The Pulse: B.C.
Berry suspected that the human problem with meaning had everything to do with their paradoxical relation to space. Humans were completely determined by space and yet they had no immediate awareness of their most fundamental spatial situation. Human experts of every discipline confirmed that space determined every aspect of humanity: the pattern of their DNA, the structure of their bodies, the families in which they grew up, the cultures that informed and enforced their behaviours, and the geo-politics that determined the history of their beliefs. And yet the internal feedback mechanisms in their bodies made them believe that their particular experiences were the norms and standards by which other peoples and species ought to be judged. Earth’s strong gravity also made them forget about their location in space. Finally, their primitive technology made them feel isolated in their solar system and galaxy, and this isolation made them think that earthly existence constituted some sort of unique — even universal — standard.
Humans were spinning and rotating every which way at hundreds of thousands of kilometres a second through the cosmos, yet for 99.99% of their history they had no awareness of this whatsoever. They sat at a table drinking coffee and that table appeared to them unmoving, completely still. Unlike Baulians, their minds hadn’t developed an internal, real-time register of their position in space. Berry was in a perfect position to see this fact: having lived 13 years without this register, he knew how solid the world could seem.
Berry could also turn off his Baulian register for dozens of minutes at a time. During these moments he looked at the coffee on the table and slowly scanned its flat surface. He imagined that his soul was likewise still, likewise at peace in an unchanging state. He even indulged in human theology, imagining that his soul was deep like the chestnut-coloured water, full of rich depth and flavour, criss-crossed with latent energy and hidden currents.
Sometimes he reinforced these feelings of stillness by overlapping them with previous states of calm. He recalled, for instance, the smell of the salty beach, and the feeling of warmth as he rested his elbows in the sand. He remembered the cotton-candy clouds that seemed to drift like the seagulls out toward the tankers in Georgia Strait.
His momentary feelings of stillness never lasted more than ten seconds. Orange pulses drenched his neurons in a single pulse, lighting up the schematic in which he saw the whirling matrices of the cosmos. He saw as plainly as others saw daylight that he and every living thing on Earth was spinning on its axis. Baulians called this three-dimensional, deeply infracted schematic a spatial register. It could be rotated, enlarged, and viewed according to any time frame. It was updated every 32-hour regenerative cycle, and was the most accurate microcosm of the cosmos that anyone in the Great Triangle had ever devised. It contained within its perfectly-scaled geometry all the detailed information regarding the known planets, stars and galaxies.
One glance at the register and Berry saw that Earth was rotating around the sun, the sun was circling around the Milky Way, and the Milky Way was swerving toward the Great Attractor. The Great Attractor was speeding toward the centre of the Violet Hoop, at the centre of which was the giant wall of the Thin White Disc, consisting of 1.2 trillion stars. He saw that the Violet Hoop was one vertex of the Great Triangle, the other two being the Green Buzz and the Orange Hoop. The three universes were revolving around each other at approximately two million kilometres per second. The distances between the universes were so great that Berry needed to activate the 10,000-year-per-second time frame to see them budge.
Beyond the Great Triangle the register registered a blank. This was because Baulian astronomers were withholding certain facts, which they deemed prudent given that they were unable to come to terms with several disturbing measurements. Even at the highest levels of the Academy of Space Science, experts were reluctant to acknowledge the implications of the numbers, which indicated that The Great Triangle was moving relative to something else.
Two measurements in particular worried them. The first was of a tiny purple light pulsing at what appeared to be a distance of 82 sextillion gigaparsecs cubed. The second measurement was the speed that the Great Triangle appeared to be moving in relation to the apparent source of the purple light: about 2 millions times the speed of light! They had never encountered speeds on this scale before. The math in the numbers excited them, yet the implications for the Empire were terrifying.
The astronomers decided to kept this information to themselves until they could verify that their measurements were in fact correct. Once they verified the measurements, they sent them in a deeply-coded fractal to the Grand Council of Fractal Masters & Fractal Mystics.
So far, there had been no response to the information they sent.
When Berry was down on the beach and looking toward the open sea it seemed that the world was a still and peaceful place. It seemed that there were no crazy spinning and no giant rotation of the Great Triangle.
Nor were there wars or epidemics, conflagrations or mass extinctions. The water before him didn’t seem to be filled with nuclear spy submarines, tidal waves of plastic, industrial waste, the carcasses of dolphins, or lethargic schools of fish with mercury oozing from their gills.
He knew that all the Earthling scientists were right about the extermination of species, the categorical nightmare of human demography, and the multiple disasters of global warming. But somehow, at least for ten minutes at a time, he just didn’t feel it.