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Objects On The Horizon May Appear Larger Than They Are

Sunday, 26 November 2017

I've particularly noticed this when reaching the top of the hill in central Brighton (Powis Road for anyone interested). The ground drops away alarmingly at this point, Montpelier Street plunging down towards Western Road, the buildings on the sea front beyond silhouetted against the sparkling wall of the sea. And on a clear day (like today) you can clearly see the massed ranks of the turbines of the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm perched on the horizon.

From here they look enormous, especially given how far away they must be. They dominate the view. Photographs taken of them from this vantage point are oddly disappointing though and when you eventually reach the seafront you find out why.

From the beach the turbines look tiny - miniature splinters barely visible against the vast expanse of sea. What happened? If anything you're closer to them now, so they should look even more impressive.

I suspect the view from the beach is the one closest to reality. From the top of the hill you can compare them with the buildings you know on the sea front which loom larger in your mind than they actually do on your retina. From the beach all you can compare them to is the sea and it becomes clear that for all their impressive size on paper they are insignificant when compared to their environment, for all that they would tower over the city if placed within it.

Part of me wonders if this is an analogy for life. Viewed from within ourselves we vastly overestimate our importance to the world and our significance in it whereas in fact when it comes down to it each of us is about as significant as a lone wind turbine in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

We can't really be blamed for this though. The point of view from within ourselves is the only one we have and no matter how much logic argues the case for our insignificance (and no matter how much we may agree with it intellectually) the reality of our existence is lit up from the centre of our self, our mind a lighthouse beam illuminating the portion of space-time in which our consciousness is located from a unique vantage point. No two views are ever the same. The closest we can ever get to climbing someone else's lighthouse is reading a book written in the First Person or (like Comeback) in the Third Person Limited.

Genie is the only person whose thoughts we are privileged to in the novel. This is her world, her lighthouse. And then when she ventures into the afterlife, it's her Underworld too. As a metaphysical realm, the Underworld depicted here is more sensitive to the thoughts and points of view of those who enter it. This means that—for all that it must contain billions of souls—Genie's experiences there are always going to be related to her own life. And may involve unfinished business.

Unfinished biscuit.

Of course you will be able to find out how Genie resolves this unfinished business (and eats the unfinished biscuit) when we hit our target. The fundraising is now over a quarter of the way there and pledges are still coming in. We could always do with more though, so if you enjoyed reading this, have a look at the extracts on this site and if you enjoy them too, why not pledge? That would be fantastic.

A lot of you reading this will have already pledged—thank you very much! While you're here can I perhaps ask that you please try and talk others into it too? If each of you persuaded only one person to take the plunge at the lowest pledge level it would still make a huge difference.  Together we can do it.

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