Friday, 22 June 2018

Sky And Earth

"Sky Father's worshippers still feared the earth gods for whom, further inland, a human being was devoured every harvest."
-Poul Anderson, The Corridors Of Time, CHAPTER NINE, p. 75.

This is a transitional stage in the history of religion. Sky Father is becoming the one God and the earth gods are becoming demons.

Hindu gods and demons are devas and asuras, respectively. When two Aryan groups parted company, each regarded the other's gods as demons. Thus, devas became devils and the one God of Zoroastrianism is Ahura Mazda.

Poul Anderson's time travelers, both in his Time Patrol series and in The Corridors Of Time, are able to immerse themselves in prehistoric periods to an extent that is impossible for historians living at a later date. See "Manse Everard's Religious Experiences," here. Although Everard wants to escape from the alienness of Cyrus' period, many later scholars would welcome the opportunity to experience it in full.

The Aryans

The local war band that attacks Avildaro (see here) is part of:

"...the northward-thrusting edge of that huge wave, more cultural than racial, of Indo-European-speaking warriors which had been spreading from southern Russia in the past century or two. Elsewhere they were destined to topple civilizations: India, Crete, Hatti, Greece would go down in ruins before them, and their languages and religions and way of life would shape all Europe. But hitherto, in sparsely populated Scandinavia, there had not been great conflict between the native hunters, fishers, and farmers, and the chariot-driving immigrant herdsmen."
-Poul Anderson, The Corridors Of Time, CHAPTER SIX, p. 55.

Anderson does not use the word, "Aryans." We know that they will conquer Scandinavia. Their sky gods will become not only the Vedic pantheon and the Olympians but also the Aesir. Odin is a character in Anderson's heroic fantasies and the Time Patrol must later counteract a resurgence of Goddess-worship. If the Wardens and Rangers could be transported to the Time Patrol timeline, then they would side with the Exaltationists and the Patrol, respectively.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Are The Gods Miserly Or Generous?

I have quoted Manse Everard's remark that the gods are a miserly lot five, now six, times. See here.

Here is Malcolm Lockridge's equivalent reflection:

"Life was physically harder in some places, harder on the spirit in others, and sometimes it destroyed both. At most, the gods gave only a little happiness; the rest was mere existence. Taken altogether, he didn't think they were less generous here and now than they had been to him."
-Poul Anderson, The Corridors Of Time, CHAPTER SIX, p. 53.

"The gods" are a way of reflecting on "life."

Two friends that I have met in Pagan moots:

Nygel, a Wiccan high priest, refers to "the gods";

Andrea says that his deity is Fortuna, personified chance.

People personified external forces in order to get a handle on them and placate them. However, Fortuna is to be respected but never prayed to or entreated. Thus (I suggest), her temple is a half-way house between polytheism and atheism. She favors the brave - which Poul Anderson's heroes are.

Known And Unknown

Poul Anderson, The Corridors Of Time, CHAPTER FIVE, pp. 43-44.

In 1827 B.C., Storm and Lockridge visit Avildaro, a fishing village on the Limjford which is open in this period. In an invariant timeline, a time traveler can know something, although not everything, about the immediate future:

because this station has not been considered important enough to scout intensively, Storm does not know what will happen in and around Avildaro this year;

however, reconnaissance has established that there is no large scale use of energy devices in this millennium, which means that her enemies, the Rangers, are not present;

a survey party from Ireland, where the time portals are a century out of phase from the ones in Denmark, has confirmed that Avildaro survives and is even more important a century hence;

therefore, Storm mistakenly feels safe in approaching Avildaro.

A single Ranger who has been tipped off that she is there will lead a local war band and capture her.

A Different Language

Poul Anderson, The Corridors Of Time, CHAPTER FIVE, pp. 40-42.

The attached image is from modern Copenhagen whereas Chapter Five is set in 1827 B.C. but there may be a connection if mermaids are related to the sea goddess. See below.

The diaglossa, a molecular encoder placed in the ear, powered by body heat and meshing its output with the nerve flow of the brain, gives Lockridge an artificial memory center including a language which:

has twenty words for water;
can express concepts like "mass," "government" and "monotheism" only with elaborate circumlocutions;
has very different concepts of "cause," "time," "self" and "death."

We need to spend some time thinking in such a language before returning to our own.

She of the Wet Locks eats land and men but gives shining fish, oyster, seal and porpoise to those who serve Her. She sounds like the goddess of Veleda in the Time Patrol story, "Star Of The Sea." 

The Physics Of The Corridors Of Time II

See the previous post and also an earlier post here.

Storm and Lockridge:

travel along the corridor at an estimated thirty miles an hour for less than half an hour;

travel from 1964 A.D. to 1827 B.C. (see The First Moment).

Do these distances match up with what Storm says about a conversion factor of "'...roughly thirty-five days per foot'"? (CHAPTER FOUR, p. 33) I am not going to try to calculate it.

