Often I would thank the Lord for my foolishness, for life without foolishness is dull and without flavor, and were it not for my foolishness I should miss out on such beauty.
— Sorren

To read the Book of Sorren is to try to know the unknowable.  But that is not to say that discoveries cannot be made.  My early perusings have allowed me to gain insight into the man and the times which produced this artifact.  If we fail to grasp its meaning, it may be because of a flaw of our own, or as Sorren himself said, "'Tis a fitting punishment for some undeclared sin."   

Possibly the most important thing I learned early on in my study of the book was to accept the ignorance of Sorren without judgment and the imposition of my own knowledge, limited as it may be.  It is easy to see the quest for knowledge as an advancement of subsequent and interlacing theories that have withstood the passage of time.  This is the way science slowly came to tear apart, categorize and then reinterpret the world with the understanding of such new relationships.  In Sorren's time this principal did not yet exist, and it was to the past that men yielded their own better judgment.  But just imagine for a moment what it must have been like in such a time as one's thoughts were truly one's own and not a recapitulation of everything that came before.  In such times as Sorren lived it was no less likely to believe in the existence of sea monsters than that the darkness should hide the secret workings of the Lord.  Much beauty of the world was thus visible through ignorance and acceptance.  It must have been wonderful to believe in such things without retribution.  By comparison of our own world, acceptance of acclaimed knowledge is strict and in some cases demanded from us.  If I had my choice I would like to believe in some things that can never be known and to battle sea monsters in my dreams.  Sorren had such dreams, and when he recorded them he was not bringing them to life, for they were part of his life.  And often what we deem as fantasy was at one time accepted as fact, even as a man's word was his honor.

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Slide the knife through the belly of the pig
Hang him next to the leg of lamb
My hands were trained for killing
For I am just a simple man
— Sorren
I did not expect to find such a flagrant and bold expression so early in the examination of the Book of Sorren. He expertly disguises his malice within the framework of his own ignorance and with an acute sense of irony. The belly of the pig can be none other than the King. A simple murder for a simple man.
— M

M states his purpose right from the beginning, and it is a surprise.  On the second page of the manuscript, M has made a significant observation.  Following a trite and insignificant statement from Sorren, M has demonstrated his willingness to interpret the text implicitly, rather than explicitly, and he does not control his wild speculation, or is it imagination?  This will be shown to be his own methodology used throughout the text, many hundreds of years before the concept of textural analysis existed.  The archivist has shown a sophisticated penchant for creating out of thin air, his own personal reality when one did not exist in the text.  I have chosen to reject this methodology.  Sorren can be seen to change over time, acquiring a wry sophistication of his own, but in the beginning he was truly a beginner, and his text can almost be taken literally and figuratively, for he was learning how to think.

This is one of the mysteries that kept me thinking about the book long into the nights.  Was M possibly a spy?  Was M an inquisitor?  I thought not, but I knew that Kings could be ruthless, and the Church searched constantly for the evil intentions of satan.  My thoughts about Sorren were then as they are now, and I could not imagine the contemplation of such a sinister character as this man called M was apt to do.  The beauty of Sorren is manifest in his sincerity, his modesty, and his awakening mind.  And my mind wanted to follow him into his fantasy such as it came to be connected with King Bartholomew.


In this short poem, Sorren shows great sensitivity for the artist as a lonely caretaker.  However, there is some doubt in my mind as to whether Sorren actually composed this piece.  In several pages of the book we see references to a travelling musician who makes a significant impression upon Sorren.  Could this work have actually been sourced from this musician?  While that is unclear to me, it is of note that Sorren had enough feeling for this work to include it in his manuscript. 

In a little shop behind a door
A violin not played before
The master and his masterpiece now silent
The master eats his supper after dark
The master’s work is hard, his work is long
The master’s hands are kind, his hands are strong

His loving eyes, his loving heart remains within
Content, he cleans his brushes with tenderness
The master and his masterpiece now one
As a song begets its maker until it’s done
As the storm is spent and carried out to sea
The master breathes a sigh, his work complete

And the instrument that was prepared
Is now ready to be shared

In an aging city, no longer young
We no longer remember the fables sung
But the master and his masterpiece still listen
To the echoes of the strains within his soul
And the master feels vibrations, though his hands are old
And the master sympathizes with the music of the world

And in a little shop behind a door
Lay the memory of a life before
The master and his masterpiece remember
The master writes his memories into the song
On a stool the master sits in melancholic warmth
And plays his violin long into the gentle night

The instrument that was prepared
Is now ready to be shared

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The King has an unhealthy desire to understand things that can never be known to us.  Sometimes he would toss and turn during the night and not sleep a wink.  The next morning he would still be trying to understand his own thoughts and that if only he could do that he should uncover the truth of our world.  I would listen to his words until I would become confused.  One of his longest desires has been to understand the nature of something he called corporality.  I tried to follow his words as he told me that our world is made up of very small pieces of matter that he called atoms.  He said that men long ago had said that atoms made up our world.  And he said that even things that could never be seen or heard or felt were made of these atoms.  He said that daylight and twilight were made of atoms also.  But he said that the atoms could never be seen because they were too small for the eye to see.  He then said that the man was a Greek and that the Greek men thought about all manner of things until they would be discovered.  I could not understand his thinking.  So I asked him if everything that could be seen and not seen was made of such atoms how could anything change for there would be no way for an atom to move if the world was solid.  There must be room for change to happen I said.  The King listened to my words and then he ordered for me to slaughter a chicken.

 - Sorren


With how much more mockery could this simple servant refer to the thoughts of his King?  Why why why does a servant need to know how to write!  Why does a simple servant need to know how to think!  Did he think of this while he snapped the neck of a simple chicken?

 - M


My own thoughts about this fragment are complicated.  For the first time we are met with a man who at the same instant expresses a sophisticated principal with the simplest conceptual language available to him.  It is safe to say that Sorren has been given training by the King, and that his task is only to listen to the further ramblings of the King.  This is why Sorren likely has set this thought down on parchment.  Here we see a man waking up, and here we see a man who is proud of himself within the safety of his own thoughts.



