The Notion Club Papers Part One
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J.R.R. Tolkien divided the Papers into two parts at some point of its composition, but ultimately he rejected it and removed the headings of each part; however, Christopher Tolkien kept that division for editorial reasons. The heading of Part One read as:
The Ramblings of Michael Ramer
Out of the Talkative Planet"
Michael Ramer finished reading a story (which is lost according to the editor) to the crouded Club. The audience began criticizing with reluctance, but Nicholas Guildford finally gave his main objection with the story, which were the spaceships. He rejected the idea that spaceships could exist and criticized their use in literature with a false scientific approach. He and Flankley mentioned different examples from early century books and how these became more unbelievable as science evolved. Thus Guildford expressed his dissatisfaction with mechanical transports for space travel and pointed the need for other means, to which Wilfrid Trewin Jeremy added that there was no need for anything but the author's storytelling to see distant places of space. However, Guildford explained one cannot write a story about space travel with other natural laws or imaginary places (unlike the Fairy-stories), as they are set in our Universe.
Then Dolbear woke up from dozing off, but showing he was aware of the conversation. He explained they had been overlooking an important detail: the spaceship from Ramer's story was obviously made up by Ramer to give a narrative frame, while the story in between was unrelated to it. This moved Dolbear to ask Ramer what he had been up to and what was the place of his story. Ramer acknowledged the place was real and he had seen it, raising a great silence in the Club. The members tried to get some answers from him, but he refused to elavorate. Soon after, the meeting finished and Ramer said he would come the next week. While in the street, Guildford told Ramer they believed him, and Ramer promised telling his secret in the next meeting.
All the members of the Club attended, being Ramer the last to come. They all expected him to bring an essay or anything to explain them what he promised in the last meeting, but he told them he will just talk instead. Ramer began explaining the story read in the last meeting was a real experience, but he made up the travelling with the spaceship, which had not convinced the Club. Moved by some fiction books, he had been wondering how to travel with the mind and see places from space beyond human reach. At the same time, he had been thinking about dreams and how they work, being sure that if dreams allow us to see things from other time (past and future), they can also be used to experience other places. Ramer gave the example of literary creation: when the mind is absorved, it can evoke some images with details we can notice later, when we pay attention to them; he also noticed that these images do not usually come at his will, but independent. Then Ramer explained the problem of travelling with the mind, as humans are incarnated beings and therefore mind cannot be separated from the body.
Thus, he wondered if it was possible to inspect the memory of places and objects nearby. He began training his mind to awake awareness of the history of some objects and places; and at the same time, he trained his memory on dreams, which became affected by his mental inspection of objects. His experiences were blurry and abstract at first, but he wished to use his method to travel outside Earth, so he began visiting a meteor in a park in Matfield. From the meteor he got odd dreams of pure physical experiences, like Weight, Fire, temporal Lenght; and he realized he would never be able to control the history of such an object in his life-time, neither use the meteor to inspect the places it came from. Therefore, Ramer turned his attention to dream-inspection, noticing that he could experience the same dream in different and disordered times. He could not choose to have those dreams, and while dreaming a fragment, he could remember the whole sequence of that dream, even after years without thinking about it. However, there were some "marginal dreams" created by Ramer's distracted mind which now he was able to remember more easily, accompanied with strong emotions. He gave a couple of examples to the Club: a man having a fortunate encounter at night, and a librarian with a dilemma. That kind of dreams were not much of Ramer's interest, as despite they seemed real, they were fictional and in many cases he did not even bothered finishing them.
On the contrary, the "good dreams" were filled with a mythical charge that did not depend on the dreamer. Ramer gave the examples of a Green Wave rising above fields, and a the view upon a high mountain before a catastrophe felt upon a land with three Blessed Trees of light. The Green Wave appeared to him several times, but he did not answer when Arundel Lowdham asked him to explain its meaning. Frankley was curious about how dreams are presented to the dreaming mind from the outside, to which Ramer explained that sometimes the dreaming mind gets in contact with other minds, ghosts, but Ramer did not always accept to interact with them, as sometimes they were evil spirits. Both minds could learn from each other thanks to these interactions, and thus Ramer could see other places from where these minds originally came from. He had already told them about Emberü in the previous night, but he was no longer able to remember the place ever since he wrote its description to be read in the Club. Same happened with other planets, which now were mere words for him, even tho he had been able to remember their beauty with great pleasure: silver Ellor or golden Minal-zidar.
Ramer, Lowdham and Jeremy began dicussing about where the names of those places came from, so Ramer noticed them he was born in Hungary, so his mind had given names to those places in his native language.
- "Scientifiction", term by Hugo Gernsback.
- A Voyage to Arcturus, novel by David Lindsay.
- The First Men in the Moon and The Time Machine, novels by H.G. Wells.
- "Cavorite", a fictional substance in The First Men in the Moon.
- The Space Trilogy (mainly Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra), a series by C.S. Lewis.
- "Erewhon", a ficional country in the novel Erewhon by Samuel Butler.
- News from Nowhere, a novel by William Morris.
- "Skíðblaðnir", a magic ship in the Prose Edda.
- Last Men in London, novel by Olaf Stapledon.
- "The Pig on the Ruined Pump", a character in a couple of poems in Sylvie and Bruno by Lewis Carroll.
- Geoffrey of Monmouth, author of The History of the Kings of Britain.
- "Elvish Drama", term from On Fairy-Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien.