By the time we’d published a few issues of The Jamais Vu Papers newsletter, we’d talked with several brilliant and open-minded people, posing nosy questions about the nature of reality, Story, and just what we think we’re doing in this tangle of phenomena that we call a universe.
Then an entity named Llixgrijb turned up in our story.
We thought we were making him up.
We were wrong.
Here’s the premise:
Living in a reality of which we know nothing, an entity named Llixgrijb becomes trapped alone in an extra-dimensional cave-in. The entity is faced with the inexorable prospect of untold purgatorial eternities of infinite loneliness and boredom. What would you do if you were Llixgrijb? We ventured a guess:
“You’d create worlds in your imagination, worlds within yourself. You’d create universes with exotic dimensions no one ever dreamed of before. You’d become strange creatures, and share the company of other such creatures. You’d try to make these realms and beings so real you could completely forget the horror and boredom of your real situation.”
So Llixgrijb created a world—our world, in fact. Real though we may imagine ourselves to be, we are nothing but intricately flawed manifestations of Llixgrijb’s imagination. Our reality worked out nicely for Llixgrijb—an entertaining distraction from its cosmic plight. But Llixgrijb had one worry. The entity knew that if any one of us illusory mortals should become aware of its existence, the splendid fantasy would vanish. So how could Llixgrijb keep this from happening?
The answer was so obvious that you’ve probably guessed it already:
“It created a character so obtuse, so unimaginative, so dull and mechanistic that it could never figure out its own true dilemma.”
That’s right—Llixgrijb had to incarnate in the form of a college English instructor. Thus was created Llixgrijb’s alter-ego, Professor Joseph Xavier Brillig, the most obtuse academic in the histories of a bazillion universes. Having no idea of his true identity, Brillig joined our cast of characters.
We were a little worried about Llixgrijb. Was the whole idea too silly for reader consumption? Would our newsletter be scoffed out of existence? Or to the contrary, might the very concept of Llixgrijb put reality itself in perpetual danger of unraveling?
It seems that the latter was the case. We started getting the message when Wim visited physicist Fred Alan Wolf, hoping to interview him for the newsletter. Wim warily started telling Wolf all about Llixgrijb, bracing himself for a reaction of impolite incredulity.
“Oh, you don’t have to tell me about Llixgrijb,” Wolf said. “I’ve known Llixgrijb for years. Let me tell you all about Llixgrijb.”
The National Book Award-winning physicist then went on to describe Llixgrijb in intimate detail. Thus was confirmed the independent reality of a creature we thought we’d invented.
Llixgrijb escaped from the story. It wandered away and remains at large today. Decades after we first created (or discovered?) the entity who dreams our reality into being, Llixgrijb continues to crop up in the infoworld. We’ve come across Llixgrijb …
… writing a blog …
… playing music …
… tweeting …
… playing chess …
The lesson is this: Never underestimate the power of Story to alter the nature of reality. Alas, the lesson came with dire consequences. With so many mortals aware of Llixgrijb’s existence, how can our reality—time, space, matter, energy, mortal consciousness, the whole enchilada—continue to exist? Llixgrijb might zap us out of existence at any second.
Indeed, that outcome seems all too probable …
… perhaps even inevitable.