete name itself is infuriatingly reticent to materialise. I have studied practical everyday information structures in some depth during my I.T. career. Indeed, I was once ridiculed during a course on writing plain English for my formal definition of “a thing”, the most fundamental concept imaginable. In an alternative proposal for the design of the Honeywell 200 its chief designer described a physical memory system containing blocks of data of any size accessed by unique tokens, an approach actually partially achieved by the final design, but I consider data to be far more complex in its structure than that. The human mind also has to be perceived as a multi-layered information structure of immense complexity.

The significance of the characteristics of names rather than the names themselves is further illustrated by my choice of Graham Graham as the name of my main character. This is an amusing name given to him by a father with a sense of humour. The real life parallel was Gay Gordon with the same initials and a similarly humorous name and father. The fact that both are also Scottish clan names reflects the specific amusing nature of Gay’s name. Note that the repetition of the same initial letter is itself a simple concept that would survive the temporal transfer and reoccurs in C-C’s name. However, her name is better explained otherwise, especially when the experiences of DCI Snow are examined. He represents the force of law and order, which will fall upon the incongruous tokens already exposed on the ground and conceal them if allowed to do so. His attention is attracted by a strange ornate tower that he passes on his journey to and from the time capsule. This is actually the folly which was being restored soon after I wrote the novel. As he passes it on leaving he considers the sandwiches and cake given to him by C-C. These represent the party given to celebrate completion of the restoration, which was organised by the two Carolines, one of which had the nickname “C”. The name Caroline is a concept that my mind can handle as it belonged to my first serious girlfriend and a man doesn’t ever forget that experience. The other concepts were the solitary initial “C” and a sense of repetition brought about by there being two women with the same name. It is no surprise that I reconstructed these tokens into one Caroline with the initial “C” repeated. That was close enough.

As another example of reconstruction of a name I offer Natura Ingenium as a real challenge. I was taught Latin at school but failed at it miserably, but I can still get the gist of a Latin phrase. These two Latin words representing an organisation with good intentions present an impression of something organic to do with the working of the mind. This is probably the origin of my fictional organisation Mens Temporum, which has similar characteristics. That name is even described as having been devised as the Latin name of a large plant originally, a tree in effect, but of course it doesn’t have the correct format to be this and the remark is simply another reference to the activities of the real organisation. Later in the long story it becomes evident that the name had a more remote origin and was suggested from this source, again mirroring reality. The complete deconstruction of the alien original into recognisable concepts and substitution of an equivalent with the same characteristics is apparent. Psychics may be criticised for talking about having just a sense of something apparently vague, but that is most likely this deconstruction process at work in their minds and any false efforts at reconstruction as I did in my novel would be irresponsible in their circumstances.

The remarkable case of Doctor Victor Andrews and the way that his name apparently remained intact probably arises because both parts of his name belong to relatives in my family, although this combination of them doesn’t. As the names themselves have long established fixed associations in my mind they could survive the transfer.

Another case of the double initials “G G” occurred with Miss G, i.e. Georgia. Her autistic brother’s name rang no bells in my mind, so my substitution of her grandfather’s name George for my autistic character is understandable. That first encounter with their family clearly passed back many concepts, such as the time capsule building with its independent power supply when cut off from the external mains, the gaping fish on the staircase walls and the autistic boy often playing computer games and seeing things as shapes without pictures. While some of the latter could be regarded as a stock presentation of a typical autist my real experience took it to the literal limits. Even the unkind reference to “goldfish George” in the novel has a strange twist to it as their aquarium was a salt water sea-life one while goldfish are freshwater fish. However, the novel also mentions the goldfish club, a term used by WWII aircrew to describe people who ditched in the sea, so even the connection with seawater was conserved.

The dual nature of the story is evident in the historically accurate use of the WWII bomber G - George, which on the other side of this double-sided jigsaw puzzle could also represent Miss G, Georgia. This duality culminates in the peculiar chapter 24 of the original novel entitled “Re conception”. The symbolism in this chapter strongly represents the start of a new life with conception, pregnancy and birth all present. Alongside this the image of the bomber is shown to be disappearing into the past as the new image of the girl being born comes to the forefront. Georgia actually was born around the time that I wrote this, a fact that I now know and hence in retrospect it can legitimately appear in the story.

In the original version of the first chapter Graham asked Lucine whether she was Australian. This was actually a link to something that happens much later in the long story, but I wondered at the time why I let it go without comment when he would most likely have guessed from her accent and the oversight seemed inexcusable to my pedantic mind. That same family eventually provided me with an explanation. The mother told my wife about an encounter that she’d had in a local shop in Devon. Her family originally came from north Kent, where the so-called estuary accent also common to Essex occurs. They were very much considered outsiders down in the West Country and in this shop someone asked her how long she’d been “here”. Apparently they didn’t mean “in Devon” though but “in England” as they thought that she was Australian from her accent, which just proves how much West Country people know about accents. The surname “Snow” happens to be most common in the West Country, by the way, and I did eventually give the DCI a West Country accent.