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The simple servant here has demonstrated the ability to reveal his purpose through the artifice of obscurity.  His clever use of device clearly demonstrates his careful choice of words.  Something deeper is being alluded to here, and the careful disguise points to a inherent desire to say one thing while at the same time disclose something singular.  This is the purpose of an apostate . . . gnosis uncovered as truth.  The cat searches for the mouse, but he is only waiting.  The mouse is asleep.

– M






I set down in writing how I came upon the book, for my memory shall not last forever, and it may be that I shall outlive my own memory.  Many years now since past, when King Sigmus was young and much fond of riding through the remote parts of the island looking for rare and beautiful things to see, I decided to go for a walk because I knew that he would not require my attention for a day or two.  With me I carried a water skin and an oak staff to ward off serpents and other darker and stranger creatures from my path.  Being a servant I had access to the larder of the King, so I also carried a sack of smoked fish from the sea from outside Peel Harbor.  Rumors and legends of strange men and other creatures were many, but I did not believe them. The Isle of Man is the land of wizards and demons, but it is also the land of the saints. 

I set off on foot for Foxdale even before the sun was up, and I entered the forest that was my destination after about an hour.  Although just a small village at the entrance to the forest, the people were still wary of strangers, for no respectable man would enter the forest alone.  But as a servant to the King and dressed the way I was with a long cloak and breeches, I felt confident that I had every right to enter that forest alone.  As an old woman watched me from the cover of her small vegetable patch I entered the forest and felt it close in around me like a moonless night.

The forest was close and it was cold.  All around me was the fragrance of an old, rotting undergrowth and I wondered if the forest yet lived or if it be dead.  The forest floor was damp and spongy and my feet sank slightly into the morass.  I stopped to kindle my pipe before moving on.  Soon I was completely enveloped and I smiled, for this is why I had come.  All thoughts of my life as a servant were lost to me now, and I was a fearless traveler to parts unknown, and now I was a prince.  I was free to dream, and I did dream of being many things and of hunting robbers and creatures unknown.  But after a time I soon realized that I was lost, for I had lost the faint path once beat down by travelers.  I stopped and looked ahead.  A curious fox regarded me from behind a fallen tree.  I could hear slithering from beneath the undergrowth, but I did not make a sound.  The feeling that I was being watched was powerful and I could feel uneasiness replace my dream of being a hunter.  Up ahead a twig snapped and I jerked my head to capture the sight of a tiny white creature, a faun perhaps, watching me intently.  A moment later the animal dashed into the forest.  When I got to the place that I had seen the creature disappear I saw that it was the path I had lost and I launched back in the direction of it, for I could see it clearly through the thickness of the forest growth.  Like this I traveled for an hour until I was beginning to tire and about to turn around.  That is when the faun stopped walking and waited for me to approach closer.  Soon I was almost to it, and that is when it moved to the side.  When I followed it I was suddenly standing before a tall man dressed in a long and flowing cloak, and so it was that he too was carrying a staff.  I stopped suddenly as he raised his arm and bid me to stop.

“Do not be frightened,” he said.

“You startled me,” I answered.  “I am not frightened.”

He smiled, and waited for me to speak.  His hair was falling about his shoulders and was the color of dusty sandstone.  Pale eyes looked at me from behind his high and furrowed cheekbones which fell down into a white speckled beard.  He was obviously very old.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

He took from his belt a small sack tied with a string and opened the pouch.  Then he handed it to me and said. 

“These are nuts and berries.  Eat, for you must be hungry.”

I ate some of the nuts and watched him with fascination, for he regarded me with acute interest.

“My name is Daric the oak hearted, and I come from the oaks.  You have been searching for me and now I come to you.”

“I do not know you,” I said politely as I handed him back his sack of nuts and seeds.  “I do not know your name,” I said further.  “Why do you say that I have been searching for you when I do not know you?”

He smiled warmly and I could see a sparkle in his eye.  “You do not know my name,” he said.  “But then I am called by many names and I can sometimes be called different names by different men.”

“I do not understand your words.”

In response, he reached into his cloak and withdrew an object.  It looked like a book, bound in old leather and held together with a brass strap.  Daric handed the book to me.

“This is your book,” he said.  “I have been waiting for you to make a gift of it.”

“Must my words be remembered for that I should need a book?  In truth Daric, I do not know how to write.”

“You do not know how to trek either,” he said with a smile and without malice as he brushed his hair back from his craggy face.

“And yet I am here,” I answered cheerfully, for I was growing fond of this strange man.

“The way has been prepared for you.  I led you here.  Open the book,” he said.

I regarded the book with awe.  I felt its skin and admired the metal clasp.  Books were rare and special, I knew that.  Anything and everything could exist within the pages of a book.  All manner of respect was given to the books of men and those that could read them, and I hesitated to even open it and break the spell that I was under. This was a powerful moment for me for I was being taken into a special society of learned men.  I, a simple servant was being regarded as something special.  And when I opened the book I was astonished to find that it was empty.  My thoughts reeled.  I looked at Daric with a question, and he smiled.

“Your journey starts here,” he said.

Still with a question, I said.  “But you said that my path was chosen.  I shall follow the same path back home again.”

“There is no path,” he answered with a smile.  “Turn around and look.”

And when I did I saw that the path was gone.  No trace of my presence remained.  I continued to stare in disbelief.

“You shall follow your own path,” he said gently.  “Your book shall be written even as your careful foot shall follow your own path.  Your path is in your mind.  Be careful that it does not lead you astray.  To write your book you will first have to discover your own story.”

It was later claimed that when I emerged from the forest the next day my clothes were in tatters and my body was covered with cuts and scrapes and lacerations, and that my oaken staff was broken in two.  I do not remember my journey back through the forest and I take no pleasure in the gossip and speculation that my passage was to make within the sleepy village.

The next day I begged King Sigmus to teach me how to write.  His response was positive, but not what I had expected to hear.

