Echoes in Time

Background notes for the first book of the Echoes Trilogy by Jake Jackson

Echoes in Time. Chapter One: Note 32. Sufism

‘Haalima was smiling beatifically at everyone (if a son of a Sufi is allowed to smile beatifically)’

An early and important sign about one of the themes in the book. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam. It focuses on visions and has specific views about the Absolute and the impossible attainment of Oneness. It has philosophical links with Taoism which is at the core of the being-not-being, ‘action without action’ theme. Although Haalima is central to the modern day story, he a relatively passive figure in the book but his father Seyed is a central player in the bigger story. Later we come to understand much more about Sufism as Seyed struggles to reconcile his everyday life with his past and his obligations to his duties.

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Echoes in Time. Chapter One: Note 31. Hadron Collider

‘“Come on Science boy, tell us about the Hadron Collider.”

“What?”

“You know, CERN, the Big Bang experiment, they found the God Particle!” Adikavi was exasperated by Ed’s lack of interest in the magazine that occupied his working hours.’

The Hadron Collider is the large experimental structure created underground, running from Switzerland to Italy. It is CERN’s (the European Organization for Nuclear Research. CERN is the acronym from the French Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) latest attempt to recreate and understand the conditions of the early universe. This is achieved by firing particles from opposite ends of a gigantic horseshoe-shaped particle accelerator and studying the effects of the explosion when the particles crash into each other at immense speeds. The most successful and momentous search was achieved recently when evidence of the Higg’s Boson (the so-called ‘God particle’) was detected by two independent teams, the first physical evidence since Professor Peter Higgs predicted its theoretical existence in 1963.

In the context of Echoes in Time,  the introduction of Hadron Collidor, and the subsequent naming of the band in its honour, should make the reader think about what this it is and wonder why it appears here. It prefigures the later discussions about creation, photon escapes and the gravity well of the black holes. The search for events at the beginnings of the universe is a scientific preoccupation, and a major one for Echoes in Time.

Echoes in Time. Chapter One: Note 30. Maeve’s Twin.

‘Her short, flattering vest lifted slightly to reveal the tip of an intricate tattoo, twin serpents lurking at the hip bone on her left side. Peripherally she followed the line of his sight and noted its primal quest.

“My sister,” she poked at one of the serpent’s heads, then the other, “and me. We were, are twins.”’

An early indication of Maeve’s role in the book. Some mis-direction going on here because serpents are not simply the bad-guys, in Babylonian mythology they fight for the older gods against the matricide of the new gods.

This is almost the only mention of Maeve’s sister, until the very end. It is a source of bitterness in Maeve and drives much of her action. This sub-story is unstated in the first book but there are hints in the poetry which reveals the isolation that Maeve feels, and the reasons for some of her behaviour.

Echoes in Time. Chapter One: Note 29. Maeve’s ‘wrists face down’.

‘He talked into her neck, her feral fragrance intoxicating him. Then he decided that he needed to be seen to listen: in his experience this was always a good tactic. As Maeve talked idly about her work he watched the line of her lush and beautiful lips, noting how seductively they articulated the open vowels. He looked at her slender arms, down to her wrists face down on the counter.’

Maeve is wild, her main focus is seduction. This pre-figures the Tale of Aed, and the Leanan Sidhe who is effectively her avatar. The Leanan Sidhe is very single-minded about her motivations and her needs. However, as we find out a little later Maeve is actually febrile and brittle. Note that her wrists are placed face down. She cuts herself. A not-so-subtle hint at some underlying issues. Related, of course to the trauma of separation from her twin. Hopefully the reader will see the links here.

Echoes in Time. Chapter One: Note 28. Maeve is Older.

‘She was several years older than Finn’s other friends, in her late twenties, and had the sensual confidence that comes with these extra few years of experience. The attraction for a man of Finn’s ego was clear.’

