Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chapter Two, Now With Excerpt

I am about 1000 words into Chapter Two ("Elsinore"); I managed to write on the bus ride home last night and again at lunch today. Horatio and Hamlet are discussing Nunc Scio Mysterium, the book Horatio has written, and whether it is treasonously heretical or merely hypothetical. In a moment they'll talk about horoscopes. And then, I think, they'll talk about women. I haven't really decided but it seems like a good time.

wordcountometer = 4,457

I have decided to give my chapters titles taken from lines in the chapters themselves. So I'll be discovering the titles as I write the book. Excitement! Chapter One is called "Jupiter Descending" and Chapter Two is called "Even the Heavens Change." I roolz.

Also, excerpt from Chapter Two:

“I am always happy to please the king,” I said.

“Your book will not please my father.”

I had written a short volume called
Nunc Scio Mysterium, in which I contrasted the weaknesses of received wisdom with the strengths of observable data, and predicted a time to come where inquiry would trump folklore and tradition. I displayed the future as a bold vista and revealed the past for the storeroom of broken ideas that it is. Though I could not mention his name in my book, it had been my old master Tycho who had demonstrated that this philosophy did better service to God and man than did blindly following Aristotle and Ptolemy. The book had not been published yet but I had circulated the manuscript among some of my educated friends, including Prince Hamlet.

“There is nothing in my work to distemper the king,” I said.

“In some readings, it challenges everything that stands.” Hamlet leaned forward to whisper. “Lord Polonius hath seen it, you know. He intimates that he wishes a word in your ear about it.”

“Against it?”

“Very like. Polonius says you condemn the rights of kings.”

“Polonius misreads me.”

“Then so do I.”

I looked out over the water, at the northern coast of Zealand. Our ship was bound for the easternmost point of the island, for the town of Elsinore where I had been born, to the region where I had been a boy. Elsinore was but thirty miles from Copenhagen, a city of sophistication and culture, but it had always seemed to lie in some remote century, in a time of primitive ignorance. Elsinore was the king’s favorite place in Denmark.

“My lord,” I said. “My book only observes that what we see is to be more trusted than what we are told without evidence.”

“That is a dangerous statement. And heretical in some eyes. I know that you write merely of astronomy and the natural philosophies, but men will read it as a political commentary. The Devil is the prince of lies, Horatio. We must put our faith in our kings and our church, for we know truth lies therein.”

“Truth lies all around us! The Wise Men followed the stars to find the Redeemer, my lord. I also follow the stars, for careful and accurate observation of the universe will lead us to prosperity and happiness. I am an astronomer because by looking at heaven, I see the earth.”

“Brahe used to say that. I remember. You ought not quote him on my father’s ship. This book of yours may be read by men such as Fortinbras, who will see it as an excuse for change. Is that what you intend?”

“My lord, it is in the nature of nature to change.”

“It is in the nature of nature to remain as God hath made it.”

“Even the heavens change, my lord.”

And stuff.


  1. They talked about eels in Chapter One. There will be more about eels in a later chapter. Maybe at the end of Act 4.

  2. Sorry I must have missed that.

    I don't know if you would be interested but I'm posting a little excerpt tomorrow from Remembering You.

  3. The eels come later than the excerpt I posted earlier.

    I'll look for your own prose tomorrow! Coolness!

  4. "My book only observes that what we see is to be more trusted than what we are told without evidence."

    “My lord, it is in the nature of nature to change.”

    “It is in the nature of nature to remain as God hath made it.”

    “Even the heavens change, my lord.”

    You know, I tend to joke with you about how brilliant you are, but now that I've really gotten a look at this, well, I can't deny it, you're fucking brilliant.

    And let me tell you, my stuff reads like a trashy romance compared to this. (Although it's supposed to be women's fiction.)

  5. Nice. I love the title of the book. Is the non-published status a parallel to your own work? It sounds like mine--circulated among some of my friends. =)

    Why did you do the excerpt in italics? I found it harder to read that way.

  6. Lois: I'm sure it's no surprise that I thought of you when I was titling Horatio's book. I always put excerpts in italics here; it just seems like the right thing to do. I regret any eyestrain it causes.