söndag 14 september 2014

Svensson: The Swedenborg Machine (short story)



Back in 2011, I published a story in a Swedish anthology. The title of the story was "Swedenborgmaskinen". Now I present it to you in English, aptly naming it "The Swedenborg Machine". It's about a latter-day scientist going off into lands unseen and there meeting the 18th century Swedish mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg.




1.

They whispered behind my back and called me mad, out of my mind, bananas. And sometimes they said it to my face, stating: ”You’re mad, Anatol! You’re a wayward fool, dabbling in metaphysics. We, for our part, the sharp ones, practise science; you on your hand practise witchcraft.”

They said that, my colleagues. And yet they let me go on doing my stuff. Why? Well, I did have support from higher levels, from the chairman of our institute, Professor Kossgren. He was a man of broader visions, always keeping the door open for metaphysical and esoteric influences, since science had always benefited from these to some extent. Like Stradonitz discovering the benzene ring dreaming about a serpent biting its tail, and Crick having the vision of the DNA double helix while on LSD. Not that I took acid, oh no, but I did have a penchant for thinking outside the box, going beyond the Beyond. The ”mad” label just went with it.

And now my ventures into the unknown had paid off. They had materialized in a tour de force of engineering prowess, a stupendous creation, a machine of remarkable qualities. To be precise it was a portal with an aluminum doorframe and lintel, all around a slit for the activator and, lastly, a separate control panel.

It was complete, my magnum opus, my grand design, the machine with which I would prove that the fourth dimension existed –- i. e., that it was a higher dimension, a hyperworld permeating the physical world. Does that sound vague to you? However, the important thing was that I didn’t surmise this fourth dimension being time as Einstein had postulated.

And right there’s where the project had begun. On the annual Swedish physicists’ meeting, in the pub afterwards, I had suggested that time wasn’t the fourth dimension; time in itself is no dimension. Indeed? my enemy, Gregor Welaion, had objected. Yes indeedy! I said and emptied my Vodka Martini.

”But... how...?”

”It’s simple,” I said. ”Space is a dimension while time merely is change. Time isn’t a dimension as Einstein has it, only a measure of the changes taking place in space. Of course you can draw up a coordinate system with time on one axle and space on the other –- but then you can move on and in different circumstances put any labels you wish on the axles, as progress, acceleration, anguish, happiness, what have you...

”But this is blasphemy!” Welaion had said, red as a lobster.

”Of course,” I said. ”Science begins as blasphemy, and ends as superstition, as Huxley put it...”

”What, Huxley? You’re way out of line here! I call for an investigation.”

”Oh yeah? Only to have me whisper Eppur si muove between the teeth...?”

- - -

There, with the scuffle imminent, the meeting had broken up. We went to our respective hotels and didn’t meet any further. As I said this was at the annual Swedish conference of physicists, that year -- 2007 -- held in Gothenburg were Welaion had his operation. As for myself I went back to Stockholm and the Polhem Institute where I worked. The next day I was called to the office of Professor Kossgren who had heard about the hassle. Supporting me full-out he asked me to delve further into the physics of the fourth dimension, leaving everything else and immediately getting to work. ”Never mind the cost, you have unlimited resources!” Kossgren had said. ”The institute’s honour is at stake!”

So I got to work –- and now, a year later, a day in June 2008, I was finished, in spite of snide remarks from the other employees at the institution, the so called ”pure scientists”, fine young men thinking inside the box. My opus was finished, my portal with the aluminum doorframe and all that. In itself the portal was a simple construction, secured as it was in absolute space and with sensors in relative time. By the suprematistic conveyor he who entered the portal was led beyond the depth, width and length of the everyday world, landing in the fourth dimension: a higher space, an esoteric ether beyond the Beyond.

