Wednesday, January 02, 2019


THE GENERALIST has been taking much-needed R&R leave to get body and mind back in some sort of good shape, clearing the mind to a sheet of white paper, taking time to listen to Satie, allowing oneself space for deep consideration  and contemplation of one's past pathway in life leading to this point. Walking round the town with an open mind, arms spread to welcome fresh ideas. Looking for clues as to where life might lead next.

Drawn to cross the HIgh Street to scan the small second-hand book tables outside Bow Windows bookshop in Lewes. Many unexpected treasures have been discovered here over the years. A column of paperbacks, spine upwards. 'Gabriel's Law' - the title of one modest volume caught my eye and I was hooked straight off when I read the cover pitch: A Quest For The Ordering Principle At The Heart of All Things'. It was only £1 despite being in mint condition and published in 2018. Bingo.

I sat down to read it straight away that afternoon and evening. It's satisfying and thought provoking and just the very thing that I needed to read. The title has the ring of 'Foucault's Pendulum' and attracts me for the same reasons- something arcane about hidden secrets.

The book takes an unsual form. First an excellent intro by Max Brown, the book's editor who also runs Joseph Johnston Publisher, named after the legendary namesake and publisher of the past. Joseph Johnson (1738-1809) was responsible for promoting the work of several prominent writers whose works were considered to be too radical for conventional publication at the time, including Joseph Priestley, Erasmus Darwin, Mary Wollstonecraft and Thomas Paine.

The book's author Benedict Rattigan presents his hunt for the 'ordering principle' in the form of journal entries that document, in short bursts, his long and tangled journey over many years, attempting to try and to understand and uncover this elusive goal and write a book about it. It's an intriguing and well-written read.

The book's second section takes the form of a court hearing to look at the evidence for allowing humans the opportunity of sharing higher thoughts with the gods. Gabriel is the advocate for the motion, who  calls to the stand a a sequence of distinguished speakers from many cultures and different periods of past time, to back up his arguments, The alternative arguments are made by Azrael with a Judge mediating the proceedings.

My senses were further stimulated when I examined the physical book I had bought for £1, in more detail. For a start, I discovered that the title page was autographed in pen by both the author and editor.

Even more unexpected were the hand-written pencil inscriptions on the inside back cover. At the bottom it reads:  'This is the first copy of the first edition' At the top, in capitals, is written the word  OPHIUCUS  which I discovered has been called the "13th sign of the zodiac". However, this confuses sign with constellation says Wikipedia which reports that it is 'a large constellation straddling the celestial equator. Its name is from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος Ophioukhos; "serpent-bearer", and it is commonly represented as a man grasping a snake'. 

Rightly or wrongly, I felt that the universe was sending me a message.

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