I made Graham a motor mechanic who yearned to be a proper engineer. The only later association with mechanics in reality is that town named Mechanicsburg where all the Honeywell 200 computers ended up. The name arose from the community of wagon mechanics there in early times. The chief designer of the Honeywell 200 could have been seen as a systems engineer or electronic engineer but that isn’t what we first think of as a proper engineer, who most likely works with mechanical devices. Having associated Graham’s name with Gay it seems reasonable to have linked the ambiguity of his career with her father’s.

Another example of how the mind literally links concepts through language may be present in that chapter 24. Graham apparently travels back in time and then boards a plane which takes him to the start of the second novel. This could be seen as reinterpretation of the shipment of the second backplane, which itself travelled back the wrong way before being put on a plane. My writer’s mind seems to have taken the words “back” and “plane” separately rather than as one word. I have used the first backplane to build the memory unit and kept the second for future use building the second unit. At the end of the novel Graham is left with only memories of what has passed and has to start again, just as I will when I construct that second unit after building the memory. Somehow the writing of the novels and the building of the computer units seem to be taking place in parallel as currently I can’t decide which to move forward next. Also at the end of the novel Graham has to reconcile two sets of memories that parallel each other, just as I have to now. He also asks the question that I ask myself. Having seen that the phenomenon exists, how can one control it?

The coincidence with the lunar eclipse in 2015 is complicated to unravel. Lunar eclipses occur quite often although that one was the first total eclipse visible from the UK for many years. If one follows the description of Lucine’s conception literally then the eclipse in the novel must have occurred on the other side of the Earth and in fact two did in 2011, one in June and another in December. While the second was visible across Australia the first was the more likely inspiration for my writing at that time and was only visible in Western Australia. Lucine is described as a novice journalist and the second novel places her in Australia. I was prompted to rewrite the first chapter of the novel by someone in that writers’ forum, which is now owned by a journalist in Western Australia. In my rewritten chapter Lucine imagines herself taking the place of her image in the mirror, which may be a reference to the relocation of herself and the eclipse on opposite sides of the Earth from their original positions.

Since joining that writers’ forum I have simply accepted the coincidences there as normal. From the outset I presented myself as a novice writer doing the research for a novel that I had already written, unusual characters being commonplace on the site. The number of times that I mentioned examples of subjects under discussion already in my novel became tedious. Once when someone passed a witty remark I said that I was going to put it in my novel in the past, as it was already there in a similar context. As the website is international there is never any agreement between members online about what the time or even date is at any moment, so there are many clocks showing different times in use. The fact that ownership of the site passed from a Baron to an Admiral is directly reflected in the novel. In it the time capsule has a dual identity, being regarded as both a building and a ship. Adrian, its director, is at one point called “the red time baron” and later during the Frismersk incident the naval commander regards him as having a higher rank than himself but never explains why. If H.M.S. Frismersk was ever administered on a strictly naval basis then one would expect it to have been under the control of an admiral.

The timing of events is a fundamental aspect of both the story and its writing. In fact I roughed out the second part of the novel very quickly before sending the whole thing to my contact in the USA to be authenticated just months before any of the associated events occurred. Had I spent more time writing the second part properly the delay might have changed perceptions. As the time capsule was designed to be used for short sessions it has no calendars in it, only clocks, but in the first chapter it is mentioned that a watch might also provide the date. There is also the telling statement that “Usually dreams go undated until they are over,” implying that the story could equally apply to another period in the future as it apparently does now. The perception that I get from this is of time being both continuous and fragmented in nature, at least within the confines of a single brain.

Quite possibly I could carry on rationalising every detail of my novel in this way, but it doesn’t explain where the story really started. For example, even as I write this in 2016 I wonder how I came to choose the random name David Enstrum for the original writer of that letter to a solicitor back in 2009. In retrospect now I would say that David in the novel is a representative of the trustees of the Mens Temporum organisation, not that he was in 2009, so if he is part of Mens Temporum then his surname also should be, and it is quite literally, its letters appearing in exactly the right order within that name. So, did I devise the Latin name from that original surname later or conceive both together in 2009? If the former, from whence did I spirit up the unlikely name “Enstrum” originally? If the latter, then how did I manage to plan so much of my unintended novel that far ahead apparently in one night when I had a far more important task on my mind? And anyway, why choose a Latin name at all when it was my worst subject at school? The other possibility, that I have just this moment chosen to decide something back in 2009 because I opened my mind to a “random” choice then, is the most absurd, especially because I cannot conceive of any pre-existing concept in my mind represented by a cluster of neurons which could convey the word “Enstrum”. (Note: A couple of days after I wrote this I woke up with a plausible explanation.) Maybe it is just a coincidence, but how many coincidences and accompanying difficulties should I allow to accumulate in this way before I apply Occam’s razor and accept the simplest explanation, that sometimes things can just happen in an unusual order when we try to think purely randomly? Perhaps if I didn’t have aphantasia and could also see in my mind’s eye what I can only conceive, then things would look clearer. Genuine psychics claim to see things but I almost never see anything that isn’t right in front of my open eyes.