The idea to it all I had gotten from a passage in a book, ”The Philosopher’s Stone” by a certain Henry T. Laurency, the so-called Hylozooic. It was the abovementioned concept of time not being a dimension. Then the painting of Kasimir Malevitj, ”Black Square” from 1913, had inspired me, this ultimate image of a higher dimension. Suprematist painting, you know. Then I just had to calculate on it all; in pure logic no postulates about the existence of anything can be made, they say, and that fit my hypothesis that the world is just a vague apparition while true reality is transcendental.
How life is vain, dim, unreal,
like scenes that ’round the drunkard reel...
As the poet said.

Truly mindboggling ideas, aren’t they? All this esoteric stuff. Not that I was some full-fledged idealist, some dreamer. I was a critical, hard working scientist. But sometimes you have to think outside that proverbial box, really throw eveything out the window and start afresh with totally alien concepts. Presume the unpresumable.

And that’s what I did. I was the kind of scientist having to believe twelve impossible things before lunch...

Anyhow, the project now was complete, my dimensional machine, the portal. I stood by the control panel and gathered strength. It was June 23rd, 2008, 9:45. There was only one thing left to do: to test it.

Power on: I pressed the button. There came a faint humming noise from the machine and the slit in the doorframe started to glow green. I entered some relevant commandos on the keyboard, activating the suprematist conveyor and pressing enter; ever so fitting, right? Press ”enter” before you enter the fourth dimension...

I left the control panel and got up on the dais. The inner of the portal flickered of energy, currents and dreams. ”Here I stand before eternity,” I thought, pathetically but true.

I exhaled, then filled my lungs –- and entered the portal.

As expected I didn’t see anything at first. Everything was white, white as an overcast sky. Then I saw a sheen like glowing brass, silver and gold –- and then I found myself laughing. I had done it, this was indeed the fourth dimension! The fourth dimension, reduced to ”time” by Einstein but in reality so much more than that, infinitely more...! And that’s the chief reason why I wanted to explore it: to boldly go where no man has gone before.

I had reached beyond the Beyond, I was flowing in an ethereal space. I still wore my jeans and laboratory coat but I was as light as a feather, I could go anywhere I wanted with pure force of thought.

- - -

I soared through the ethereal spaces, I danced around in the astral world. Then I gathered myself a little, thinking that it wouldn’t serve me to go completely mad. I did have that reputation but they wouldn’t score with it this time. I had to explore these unfamiliar vistas with sane, sober, Faustian clear-sightedness.

I descried something in the distance, looking like green meadows. I headed there, thought myself in that direction. Soon I was walking across a landscape, hearing twittering birds and seeing a rippling rivulet surrounded by willows, dipping their branches in the water. A rosy building presided some distance from the roadside. Far off you could see hazy mountains, green woodlands and temples with white steeples.

I could go anywhere in that dreamland, it seemed, but I only had the urge to visit the pink palace nearby. I headed for its garden and soon found myself walking among shiny trees and mysterious flowers; they were bigger, more beautiful and more brilliant than anything I had ever seen.

It was all very beautiful but at the same time I asked myself how to get back to my own world, the three dimensional world. Maybe there was someone to ask in this house.

I passed through a pergola and came out in an alcove. There, by a table, a peaceful man in a wig and a black justaucorps was sitting, speaking with a radiant woman. She was indeed radiant, she almost glowed. Was she perhaps ”a being whose nature is light” = a bodhisattva...?

I approached. And finally, standing before the glorious couple, I bowed and asked:

”Excuse me, Anatol Ersson is my name...”

The two of them nodded gently and asked me to sit down. I continued:

”Do you by any chance know the way back to Earth?”

”To Earth?” the man in the wig said. ”I do know the way, I’ve recently been there. So you wish to go back to that dark abode, eh...? Don’t you want to stay in this world, this spiritual world...?”

”Spritual world” I thought, that sounded serious. Now, I could picture a fourth dimension as a higher plane of existence and I could think in speculative, almost esoteric ways –- but ”spiritual?” As a scientist I didn’t like the concept, it was like crossing a border.

”Oh, sure it’s beautiful,” I said. ”But I’m a beginner in these fields, so if you could guide me back to more familiar lands...”

