Below is a lecture I delivered at the University of Glasgow in the autumn of 2014. I have included an extract from this lecture because its contents reveal a distinct redirection in my thought towards the ideologies of Payne; it is at this point in my research that I started to make vital connections between my academic career in atmospheric chemistry and the more esoteric psychedelic sciences that my dear friend had long been absorbed in. I will not include the entire lecture since, as it happens, I was jeered quite rudely off-stage by my colleagues halfway through its delivery. Attending the obligatory networking reception afterwards, I found that many of my jeering audience in fact had many questions regarding my research. Clearly I had tapped into an unspent well of curiosity. Many esteemed chemists and physical scientists admitted an interest in my areas of study, having their own anecdotal encounters with some of the phenomena I was trying to present. However, in the professional context of a lecture theatre, they could not risk their careers on the back of my superstitious science, as they called it. While some made jocular remarks about extraterrestrial phenomena, I went to great pains to outline my distinction between other-terrestrial and extraterrestrial in my talk. I advised them to consult some of my published work for further ideas.
Several glasses of wine in, a young woman approached me to say she had read Payne’s blog only a few weeks back and had quickly become enraptured. I was startled by her bright visage, her quick knowledge of the elements I had talked of. She was quite obsessed by Payne’s voice, that eloquent purple thread of discourse seemed to ripple through her mind. We sat beside one another at dinner and I slipped her a copy of Payne’s unpublished pamphlet, Steps towards an Archaeology of Twilight. I keep one with me at all times, just in case. He does not yet know that I had his thoughts printed, and alas he was not available for visiting during my brief stay in Scotland. It saddens me that perhaps he never knew how others appreciated the sublime sharpness of his penetrating mind. I wonder if this young woman, whose name I will keep safe from the dangerous theatre of publication, will ever read the pamphlet. I hope one day we may converse again on the specifics of all our intellectual suspicions, share the ways in which they have flourished in subsequent years. For I am quite certain the seeds of my discoveries--our discoveries--have already taken root in the great electric, pulsing earth. Knowledge is alive, I say! It knows no outer limit, for even if the special matrices of the daily are pushed aside, their image refracts upon the old mathematical sublime. Days follow days; endlessly, daily. We parted on good terms, after a hearty discussion of the Multiple Universe theorems she’s been squirreling away on her personal hard-drive. Something glowed when our fingers brushed at the bar, aligning our separate coins for tips. There it is, the subtlety of flesh and metal, ever proving its strange union!
Note: I assure you this is not a self-indulgent digression, but the encounter with this gifted lady--nay, visionary--partially re-ignited the spark of my faith that this project may garner real direction.
Transcript of a Lecture Presented on a Visit to the University of Glasgow in 2014
Ladies and gentleman, what I am about to present to you today concerns the work of a very dear friend, who resides in a very dear town proximate to this very university. My doctoral research, completed at this institution over 20 years ago now, focused on a sub-branch of atmospheric chemistry, then in its infancy. Much of the field has sadly been discredited in recent years, the alchemy of its time, but the kernels of truth remain firmly lodged in our present understanding of climate, spacetime and parochial air development. We are gathered here today to celebrate the work of this department, certainly, but my work is inclined to build bridges with other disciplines--sturdier bridges than have ever been built in the history of chemistry.
These are of course rather grandiose claims for a humble senior lecturer like myself to make, however I am convinced that my team and I in Missouri have made serious progress in yoking atmospheric studies with geology, history and what others have called the poetics of the physical. Now I am no Georges Bataille, no poet of the strange life. I do not believe in ghosts, but I believe in mysterious clouds; I believe the world holds myriad secrets in its shifting fronts, its dissipating mists. You folks of science, as they say in the States, may laugh with derision. But there are different approaches to this. While some believe in prising apart reality, shoving its contents under microscopes for dissection, I have developed a certain intellectual fondness for intuitive knowledge, the data that comes from a sort of attunement. It is a form of touch, a form of uncovering. Think of an engineer, discovering some new spark in the elaborate, twisting systems of his machine. The unpredictable kindling of various energies. A new development in the scheme of things, what the philosophers like to call ontology.
The objects I have studied. Numerous and peculiarly beautiful. Compounds held with fleeting joy in the scientist’s fingers. What showers outwards. Things look different in the lights and sounds and perspex of shadow. Conditions alter. We can trace their history in the specks of dust that coat the walls.
REDACTED: Specific object descriptions.
NOTE: I have left these out of the transcript to avoid further entanglement in legal issues surrounding the closure and subsequent sale of the Vital Materials store. It seems some of the artefacts being manufactured at the store were in fact patented although I have not yet traced any legal connections established by the store’s owners or any organisation to which they are attached.
My good friend, Mr. Douglas Payne, is interested in developing what he refers to as an ‘archaeology of twilight’. Twilight: the hour of evenfall, nebulous and vague as ever the shade of violet, lusher toned versions of blue which sweep shadow over the cities and hillsides. We employ this term intellectually as a metaphor for liminality, for the space between things and truths which we must dwell on as discoverers of otherness. That which lies beyond terra as we know it, yet exists among us--suspended between two versions of metaphysical being. A magnetism of withdrawn essence, shivering in the atomic miasma between two forms. I can direct you to numerous reports, essays and other documents which Payne and I have, in our separate ways, written to make sense of this method of discovery--or, as we prefer to call it, disclosure, the Heideggerian aletheia.
For now, however, I shall proceed to make sense of this approach algorithmically. You see there are formulas instating the possibility of non-contradiction’s rupture; the duality of presence within one existence. What is there and at once not-there. I refer now to the set-theory of Georg Cantor, connected to what I’m sure you all know as Julia’s fractals...