Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Open To Everything

"...keep yourself open to everything, and perhaps, just perhaps, you will have the great luck of joining us in that tavern called the Old Phoenix."
-Poul Anderson, "House Rule" IN Anderson, Fantasy (New York, 1981), pp. 9-20 AT p. 9.

That is good advice: "...keep yourself open to everything..." We do join them in the Old Phoenix by reading these stories. I suspect that this is the only way to join them but - keep yourself open to everything. I recently attended a Spiritualist Church where the medium got my mother's name right and some other details. After the service, her partner asked me whether I was still making up my mind. I replied that I was open. I did not add: philosophically critical and skeptical but open to evidence and experience. (My mother was an Irish Catholic who loathed Spiritualism.)

The food, like the drink, in the Phoenix " unearthly superb..." (p. 11) but unfortunately is not described.

In this story, the guests are:

the narrator;
Leonardo da Vinci;
Erik the Red;
Sancho Panza;
Nicholas van Rijn;
shadowy beings full of sparkling lights;
Peter Abelard;
Albert Einstein;
Mrs Hauksbee.

The narrator interprets between da Vinci and Einstein. Taverner must act as the local equivalent of the Time Patrol, interrupting their conversation so that neither da Vinci nor Einstein learns more than he should. But da Vinci shouts that Abelard and Heloise, who have gone upstairs together, "'...will have had their night!'" (p. 20) Limits to scientific knowledge are accepted but human life is affirmed.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

If Nicholas van Rijn can visit the "Old Phoenix," then I can hope Manuel Argos and Dominic Flandry were also guests there!