A VISIT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF LIFE
8 August 1994, S Hartwell

Though not invited, we managed to sneak into the palace (an ornate edifice of red and yellow brick with soaring spires, reminiscent of Cambridge University's architecture) and walked down the long main corridor. To either side of us were doors, most of which were open as though inviting passers-by to enter. The open doorway on our right somehow led onto a beach where Zeus, in the form of a bull, was frolicking in the surf while goddesses watched, laughing, from the sands.

A little further along the corridor, to the left, Aristotle, in classical garb, was discussing the nature of happiness with a group of men and women in contemporary dress; each question they asked he deflected with a deeper question of his own, likewise each point they thought to score he queried. At length the students (for I felt that they were students) left, mulling over the questions.

In the room next to Aristotle's was a girl aged six or seven. She was painting on a canvas - magnificent swirling designs of enormous complexity which she had plucked from her imagination, but which I recognised as part of the Mandelbrot set, a chaos fractal. One of the colours on her palette was empty and she began to cry, because without it she could not complete her picture.

What was this building where the rooms inside were bigger than the building without? Where classical gods played and where Aristotle met people of my own time and outmatched them with his thinking? Where a young child painted images from a science she could neither imagine nor comprehend?

 

This dream had an intense feeling of being deep and meaningful, especially the child prodigy. Don't know why Aristotle should crop up and manage to confound modern people, but incredible sensation of there being a meaning I was not able to comprehend - presumably the reason I wasn't actually entitled to enter the building and had to sneak in. For some reason, some of the perfectly ordinary doors in the hallway opened into other worlds while others opened into ordinary rooms.

DRAGONQUEEN'S LAIR

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