“You must learn to read before you can learn to write,” he said.  “Writing requires that you use words like building blocks to compose thoughts into words.  You cannot use words that you do not know or are unfamiliar with, so it is essential that you read the words of others, and that you study the thoughts of others before you can make your own thoughts known to others.”

“Where will my thoughts come from?” I asked the King innocently.

“Oh, Sorren,” he laughed, “I am not trying to demolish your enthusiasm.  Your thoughts are every bit as important as are mine.  But I want you to learn that the use of words and the selection of words can make a thought that is what you wish to say, but a poor choice of words can do the opposite and bring confusion and utter nonsense.  One does not build a fortress out of fish bones, and just as well, one does not build a thought out of gibberish.  Thoughts can be fragile and fly away before we are able to control them.  But when we write them down Sorren, they become permanent, and they can be used by others to build even more complicated thoughts.  All men can think Sorren, but it is great men that use the thoughts of others to discover larger truths.”

And then he said something and told me never to forget.  He regarded me as an equal at this moment and I felt a surge of pride.

“The world is large, Sorren, very large.  But the world inside your mind is even larger, far larger.  The world of men is contained with walls and borders, but the world of the mind has no boundaries and no borders, and it is limitless.  The world of men is bounded with the mind of men and is fought for with wars and every form of violence imaginable.  But remember, Sorren, the world of the mind is also something that men will fight and kill for, so you must be careful what you think, but most importantly, you must be careful what you write, for you must own the words you write.”

And then he turned to me and smiled, and I shall never forget his beautiful smile.  At last he said.

“I always knew that you would come for me, Sorren.  I knew that you would come, but I have had to wait.  We will begin tomorrow after breakfast, and remember, a good teacher needs a good breakfast.”

That is what I remember about my call to the purpose of learning.  The first thing that I was taught to read was the letters of my own name, and so my name became special to me from then on and I enjoyed writing it and seeing it on parchment.


– Sorren







I admit that this is a special leaf for me, and I go back to it often.  It seems inconceivable to me that it was not King Sigmus who presented the book to Sorren, for nothing else makes sense to me.  Am I missing something?  So early in the manuscript, for me to discover this leaf seems to contradict the essence of the first few leafs, for if Sorren was already writing at this stage, I knew that I had to go back and reconsider all the leafs and see what message they contained.  Sorren, in this leaf, appears to be less of a servant, and more of a student, a collaborator to the King, for in his own words he admitted that he had waited a long time for such an opportunity.

But perhaps that is how it is, and the King was showing a degree of wisdom so far undiscovered or overlooked.  One can never be brought into the garden surreptitiously.  One must discover this garden oneself, and for many the time never comes, and for some it comes at a great cost.  Imagination is given to us and shown to us without regard and without effort in these modern times, and it may be that this is the reason that so few are called into the magical garden of King Sigmus. 



Today, I overheard a pretty, young girl humming to herself.  At first, I was impressed by her bravery for singing in public, but then I realized that she was in a world of her own making and was singing for no one but herself.  She reminded me of someone I knew for a time and as I lost myself in her music the sweet memories of that special time rushed over me.  As I write these words now the memories again seek to overwhelm me.  I think that, today, I shall not allow that.  

– Sorren


Although my life and that of Sorren's could not be more different, when I read something like this I sense a kindred spirit, as if I am a reincarnation of his fervent dust.  But even beyond the stirrings of my own heart, I see in this short narrative an observation that needs no heart to claim as truth: that to lose oneself is a freedom. A freedom from the world, any world, any time which makes claim to our attentions and passions.  But freedom is also a choice, and when Sorren decides to defer his memory, he is asserting a freedom here as well.  I know that I presume much, but I did not ask for this book. This is the earliest instance where, in my mind, I heard a small voice claiming, I am Sorren. 


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The King has begun work on a new garden and has asked for my assistance in obtaining some rare items.  He has told me that this will be a gift to the Queen.  But how can one gift a garden to another?  How can one give a field to a friend or lend a portion of the sea to a debtor?  Are not the leaves of a tree as the thoughts of a mind?  Although I cannot understand this at all, I have not the courage to question the King and if I dwell on these things for too long I begin to feel a sickness in my heart.  I confess this only to the stars, for my lament is not an apology.  I cannot apologize for that which I do not understand.


– Sorren

The Red King is sulfur and the White Queen is mercury. Does this man try to disguise such elemental references to the Philosopher’s Stone? So this time they are to be untied in a garden? This man Sorren admires his own cleverness to his own demise.
— M

The clear obsession of this man Melanthros, known as M, is visible in almost every leaf.  This is rather curious to me.  Nearly every leaf has some annotation to it, but it could not be more obvious to me that the servant Sorren is referring to an actual garden here, not a symbolic representation of a fiery alchemical furnace.  I am vaguely familiar with some of the basic nomenclature of the noble art of alchemy, and it is true of what M speaks, but unless I am missing something here, or that there is an entirely new level of secret nomenclature beneath the first level, this could not be any more innocent.  I have seen no evidence that King Sigmus was involved with alchemy of any kind, and in truth, the opposite is true, for the King hated sorcery of every kind.  So what is Sorren really talking about?  He may in fact be using alchemical symbolic language to describe another form of understanding, another form of literature perhaps.  This would be evidence that Sorren is far more intelligent than so far appears in these assorted leaves, and that perhaps they are leading up to something.

The Eighth Leaf

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The Larby came back today without Smithson.  Her crew said that he was lost in the storm.  I did not know Smithson well but his kids were a strange lot and his passing has had a strange effect on me.  Will he dwell now forever in the sea?  My parents said I was born near the sea.  Maybe I'll have a similar end and maybe Smithson and I are brothers of a sort, lost cargo on the sea we love so well, both of us floating aimlessly but never far from one another.