”Will do, my good man, will do,” the man said. ”But first take a bow for Bealália, my splendid deva, a being of light in this world...”

I bowed to the lady, enchanted by her beauty. Then I turned to the man and asked him who he was. ”Emanuel Swedenborg” the answer came. Indeed, I thought, the spiritualist and inventor; mining engineer, assessor and dreamer of 18th century fame! One of the few Swedes to have become world famous along with Strindberg, Nobel and Ingmar Bergman.

”But why can’t you stay in this world?” the deva suddenly said in a singing voice.

”I thank you for your invitation,” I said, ”but everything here is a bit new to me...”

”A bit too light and shiny, perchance...?” Swedenborg said. ”A bit too beautiful and enchanting, eh...?”

”That may be so,” I said with a sense of shame. Everything here was for certain supernatural and paradisic but I couldn’t handle all this splendour right now. I was happy with just having discovered the fourth dimension.




2.

Swedenborg exchanged a few more words with the lady and got up, saying it was time for us to go.

”So you want to get back to your own world?” the spiritualist said. ”To the natural world, to Earth?”

I nodded. Swedenborg thereby took farewell of the lady and I did the same; she waved her hand slowly and then began to disappear into thin air, gently. That’s the devaic way of being, I guess: to just fade away when you feel like it. Then the Assessor led me by the hand and soon we soared through shimmering rainbows and spectral skies. Somewhat used to these flights by now I just looked around me, enchanted by the sights but fully conscious.

”So you’re the great Swedenborg?” I said.

”Indedd I am.” The Assessor had a constant, discreet smile on his lips, like the one you see on early greek statues: the archaic smile.

”The world we just left,” I asked, ”what was that called?”

”That was the spiritual world, situated on this side of heaven.”

”But there were houses, mountais and trees in it,” I said. ”I thought these spiritual lands were only thin air, light and the like.”

”Many believe that, even the poet Dante; you are in good company there. But the things you saw weren’t tangible; they were projections of our thoughts. They were correspondences.”

”So they weren’t real then?”

”Oh, they were real, forsooth. Your thoughts are real, aren’t they?”

My head spinned. And the woman we had met, the ”deva”, was probably what others would have called an angel –- or a bodhisattva, a ”being of light”. Well, you have to experience a lot as a scientist; as I said you have to encounter twelve impossible things before lunch, and I hadn’t had lunch yet...

- - -

Soon the colours around us got more mixed and impure, the light less divine. Houses appeared before our eyes, tangible, earthly houses and no ethereal creations. Suddenly we were walking along a cobbled street, the clouds sailing past us in the sky and gulls crying nearby. Swedenborg stopped by a corner.

”My dear Mr. Boström,” he said, ”now we’re here. Back on Earth, as you wished. Back in the natural world.”

”Indeed...,” I said and looked at a man in a leather cap and grey clothes, pushing a wheelbarrow before him, loaded with cabbages.

I saw this man –- and I saw ladies in long dresses and head scarves and men in coats and tricorni; I saw wooden houses with lozenge panes and I saw a horse cart. The smell of horse manure was ever present.

”Well,” I said, ”I’m back and I’m happy with that. But tell me, what year is it?”

”What year? It’s the one thousand seven hundred sixtieth, counting eight.”

I paled and stuttered: ”1768...”

I paled –- because, as a scientist I didn’t believe time-travel to be possible. It was against the laws of cause and effect. But maybe Swedenborg involuntarily had drawn me down to his own time when I asked for his help to get me back to Earth. The bypass via the fourth dimension, which isn’t ”time”, had made this seeming time-traveling possible.

We went down the street. People started to look at me. I still wore jeans and the lab coat, that’s why, and I was bare headed: in the old days everyone wore a hat of some sort, rich and poor alike. Hat or no hat I started to picture life in the seventeen hundreds; maybe I could get a job as a mining engineer, the cutting edge of yesterdays technology. Well, how about that? Then again, a life without TV, bananas, chinese food, jet airliners, ipod...?

