Forty-Fourth Leaf


A King has many responsibilities of which many go completely unnoticed.  Everyone wants your attention, for the ear of the King is special and not to be taken for granted.  I listen to my deemsters, my advisors, and the myriad Manxmen that look to me for help.  But I admit that there are moments when my time is free, and that no further obligations are required of me.  These are times when I like to walk along the quay by myself and think.  On these walks however, I am not thinking about my kingdom, and I am not thinking about my subjects.  Instead, I allow my mind to empty, to drain of all relevant matters.  This is how I relax.  These meditations though, have an extraordinary effect upon me, and so it is that strange thoughts are revealed to me without my having conceived them.  They are completely spontaneous and unexpected, and often disturbing.  How can this happen?

Today I had a conversation with both my astrologer and the Bishop, separately.  I asked them both the same question because I could not banish it from my mind.  Why should anything happen at all, and more importantly, what causes change? 

That day I sat on the edge of the seawall, outside the castle, smoking my long stemmed pipe.  I gazed across the water until my vision blurred and my mind began to reel.  The salty sea-spray blew directly in my face, and I could smell the acrid scent of the sea.  The wind was mild, but it was consistent and continuous.   But then my eyes focused upon the waves and I noticed that the pulsation of the waves was different from that of the wind, and that both were fluctuating at different rates.  I was oddly perplexed.  Were they both not motivated by a single force of equal potency?  Did the apparatus that controlled the wind not also control the sea?  The waves were of equal distance, but they broke upon the seawall without consistency.  I reasoned that if the moon could strip the seas of water and smash it headlong into my tiny castle, could not this same moon not fail to blow these waves with equal vigor?

I am not unfamiliar with some of the ancient philosophers, and though I cannot speak the Greek language, I have spoken fluidly with persons that have read these works, and they have described to me the impetus of their thought.  And now, when I watch the breaking of the waves upon my castle, these thoughts come back to me again.  And I wonder anew. 

What determines the movements of  all the myriad objects and phenomenon?  Why doesn't everything happen at once?  Wave after wave comes and goes with a rthyrmn, a sigh, a heartbeat, a smile, old age, and perhaps the rthyrmn of these things, and all other things, is part of the music that was written before all things, and that now, though we can not notice it, all things happen at once with a beautiful simultaneity.   I soon fell asleep on the seawall and only awoke much later with the urgent sound of the surf in my ears.   

And so, when the astrologer stood before me and held aloft the horoscope he had written for me, I asked:  "If the universe is composed of nothing but atoms and void, how can anything ever come into existence, for if it were matter, it would already exist, and if it has come from nothing, it could never exist, for nothing can ever come from nothing?" 

The astrologer swallowed hard and seemed to consult his star charts that he carried with him.  He thought for a moment, and then he wrinkled his nose before saying: 

"We do not see the emptiness, Sire," he said tentatively.  "And so we do not notice things when they come into existence, and we mistakenly think that these things have always existed." 

"And the stars told you this?" I asked because I wanted to judge his honesty. 

"I only read the stars," the astrologer wisely said.  "My art is one of making relationships, but I do not understand how these relationships were formed, only that they exist." 

Later that same day I met with Bishop Jacob. He listened to me carefully, and then he smiled, for he had once again figured out a way to refute my argument. 

"Yes, Sigmus.  It would seem that if you side with the Atomists, then the world would have to be filled with the void, with nothingness.  But the Lord made everything out of nothingness, so it seems that it should pervade our world even though we do not see it.  In truth, Sigmus, the world happens all around us, and there is a connectedness of all things.  All things happen simultaneously, for it is how the Lord has made it." 

"Something cannot come from nothing,” I asserted.  "The Lord cannot be part of nothing." 

"The Lord existed before nothingness," Jacob answered.  "The Lord created nothingness out of nothing." 

I let him have the last word, but I do not believe it.  Because try as I may, I cannot see how something can ever come out, or ever be conceived, out of nothingness.


Where to begin?  This is how a sovereign King spends his idle time, philosophizing of atoms and nothingness?  And even if I grant this, what I deem to be an incredibly odd diversion, why does he then commit these musings to this personal diary, a diary begun by his servant?  When I read something like this, my initial impression is to revert back to my skepticism of this document.  Could this really be a historical document or is this simply a work of fiction perpetrated by? … well, I’m not sure who.  It was in just the last leaf, the Forty-Third, where I thought that I had gained a mental foothold.  King Sigmus had spoken of his deep grief for the loss of his young wife, and that he would be detailing that grief as a means to finding an inner peace.  That is a sentiment which seems authentic to me and one which I may have even expected given what Sorren had previously written.  But now, in yet the very next entry there is no talk of grief, but rather, that of fascination, a fascination with the ghosts of the universe.  There is much more to this book and I will not prejudge it before many more pages have been turned, but my skepticism is renewed.  And if this is not an authentic document, who could have written it, and for what reason?  I carry on, but my suspicion is that The Tree of Fragments which my brother is chasing may be more important than he knows.  For while K. believes he is simply unraveling the story of Sorren and Melanthros, it may be that he will uncover yet another author, another singer of songs, a poet yet undiscovered.

 - D