It is curiously appropriate that burial mounds are used as gates to other times. Some people led through one of the time corridors believe that they are descending into the underworld and rising into another world.

The Physics Of The Corridors Of Time

Copied from Poul Anderson And Time Travel:

In The Corridors of Time by Poul Anderson, warring factions called Wardens and Rangers walk or drive along corridors that have been rotated onto the temporal axis. Before entering a corridor, time travellers leaving different periods are separated by temporal intervals. After entering the corridor, they are, theoretically, separated only by spatial distances. Some will be near enough to see each other. Others will pass when moving along the corridor. Therefore, they should encounter and interact with each other and with their later and older selves on their first attempt to use the corridor.
However, such an outcome would complicate the story uncontrollably, especially since the factions are at war. An instant pitched battle inside the corridor would ensure that most individuals did not survive their first attempt to travel along the corridor and therefore never did re-enter it as older versions of themselves. Usually, however, the characters use the corridors without meeting each other. The only explanation given is:
"Duration occurs there too, but on a different plane…" (60)
The twentieth century protagonist, Lockridge, standing in a corridor with a companion, thinks:
"At any moment, someone might enter through some other gate and spy them. (Just what did that mean, here in this time which ran outside of time? He’d think about it later.)" (61)
If he does think about it, he does not do so in the novel. When Lockridge, pursued by Rangers, enters one of the corridors, his pursuers arrive in the corridor not a short distance away from him but a few moments after him. Thus, the order of events in the time "on a different plane" in the corridor follows the order of events in the familiar time outside the corridor. Again, this is convenient for story telling purposes. Lockridge would have been apprehended if his pursuers had arrived simultaneously with him.
If, in Lockridge’s experience, his first journey along a particular corridor starts from the twentieth century and his second journey along the same corridor starts from the fourteenth, which of the journeys will an observer inside the corridor witness first? We must imagine not an observer moving steadily along the corridor from the past towards the future but instead a stationary observer able to perceive the entire length of the corridor simultaneously.
As in the Time Patrol series, Anderson is good at writing his way around potential complications so that the reader is rarely troubled by them. The question in the preceding paragraph occurred to me only when writing about The Corridors of Time. Another potential problem arises when we are told that:
"Emergence cannot be precise, because the human body has a finite width equivalent to a couple of months. That was why we had to hold hands coming through – so we would not be separated by weeks." (60)
The Einsteinian space-time equivalence is not one body width to two months or "thirty-five days per foot" but one hundred and eighty six thousand miles to one second. (62)
Thor Wald, explains:
"Assuming, to keep the figures simple, that Robin lives to be a century old, he would then be roughly a foot thick, two feet wide, five feet five inches in height, and five hundred and eighty-six trillion, five hundred and sixty-nine billion, six hundred million miles in duration." (45)
Thus, Anderson’s corridors that endure for six thousand years would have to extend for six thousand light years in space before they were rotated into time but, in this novel, Anderson avoids mentioning Einsteinian space-time. If space-time equivalence is valid, then the simplest theory is that one of our three space dimensions becomes a corridor’s time dimension. It should be possible to construct a spatial corridor that allows entry to any period of the internal history of one of the corridors. This is another complication that Anderson does not need for the story that he wants to tell so it is not mentioned.

The First Moment

"The fact that he was really here, now, personally, stabbed into him."
-Poul Anderson, The Corridors Of Time, CHAPTER FIVE, p. 38.

"...here, now..." is pre-Danish Denmark,  1827 B.C.

"This was the first moment when the reality of time travel struck home to Everard..." (see Reality And Interpretation)

There has to be a first moment for everything and Poul Anderson makes it seem very real in both these cases.


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Follow The Texts

I am about to sign off until some time tomorrow but, before I do, just look at how much we get out of Poul Anderson's texts, from Danish geography to medieval history. I happen to be interested in social philosophy but we discuss it here because Anderson does, not because I have brought it in as a hobbyhorse.

New points of interest can be found on multiple rereadings so, having just reread There Will Be Time and wanting to stay with the theme of historical and futuristic time travel, I have re-engaged with The Corridors Of Time and so far have read only as far as Chapter Four of twenty one.

Must go: meeting the guys in the Gregson.

A Simplistic Dichotomy And An Irreconcilable Antithesis

The Corridors Of Time, CHAPTER FOUR, p. 34.

Storm's take on the Wardens versus Rangers conflict:

Life as imagined against life as it is;
plan against organic development;
control against freedom;
overriding rationalism against animal wholeness;
the machine against the living flesh.

People on the wrong side:

Draco
Diocletian
Torquemada
Calvin
Locke
Voltaire
Napoleon
Marx
Lenin
Nietzsche
Arguellas
the author(s) of the Jovian Manifesto

Also wrong: the burning of the Confucian Willow Books (?).

Storm sure knows how to present a one-sided argument. When I was reading The Corridors Of Time for the very first time and before I had reached the description of a Ranger city, I thought that the Rangers were right and the Wardens wrong but, of course, the point is that both sides are one-sided.