– Sorren

I find Sorren’s reaction here to be a little strong, a little too ornate. By his own words he didn’t know him well. How then can he have such a strong reaction? This book is a diary. Did he attempt to fool himself? This cannot be the case. Perhaps Sorren merely uses such experiences in order to fix them in his mind and that he may more perfectly develop his private thoughts. If his faith in the Lord was but a little stronger he would not be pondering such trivial and naive sentiments, and would instead be praising the Lord for what he has thus already been given. As for myself . . .the Lord is my sea.

- M

I wish I could figure out what M is trying to do in his role as curator, if in fact he was ever even so employed. His annotations mostly serve to question the authority, or the integrity of Sorren. I cannot imagine such a purpose in such an educated man and that he should concern himself with an insignificant, if thoughtful man from the lower class. I know that my role as curator is to explain and try to understand the words of Sorren, but frankly, I am becoming even more fascinated with the character of M. For me, as a man living in the 21st century, the words of Sorren make complete sense to me and almost seem contemporary. This proves to me that through all the preceding centuries, the essential sympathies of the soul are passed on through new generations, and in all probability, are archetypal. This gives me hope.

The Ninth Leaf




Today, I nearly made the mistake of getting between a mongrel and his prey, a tailless black beauty that possessed the attitude of a witch.  I had been studying the small cat, her precise, cool manners, when one of the King’s hunting dogs spotted her and nearly ran me over in pursuit.  The cat easily climbed a tree and then began to taunt the hysterical barking dog.  The loud barking soon brought more dogs and the cat had an audience that wished to tear it to shreds.  But what happened next is why I commit this story to my scarce parchment.

The dogs were overcome with such vicious hostility that they threatened to tear the tree down for such was their passion to get at the black cat.  The cat watched them carefully before arching her back and letting out a terrible screeching sound like the sound of fleeing demons that sent a shudder through my body.  This made the dogs even more furious.  But I could tell that they were frightened almost to an incontrollable rage.  I searched for a stone to hurl at the cat because I was inflamed by my hatred of this demonic animal.  I found a stone and looked for the cat.  Up on one of the highest boughs I spotted it.  Taking careful aim I hurled the stone with all my strength and saw it whistle past the cat.  I found another stone, but before I could launch it the cat leapt off the bough suddenly and transformed into a large crow and flew away only to land in another tree far away from my reach.  I could hear the raucous cackling of the crow and I felt sure that a terrible curse was being directed at me.  I ran away in fear, I ran away from the hex, but I could never tell anyone the thing that I had witnessed.  I still remember those, dead and sinister eyes for such are the eyes of the devil.

– Sorren

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I always respect a man that is frightened of evil spirits even though those spirits exist only in his own mind.  For such a man as this is consistent with the words of the Lord who instructed us to turn away from every sorcery.  Every black cat surely cannot be the familiar of a witch, but it is surely better to act as if they were.  This is the first time this simple servant has said something with which I agree.


- M





Such hogwash put forth as righteousness makes me scowl with derision even through the touch of an accompanying smile, for it is easy to read these words and forget that they were written into a personal diary.  As a curator, I feel it is my job to present the text in a way that best upholds the spirit of the original.  In the glacial epochs of time, these few centuries that separate us from Sorren are but an instant, a wink, so it is almost impossible to understand how they could be so ignorant.  Or, is it we who are ignorant in our self assurance because of the ordering of a few numbers and formula?  We take as faith the authoritative results of those beside which we are as ignorant as was Sorren, for in truth, our quantitative structured reality is but an approximation even as the most important laws of science are but an approximation of true reality.  In Sorren’s day, it was only the wealthy and privileged that could read, and most of the words that were written and annotated by studious monks were religious works and works important to the Church.  In our day, every person writes and espouses opinions about every facet of life and even the most trivial minutiae conceivable whether or not they understand a single thing about which they are expounding, and in this way, the level of ignorance that is passed on in our world is sadly, similar in some ways to the world of Sorren.  When the power of the mind becomes common and banal, the consequences are manifest in a collapse of our culture.  But I would not want to go back to a world in which the very definition of reality had to be authorized by the Church.




The Tenth Leaf

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Today Reingold ordered me to spend the night in the outer court with him attending to a frightened chicken that Reingold was attempting to procure an egg that was laid in the full moonlight before the light of dawn.  He insisted that the egg be procured before the first light of dawn. When I told him that such a thing as that could not be achieved he berated me in the most unceremonious fashion, and then he said that we would spend every night with the chicken until a suitable egg was procured.   When I made known my opposition to his plan he swore at me.  Then he ordered me to sing to the chicken in the event that I could persuade it to produce an egg.  I told him that I could not sing and that my singing would perhaps damage the chicken so that it would never produce another egg, but he only became angry with me for obstructing his plans.  I then begged him to explain his plan so that I could best provide service to him.  His response was both mystical and frightening.

He said that the melancholic stare of the King was his purpose to render to life on canvas, and that to do this he would need the egg from a chicken that had been similarly exposed to moments of such delicate melancholy as the King during his lonely night vigils. The light of the full moon was indeed necessary to achieve this aim he told me simply.  A sympathetic relationship would be firmly established when the egg had been prepared for the tempera.  I do not like this man.  He frightens me with his sorcery, and I wondered if indeed the King knew the extent with his involvement with the subtle form of magic being performed in his name.


– Sorren



To even know what sympathetic magic is establishes a level of guilt that cannot be refuted.  Why cannot the ignorant classes thrive in happiness within their ignorance?  It brings me no happiness to condemn them for crimes that they are too ignorant to even understand.  But I must know to what depths this man may have voluntarily plumbed.


- M


 I don't know what disturbs me more: Sorren's description of the mind of Rheingold, or M's reaction to it.  That Rheingold would want to use minerals and crushed insects from the island does not seem too strange to me, as it seems that indigenous plants and minerals best represent the character of a thing, from peat moss used in the malting process of Scotch whiskey, to indigenous hops used in the production of beer.  It was his precise philosophical reason for artificially producing the effect upon a chicken in order to manifest similar attributes in the egg tempera that is strange to me.  And the mention of sympathetic magic also is hard to understand.  But in fact, the use of sympathetic magic was accepted as true magic, and most people completely expected the promised results and saw them even when they did not manifest as such.  The attitude of M is simply just horrifying, and it is easy to see how the atrocities during the Middle Ages could have been justified by those for whom they were committed.

