Terry Pratchett is really rather more of the real thing of being a real wizard than Harry Potter. Reading "I Shall Wear Midnight" just because I liked the title, the things that spring out of that book sound to me like they come from someone who knows a lot about Deep Magic.
"Knowledge is power, power is energy, energy is matter, matter is mass and mass changes time and space." Yes, quite. As if we hadn't thought of it like that before, which clearly we hadn't or there would be no need of it being written down for us, which clearly there was.
Then there's the Travelling Now. An opening in space-time where only you can go, where you can share if another is there with you, but where the Real Time can't touch what happens because, "when it closes, you will be exactly where you were and no time has passed." Or so it seems. Only from the outside, just like when you (theoretically) fall into a black hole, whoever is watching you is watching your time pass for you. As Preston put it, "I thought you were dead."
I've been there, so I know some of the reality of the fictional realities of which Mr Pratchett writes. I strongly suspect he knows, too, from the little epilogue at the back. But when you've spent forty years or more writing (very successfully) of the stuff you've come to believe in, wrapping it in paper that people will see as paper and therefore accept as paper, you're entitled to think that not knowing where you're going makes you wrong. I'd argue with him there, though, even though I'd not deign to argue about the existence of Unseen Universities or the mysterious importance of cleaning. I'd argue that with everybody's reality being entirely different from everybody else's, if not quite or we would not be all the same whilst still satisfying the demands of the Uncertainty Principle, some know where they're going and some don't. Some know where they're going and it's not right at all, especially when some terrified creature awaits brutal death by whatever means they have in mind down there where they're going. But some have a right to relinquish the knowing of where they're going, and I rather believe I'm one of them.
This is a timely time to say so, for I've just had word that Quantumology is off the press and I can go and collect copies whenever I want. I'm stalling a little, as it's not really on my list of Things To Do at the moment and anyway, I'm not sure What To Do when I do get round to getting them. I know a few people who'll be getting copies, of course, and have a churning idea of what could be done to get it to the people it was intended for - people having a bit of a hard time wondering why the hell fervent efforts don't bring the results they want and what the hell is at work in preventing them from having what they feel they need. I wrote Quantumology to help out.
I also wrote it because I was told to, and when you're told to do something by someone you can't see, you either imagine it's your imagination and get on with something else, or you doff your figurative cap respectfully and get on with whatever is asked of you. I chose the latter course, as I'd seen quite enough by then of what went on in the Unseen University and sat through more than sufficient demonstrations of the power which drives certain events to become causes for latent effects. For me, there wasn't an option but to do as I was told, and Just Trust, as I was firmly and formally ordered right from the start. The start, incidentally, was long, long ago, and nothing - I stress nothing - could shift my allegiance now.
Having read scant samples of Terry Pratchett's work, it seems nevertheless that his message rings true as an arrow and clear as a bell. Magic is everywhere, it just depends on how you look at it, and what you do with what's there all the time. Quantum principles are like little keys which sit permanently in your hand, and if you want to use them you can, but you have to tread carefully through the doors and remember there are no free lunches. There are dark depths and pretty shallows, and plenty of colour in between, for the Universe is made of stuff we really do understand, as we are made of it, but we pretend not to, because we think we should be able to demonstrate our superiority with numbers and language and various boxes of assorted tools.
The wild world doesn't need mathematics or fancy scripts or Swiss Army knives to get on with living in the Universe, and it hasn't lost its way like we have, so there's a trade. Knowing is more than meets the eye. Knowing is knowing when to lay down the will and pick up the wisp of intuition. Knowing is what the elephants demonstrated when they made a pilgrimage to the grave of a man they loved. We have to know more, so that we can shift our world in time for our love to be seen. All the Universe wants is to know, and all we need to know is there for us if we are prepared to pay the price.
All the pictures are doorways to other parts of the Virtual Reality, and if you've not read the story of the Elephant's Travelling, Now is definitely the time to put that right.
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Kathy is the author of Quantumology. She met up with quantum mechanics in 1997, pledging allegiance to its sources thereafter. These are her personal thoughts and testimonies.