Snippets of ideas - either Sandman's or Saragossa's - that have reached my ears. No particular organization or completeness.

The Cosmos

The cosmos is much vaster and more complicated -richer in life -than humans are wont to think. Even considering only our own universe, the little we know of it, there are complexities far beyond what is to be found in physics texts. The most important first concept is to rid yourself of the notion that space is a void. It is not, in any sense. The universe is precisely a glob of gelid-like matter, which we can call, as formerly was done, the Ethers or the Medium or the Ylem. This was 'received wisdom' at one time, but as Science saw its faults, it was discarded. But Science, in its arrogance, threw the baby out with the bath water.

It is unendingly amazing to me that modern Science conceives of light as though it were something emitted, traveling through nothingness. It is simply a disturbance in the Ylem, propagating through it as a wave, much as a wave would propagate through jello, if you were to tap it. Each source of light or other electro-magnetic wave, is a tiny drum or rotating piston, or some other physical particle disturbing the Medium, sending out three-dimensional ripples. The attributes of light all arise out of the nature of the Medium. From its density derives the velocity of light – which varies at different places in the Universe, depending on the varying density of the Medium, for it is not necessarily stretched with absolute uniformity, and grows less dense as it expands. It is nearly perfectly elastic, and the expansion of the universe is precisely the expansion of this jello.

Well, let us begin much earlier than the present day, or even than the present universe. Let us begin simply some timeless time when the Medium was contracting, attracted to itself by its own gravity, perhaps, or elasticity – perhaps entirely devoid of matter. Perhaps its existence was pitifully short by our own standards, simply because the fundamental constants were different. So it contracted to an almost infinitely small point, attaining essentially infinite density, which erupted, in a great 'bang', against sheer emptiness, the True Abyss, in which no matter, no Medium exists. Then it stretched out to its uttermost limits, until its own elasticity pulled it back again. It may, or may not, have done this limitless times, its properties varying slightly each time. It might or might not have given rise to matter, and even Life, many times. If there was life, then for perhaps for many cycles, all Life in the universe was snuffed out at the instant of utmost contraction. I am only sure that eventually, by random chance perhaps, it did give rise to a Life that had time to mature to what we would conceive of as True Godhood. It may have been of a vastly different nature than what we know; it may have been plural, or crystalline, or energy. Or it might, in origin, have been similar to what we know as Life.

By True Godhood, I mean something far more significant than godhood as humans have conceived it. I mean a God that could understand the cyclic collapse so well, that it could survive the collapse, or at the very least, mold the nature of the collapsing universe so as to determine the fundamental constants of the next cycle to be such that matter and Life would arise, and arise bountifully.

That, I believe, is the current cycle. This period of expansion has already lasted perhaps thirteen or fourteen billion years. Earth, our solar system, is probably not more than four and a half billions years old. What do you think was happening during the eight billion years before we arrived? Some early stars might have come into existence within a few hundred million years, then exploded to seed the universe with heavy metals. Some small red stars are very steady and long lived, providing possible havens to Life. But, even granting six billion years for the first cycle of birth and death of stars to generate heavier elements, so that planets friendly to Life as we know it, might be born, there are still places where life has had two billion years more than we have had to evolve. Can you imagine where humanity will be even two hundred years from now? – especially, after the science of recombinant DNA has had a chance to develop. What about nanomachines and artificial intelligence, and the supermind growing from the internet? Humanity will cease to exist and something incomprehensibly greater will be born. What of two thousand years? And a thousand times that? And a thousand times that? You must realize that even humans will have become gods, long, long before that two billion years passes.

And there are places where Life evolves much faster. Matter is merely the Medium locked into some stable shape, obtaining greater density. A neutron star is such matter pushed cheek to jowl, each particle touching the next, like marbles in a jar, with very little empty space. But if the integrity of the particles fail, and even that little empty space is squeezed out, then all structure is lost and a sphere of pure Medium is formed – Medium of a much greater density, like one superparticle – a Black Hole. Each Black Hole is a universe in its own right, in which particles, of fantastic density, can precipitate. The speed of light is higher, proportionate to the differences in density between our Medium and that of the Black Hole. Evolution occurs faster. Gods can mature in a single human lifetime, and who knows if they will choose to emigrate from their universe. For that matter, our own universe may be a Black Hole in a much, much more tenuous one, slowly, majestically unfolding.

The lesson is simply that gods exist. Some, no doubt, indifferent to us. Some, like gardeners, watching over us, guided by the principle of Minimal Interference. And some inimical to us, or with their own needs, which have the same effect as militating towards our death, suffering and enslavement. I myself can sense some of these Beings, far distant, but somehow present. Mortals sense them, too – in their dreams, their mystic states, using drugs, or simply with their magicks. They are variously sensed as angels or devils, gods or demons. I call them the Gardeners and the Ravagers. But know this, their interaction with humans is severely limited.

The Gardeners refrain from interaction because they hope humanity will grow into a godhood unforeseen even by them. The more the interact with us, the more they mold us into their own image, the less chance humanity has of attaining a truly novel godhood. Thus they interfere when Life faces a dead-end. The most brilliant example is the Hammer of the Gods somehow grasped by Arthur C. Clarke, who has seen so much unseeable to others. Sixty-three million years ago that Hammer slammed into the earth, wiping out the dinosaurs, making way for the slow ascension of mammals, and eventually humans. Who knows how long before that the asteroid was carefully selected and infinitely gently nudged onto a collision path with the earth? Just the right size, trajectory, impact location and timing to accomplish the task. And how many asteroids were gently pushed out of earth impact courses? This is the kind of gardening the Gardeners do.

