Thursday, 18 August 2016

Water As Chaos

Poul Anderson compares chaos to water:

"...imagine a planet which is all water, churned by storms and not constrained by the ordinary laws of physics. At any point its surface can have any form, which won't even stay constant in time. Expand the two dimensions into three; make it four for the temporal axis, unless this requires more than one, as many philosophers believe; add the hyperspace in which paranatural forces act; put it under the rule of chaos and hatred: and you've got some analogy to the hell universe."
-Poul Anderson, Operation Chaos (New York, 1995), p. 256)

But, if Hell is that chaotic in that many dimensions, then maybe Matuchek should not see a planetary surface with stars and planets visible in the sky above?

John Milton continues the Biblical identification of water with chaos:

"In the Beginning how the Heav'ns and Earth
"Rose out of Chaos...

"Instruct me, for Thou know'st; Thou from the first
"Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread
"Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss
"And mad'st it pregnant..."
-John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I, lines 9-10; 19-22.

Christ calming a storm and walking on water exercises divine power over chaos. And the sea will be no more in the new creation. See here.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    So, instead of dead stars (I might be wrong about this bit) and cindered worlds, it might have made more sense if Matuchek had seen roiling, turbulent, CHAOTIC clouds?


    1. Sean,
      Well, he does say that that is what the hell universe is like.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      And the hell universe is more than grim enough for me!

      But, I note how you have said Lobachevsky, the soul of the Russian mathematician from Heaven who "visited" Steven Matuchek. Thru Lobachevsky we get some speculations about what HEAVEN is like. Do you have any thoughts about what Anderson said about Heaven?

      And Bolyai came from Purgatory!


    3. Sean,
      I will give some serious thought to Heaven. Right now, I am sill in Hell, Chaos and neighboring regions.

    4. Kaor, Paul!

      I have noticed that! (Smiles) And C.S. Lewis, Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle, and the authors who contributed to the HEROES IN HELL books are SF writers who have written about hell. But Poul Anderson is the only SF writer I know of (except possibly Lewis) who has speculated about Heaven.


    5. Sean,
      Lewis describes the foothills of Heaven in THE GREAT DIVORCE and Narnians enter Aslan's Country in THE LAST BATTLE.

    6. Kaor, Paul!

      That must have been what my "subconscious" was vaguely recalling about THE GREAT DIVORCE. But, I've not read THE LAST BATTLE. I've only read THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE of the Narnian series.


    7. Sean,
      I cannot find much about Heaven in the text.