17 December 2009

The Cloud of Unknowing

Can you review a spiritual classic? I'm certainly not going to try.

I'm currently reading A C Spearing's translation of The Cloud of Unknowing, about a chapter or two at a time. It makes some interesting claims--like why we have two nostrils instead of one--but reminds us we're not to read it to amuse our minds and inflate our pride of knowledge. It is not quite a guide, maybe you could call it a desire, for its readers to launch beyond their senses and knowledge into the nothingness (the beyond comprehension) which is our attempt to reach to God. Words are so clumsy.

The point of me typing about this now, when I clearly can't explain the book, is that it struck me last night that the book's concept of the cloud of unknowing could be influencing my description of portals and the Between in my novel. It gave me a jolt. But when I thought about it, they're not at all alike.

The idea of the Between has grown out of an idea of four dimensional space travel that I've been playing with for a couple of years. It's about spirals and space collapsing in interesting ways. Initially I wondered if a quantum computer would one day be able to access this four dimensional space. Then you could attach the computer to some movable object and voila, 4D travel, and not just on this planet.

Besides, in my Between (unlike the cloud of unknowing) Lyn can use her senses. It's just that they act a bit like she has synaesthesia. Confusing but with an underlying logic.

So I can stop worrying that I've somehow hijacked my imagination by reading the Cloud of Unknowing while writing about portals and the Between.

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