The Ravagers have different objectives altogether. Somehow they feed off other Life forms. They are so alien, that it might be less fair to call them evil than it is to assign evil to the volcano that destroyed Pompeii. Yet, I call them so. They reek of evil to my mind. They are held in check by the Gardeners, but not actively so. Evil arrived on earth long, long before humans arose. Back in the eras of the dinosaurs or before – attracted, I believe, by the violence of Life in its younger days on earth. These evil ones were bound in those days. Some are bound to specific locations; all are bound in a separate dimension. They cannot cross the Barrier and escape into the mundane world. They cannot do so alone, that is. It was the power of gods that bound them, and it is the power of godlings that can unleash them. We are the seeds of gods. Our magicks are the first intimation of the power of gods. Our sensing of the Ravagers is the workings of our receptive magick, and our inter-meddling with the Barrier is a manifestation of expressive magick. There is such a thing as a pact with the Devil, and the Gardeners will not interfere unless the Barrier is so compromised as to imperil Life itself. We have the right to exercise our magicks – that is the way to growth. But we will reap the consequences of our own arrogance and stupidity, as well as the rewards of right action. We grow to a certain maturity. Even as parents concede to their children greater liberties and greater responsibilities as the children grow, so humanity as a whole is moving into a period of maturity and mature dangers. Nobody will tie our shoelaces for us now. We have gone far beyond that and must own our choices and what follows from them.

Miscellaneous

Surviving the end of the universe. (An unfinished section about gods able to collapse into black holes and survive. Black holes are their own universes with all matter from this universe collapsed into the 'ether' - the basic medium - of this vastly denser universe. Within that infinite, though physically smaller, universe, matter will precipitate even as it did in this universe. Of course all the physical constants will be adjusted due to the fantastically greater density of the ether of the black-hole-universe. Light will travel faster, gravity will be greater, etc. Yet matter, suns and planets - or some analogue of these things - might come into being, as, indeed, might life. A god might be able to deduce the nature of this black-hole-universe and how to live within it and how to transition into it.)

Zhong guo – Saragossa once mentioned that the Chinese word for China is consistently mistranslated as 'Middle Kingdom', whereas the correct translation should be 'Central Kingdom'. Strange that two such similar words can have such disparate implications. Middle Kingdom sounds like something sandwiched in between two other things, and not of any particular importance in itself. Like a 'middle brother' who has neither the respect paid to the oldest, nor the condescension paid to the youngers. Central Kingdom has the sound of being the most important land, around which all others revolve. Saragossa went on to indicate how this simple mistranslation has resulted in much misunderstanding between the West and China, but I no longer remember any of the details. This anecdote is only included as a tidbit about the way his mind works.

Dum bene se gesserit 1537. Dum bene se gesserit. [Jur / Black 628]. Enquanto tiver bom comportamento. This is another Saragossa mind tidbit. If you have read Herbert's Dune, you will remember the sisterhood named the Bene Gesserit. Sandman once mentioned that Saragossa imagined the name to come from the phrase 'dum bene se gesserit', which he translated into Portuguese for me as 'enquanto tiver bom comportamento', which implies that a person cannot be removed from office as long as he serves well. That same year I had asked Frank Herbert himself the origin of the name, when he appeared at a signing at the Lois Newman science fiction bookstore in Boulder. He said that he had wanted to invoke the sound of 'Jesuit'. He seemed to be unfamiliar with the Latin phrase. I recently looked at the Wiki article about this phrase and its comment on its origin mirrors my own little story.

FTL – One intuits that FTL is possible. Today's standard model claims that it is not possible to move faster than light. The closer you approach to the speed of light, the greater your mass gets. This is known because less momentum can be transferred to an object as it gets closer and closer to the speed of light. Consider a person standing still, struck by a car going 100 miles per hour. A lot of momentum will be transferred to him. But if he himself is moving (in the same direction as the car) at 99.9 miles per hour, very little momentum will be transferred to him. One could hypothesize that this was because his mass had increased because of his speed, or one could simply realize that the momentum transferred depends on the speed differential between him and the car. Ditto the spaceship traveling close to the speed of light. It is really quite absurd to think that its mass has increased. Something is only traveling at the speed of light with respect to something else (maybe even with respect to the medium - ethers - or some aspect of it). Those two things will cease to interact altogether when their velocity differential reaches C. But neither one will notice anything strange about itself. For each, it will simply be business as usual, except that the other has ceased to exist.

Footprints
I once thought it a noble aspiration to walk through this shadow realm bending no branch, leaving no footprint, my eyes turned more inward in a quest for myself. Now I think we find ourselves looking outward at the reflection of our deeds, or perhaps shimmering in the eyes of those whose lives we touch..
There is a cosmic dance, and I yearn to reel.
What about you? Don't you sometimes ache to reach beyond 8-to-5, past the well mannered customs, and find a whirlwind to rumba with?
I am oh so gentle and loving of the herds around us – from their seed a race of gods will spring – but they bring to mind Robinson Jeffers' The Bloody Sire.

It is not bad. Let them play.
Let the guns bark and bombing-plane
Speak his prodigious blasphemies.
It is not bad, it is high time,
Stark violence is still the sire of all the world's values.

What but the wolf's tooth chiseled so fine
The fleet limbs of the antelope?
What but fear winged the birds and hunger
Gemmed with such eyes the great goshawk's head?
Violence has been the sire of all the world's values.

Who would remember Helen's face
Lacking the terrible halo of spears?
Who formed Christ but Herod and Caesar,
The cruel and bloody victories of Caesar?
Violence has been the sire of all the world's values.

Never weep, let them play,
Old violence is not too old to beget new values.

The Bloody Sire by Robinson Jeffers