The Eleventh Leaf


Thoughts of the Bishop begin to trouble me once again.  What if everything this man says is correct, and all that I have known and cherished is but an abomination?  I cannot bring myself to feel this, and yet this man's stillness is a balm to me in the loneliness of the night.  The King treats this man as an equal and even addresses him by his Christian name.  Only in the privacy of these pages can I say that I believe no man's station allows a greater or lesser pathway to a creator.  I am a simple man.  I am a simple servant.  But I am only a servant, just as is the King and the Bishop.  I look to these pages for solace, but I remain troubled.  What is it in this strange sky that offers only an imitation of the stillness I seek?  Where is the Angel Kiss, and am I simply a fool to wish for guidance from the stars?


– Sorren


Sorren actually questions the veracity of the Bishop’s words?  This simple man poses the question to himself as to the truth in the words of the Bishop, but then he merely posits the possibility that his own thoughts may not be based upon the truth of Christ.  This man is wise to keep his provocative words to himself by candlelight scribbling his precious thoughts as good men sleep.  A pompous King is terrible to behold, but a pompous servant is as insulting as it is absurd.  His spelling is utterly incomprehensible, and sometimes I feel lucky that I cannot fathom what he is saying.  But the angel kiss he refers to is puzzling to me, and actually the only thing he has said of any significance.  The angel kiss perhaps is important within the circle of those that practice the mystery arts of alchemy and astrology.  I will find out.





By the nature of the annotations I have thus far read, I find M to be a thoroughly miserable man, mean, nasty, and a singularly offensive person.  Is there nothing that Sorren can say that M does not misinterpret?  Is he completely unmoved by the thoughtfulness expressed by a simple servant opening his heart in the wee hours of the night?  These are profound ideas expressed here, but M seeks only to use them for his own hidden purpose.  Even when Sorren calls himself a simple servant, M interprets it as being part of some secret coded message, some strange cabal that he is endeavoring to penetrate.  M has become obsessed with this man to such a degree that it almost has me rethinking my entire opinion of Sorren, but not quite.  Sorren is writing in a private diary, a common thing that all persons are entitled to.  This is an expression of this man’s heart, and it is not right that those feelings should be wrung out so forcefully for all to see.  For M to berate the servant for having the temerity of having dreams outside of his station in life is disgusting, and telling.  M must be a very strict, authoritarian man, and not one that I would ever want to meet.  And from the specific wording of some of the annotations of M, it seems to me that, at this point, Sorren yet lives.  How came such a private diary into the hand of such an insidious monster?

Increasingly, our private life is under just such scrutiny and our thoughts and passions are shared with those that do not even know us or have empathy with our personal struggles.  Our thoughts, our feelings, as well as our actions, can now be called up and brought back for examination.  Sorren deserved privacy, and it was not for M to dissect his very private thoughts and prayers to use against him. 

Finally, there is a small phrase written by Sorren where he asks the question: Where is the angel's kiss?  To me, this is written with deep feeling, and the thought is both cryptic and profound.  Sorren knew what he was writing though we can only speculate.  Every person has a right to be moved by an experience, a singular deep and penetrating experience, and not to feel obligated to have to explain it to others, or in some way justify the experience and rationalize the degree to which they are moved.  Who does this man named M think he is?  Is this man an Inquisitor?  What is in a person’s heart and soul need not be justified to any man.  The soul is a mirror, but the mirror is hidden.



Curator's note

After working with this leaf, my original plan to opine on these leaves without looking forward through the book has become certain in my mind, and now I know that my instinct was correct.  I, as a curator, do not want to temper my judgment of these leaves with the knowledge of what evolution these leaves may take.  Perhaps that would make me look wiser than I am, and I do not want to justify my judgment retroactively.  I will therefore approach these leaves as they present themselves, and my judgment as a curator will undoubtably evolve as the words from the book of Sorren evolve.








The Twelfth Leaf


It is unknown whether these drawings were from Sorren or someone else.


The tower shows a sophisticated sense of proportion and it is unclear how Sorren could have understood these concepts.

King Orry's Tower.JPG

This bottom figure is especially curious and is likely meant to represent a sea monster. Was Sorren simply being creative or did he actually believe, and perhaps even see these creatures?

These sketches show that Sorren had an artistic side as well as a desire for philosophy and deep thought. These sketches appear to show a rudimentary understanding of the art of perspective. This would have coincided with the development of this technique by Brunelleschi in the early fifteenth century, but I can see no realistic possibility that Sorren could have been engaged, even remotely, in the discussions of these powerful arts. It is more likely that he picked up a few fragments casually offered by Rheingold the painter who we know was engaged by the King at or near that time.

The Thirteenth Leaf

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Something rather unusual happened of late.  One of the boats came in with a harper.  He spent a few months on the island and there were many stories of his comings and goings.  One day I bumped into him and asked him if he was indeed the harper.  He said yes, I am he.  We talked for a while and he told me of the interesting places he had seen and the important people he had played for.  But then he sang a song for me, a song which affected me greatly and which stays with me still.  I dare not to define it here for I know not how it haunts me, only that it does.  And I wonder if that is what I am trying to do in this book, to bring to life something unborn.  And maybe, rather than all the interesting places to see, or important people to meet, what I desire most is to pass a stranger in the rain and answer yes, I am he.


– Sorren

The extent of my anger at this man has reached a new crest. He dares to dream that he can create something new in this world, to bring to life something unborn! Must I even have to explain that this is reserved for only One? He must be a simpleton of high degree for even small children know the maker and his works. Can this man be saved? Of that I cannot know for here I am as a small child: I know of the maker and his works, but I know not his mind. I am torn. Should I pray for this man or applaud his torment? Now, even I am caught in his terrible musings.

