Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Acquiring History

Time Patrol Unattached agent Manse Everard interviews Patrol Specialist Carl Farness to assess Carl's competence for the job to which he has been assigned. Carl suggests:

"'...all you need do is read the reports I'll have filed in my own personal future. If the early accounts show me bungling, why, just tell me to stay home and become a book researcher. The outfit needs those too, doesn't it?'" (Time Patrol, p. 355)

But the Patrol's job is to preserve the course of recorded events! Manse does not make this objection. Instead, he says that he has checked and that Carl will perform satisfactorily but "'That isn't enough.'" (ibid.) Why not? Manse seems to go off the point here. He says that the Patrol is overburdened and that they cannot check on everything that an agent does, especially when that agent is exploring a little known period. OK. So an agent might turn in good reports but still do something harmful that he does not mention in his reports? This is in fact what happens with Carl.

Manse then does go off the point because he unnecessarily explains why the Patrol explores little known periods: to find out what events they must protect. Usually, acquiring knowledge entails that the knowledge has not been acquired yet but what does "not yet" mean to the Patrol? While Carl acquires knowledge, some of his colleagues must simultaneously be applying that knowledge? Although maybe not. Historical knowledge acquired by Patrol Specialists is published uptime and is applied by the Patrol only if necessary, i.e., if they suspect that a time criminal is trying to change events, then they consult the record to find out what the unchanged course of events is supposed to be. Otherwise, the record need not be consulted by Patrol agents.

No comments: