A morning spent in furious thought and research. Beslippered and with my feet up on a giant burnt sienna cushion, I slipped through the first ten chapters of Gene Wolfe’s THE SHADOW OF THE TORTURER, frowning and squinting and trying to see how he got the little ball under the third cup when I swore it was under the second. Then, prompted by a thought, I yanked out a behemoth of a tome entitled THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY and reread the section on Manicheasim. Pondered. Mused. Dug out my copy of Wolfe’s CASTLE OF DAYS, and reread his essays on the creation of THE SHADOW, trying to dig beneath the surface. Trying to understand. To see.

Mused further. In a moment of idleness I then summoned Byron’s DARKNESS from the internet, and reread that. Selected the following as a potential epigraph:

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air

Found that to my satisfaction, and saved it in a Notepad file. I have, in the course of such musings, neglected all else. Still, I feel as if I am but glimpsing a distant mountain through wreathes of clouds, catching but hints of slopes and ravines, the peak firmly hidden. How far back should I begin? How much rewriting of world history needs be done? Mythology–what would be highlighted as a result? Swirling thoughts and questions. How does a sun die? White dwarfs, super novas, the slow millennial dwindle.

Looked up concatenate and urticate in the dictionary.

All this background noise and yet there is no central character to hold the stage, no protagonist. What comes first, the tale or the hero? The plot or the character, the sweep of the setting or the drama that unfolds within it?

Oh Mani, you sly dog you.