## 'The Noisy Tide of Time'

From *Confessions of a Castillian Opium Eater* by Don Ygnacio de Alforo y Dueñas, fragmentary translation in the hand of Count Rumford, Found by Remy Ventif de Chanceu among his notes:

The recent approximate calculations of the speed of light through the ether done by Mssrs. Lemaitre and Fresnel, as well as the new Analytical Doctrine of M. La Grange, were combined with the deep insight of Diodatus on the indivisible atom of philosophy in an opium dream I had a fortnight past. This dreams’ conclusions were so vivid and have so withstood sober reflection that I do not blush to tell them to you in great detail. I shall be submitting them in the form of a paper to the Great University’s Cruzian faculty in Mathematics and Physical Astronomy next month. Remember that Diodatus told the Philosopher that there must be a smallest possibile division of matter—the contrary would be the absurd proposition that matter could be cut or divided infinitely. This smallest speculative kind of matter he called an atom. Therefore all that we are, all that we can be, or have been—setting aside the idea of a spiritual or sorcerous component and considering only our physical beings—can be described as an arrangement of these atoms, placed together in various forms. This is the teaching of Diodatus, which certain experiments by the Innish Chemists have begun to suggest is not simply speculation. My dream ran thus: a Vodacce Fate Witch stood before me with her Sorte deck in her hands. She frowned, and it was infinite, containing arcana that stood for every possible object of thought. The void howled through the spaces in between the arcana, and I shuddered. She smiled, and the deck became the familiar, finite deck with which all of Theah is but too familiar. She tapped her wrist with her fan, and the number of decks became infinite, and a diffuse, pearlescent glow of plenitude surrounded me and lifted me up. Then, at once, a dazzling insight struck me. In those infinite decks, every possible future for every possible person must have been represented an INFINITE NUMBER OF TIMES. For consider that, for a standard Vodacce sorte, that there are four suits of ten with four face cards each, and the twenty and one of the arcana plus the Fool. The doctrine of La Grange has demonstrated that the total number of possibilities for the number of readings would then be seventy and eight times seventy and seven times seventy and six, and so on until two and one. This number is amazingly large, amounting to 113.242.811.782.062.978.314.575.211.587.320.462.287.317.

495.794.88.251.990.048.962.825.668.835.325.234.200.

766.245.086.213.177.344.000.000.000.000.000.000, or, in the notation of Eisen before the last war, the integral from naught to one of the logarithm^78(1/t) dt. I am assured by Mr. Cribbage of Avalon that my calculations are correct. This number, though staggeringly large and exceeding by many many times and orders of magnitude the total number of persons ever to have lived, is FINITE. I submit that if there were this number and one of decks, then at least one Fate MUST BE REPEATED. I grasped this in my dream as immediately and concretely as I now grasp my pen. In an infinite number of decks, all fates must be repeated INFINITELY. In the dream, the witch made a gentle throwing motion, and scattered these infinite Sorte decks like seeds, and they spun out into the sky and became stars, and worlds, and systems of worlds. I was as if struck in the face by the force of realization, that our world of Théah, our sun, our moon, all the stars in the heavens were composed by finite numbers of atoms composing finite entities. But in my dream, the heavens were infinite. I submit to you, dear reader, that if space be infinite, but the total number of atoms in an entity however large or small be finite, then that entity must SOMEWHERE BE REPEATED IN ALL ITS PARTICULARS. Somewhere, there is another Ygnacio who puts his pen to the paper to record the strange conclusions of a dream. Somewhere, there is another Vaticine Inquisition struggling to suppress these same thoughts of the Vodacce’s flashing black eyes and olive skin…

[An Erotic Fragment is here given in the original language, untranslated]

…But you will answer, if space be infinite and everywhere filled with celestial objects like those that populate our skies, then the light from infinite stars were infinite, and the infinite light, no matter how retarded by the friction of the ether, would be blinding, and would light the ether up like a milky cloud. And yet there is darkness. But I reply first that the ether, if it exists, must be exceeding thin, or we would have noticed a slow down in the time of the Moon’s return over the centuries due to friction, no matter how attenuated the medium, but that the reverse is the case. Indeed, the Moon moves faster with respect to our terraqueous globe than it must have in the time of the Syrneth. All the astronomical records of antiquity agree. And, second, that Fresnel and Lemaitre have shown light to travel faster than may be quite conceivable, but that, indeed, light must travel. It must take time to move from one place to another, and in the infinite heavens, any two points might be so distant that the light from one to the other would take an infinitely long time to traverse the ether. The cloudy depths of the smoke of the poppy have lifted a veil, as it were, and I now see a sister Théah whirling in a dance with our sister moon, the light from it creeping like molasses across the face of the darkness between stars, while our own light hurtles outward, ever outward, seeking to meet it.

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