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The Speculation - February 2016

Here I continue to speculate and create my illusions regardless of whether anyone else believes them. That is after all the secret intention of the fiction writer, to imply that there is some message about reality within his work. A reader might just think that what I report here is merely a collection of coincidences, but then this website is if anything autobiographical and my life is nothing more than that. Yours too. For me life started with the unpredictable coincidence of a sperm and egg in the suburbs of London towards the end of WWII, many years after my siblings were born. The city was being bombarded by V2 missiles when I was born and one impacted only a few hundred feet from our family home killing many when I was four months old. Hence the major part of my life is the result of a coincidence that didn’t happen, a near miss. Maybe that is why I respect even the near misses in the coincidences that I report on this website. I owe my whole life to one. From the time of my conception my DNA carried the silent confirmation of the ironic truth about that, that my ancestors were German. I still know no more about them than that.

Are our lives any more than a series of coincidences? Philosophers, scientists and psychologists debate about the existence of free will and whether our lives are determined merely by causality. I have an image in my mind, conceptual of course because of my aphantasia, of a man who has just jumped off the top of a high cliff considering that issue as he falls. He concludes that it isn’t just a question of whether free will exists at all but also exactly when we get the opportunity to exercise it and even whether we comprehend the implications at the time. Maybe he’d been sleep walking at the time. Maybe our only opportunity to express our free will comes much earlier in life, even while our brains are initially forming in the womb. Ultimately the question itself is indeterminate and therefore the answer is also. Hence for now I will continue to speculate about the coincidences that make up my life.

When I first compiled this website I hadn’t realised just how central the fortunes of that folly, the mock Gothic tower, were to my novel. I never meant them to be. Having reflected on that I have added another significant event to the chronicle, the closure of the visitor centre there in 2015. The unexpected application for liquidation of the trust owning the building in July 2015 brought this about. I have already touched on the connections between the tower and details in the novel but here the main plot of the original part two is involved. In chapters 22 and 23 the remote resource that enables the time capsule to function is unexpectedly withdrawn and there are no more visitors. In his attempt to restore a connection with Lucine’s older self Graham falls into a coma for fifteen years. I previously touched on the fact that the novel contains clues about recreating dates from its contents. In chapter 21 Lucine demonstrates the technique to recreate the exact date of the Battle of Hastings. Using two of the key numbers there, her age 20, which she didn’t eventually write on her mirror, and her age in Graham’s time when they first met, i.e. 14, I constructed the year 2014 as the time when my wife wore that black nightdress. Equally I see the fifteen years of Graham’s coma as an indication of the year 2015 since he was attempting to contact the older Lucine, who was age 20 when she first met him and eternally so in his mind. Maybe I am trying hard to make the connection here but when he came out of the coma Graham said the very same thing, “Tried so hard.”

I actually have a psychologist to thank for unwittingly directing me to that last observation as she was the one who made it about me. If I am deluded about the significance of these coincidences then it is no surprise that I can relate even her attempt to divert me from them back to something in the novel. I find that fascinating in itself. Her name is Caroline by coincidence. She specialises in advising people who think that they dream about future events, but she hasn’t seen this website yet. I did discover another psychologist in Britain who specialises in unusual coincidences, but her initials were “G G”. Apparently I can’t escape from these coincidences regardless of how insignificant they are, even when attempting to investigate them. Caroline has a colleague on her team who is a member of the Magic Circle and therefore no doubt a useful man to investigate people who claim to be psychics. It would be very tempting to think that somehow I based the character of Doctor Andrews on him, especially since Caroline acquired her degree in psychology at St. Andrews University. Sometimes I don’t need to try at all hard apparently.

Is trying hard the key to making the temporal connection in this phenomenon? At the end of the original novel Graham asks Hermes for the steering wheel that will control his experiences. Maybe I am also seeking that now. Hard work is a personal experience and can differ in nature from person to person. Most of the things that I mention here seem relatively obvious to me but perhaps others might see me as going out of my way to prove something. That is why this website presents the experience solely within the context of my mind and nothing else. I have a stock remark about the obvious, which is “To quote Einstein, I fought that woz bleedin’ obvious.” If anyone were to point out that Einstein probably never said that, then my reply would be “To quote Einstein ...” As a mathematician I relish the power of iteration. Maybe that is closer to the truth, that it is how we perceive ourselves that empowers us rather than any absolute characteristic. This points to the psychological nature of self, the fundamental characteristics that we see as being at the root of our being. In my case I would place mathematics and humour at my core along with a few other things. Maybe the trigger for the transfer of thoughts back in time is specifically an emotional response to an experience at the centre of one’s intellectual self, a message carrying one’s own signature so to speak. Researchers have tried using sexual triggers in experiments relating to this as these are assumed to be universally applicable. Perhaps they should be more selective instead of waving carrots at what may be tigers. I have already mentioned very simple manipulation of numbers as a way of extracting concealed dates from my novel. Now I’ll try what may appear to be a harder illusion along those lines.