- M

I remember first reading this leaf and thinking just how contempory it sounded to me, this was a sentiment so modern that it could well have been written by myself.  But in fact, it is not modern at all, and when Sorren would have written these words, the sentiment would have sounded strange and peculiar to men laboring in dark mines and hauling in vast nets of oily fish from the cold sea  Sorren was a servant, a common man.  He had no claim to any great learning, no privilege born through bloodline, and he certainly would have had no expectation of ever rising above the station of being a servant to a King, which would have offered him food and shelter above many of his contemporary peers living in the surrounding villages.  Comparatively speaking, Sorren had a good life.  But he would have been forced to do what he was told.  To a modern man, this would be something he would never agree to.  But in fact, that is exactly what we all do.  No man is a King, and no man is an island.

But Sorren still allowed himself to dream and to imagine what it would be like to be respected for his thoughts and for the very personal opinions that he held in his mind, however small they be.  Was Sorren truly a thinking man?  I think it very likely that he was even more troubled by the essential, profound questions that haunted the thinking man than the average person living in our present day.  Profound questions are left to obscure philosophers now, and people do not even read the important thoughts that they have discovered, or see them as in any way important, because each person thinks only of their own immediate gratification, even down to the character of their daily meals.  Then, unlike now, there were perhaps very few opportunities for a serious, thinking man to associate or to even be heard by those outside of his social status.  Today the opportunity is both trivial and ubiquitous.  In truth, I believe that Sorren wanted simply to be acknowledged.  Sorren wanted to stand proud and say “I exist!”

After reading the annotations of M, I was perplexed.  They sounded ignorant and vicious.  But I could not understand why he would be so irate.  It made me think.  It seemed to be that M was upset that Sorren had the gall to dream that he was important, and that he had every right to exist as any other man, great or small, or simply that Sorren didn’t know his place.  It is clearly obvious to me that M is a man of faith, a devout man and a man that does not suffer a slight to the Lord lightly, but I do not think that Sorren was slighting the Lord at all, but that just the opposite was true. Sorren used the word unborn in his phrase about bringing something into the world.  This is the point of contention I believe.  Yes, the Lord brings to life the unborn with merely a word.  The Lord speaks, and it is created ex nihilo.  But the Lord also works through the hands of man even as does a number appear from the architecture of a mathematical formula, for it is the inspiration of the Lord though it come through the mind of man and enter the world. Could M have forgotten that the Lord does sometimes use even the most unfit men to do His work?

Finally I come to the most poignant part of the leaf.  Sorren talks about how he was moved by the song from the Harper, and that he knew not why he was moved, but only that he was.  He actually said that he was affected greatly.  It is my contention that he was moved emotionally, and that he had a visceral reaction like the tears of joy when we are overcome by a powerful experience.  This is what the beauty of inspiration from the Lord can do.  The gift of the Harper is a gift from the Lord, and that the inspiration may come from the Lord is a measure of that gift.  I believe that inspiration comes to us in this way though we are unable to describe it, or as Sorren said: to define it, for it is mysterious and it is haunting, and often comes unbidden and without effort.  Such is beauty.


A harper whose music is still prominent, even today.

The Fourteenth Leaf


So Argus has now begun to build a new home for his wife and eight kids. The new one is a pretty young lass with red hair and a voice to match. His kids will be a help to him some day, but that day is not today. I wonder what my boy would be like. Would he lay awake at night and struggle with things he can never know? Or would he be a merry lad, a man who knows what to do? I know what I am but at times I wonder if I could maybe be somebody else some day? And would I want to be? I guess that is exactly the way of thinking a merry lad would never have. The best I can do is to help Argus with the walls. Argus knows me. It is enough.


– Sorren

So now Sorren wants to imagine what it would be like to be someone else. A King perhaps? Of course, maybe Sorren was born a King and was switched at birth by fairies, and that now he is just remembering that he is also a King. Maybe I should imagine that I too could be a King. Perhaps the world needs more Kings and less servants. Is that what Sorren is imagining?

- M

Yet another curt and sarcastic insight from M. By now however, I am no longer surprised. And yet, at the same time, he has completely missed the point of this leaf. I see this leaf completely different than does M. Sorren in fact is defending the goodness and pride one should get from serving others as the Lord commands. Sorren even suggests that our children are born into the honor along with the responsibility of helping their parents. That is a far cry from interpreting his words to suggest that he wonders what it would be like if he were a King and the people had the requisite honor of serving him. When Sorren says that he wonders what it would be like to be someone else, and further, that he doesn’t even know if he would want to be, I, in fact, think that he is showing a rare degree of understanding, and faith in the Lord is part of that understanding.

In our world today, I think one could make a strong argument that everyone wants to be someone else; someone with more money, someone with a more attractive partner, someone with more friends, fame, power, in fact, it could be almost anything at all. The point is that most people would rather change, or be changed in some way, than to stay the same, for the calm and mundane life scares us and taunts us with thoughts of uselessness and irrelevance. We are fascinated and obsessed with the lives of those whom we do not even know and we would love to walk a mile in their shoes. The easier and more opulent our lives become, the greater seems to be our desire to change it, for we do not like to come too close to ourself. Perhaps Sorren is really saying that he is content just the way he is. I think we could learn a lesson from the strange musings of a simple man and his simple mind.

The Fifteenth Leaf


Those damnable hounds have awoken me again! I made no plans to walk this night, but here I am again. What is it that can frighten those beasts in the darkness? Can it be that they marvel at the same as I do, at starlight and whispering? More likely a blowing leaf. The Abbey is full of sound tonight as the priests sing their hymns. It really is quite beautiful in a way. Not like the song of the harper, but still …. And what is it that can make these men frightened, these men who share their lives with the night? Perhaps the Bishop gave me a clue once when he remarked during a most mundane circumstance that the bane of man was timidity. Timidity. I will grant that these men of learning may know of many things I shall never know, but this seems like a danger without teeth. Under this bright moon, I am with the hounds: the greater fright is in starlight and whispering.