The impressions flooded me, deluged me. Slowly but surely it all hit me, the argument was brought home: I was trapped in the 18th century!

My knees got weak, everything went black and I fainted.

- - -

It was a sunny room with an elm outside. A lady in a head scarf sat beside the bed I was lying in. Now she got up and cried out the door:

”He’s coming to now, methinks!”

She bathed my forehead with a wet towel. I smiled, thanked and sat up. I tried to think: with my machine I had gained the fourth dimension, a supermundane world, a higher reality, an esoteric realm. And there I had met the spiritualist Swedenborg, a seasoned visitor in these lands for what it seemed. Oh yes, as an educated 21st century man I had heard about his travels in different dimensions, but that was about all I knew about him. Then I had asked him to show me the way to Earth and that he had done, taking me to his Earth, his 18th century reality. So I was trapped here. Unless...

The Assessor came in, still dressed in his silken coat and wig: a dignified gentleman, a grandseigneur of olden times, smiling enigmatically. He asked the maid to make some coffee; then he sat down and said that he had had me carried to his house after I had fainted.

”To your house...?”

”To my house in the southern part of Stockholm. On Hornsgatan, kvarteret Mullvaden, if it is familiar.”

Indeed it is I thought, from the squatting activities in the 1980:s. ”BZ in Mullvaden” was a huge story in my younger days with people illegally living in those derelict apartment houses, built on the same spot as Swedenborg’s old mansion.

Swedenborg questioned me about my whereabouts. I told him that I came from the 21st century and he accepted that without further ado, but then again he was a speculatively minded scientist himself. We talked for a while about the differences between our respective ages, but then I broke in and posed the burning question:

”Could you, Mr. Swedenborg, help me get back to my own times? The 18th century seems on the whole to be a charming world, and your welcoming me in your house is most hônnete. However, home, sweet home and all that...”

”I understand you completely,” the man said. ”But how would it be done?”

”Well,” I said, ”if you fasten a construction in absolute space and put sensors in relative time, and then connect a suprematistic actuator to it all –- then you might reach the fourth dimension, the world where we first met, and by means of that interdimension get back.”

The spiritualist got a concerned look and walked away. In the mean time I despaired and blamed myself for my condition: if I had had a remote control to my dimensional machine I might have gotten back home without help. An assistant at the control panel might have helped too, but that I didn’t have.

- - -

The maid arrived with the coffee. I took a cup, put some broken sugar in it, stirred and drank. There were also some sugar buns. Coffee and sugar buns, the favourite dish of Swedenborg; I knew that, but what else did I know about him and his teachings? Not much to be honest. As for myself I had a weak spot for esoterica, that’s true, but purely on a intellectual level. I couldn’t understand what it meant to be pious and Christian and all that, that wasn’t part of my scientific upbringing.

Emanuel returned with an unwritten paper. He took a cup for himself and sat down at a table, drinking some of the brew and beginning to brood.

Birds sang, the sun shone and the elm spread a green lustre; what an idyl. Maybe life in the 18th century wasn’t so bad after all: not so stressful and breakfast in the green, all accompanied by Bellman picking on his lute. Then again there were horse manure, cholera and 500 pubs, and shady politics with bribes and secret committees. And as for sunshine and bird song we had those too in the 21st century.

”Well now,” my host ejaculated, ”fasten the construction in absolute space you said... Will you please sketch it out for me.”

He handed me a quill pen and a paper. I sat up in my bed, took a nearby Haupt bureau as a tablet, dipped the pen in the inkpot and made a blueprint of sorts, based on the principles of my own machine. Would Swedenborg then be able to build one with the tools of the 18th century? If he even got to understand it...

- - -

I sat at the kitchen table, drawing and sketching. I felt better after the rest, fully recovered after my fall. Dressed in lab coat and jeans I brought Swedenborg up-to-date with my research. He seemed to grasp it all. As ”the Columbus of the spiritual world” he already knew about the fourth dimension, more than anyone in this age, and the concept of securing the contraption in absolute space reminded him about his idea of correspondences.