In the novel Doctor Andrews appears to be more of a psychologist than a medical doctor as his latter skills are nullified by the temporal field and only his psychological manipulation of visitors has any consequences in reality. That observation naturally draws me closer to the parallel with that real psychologist, but no matter. In either of their worlds it is the nature of illusion that concerns me. One deception there is that an illusionist does not always explain what he intends to do beforehand. Therefore provided that he can ascertain the outcome by some other means he can choose a trick which appears to result in that outcome. To do this he may need a whole arsenal of tricks at hand. A mathematician always does. My intention here is to create the illusion that I am influencing my free will decisions made in 2010. At that time I decided to call my computer project “Honey Pi” and registered an Internet domain with that name. The subsequent coincidence of my namesake registering a similarly named domain about two years later plus the associated coincidences seems remarkable. I could eliminate the impact of those coincidences by suggesting that I somehow influenced my choice of project name after finding out about my namesake’s actions. I could also suggest that I influenced the exact date when I registered my domain to create an additional coincidence. For example, it would be a coincidence if the registration dates of the two domains were exactly two years apart, but they aren’t. Perhaps that is because such a simple coincidence wouldn’t carry my signature as a mathematician and therefore wouldn’t get communicated. In the novel during the Frismersk incident Graham shouts “Cardioid” down at the cusp of the temporal field, which is responsible for the transfer of visitors and their thoughts across time. He hopes to hear an echo but doesn’t and Adrian tells him that his conclusion is not logical. Evidently what one shouts across the time dimension has to have the right characteristics. I will try to find something characteristically complex to shout.

The problem is to find a way of associating two dates so that they somehow become related, entangled even. Graham provides a clue to this in chapter two of the novel when he sees similar but different scenes each time he goes around on the carousel. There are also references in that chapter to the moon and things being just out of reach. I will take that as a reference to the lunar cycle of 28 days and things within reach. Associations are represented in that chapter by the interactions between the three children on the carousel. In fact, just as the first chapter can be seen as relating to the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, the second relates to that of the princess and the frog. However, in both cases Graham is the nuisance whose actions intervene and change the course of events. Lucine doesn’t meet the prince of her dreams but Graham instead and equally the little princess in chapter two is more interested in him than Frogface because he comes between them. Frogface misinterprets the scene, thinking that she has rejected even the better looking boy and leaves with Graham instead of approaching her and becoming her prince. Hence the message is about the importance of adjacent characters on the carousel. I could place 28 children on the carousel to represent the lunar cycle but being a small children’s ride it may well have been smaller, so I will settle for just seven, a week’s worth. Hence I now have the seven days of the week arranged around a clock face in effect. I start by choosing any two adjacent days at random and removing them, leaving just five which I space evenly around the face. I then remove two more days and space the remaining three evenly again. Finally I remove two more and leave just one day to be removed at the end. As in the story the days have been paired up much as the children were. There are actually 105 ways of making the choices and arriving at a new sequence for the days of the week by this process as the possibilities are seven times five times three. Therefore I now have a series of 105 different weeks connected by an interesting algorithm. That thought carries my personal signature. It is also a period of approximately two years as required. As this is an illusion specifically chosen to achieve the result that I knew in advance it will come as no surprise that I registered my domain on Monday 12th July 2010 and my namesake registered his on Monday 16th July 2012 exactly 105 weeks later. Domains can be registered on any day of the week so far as I know, so I am not aware of any other influences on this result.

