May 8, 2013 — I enter my blog and sit at my big oak round table, alone. Moriarty pads in and sets an empty wine bottle cloaked in multi-colored wax drippings, remembrances of candles past, in the center of the table. He places a fresh candle, orange, in the neck, pressing it down and twisting it a bit making sure it is firmly affixed. “The flames never stop burning,” he says. Then he places a small clock on the table. The hands are missing. I look at him. The Phantom of My Blog is an enigmatic creature.
“Where’ve you been?” he says. “You haven’t been at your blog in a while.” His hair is disheveled. He looks like he’s just spent an hour in conversation with Dexter Filkins and Charlie Rose, similar hairstyles, looking like they’ve just arisen from an afternoon nap at the last minute, rushed to the studio and forgotten to brush their hair.
“You’re staring at me,” he says. “Where were you?”
“Contemplating your hair,” I reply.
“No, while you were gone; where were you?” He sits down.
“I’ve been sleeping a lot lately and I feel like, well, chicken soup – liquidy. I don’t even know what that means, but it fits; and tired. My head feels heavier than my body, which is saying something, and too thick to get thoughts out of. Allergies, I suppose. I am going to make some chicken soup once I get done here at my blog.
“My friend Susan* wrote about her experiences climbing Kilimanjaro and I was lying in bed reading it,” I go on.
“I already made the soup,” Moriarty says. “I anticipated you might want it. It’s got carrots and onions and fresh ginger in it, besides other stuff. I’ll go heat some up for us.” He pushes back his chair and disappears into the kitchen.
He returns with two steaming bowls of soup, placing them on the table before us. He lights the candle.
I begin telling him of my experiences the past few weeks. He pulls out a large, brightly colored foil bag and begins crackling it to open it. It is annoying. I stop talking.
“Creggies,” he declares. “Crunchy veggie pieces for our soup.” I wait while he gets the bag open. I am getting a headache. He offers me the bag. I scoop some out with my fingers and drop them into my soup – bright, colorful pieces; they are good.
“O, maid of beauteous tresses, and eyes of soft caresses, your glance is all beguiling and your lips are ever smiling….” He sings. “Ketèlbey, ‘In the Mystic Land of Egypt,’” he says. “It’s on your playlist, number 30. Let us float together, forever and forever, to some far distant isle, a-down the mystic Nile.”
“I love that piece,” I say. “It’s so-o-o British Imperialist pomp. A whole movie runs through that music. It’s like watching a Pathé newsreel of the British parading through their conquests. One could write a thick novel about just the British comings and goings in Egypt. It could start with Napoleon who snapped British eyes wide open in 1798, when he defeated the Marmeluke Army at the Battle of the Pyramids, to the importance of controlling Egypt as means to protect their precious India.”
“That story would be never ending,” Moriarty postulates. “It’s all interconnected. And it’s impermanent. It seems beginingless. Relative to your last post, written before your head got funny, Tamerlane invaded Syria, defeating the Marmeluke Army in the Battle of Aleppo on October 30, 1400. He sacked Aleppo and Damascus. Marmeluke is said to be an Arabic designation for slaves. Just call me Marmeluke. Want more soup?”
“You’re not,” I say. “A slave; you’re not. Anyhow, how could you be a slave when you’re a phantom? A phantom slave wouldn’t be of much use to anyone, I should think.”
He crackles open the foil again, tilts the bag and dumps more Creggies into his soup. “Little boats,” he describes, “floating down the soup, past the beguiling carrots, carrying exotic ginger spice.
“I like the kiss scene,” he goes on, sailing into the next port of thought, “the mother’s kiss. While you’ve been in bed climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I’ve been reading Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust. He wrote it in 1913. So, as this year marks the hundredth anniversary. I thought I would read it – volume one of In Search of Lost Time. The young boy has to go up to his room to bed early without kissing his mother goodnight because she is hosting a dinner party for an important guest. He agonizes over the separation and its coming duration spanning across the long, deep night until morning. She will not come up to his room to kiss him later. He gazes out at her and the dinner party guests from his window. How can he reach her? He contrives to write her a note and send it to her at table through a servant. Once she reads the words poured from his heart, she will come. The servant delivers the note. The mother reads it. She never comes.”
“Why do you like that?” I ask him. “It’s sad. It makes me cry.”
“Because it’s true,” he says. “It’s how life happens.”
“Therefore, by virtue of it’s being true, it is also false,” I add.
“Sometimes it is what it is….”
“Well, I like Proust,” I reply. “His long sentences and flowing rhythms are easy to acclimate to. Most people don’t want to read that kind of deep, thoughtfully dense writing these days. They want their reading served in colorful little pieces, like watching a TV show splattered with commercials every six minutes. It takes patience to read writing styled like Proust’s – a luxurious indulgence in patience.”