 – Sorren

Sorren is being very cryptic in this leaf, as he has forthwith described his meandering thoughts. Something in the night disturbs this man. Starlight and whispering he says, and then he mentions timidity as if a connection existed in some way in his thoughts of which he makes no further mention. I am in accord with these sentiments. indeed, the Lord best be feared for it is wise. Sorren sees this fear as beautiful however, and this is where we disagree. Perhaps my learning has made me weak.

- M

Sorren mentions timidity. He says that the Bishop considered it to be the bane of man. M, in his comments also refers to the very same thing, albeit in a different way, but the Bishop and M in this instance are at opposite ends of the issue. Strength and weakness are connected through fear, the fear of the unknown. Or, perhaps M is implying that the fear he experiences is indeed, fear of the known . . . fear of the great unknown we call fate. The Bishop would have us embrace this fear. M would have us hide from it, and Sorren merely wants to think about it on long walks and cold nights. I find Sorren’s fear to be very personal, and very lyrical.


The Sixteenth Leaf


I am as weak as a lamb. My bones ache and my head is feverish. I sicken at the sight of food and conversation is even worse. How great my surprise then that, under this effect, my mind has been blessed with new ideas, and stories and song? But what good can come from such an illness? And what will happen to my inspiration as the sickness leaves me?

 – Sorren

Art exists for those of us with a feeble imagination. The weaker the vision, the greater shall be the expression and the dissatisfaction of the Lord, for so the Lord stands contrary to art.

— M

What an utterly strange thing it is for a man of Sorren’s class to admit to being weak and frail, even though he hide these sentiments between leaves of parchment. Not only does he admit to these things, but he glorifies himself in such limitations and weaknesses. He further seems to draw inspiration from the ravings of his own sick mind, and even laments the possibility that he should recover. He has acquired some of the same propensities as King Sigmus, namely, one of close introspection. Ironically, I believe this sentiment to be common, and almost universal when one’s muse is followed too far and too closely.

To some, the gift of creativity can sometimes seem like a curse. The gift often comes at a price. Most often, it is only the small price of a lost night of sleep or two. Other times, the price is higher and one is sometimes caught and enslaved to the muse, and in rare cases, one is completely absorbed and channeled by the muse. But the muse is not to blame if one is weak and uncertain in their own soul. This may be what M was referring to in his remarks.

As a curator, my fascination with Sorren is just this very sickness to which he had attributed his creative muse. Sickness is a thing to avoid if one can only not engage in the causes to which the sickness is but a manifestation. Sorren has not tried to avoid this sickness, and I admire him even more as these leaves progress and I see him succumbing more and more to the muse. The sickness is the power, and the sickness is strong, but the sickness can also make stronger, the will of those that have the courage to follow a very difficult and uncertain path. M seems to imply that the Lord has warned us of this sickness and that it should be avoided. I see this a little differently. The warning is that we should remain strong in the grip of this sickness, for this sickness comes close to an understanding of our very soul.

The Seventeenth Leaf


Tiny boat, afloat

and lost within a hidden sea

Simple man, now stranded

within the lost and hidden sea

A song sung to the moon

or to those whom loneliness abides

A prayer meant for the one

who waits in splendor, and resides

Tiny boat, afloat

and lost within a hidden sea

The simple man, now gone

and so his song, his prayer, for eternity


There is a depth to this man’s thought that intrigues me. Where did it come from? This is but a simple servant to the King, for how and when does he have the time for such penetrating thoughts? I can only assume that this inner sea he speaks about is nothing other than the unanswered questions in his own mind.



I agree with M. There is a deep, existential feeling of sadness in this poetry. In the times of which he speaks, nothing was solid, and nothing was certain in such dangerous and unpredictable days. Plagues and wars spread like uncontrollable wildfire, and even the protection of a stone castle on the sea was no protection against such creeping doom. Ironically, it was the love of God that was most real to many people, including Sorren. Any yet, given such harsh and brutal times, along with the ever present fear of death, Sorren had moments of great lucidity in which to ponder his fate. This expression of fate is real to Sorren, and I strongly believe that it was not merely random musings of death that he pondered. Consider his metaphor of the tiny boat, afloat on the sea. The boat represents the chaos and uncertainty of life in those times, superimposed upon the certainty of death, and the loneliness of the grave. Sorren is that boat, and he connects the metaphor beautifully.

Sadly, I see no such corollary in the actions and musings of the vast sea of people I meet in this present day. I do not know what is in the peoples heart, and I have no special business to even speculate, but I do nevertheless. In my associations with people I see just exactly the opposite, and if these existential thoughts are of any importance, it seems to be nothing more than art, self aggrandizement . . .theater. Life to us, by comparison with Sorren, is easy and free, and in some cases superficial. To me, this explains the epidemic of self inflicted mortality that is also like a plague. In a strange way ironically, there is no time for such musings in modern times . . .life happens too fast.

The Eighteenth Leaf


Last night, as I prepared to write once more and after a failed attempt to find the sleep that flees from me, I was discovered. Sounds where there should be none are the surest remedy for drowsiness and I was quickly roused to find the King, who must have been wandering the castle, slowly pacing past my secluded retreat. Peering into the darkness just outside the circle of light from my single candle my eyes met those of the man I am entrusted to serve. There was no more quiet that could fill the space between us, no more darkness to cast more shadows. The King seemed to consider me. We spoke not. I have avoided him all day today but know that I am simply hiding from a feeling. I know not how to explain myself or my activities to him, and by the light of day I find myself yearning for the quiet of the night, and of the thoughts which the darkness brings to me.

- Sorren


Sorren seems to be lamenting the fact that he was discovered by the King as he prepared to sit down to write, long after darkness was fallen and all good men were asleep. I do not understand this reaction, unless, by his own understanding, he was doing something wrong, or something dishonorable in some way. Why would he worry if he were innocent? His mind is troubled because he knows he has been caught. Does he perhaps believe that the King would, in any way, care about his nightly exploits? The King has more to worry about than the nightly endeavors of one of his servants however so trusted. Sorren’s biggest fear, if he were truly thinking straight, should have been the fear that he witness the King during his nightly exploits during his ungodly wanderings. The extent to which this servant mimics the actions of his King is startling. I must proceed carefully to discover which other traits of the King this servant has the temerity to mimic. The King simply observed the frightened servant and then dismissed him without further thought. Sorren best ponder the fortuitous nature of his own insignificance.