It was late at night. A kerosene lamp was burning in the room and I had filled one paper after another. By now Swedenborg got up from his chair next to mine, tipping over an empty coffee cup and exclaiming:

”By God, it can be done! My dear Mr. Boström, I will take you back to your own time.”

And that was it, the genius had spoken. After all he was a genius, a mining engineer and a designer of submarines and airships, a theoretical physicist -- and to that a true esoteric, a speculative philosopher and dreamer. I could think of no better man in the 18th century to build me a time machine, to be honest!

The following days Swedenborg was occupied with machine building in his drawing room downstairs; he wanted to work on his own and I complied. After all it was just some reverse engineering of my own machine. I mean, the man was a genius and as for myself I had already built a dimension machine, there being no point for me in building another, not on a personal level at least. No challenge. Well, maybe working with 18th century limitations would have been interesting –- but as for now the Assessor had already gone ahead with his project so I let it be. He cherished the challenge he would get from this venture.

I let it be, leaving him to his own machinations. So I spent the days strolling in his garden watching apple trees and flower beds and sitting in the octagonal summerhouse in its centre. He stored some of his books there, and amazed I read titles like Arcana Caelestica, De Caelo Et Inferno, De Cultu Et Amore Dei, impressive tomes bound in leather by the man himself. He knew book-binding too; what didn’t he know?

Impressive books; however, I couldn’t read any of them. They were all in Latin.

- - -

I took a tour of the city, Stockholm: ”stolta stad” as Bellman sung in his Epistle 33, ”You proud city”. I borrowed a hat and a fine coat to blend in, watching the new royal castle and the churches and all the tourist views, immortalized by the painter of the day Elias Martin. The smell of horse manure, open gutters and the sights of prostitutes, street kids and drunks gave some added colour.

I crossed the Nybron and looked up to the steeple of Klara kyrka, rising in splendid isolation, undisturbed by the modern highrises of Hötorgs City which today tend to dwarf it. Fluffy clouds scudded across the sky and all was nice and warm. In Kungsträdgården I sat down and watched the verdure of the elms and got lost in the twittering of the birds and the hubbub of the city. I started to think about my personal situation in the 21st century and I didn’t like it at all. I was an outsider in the scientific community, a slight esoteric among everyday philosophers and materialists.

It wasn’t just my dispute with Welaion. His likes were indeed everywhere. Say that you believe in metaphysics and people start looking weirdly at you; whisper something about ”karma” and ”reincarnation” and they start dialing the asylum: yes it’s him with the steel-brimmed glasses –- and then strait jacket, ambulance and off to ”One-Way Hotel”...

Me paranoid? Oh no, it’s exactly like that in the scientific community. On the surface it’s all open-minded and tolerant, but in verity it’s like the Inquisition.

But I persisted in my odd ideas. Like, for instance: in pure logic nothing is really said to exist; I’ve touched on that before. There is a hint of higher reality, there is an immanent esoterism in science: matter can’t be the highest state of being because then thoughts, ideas and theories would just be fancy. All that which makes science into what it is.

- - -

A somewhat sclerotic science community, that was my ”home”. So why even bother to return? Still there were some good portents. Pure materialists were beginning to get scarce; there were some who listened to Dirac for example, when he said that beauty in the equations was more important than that they agreed with the expteriments. And that could make you think of Paul Davies when he said that in nature order and beauty is the norm, not coincidence, and the explanation to this can’t be reached empirically. And didn’t James Jeans say that the universe more looks like a big thought than a big machine...?

Well, there was hope after all. I got up, dusted some imaginary dust off my coat, cocked my hat and returned to the southern part of the city, singing Bellman’s Song no 64, ”Haga”:
Fjäriln vingad syns på Haga,
mellan blommors frost och dun,
sig sitt gröna skjul tillaga,
och i blomman sin paulun…
(See the butterfly in the meadows of Haga, among flowers and down, making his abode in a bloom...)