This is a hint about the identity of the person next to Luz in the coma from the beginning of the book. Also, this ties her in as a possible suspect for the poisoning of Maria. Her age puts a slight distance between her and the rest of the group of friends. Maeve is not a sexual predator, but feels comfortable within the strict boundaries of flirtation and sexual attraction. Beyond, she is lost and agitated.

Echoes in Time. Chapter One: Note 27. Hampstead

‘Adikavi kept his counsel beneath a fine cut jaw decorated by achingly clean teeth. Watching all around, as though making mental notes beneath his dark eyebrows and high cheek bones, he knew how to play the game. His parents lived nearby, just above one of their shops (the other one was in Hampstead), so this bar was close enough to delay his return home.’

Adi’s parents are quietly important in the book. Ostensibly ‘normal’ they appear at the very end and play a significant part in Adi’s role as mediator between time events. Later, Luz visits Adi’s parent’s shop in Hampstead to get the milk for his breakfast at his father’s house, and close to the end, Benedict and Seyed head towards it too when leaving Connor’s house after the rending of the Covenant and the return to a form of normality.

Echoes in Time. Chapter One: Note 26. Maeve

‘Maeve, perched on a high stool, smiled knowingly, but allowed herself to be charmed.’

Maeve from the Gaelic or old Irish name Medb meaning ‘intoxicating’. In the Irish legends of the Books of Invasions Medb was the warrior queen of Connacht who planned the death of the hero Cúchulainn. She is a complicated character, at once both wild and anxious, passionate and cold. In Echoes in Time Maeve is associated with the Leanan Sidhe who seduced the great guardian Aed and, for a while, consumed his fire. She highlights the weakness of humanity, and its corrupting effect on the spirit, on Ka.

Echoes in Time. Chapter One: Note 25. Finn, Ed and Adi

‘Finn, distinctively an alpha male, had walked in to the bar, with his friends Ed and Adikavi.’

Our first introduction to these key characters. Their names, of course, have meanings, although Finn’s Irish name meaning ‘hero’ is intentionally self-regarding and ironic. Adikavi is Indian, his name in Sanskrit means ‘first poet’, being the mythological name of the author of the core poetic-philisophical-historical text of ancient India, the Ramayana. Edmund is solidly English,  his anglo-saxon name means ‘defender’. If the reader is alive the meaning of the names they will pick up early clues to the direction of the book. Ed is indeed a defender, but of what?

Echoes in Time. Chapter One. Note 24. A Moment of Creation

‘Late into the night they would drink and talk poetry, liberation, new bands, new art. And there they met Haalima, and Finn, Maeve, Ed, Faye, Adikavi and Mologu. And Luz of course. This gestating group was brought together at Mau Mau’s, where Ramona and Alex had begun to gig. One evening, a Moroccan boy they had seen in the bar many times jumped onto the mini stage, with a small djemba drum and some shakers. Haalima turned out to be a brilliant percussionist and gave their playing sudden depth and a touch of intimacy. This modest young man teased out their playing, their extended jams began to take on a structure and the Mau Mau crowd started taking more notice.’

This is the act of creation that we see later in the fragments, Haalima is a catalyst, another element that changes the forms of Alex and Ramona, into a single more powerful force and from this further expansion, growth occurs, like an expanding universe. This is a conscious modern world echo of the themes laid out in the fragments and helps lay the foundations for the interweaving of time and space at the end of the book.

Echoes in Time. Chapter One: Note 23

‘The villa forgives the family its lack of respect for the siesta. La Guarda, near the birthplace of Luz’ mother, would willingly suffer such indignities for the honesty and liveliness of Connor, Maria and their son. It feeds survival, it creates futures.’

The villa is anthromorphised, Schopenhaur’s Will manifests through inanimate as well as animate objects. This is an early statement of Connor, Maria and Luz as forces for good in the book, acknowledged by a dispassionate, inanimate object which, being a bundle of particles and without consciousness, is a part of the greater universe, from which Ka originates, as the Noumen.