You let the eschaton alone. It’ll come in its own good time.
—Competing grafitti noted in the neighborhood of I want to say Glastonbury
Set out, set out. —But there’s a couple of things that ought to be explained first, like how magic works; right now, I want to talk about a hitch in the body of time. Lord Fanny and King Mob, drawn by Jill Thompson, hanging out in a diner:
And it is, isn’t it? Getting faster. All the time.
But this has nothing to do with eschatons or apocalypses, armageddim or fifth suns. There’s no damn whirl; no damn pool. It’s all so much simpler than that. There’s just us, and here, and now, and the aforementioned body of time. —The thing about time being that your immediate, visceral sense of it, the time that has actually flowed over and past you, your experience of it, your experience, well, that time is always the same size and the same shape, once it’s set (and rather early on): it’s always the size of your life. (“No more, no less,” to tap another echo elsewhere.) As you get older, as you pack more hours and days and years into the same little box, each one is necessarily left with a smaller slice of the whole.
Pitiless, perhaps, but that’s math for you. —“See,” said my littler sister, when she told me this, “a year is like a twelfth of my life. But it’s like a twenty-fourth of yours.” Grinning like a canaried cat in the back seat. (She had every reason to, of course. Already my years were smaller, harder to see, easy to lose in the crowd. It’s only gotten worse.) —Of course everybody King Mob speaks to has been saying the same thing. Everyone ever has always said the same thing. It’s always already been getting faster.
Keep this hitch in mind, and you’ll be able to answer certain questions like a chuffed Robert Graves: why there’s always jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, for instance, and never jam today. Why every Golden Age is the same Golden Age, and where the Old Skool was; when the Eschaton will strike; where Armageddon will have been.
Forget it, and you fall prey to the anthropic fallacy—the lie of the one true only. Like a smug Frank Tipler, you’ll think that here and now is special because you’re here and now; you’ll think you can say for sure when the jam will arrive; you’ll believe it’s all finally coming to pass and in your time; you’ll know in your bones that time is actually getting faster, because every year to you seems shorter than the year before.
The funny thing about The Invisibles is that while the plot depends upon this fallacy—time really is speeding up, just as Fanny says; the age of the fifth sun is about to end in whirlpools and apocalypses, and the crowning of a dark Lovecraftian king in Westminster Abbey during a solar eclipse—but the point of The Invisibles is precisely opposite: we all immanentize the way we die: alone. Our initiation is always already about to begin; it’s never not the Day of Nine Dogs, and Gideon’s last phone call is the same as Wally Sage’s, to tap another echo, elsewhere again. (Or Jack Frost, with Gaz in his lap. —Of course there’s a plot! Of course the plot must have such a ridiculous, action-packed climax! It’s all a game, remember? Sucked from an ærosol can. Go back and play it again!) —The fact that you’re in the here and now doesn’t make this here, this now any more special than any other slice of eternity—except, that is, of course, to you. And every hour that passes you by makes every other hour that much the smaller, the faster, much faster, until they never let us out ten blocks later.
—Thus, the hitch in the body of time.