3.

It was D-Day, the big day; it was May 19th in the year of grace 1768 to be precise. My host showed me into the drawing room, in the midst of which presided an armchair with strange contraptions: at the top end there was a clock, beside the arms there was an hourglass and a pendling axle, and around it all was a spiral brazen rail.

”So this is...?”

”This is my machine,” Swedenborg said, "the, if you will, Swedenborg Machine. Now, I have added to your drawing with some concepts from the spiritual world. My machine transforms linear time into a durée, an ever flowing now. This is done by implicit resonance, dynontology and the induction of monads, the last of which is effectuated by this clock that I have modified.”

He pointed to the clock at the top. I nodded and studied the construction closely, immediately understanding how it was made: beyond the odd concepts it took for granted that time wasn’t a dimension, merely a way of measuring changes in the material world, in the three-dimensional space. Precisely my thought, as I have touched on above.

I sat down in the chair, a fine piece of furniture clad in jacquard fabric, and said:

”Comfortable, I daresay!”

”Very much so. It’s my best lounge chair.”

”Oh, but you needn’t have –”

"Mais non," Swedenborg said, ”anything for my guest. So then, shall we get started...?”

I nodded. Then I got to think that this Swedenborg for certain was a wise man, a pious man and a guru. As I said I was no dyed-in-the-wool esoteric, but some new ventures of research wouldn’t hurt. So I decided to ask him a little about his way of thinking.

"Monsieur," I said, ”we met in the spiritual world and they say that you are an experienced traveller in those higher planes of existence. They even call you ”The Columbus of the Dream World”. So can you teach me some of your dream geography, your outlook on this and other worlds...?”

Swedenborg nodded and said that those travels were made without his own volition; he just thought some odd thought and then he was snatched away to impossible worlds.

- - -

I sat in the time machine chair, waiting to travel forth in time. However, for the moment I was still in 1768, still listening to Swedenborg's on-the-cuff lesson. Now he was talking about the philosophies he had been taught beyond the Beyond, and among other things he told me this: what’s important in life is your will, your own free will. You are free to walk in the Light, to deliberately choose to go that way; you can’t just sit down and wait for the mercy of the Lord. You're cooperating with the Lord to create the life of your choice: "Deus non transferat hominem, sed homo se ipsum." God doesn't direct you here or there; that's done by the individual himself.

I nodded and then queried: ”But you said that you sometimes get snatched away to Heaven...?”

”Yes,” the Assessor said, ”these days I sometimes do. But I was an agnostic for a long, long time before that, not experiencing that much in the way of wonders."

He continued the recapitulation of his teachings: happiness is here and now (he said), any moment is your best moment.

”This moment too?” I asked.

”Yes,” my host said. ”Regardless of your being on your way home now and all that.”

How odd I thought –- any given moment is your best...

He added something about his correspondences, how everything we see is an expression of ideas, of thought. The tangible things exist for the ideas to have something to manifest themselves in. A sort of Platonism then? I thought.

Swedenborg nodded enigmatically and wound up the clock; he asked me what time he should set it for. I turned and saw that it was a very strange clock with separate works for year, month and day. There was also a globe for the location in space, a brass-and-tin piece he called an orbis terrarum.

I was about to say my 2008 date; then I changed my mind and said: ”August 24th, 1913, S:t Petersburg”. Swedenborg raised his eyebrow and then complied, setting the clock –- and then he set the pendulum in motion, made the axle to swing, turned the hour-glass and placed a steel ball on the brazen rail.

”Right then, here we go!” he said before letting the ball go.

I nodded and saw the ball run down the tortuous rail. It hypnotized me and made the whole room to spin. Before I knew the armchair rose from the floor –- or rather, the room disappeared and I was travelling through an undefined something. It was probably the same fourth dimension I had visited recently.

