The luminar is a TEOEOT-like device with a human-in-the-loop interface which enables resimulations and simulation of counterfactual branches, first described in Eumeswil, where it is used primarily for historical research. The luminar has consumed the frozen traces of deep time, or the "catacombs", reverse-engineers its generators, and (re-)animates history as an interactable dynamic world through "intuitive improvisation".
quotes about the luminar
I can enjoy “Intuitive Improvisations” at the luminar; for generations, important minds must have hoarded and shaped the material of world history in the catacombs.
Such things are possible during long periods of security, especially when they are played as a game. A passion for the archival and a eunuch-like chinoiserie add to the fun – as does fear of annihilation and also of universal wars. The archives of the Vatican would fill only a niche there.
I often wonder what this archivistic instinct is aiming at. It seems to transcend any historical intention.
First, literature. What we call a “source” is actually fixed, an era's sediment in its written signs. But just one hammer blow, and the water spurts from the rock.
A letter of the alphabet also contains an immediate secret, like the corals in the petrified reef. The molecules have remained as they were shaped by life and they can be reanimated.
A supratemporal core can be discovered in matter and liberated from it. These are resurrections. Here, the view leads beyond knowledge – indeed, beyond art – to the high noon of the present. The hand that wrote the text becomes one's own. At the same time, quality becomes less important; the drama of history is woven entirely from the yarn of the Norns. The distinctions are created by the interplay of the folds, not by the cloth. People used to say, “Before God all are equal.”
An inserted question may be: “Re: rue Saint-Honoré. Who aside from Robespierre lived in the house of the cabinetmaker Duplay? What became of him and of Eléonore? Extract from the 1789 speech in which Robespierre demanded that the National Assembly abolish slavery in the colonies and capital punishment in the kingdom itself. How high were the towers of the Bastille?”
And so forth. The apparatus spits out the answers in the required format. The height of the Bastille was seventy-three feet and three inches. Almost no light fell into its courtyard. The promenade on the towers was better; it was considered a privilege.
As for Duplay, there is no need to leaf through the property records and address cadastres – he is instantly found among ten thousand namesakes in the central population register. If he has even the slightest importance, then references lead to further indexes – say, the Archives of Correspondence or the bibliographies. A petrified memory, tremendous – and on the other hand, the sphinx that responds.
So much for the transmission of texts and their combination. The Tower of Babel was dismantled brick by brick, quantified, and rebuilt. A question-and-answer game leads to the upper stories, the chambers, the details of its appointments. This suffices for the historian who practices history as a science.
However, the luminar offers more. Not only was an encyclopedia of inconceivable dimensions created in the catacombs, it was also activated. History is not only described, it is also played. Thus, it is summoned back into time; it appears in images and persons. Both scholars and artists must have been at work, even clairvoyants who peered into crystal balls. At midnight, when I call up one of the great scenes, I am directly participating in what is virtually a conjuration.
Certainly there are objections. My dear dad generally refuses to employ this part of the luminar; it offends his sense of historical precision. But then how precise is historiography – say, Plutarch's? The great speeches of kings and generals before a battle? Was he present? He must have put the words into his heroes' mouths. And why not? Besides, I often hear better things from the luminar. And the sources of the era that introduced speaking machines are terribly meager.
Both the texts and the spectacles in the luminar are beneficial to my study of anarchy, which is my secret focus. I summon the leading and marginal figures of theoretical and applied anarchism from The Banquet of the Seven Sages to the dinamiteros and bomb-throwers of Paris and Saint Petersburg.
Let me make a general comment on the luminar. Whenever people appear in the spectacle, remarks and replies are put into their mouths, often brilliantly. However, the catacombs must have an elite that tries to reach further. The people are supposed to answer on their own! This would not be altogether impossible, even technologically; it would constitute a supreme level of automatism.