“Anyway, how can you search for and find lost time when time doesn’t exist?” he asks.
“What?” I look up from my soup. My head feels lighter and the headache has retreated. I wipe my chin with the paper napkin he has provided.
“Well, look,” he says, waving his napkin around in large aerial circles, attempting to enlighten me of his thought. Suddenly he finds himself waving a flaming torch. The napkin has caught fire in the candle flame. He sinks it in the remains of his soup.
“At bottom,” he says, “there is no mechanistic physical foundation for the cosmos, implied by the quantum theory. None of this exists. None of that happened. The universe closes in on itself, reversing what was just there, destroying it. What is created is uncreated, micro and macro entangle, macro destroying micro: the issue of decoherence.”
“So, then,” I ruminate, “what if the history we just spoke of is all humanity’s mass-minded perception? And what is humanity? How does quantum theory apply to consciousness, as well as to matter?”
“They are two complementary aspects of one reality. Observe,” he says. “No experience takes place outside of consciousness. If something exists outside of consciousness, we won’t know it.”
“Mystical,” I muse.
“The mysterious edge,” he says, “where micro processes are transformed into macro processes.
“I read a scientific paper** on this,” he explains. “Make a footnote at the end of our conversation, so our many followers will know if I interpreted it correctly. They may have some enlightening thoughts on this issue, the wholeness perspective of the Theory of Everything.”
We arise from the table. He pinches out the candle flame. Smoke rises from the extinguished flame in entangled spirals; further up the spiral, it dissipates. In the kitchen together, we wash the bowls and utensils. Together we exit my blog, going our separate ways into the night. We have left the blog empty, ready for the next reader to react and act upon it.
*Susan Scott: “In Praise of Lilith, Eve & the Serpent in the Garden of Eden,” available by clicking on the icon here in the right sidebar.
**Journal of Cosmology, 2011, Vol. 14. JournalofCosmology.com, 2011. How Consciousness Becomes the Physical Universe. Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., and Deepak Chopra, M.D.
Pretty cool. Not sure why but I always thought Moriarty was a cat phantom. One of those lovely tuxedo cats with the white patch under the throat!
No, that’s Bootsie, my former neighbor’s cat, Val. Moriarty is a real phantom. 🙂 He doesn’t like to wear tuxes because he thinks he will be confused for the Phantom of the Opera.
Love the blending of the philosophical and the playful…how the blog becomes a room that we enter. Somehow it reminds me of the old movies that began with the opening of a book, inviting us to step inside as spectators. Which you’re obviously not. This is much more like “Lost in Austen,” the mini-series that I recommended to you once before.
Thanks, T.J. These pieces are so much fun to write. I do enjoy unleashing my imagination. I had forgotten about “Lost in Austen,” so just added it to my Netflix queue; while there, added Ken Burns’ documentary on Eugene O’Neill, which I was reminded of the other day. Said to be haunting. I loved Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of O’Neill in the movie “Reds,” one of my favorite movies.
I like stories within stories, like “The Neverending Story” movies, and stories that start in the middle and at the end. I like the “stepping inside” perspective.
I am not sure if it is the creggies or the candle, or Moriarty with his messed up mop, or your writing Samantha about deep and sad things that makes me feel mystically moved. What is the Theory of Everything? It is what it is – you couldn’t have put it more clearly and concisely. We just have to have the consciousness to see it – for what it is. YOUR creative act of writing creates a reaction, to which we react yet again…
Thank you for this lovely piece and to Moriarty for being your friend. May he visit again and light, delight and snuff candles, waiting for another enlightening.
Susan — The Theory of Everything is explained by theoretical physics that links together all known physical phenomena. While I can get a general overview of this theory, for deeper understanding I would have to be Stephen Hawking. I have placed a link to his book in my right sidebar. Probably not bedtime reading, though edifying.
Would that my physicist boyfriend George, who died of a brain tumor, were still alive to explain this to me, but that’s the stuff of things past.
I wish I could be enlightening, but mostly I’m just fumbling in the dark.
Here I have reacted to your reaction to my reaction triggering writing this piece. And I thank you for your kind compliment. It spurs me on. 🙂
I’m convinced that Moriarty is “R” and I absolutely can smell the essense of the candle that Moriarty just snuffed out. Beautiful.
R and I can both assure you, Gwynn, that Moriarty is not R. The two are separate characters, and I have written stories about R, published here on my blog and in my book.
You compliment that the essence stays with you means a lot. Thank you.
Thank you, my friend.