from chapter 20:
Suddenly, a terrible force grabs her. She gulps a deep breath and looks up. Sitting across from her is a strange man dressed in a Greek toga. He smiles and says, "I'm Achilles. Do you wish to hear how I beat the tortoise?"

Mary glances about. She is no longer in the Cow Palace; she is in a sunlit room. The walls are plain; on one wall hang ancient weapons of war. When in Greece do as the Greeks, she thinks. "Of course, I want to hear."

"Well, when I realized that the tortoise could never win, I knew I had time to discover a solution. You see, the tortoise can't win because it can never cross over the finish line. For the finish line is one dimensional; it has only length but no width. So the tortoise is stopped by the abyss of non-dimensional space. Let me show you." Achilles draws on a piece of paper.

finish line

"Anything stepping into the abyss will get lost forever because spatial coordinates don't exist there. How can you tell where you are unless you have some reference system? It's like being in a boat on the ocean without having any means for navigating. You just drift about. And in the abyss you drift for eternity.

"Now notice that the abyss separates three dimensional space. Since the abyss lacks a spatial dimension, the three dimensional space is actually contiguous. But the abyss does have the dimension of time. Here eternity exists. The present is." Achilles looks at Mary and smiles.

"But I didn't want to stay in the present. I wanted to win the race. That meant I must find the correct future--where I win. Again the question of coordinates arose--this time temporal ones. From my position in the present how could I determine the correct future?" Achilles laughs. He takes a small painted canvas and places it on the table. The painting is abstract--all red in color.

"What if this blotch of red represents the present. How does one even understand the idea of future, let alone select a particular future?"

(The reader may wish to try this experiment. Look at the empty square below. Leave it white or impose a color on it. Now put yourself into that space. When you're there, try finding the future. In fact, can you distinguish the present from either the future or the past?)


Mary loses herself in the red field. Distinctions do not exist there. All is one; all is red. She looks at her body, but it is not visible. Red is all she sees. Nor does she hear any sounds. But she can feel her body. Her feelings do exist and are distinct from the overpowering redness. And her feeling at the moment is to get out.

"You see what I mean," Achilles says. "The problem seems insoluble. It isn't, of course, because I won the race. Actually, the solution is simple and quite obvious."


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