This illusion can be regarded as either the normal presented as being abnormal or the abnormal presented as being normal. It gives no clue as to whether any quantum event was actually involved or not. It is therefore compatible with the Schrödinger’s cat experiment in that the box remains unopened and both are possible. This in itself points to the nature of free will, the thing that I was allegedly trying to influence. Advocates of determinism and causality find it difficult to accept the concept of free will as it seems to defy those axioms. Perhaps that is because they are imposing additional constraints, such as the concept of unidirectional time and a restriction on any event being its own cause. The latter is peculiar as axioms are themselves self-evident and therefore elude that constraint. If those additional constraints are removed then free will can also be self-justifying and events can even be mutually exclusive across time, each denying the other, which is as I understand it the principle behind the complementary nature of quantum entanglement. The idea of free will being in essence a luxury, enabling not just choice but deferral of a decision to another time, is illustrated in part two of the original novel by Lucine claiming that an unopened box of chocolates is a luxury which is only opened out of necessity. Graham sees this as equivalent to the Schrödinger’s cat experiment. Exercising our free will actually collapses the possibilities and commits us like the man who jumps off the cliff or the woman who eats the chocolates. While actually deferring a decision is preferable it is possible that one could notionally defer one by heeding influences from the future via some paranormal means as described here. For example, nowadays I joke about my reason for not attending university upon leaving school. There is now always the option of attending later after a gap year or as a mature student and hence deferring the decision, but acting immediately on a deferred decision is something else. I made the decision not to apply for a place at Cambridge studying pure mathematics in October 1962 or thereabouts against the advice of the head of my school’s mathematics department, to his great disappointment. Nowadays I point out that had I gone to university my life would have taken a very different path and I would never have met my angel of a wife. Also the lack of a university education did me no harm. The humorous aspect is that Cambridge didn’t need me anyway as they acquired that other mathematician, Stephen Hawking, at that time. There is now no way that the actual influences on my decision can be determined beyond that. For a long time I have observed that some people are ‘temporally streamlined’ in that they always seem to take the right course in life while others slam hard into every hindrance imaginable. Maybe the distinction is just how well they heed their sixth sense, whatever that may be, regardless of how sensible the choice seems at the time.

I have considered the comparison between my writing and the quatrains of Nostradamus, if only because there is so much doubt about the significance of the latter. His work has been criticised as being too generic and applicable to many contexts. Certainly both his and mine are cryptic although in my case I explain that by the fragmented nature of the quantum connections and the inability of my younger mind to comprehend the true context. Also I confine my observations to my own direct experiences with no suggestion that my knowledge could extend beyond that. Possibly my writing is so generic and contains so many elements that there could be analogies to a host of other events, but if this is so it ought to be possible for any other reader to relate the story to experiences in their own lives as closely as I have done to mine. Once the story was written I became just another reader in effect and the probability of the collection of coincidences that I have reported does not seem materially altered by my being the author. I look forward to any other reader’s account of their observations in this respect.

The key coincidences may therefore be the ones that appear to be specific to my very personal later experiences, such as the significance of the name “Frismersk” and the unaccountable appearance of the warthog in the story. To add to these I ought to explain the matter of the laxatives. In my previous speculation I didn’t mention any coincidences connected with my colonoscopy even though I mention it in the chronicle of events, so to prove that I am not being intentionally selective about the coincidences I should now. At the time of the Frismersk incident C-C imagines taking a very large dose of laxative by mistake and is subsequently confused when Adrian also mentions laxative, thinking that the computer has passed her thoughts on to him. The team had failed to resolve their problem through physical actions earlier, merely causing minor damage to the network of field generators surrounding them, and eventually employ a virtual solution instead which surprisingly works. This all does seem to be markedly similar to my predicament at the hospital when the doctor there advised me that a physical colonoscopy did involve some risk of damage to the colon while a virtual one would not but also would not provide a cure, which actually surprisingly wasn’t true just as in the story. Even the earlier disconnection of the batteries, the normal power source, from the system seems to mirror my period of fasting before the scan. The doctor’s additional remark, not intentionally directed at me, about writing a book was also an odd coincidence. The similarity between the surrounding field generators which appear to see deeply into the team’s minds and the CAT scanner may also be worth mentioning. I very much doubt that such things can be seen as generic.

One problem with identifying paranormal influences in my writing is the simple fact that it is just typed text and hence the majority of ambiguity has been filtered out by my mind beforehand compared to a visual image or sound recording. Investigators of the paranormal will pore over such things interminably just because of their vague highly ambiguous nature. There is also familiarity to consider. Reflections from entirely transparent glass are so commonplace that people don’t question whether they are illusions even if they don’t actually comprehend how they occur. For a full explanation one has to look to quantum theory though. The percentage of reflections from the future in my writing are probably of a similar magnitude but people are indoctrinated into believing that such things don’t really exist. In a way their mind’s eyes are as blind to them as my own is to visual images. I myself was blissfully unaware of the supposed arrow of time for the first five years of my life and also exercised my free will to a great extent during that period, free will evidently being timeless in essence. It was a remark by my father when I had just turned five and started school that made me aware of the progress of time in a fixed direction and that changed my outlook on life considerably. I clearly recollect the experience and it is mentioned in my novel. I don’t know how many people can put their finger on the moment when they committed to this perception, but I can. Within weeks of that event my wife was conceived, which is how she comes to be six years younger than myself. I won’t attempt to work out the significance, if any, of that. Now that I am retired my free will once again is prominent in my life and I wear a watch only when I specifically need to synchronise my activities with the rest of reality and I never use a diary. Sometimes I’m not even sure what day of the week it is because that seldom has any direct bearing on my reality any more.

Referring back to my earlier suggestion, that any free will would have to be exercised during or even before the initial development of the brain in the womb for subsequent behaviour to be entirely deterministic, the alternative might be that all free will is within a timeless context beyond such constraints, in which case instead of being exercised without knowledge of events it could take into account events at any time throughout life, even later. At my stage of life I ought then to be able to consider whether I have employed what free will I have had wisely and to my mind I have. Any thoughts that I have on that subject only seem to reinforce the decisions that I have already made, which is just as I would expect if I hold to that view. I have mentioned in the fiction section of this website that my novel is not published in the normal sense of not being subject to further change. On the contrary I could make detailed changes to it in the light of comments by readers or for my own reasons. Hence it is still evolving rather than being deterministically set in stone. Just as I didn’t know what the consequences of my decisions in life would be, so I didn’t know what the significance of the story in my novel was until I experienced later events. Having found out I am quite satisfied with that as well and regard it as a product of free will emanating from a place unrestricted by time. That does not in itself place it beyond the confines of the physical brain though. This interpretation of my actions is far more acceptable to me than the idea that I wrote a bizarre novel with peculiar details in it for no reason whatsoever. Surely I would really have been mad to do that, wouldn’t I? On reflection maybe I am a script-writer after all.

Oh my! Even that last remark sets me thinking. Of course I am a script writer, or have been in a small way. At the start of my speculation in January I mentioned the proposition that this whole phenomenon had apparently arisen in parallel with the development of my Honey Pi project, mirroring that process within my mind. To explain this I need to describe some technicalities about the Honeywell 200 computer which is the subject of that other project. This machine was very successful in its day because it was capable of emulating the most popular computer then on the market, the IBM 1401. Although the two machines were not identical the H200 was able to do this through an additional feature not present in the IBM 1401. Every location in memory contained an extra bit of information not in that machine. Normally the H200 ignored this bit when executing its instructions and behaved as an H200. However, when told to use the extra bit it could reinterpret the instructions as though it were something else, such as a 1401. If there is any parallel to this in the human brain then I would guess that it could be the extra information at the quantum level which does not affect the brain’s normal activity, or so scientists used to believe and maybe still do. When I wrote my demonstration programme for the H200, The Pi Factory, I was attempting to calculate Pi using a very small computer memory as far as the end of the Feynman point, i.e. the 767th decimal place about which the physicist Richard Feynman made a joke, but my attempt fell short by a few decimal places. I had to find a way of doing more processing even though the entire memory was already in use. My solution was a routine which encoded a script procedure into that unused extra layer of bits superimposed on the existing normal code. I then used a second routine to extract and use this hidden script to extend the overall processing ability of the programme at another time. In this fashion I eventually managed to get the programme to compute Pi to 770 decimal places. Out of curiosity I then doubled the amount of memory available to the programme in my simulation and strangely it computed Pi to 1767 decimal places, exactly 1000 places past the target point. As a mathematician I took that as a sign that I had the ideal solution. Having unwittingly taught my subconscious mind this superimposition trick, could it have found a way to apply it to itself? The whole idea of this being possible takes mind boggling to a new dimension. We have little idea how the brain solves problems or exactly what resources it uses, but it is certainly versatile beyond our imagination. In fact just a part of it is our imagination. The strangest thing is that I could be developing this ability, which itself is apparently independent of any timeframe, simply because I am wondering whether it exists. I need to stop and think about that, if that makes any sense.

Oh yes, finally I mustn’t leave that poor man falling from that cliff with doubts in his mind. He was most likely not sleep walking but dreaming and his free will remained intact ... at least in one perception of his reality.

Rob Sanders

February 2016