Thursday, June 28, 2012

And Su Called George About It ...

George came for a visit.

"Hi Su, any news? You sounded eager to see me when speaking on the phone."

"Welcome George. I was rather wondering what you would think of something sister wrote."

"Why me? Oh, I know I am your best friend still alive, but you stressed the you. Why me?"

"Well, your father is a scientist, a physicist, right?"

"Yes ... but I thought you said your sister was all into the Middle Ages ... either some fantasy country with castles and no factories and with swords and archery but no guns or, well, praying and never dancing, like some Hildegard or Julianne or something?"

"You know Hildegard of Bingen and Julianne of Norwich? I thought you were very much not into the Middle Ages?"

"Oh, pa looked them up lately."

"But in a way you do not know how right you are. That Tolkien guy, a friend of Jack and Warnie, he even wroter her a letter asking her opinion on a comment he had to do on his edition of Ancrene Riule. It's a rule for people like, not quite Hildegard, she was a nun, but at least Julianne of Norwich."

"OK, where do I and father come in? Even if he lives like a recluse nowadays, whenever ma gets on pilgrimage or monastic retreats, he is not even fully a believer, although he considers it."

Susan bit her lip in order to stop herself from saying: "that's my case too."

She actually answered:

"Got that, but ... you see, she thought it possible - or she listened to a conversation with Edmund who thought it possible that stars are in fact a kind of people and that that is why their movements look funny - like it seems the explanation you give is you-know-the-train-and-how-it-looks-like-the-trees-are-moving-when-you-look-out-from-the-window. Retrograde motion for planets and parallax and things like aberration too for the stars."

"Well, that is not what scientists have been reasoning from lately: to them, at least to most, stars and planets are dead matter and so they either move for reasons of either previous movement or gravitation or both or they seem to move because it's earth that moves in space with us. So, your late brother and sister thought otherwise?"

"Can you read her essay on that conversation in a secret writing she used, if I give you the alphabet, or do you need my rewriting of it in English letters?"

"If you have already rewritten it ..."

"I have!"

"Then I will look at the script later, if you don't mind. I am all for reading the essay, if you need no help with transcription."

"Ah, you know I do not!" Susan was as good as Dick when it came to deciphering scripts, and George knew it.

"Pulling your leg, will you serve me tea while I read?"

"Rather. But first take the essay."

She did. Susan went for a big pot of tea, sat down opposite George reading it, and they both had tea.

And after a while, George too had read Lucy's essay.

"A bit elaborate for just a game if you ask me!"

"How?"

"Well, would people gaming be referring to their game as something real when discussing philosophy, science and Christian confessional history?"

Susan was silent. She nodded.

"Especially if it was the kind of game you say of pretending to be kings and queens for the glamour of it. That is a bit more your line. You have a weakness for dresses and dancing if you ask me."

Oh boy, that blue dress she bought just after leaving off the black.

"Do you think they were mad?"

"Of course not! Madmen are not able to understand each other enough to get something together like that. But what is more, they reasoned with perfect calm except when Lucy got a bit impatient, and with perfect logic."

"Perfect logic? But you said scientists have not believed for centuries that stars are people or anything like that?"

"Well, not to judge from their published writings."

"So, they are saying something scientists have thought was bosh for centuries, but they still say it with very good logic?" Susan raised her eyebrows.

"Well, good logic and what scientists believe are two different concepts. Of course scientists try to use as good logic as they can, but if a thing simply is ignored by them - and stars being guys like Ramandu and Coriakin has been simply ignored, not argued about at all - then it is not a worse logic than that of the scientists to fill in the lacuna."

"Lacuna?"

"Like a piece lacking. You learn a foreign language - I've tried Cornish - and you lack a verb tense like the pluperfect or a word for some object, now that is a lacuna in your knowledge of that language. Here it is a lacuna in attention."

"Word sounds a bit like 'lagoon'?"

"Father uses that as a thumb rule: a lagoon is a lacuna of land within the coastline."

"OK, but even if scientists aren't thinking of everything, that doesn't mean they reason badly, does it?"

"It does, at least if what they leave out is a thing worth considering. If you enumerate all possibilities correctly, if all thinkable thoughts are there, and then you eliminate all except one, you have proven that one to be the truth. But if you leave out a possibility, you jump to conclusions when eliminating all but one of those you thought of, which may be one of two or three possibilities that you have not eliminated properly."