- - -

Again I travelled beyond the everyday dimensions. But why the Russian destination of 1913, you might ask? Well, it was just a detour to the studio of Malevitj, on the Nevskij Prospekt, to buy his then newly painted ”Black Square”: the image of the fourth dimension, an artistic correspondence to my journeys. And verily, I did reach the place and I did get to meet the Russian. We talked for a while about non-figurative art as a spiritual discipline, as an emancipatory act. After some mahorka and tea I moved on. I set the clock for June 23th, 2008, and my lab at the Polhem Institute in the northern suburbs of Stockholm, as part of the famous Tekniska Högskolan to be precise.

Again I flew through the unknown, darkness shot through with emerald and ruby. I thought about correspondences and free will, implicit resonance, absolute space and suprematism, monades and dynontology. I though about happiness being here and now and about non-objective, non-material art as an emancipatory force. Looking at pictures with no tangible objects, just shapes and colours, liberates you. Like the painting of ”Black Square” I had just bought and held in my hands, sitting in the magical chair.

I soared through light, bathed in light. Soon I saw a room before me, a control panel framed by a portal with greenish lustre. Sitting in the armchair I stately flew through the gate and came out in the lab, landing with a bump. I was home again, the same day as I had departed the place: June 23rd, 2008. I eyed the clock: half past three, just in time for the coffee break.

I got out of the chair, Swedenborg’s time machine. Right then a thought struck me: when I first ventured into the fourth dimension I discovered that I could travel by will of thought alone. I willed myself in a certain direction and immediately got there. So, I thought, standing in my Stockholm lab after coming back to my own times –- why hadn’t I willed myself back to Earth then? Why did I have to ask Swedenborg to help me?

Well, I got distracted I guess. After seeing the beauty of the Spiritual World I forgot about that willpower way of traveling. Had I remembered it, well, that would have saved me some tribulations. Then again, I did get to meet Swedenborg and see Stockholm of the 18th century, and that wasn’t so bad...

- - -

I pushed away the Swedenborg machine into a corner, hung the Malevitj on a wall and took off the 18th century attire I still wore, instead putting on a lab coat, approaching the control panel and shutting off my own machine; it had been running ever since I left. As I said I didn’t have an assistant. I was a bit of a loner.

Then there followed a debrief with the Professor, a report and an in your face to Welaion. Of course he questioned the results, I didn’t have any proof that I had been to the fourth dimension. And he for one didn’t want to test the machine, that would be way too dangerous! No one else dared either. Not immediately. But soon a veritable shuttle traffic to eternity got going so my portal didn’t stand idle there in my lab, I can tell you that. My metaphysical ideas began to be discussed in the science community. Seeing time as the fourth dimension slowly faded away.




Epilogue

As an epilogue to it all I can mention that I went to the public library one day shortly after coming home, the library being a golden brown structure with a cylinder atop a cube of sorts. I refer of course to the Stadsbiblioteket by Gunnar Asplund, situated on Sveavägen in the fair city of Stockholm. I went up the majestical stairs, crossed the rotunda and headed for one of the adjacent chambers –- and there, filed under ”C”, Religion, I found and borrowed some works of Swedenborg. Now there were Swedish translations, knowledge in Latin wasn’t needed.

It was an exciting read I must say, like Vedic or Platonic philosophy in a curiously personal vein, esoteric visions from a man who had seen what he spoke about. I decided to become a full-fledged esoteric myself there and then. Yea, verily: I started to venture into spiritual lands, into pious emotions and encounters with the holy and the sacred.

How then to combine it all with objective science? you might ask. That sacred stuff I had gotten into. Well, in science you have to be cold and analytic, I fully agree, but an underlying feeling of awe and wonder doesn’t stand in your way. On the contrary: it inspires you.

As a scientist you need inspiration –- so where better to find it than in spiritual lands...?

Yes indeedy! So spiritual lands, here I come, half way up the rig and a sliderule between my teeth: a 21st century Columbus for the astral world...!




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