Sorren has shown some of the same idiosyncrasies as the King, from his intense restlessness, to his deep musings and desire to be active and awake while other men slept. They are kindred spirits, and it is my contention that Sorren learned these things from the King, or more likely was taught by the King. And this is what I believe the King sees in Sorren. Veritably, he has shown an extraordinary level of respect for his servant in this instance. It is surprising to me only that Sorren did not have the same respect for the wanderings of the King. Instead, he shows fear, and he shows apprehension, and he shows a lack of affinity for the King, his mentor. To me, this indicates that even in the darkness of night, and even within the darkness of his own private thoughts, he has not allowed himself to escape, even for a moment, the identity of his station. This is Sorren’s mistake, and he did not understand the complex relationship that was being purposely ignored at this moment. The King was showing deference to his servant, and nothing could make this King more admirable than that he show such deference to a servant. This fascinates me. In truth, as M opines that the King considers his servant beneath the threshold of consciousness, I believe that the King is beginning to treat this servant much more like a son. The King merely stops at the edge of candlelight to acknowledge his protegee, for he knows exactly what he is doing, and he approves. What a better world it would be today if those in positions of authority and power over other people, treated those beneath which they hold such authority, with such respect and deference.

The Nineteenth Leaf


My mind is filled with thoughts I cannot even describe, not even here. I fear that if I come too close to describing them that I may make them more real. But I must relieve myself of this burden so that I can sleep once again.

In a dream, several nights ago, I had a vision of myself in conversation with another, one not known to me. All was as in a blur, features, voices, and the other would not identify himself by other than his first initial. I seemed to be in some type of confrontation or disagreement with the other but our voices were never raised. It was very quiet and our movements were slow and deliberate. Then, the other became more animated as he began to tell me a story. The story was long, complicated, and I was involved, though I knew not how. He wanted something from me. Was it a confession, a secret, an agreement? I had no answers for the man in the dream. But the other did not become angry with me as my dream-self believed he would. Rather, he remained silent, steady, waiting for an answer. He returns nightly in dream and I feel as though he will demand an answer from me. But I have no answers, only questions. Somewhere, unknown to me, a page has been turned.

- Sorren

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I have no explanation for this. I openly admit that I find this leaf somewhat disturbing. By what form of magic could this simple servant have penetrated so far into the future event that my possession of this book represents? I am bewitched by a feeling of dread, almost as if this simple servant is keen to the knowledge of my own fate, and merely offers subtle hints and clues for me to discover. Magic of this kind is beyond my understanding and does not come from the Lord.

— M


As a curator I am very interested in this leaf. Sorren is beginning to probe his thoughts very carefully, and I must admit, that like M, I too feel a strange connection with this leaf the way a voyeur can become obsessed with a limited view through a dark window which obscures his vision. But in this instance, the window is not through space . . .it is through time. It seems very strange to me to be analyzing the words of a man agonizing over the feeling of being stalked by an unknown man, and at the same time as I write these notes I ponder the very same though that it is I that stalks this man through the centuries now past, but that still, in some way, the two of us are aware of the other. M has reflected upon this exact same sentiment in his notes. Is it the book? Does this book have a special quality that produces this strange effect upon the reader? Of course I must rule out such a possibility for I can imagine no mechanism which could cause such a phenomenon to become manifest. And still I am perplexed by this apparent phenomenon.

The Twentieth Leaf


Still no sleep, but at least I was spared from the awkward meeting with the King that I have been anticipating. Through some strange bit of fortune the King was called off the island on business. I know not the King's schedule, but I was surprised by this trip as I had heard nothing of it. And the King left no further instructions for the completion of the garden. How strange. Was his trip planned hastily? Is it possible that he too needs an escape, a secret retreat from the yearnings of the day? I will write him a poem, and in this way reach out to him as I cannot here, in this day, in this time.

- Sorren


I wish that this man had fixed these fragments with a date of some kind. These ignorant people are hard to pin down when they do not even know what day it is. I cannot for a moment believe that he didn’t know the exact date as well as the year, because it was common even for uneducated men to know the date by the marking of holy days of obligation. This man does nothing. Even had he fixed these notes by the cycles of the Church calendar I would be happy. He says that he was surprised that the King did not leave instructions for the garden . . . so the King’s magical garden was not yet finished. This is interesting. And still I wonder that this man cannot seem to sleep during the long hours of the night, but that these fragments continue to keep him up. I must look for hidden clues between the words. I look forward to reading his poem.


I still do not understand Sorren’s reticence. Up until now there has been nothing in these pages to suggest that the King was anything but tolerant to the people for whom he served. In truth, he may have been the most tolerant King to have ruled for many years, for there is no talk of wars or uprising in any of the literature surrounding this man, and this simple servant has nothing but praise for him. King Sigmus is the man that has taught this simple servant how to read, so why would Sorren now fear retribution from the very man that has given him so much? The probability is great that I do not understand this relationship, this dynamic between the servant and the King. In truth, Sorren is not in fear of this man, far from it, he is in awe of this man, and that is why he is reticent . . . he fears that he will disappoint his mentor, and that is what is keeping him up at night. Sorren is hoping to make the King proud of him. Now this is only my conjecture, but I like it, and I think it is closer to the truth. Having made this conjecture, I believe that the poem that he has promised to the King will be quite different, and quite powerful.

Now the reference to the garden is quite interesting. The garden is an important part of the novel King Bartholomew, so it seems natural for it to be mentioned in these pages. What I don’t understand yet, is why M would think that this was important. Obviously M is fishing for something, but he does not describe it in his commentary. That is also natural, for he did not expect that this book would find its way into my hands.