The Pan-Continuum Gateway


Sometime in the 1990s, I placed, in a work of pop-culture fan fiction, a rainbow-y, swirly device that seemed original to me, a Pan-Continuum Gateway between all fictional universes, with rules and even an enforcement organization, to keep bad things from happening, bad things caused by creators of fiction who were unscrupulous. These creators of fiction were never seen, and the greater world I was creating that had this immensely copyright-infringing concept within it, with its principal characters and its characteristic concepts, sometimes dealt with what the characters called “Actual-Earth,” but held that in the kind of reverence that, well, that the created hold for their Creator, who lives in a realm they cannot violate or even touch.

Entirely unconnected to this, at least at first, this morning in the early hours, my dreams woke me up so that I could think about them. But it was not my mathematical study this time providing the ideas – though part of me truly wished it had been. This was a dream sequence of stories of various souls wandering in a department store or complex of stores. It started out with a version of me in a record store or department with in a larger store. Then it became another story, of another soul, and then it fragmented immediately prior to my waking up. Before fragmentation, the story of the other soul was that of a little soul. The child had lost its mother, or something like that, but was confused by what it was discovering in its search for the parent, for the home from which it was estranged. What confused the child was a set of sensory hints that the world was not as it seemed, and that this would have a tragic effect on the child’s ability to find mother and home – possibly because neither of them truly ever existed.

And I lay awake thinking about this, about the many, many fictional universes created along these “the world is not as it seems to be” lines, and the devices of mythology, fantasy, and science fiction we have developed that led to us being able to speak in such terms, and in the terms of the Pan-Continuum Gateway I cobbled together. I thought of how we can create “metaverses” and “multiverses,” and bind them in the same kind of substance – ink and writing surface – that houses the Constitution, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, The Joy of Cooking, and the MacBook Pro Quick Start Guide.

I thought further about how remote from the Pan-Continuum Gateway, or from any of it, the world of problems we need to fix, or the world of problems *I* need to fix, or at least to help fix, dwells: Actual-Earth. The world of Trump and Trumpism. The world of Corporate Personhood slow-walking accountability. The world of my own personal fiscal carelessness, and the daily super-tight budgeting I need to do lately. The immediate, real, inescapable world. The world where the winners are far more able to be and stay winners, and are vastly outnumbered by those of us who don’t win nearly so often, and who cannot protect our winnings so securely. Even those of us who bear many of the earmarks of privilege, and who are better off than many, many, many of whom we know.

Why do all those fictional worlds exist? Why did my brain come up with a Pan-Continuum Gateway and a Fictional Hero Protection Alliance to help manage them? What broke through to that little sad being who just wanted to find its mother, to get back to some comfort, letting it know that what it wanted to get back to never really existed? Why would you do that to something/someone you created? And how does this relate to Actual-Earth where a few writers who speak about these things got to live the good life and escape some of what so many other human beings could never escape?

Mommy, where are you, and why aren’t you?

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