So, is it possible that some of our thoughts are quite literally timeless, justifying the novel’s title? Even as I was about to finish off this article and launch the website I woke up this very morning with another thought about something that I almost overlooked, the “Boar Wars” incident at the folly in 2013. I have now added it to the chronicle to put it in the correct context, having asked my wife to confirm the occurrence. The reception area in the novel’s time capsule is evidently based on that in the real mock Gothic folly, the novel being my own folly, and the fact that that room was surrounded by a timeline is reflected by the capsule being surrounded by time, as Adrian actually states at one point, and also the fact that, just like the real folly, the novel has its own history written inside it. The amusing reference to the “Boar Wars” in the timeline gave rise to the incongruous appearance of the warthog in the time capsule in the past although Graham, just like myself when visiting the folly, doubted that that was what had really happened. The warthog chased off many scientists from the project as they could not cope with the experience. Maybe this inexplicable coincidence will equally chase off a number of sceptics now. One scientist singled out was Japanese, which brought to light the problem of the linguistic barrier in the selection of visitors. The spelling mistake on the wall of the folly had itself arisen from misinterpretation of a foreign word. All the concepts relating to that one real incident have somehow been represented in the novel, but when could that have happened? Did I subconsciously do it in 2011, when the visitor centre didn’t even exist, or after my visit in 2013, when I just thought that it was a good joke, or now, today in 2016, when I am seriously thinking about the matter? The answer can only be that my humour at least is timeless.

I have no doubt that there are other conceptual connections between my novel and my later experiences, but of course the process may not have ended yet and I may encounter more strange coincidences in the future. Some may unfortunately arise from my publication of this article, but there is a lot more to the story that remains unpublished and the novel itself points out that decryption of the meaning may only be possible through the associations in my mind rather than anyone else’s. This was only intended to be a demonstration anyway, an emulation of the real thing, if it could exist. There is nothing special about the way that my mind works to think otherwise. If I had not provided the chronology of the facts given on this website then I expect that any psychologist would have acknowledged that they were the likely inspiration for many of the details in my novel, but given that chronology they are forced to seek other explanations, the belief that all thought is strictly chronological being so strong by convention.

I have no idea how to categorise this experience. If I am applying too much rationalisation to what is just a series of unusual coincidences then I must be a pretty good weaver, rather than spinner, of yarns and ought to carry on with my writing just for that reason. Normally one might believe that this type of experience arises from actively seeking out events to match expected patterns. The human brain is incredibly effective at matching patterns and therefore this would be conceivable were it not for the fact that many of the events involved are already significant in my life for other reasons and that they have occurred through the actions of others rather than myself. In fact to a great extent I have merely been an observer. Equally I can’t have been selective in choosing the encounters involved as the people concerned are all quite unique, not just locally but in the world most probably. False memories can’t play a major part either as so much is documented in my computer files and I have been checking my facts against this evidence as I write. Given the difficulties that theorists have in proving that the nature of time and with it causality is truly consistently unidirectional, I must remain sceptical about every interpretation and just accept that this is life as I know it. It changes nothing anyway. I still assume that my everyday arbitrary decisions are just that even if the future may later suggest otherwise and I don’t look for mystical signs to guide me. However, it does fascinate me to think that perhaps one aspect of my story is true, that our minds explore far more of those possible futures than we realise and that what we consciously perceive as our time and our reality is only a part of the life that we are really living. Maybe we are all like those Americans working on their Sandhi capsule in the story, who never remembered what they had experienced beyond normal time and therefore believed that nothing had happened. Perhaps Bellaine’s spanner affects us all in reality.

A final thought. That seminal fictional letter which I wrote in 2009 ended with the question “Is there a case file on me?” Perhaps the answer is that there is now. I have experienced some tardy replies from solicitors in the past but this must be the tardiest. Tardiest? What am I thinking? Maybe I’m just joking yet again.

You are now free to resume your disbelief as you wish. Red midnight is upon us, the shared dream is over and I have returned to being just a pumpkin-head. You also can return to your life without any change except maybe a few incongruous memories which will quickly fade in the persistent light of reality. Most of the water in this river of time will no doubt continue to flow downhill to a sea of eternity as it always has and nobody will ever make enough waves to change that. I would not want to change your illusions of reality with what may just be my delusions anyway. Nobody should have their illusions shattered.

Rob Sanders

January 2016