Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon

Chapter 14

The Myth of Creation

A WALKER in mountainous country, lost in mist, and groping from rock to rock, may come suddenly out of the cloud to find himself on the very brink of a precipice. Below he sees valleys and hills, plains, rivers, and intricate cities, the sea with all its islands, and overhead the sun. So I, in the supreme moment of my cosmical experience, emerged from the mist of my finitude to be confronted by cosmos upon cosmos, and by the light itself that not only illumines but gives life to all. Then immediately the mist closed in upon me again.

That strange vision, inconceivable to any finite mind, even of cosmical stature, I cannot possibly describe. I, the little human individual, am now infinitely removed from it; and even to the cosmical mind itself it was most baffling. Yet if I were to say nothing whatever of the content of my adventure’s crowning moment, I should belie the spirit of the whole. Though human language and even human thought itself are perhaps in their very nature incapable of metaphysical truth, something I must somehow contrive to express, even if only by metaphor.

All I can do is to record, as best I may with my poor human powers, something of the vision’s strange and tumultuous after-effect upon my own cosmical imagination when the intolerable lucidity had already blinded me, and I gropingly strove to recollect what it was that had appeared. For in my blindness the vision did evoke from my stricken mind a fantastic reflex of itself, an echo, a symbol, a myth, a crazy dream contemptibly crude and falsifying, yet, as I believe, not wholly without significance. This poor myth, this mere parable, I shall recount, so far as I can remember it in my merely human state. More I cannot do. But even this I cannot properly accomplish. Not once, but many times, I have written down an account of my dream, and then destroyed it, so inadequate was it. With a sense of utter failure I stammeringly report only a few of its more intelligible characters.

One feature of the actual vision my myth represented in a most perplexing and inadequate manner. It declared that the supreme moment of my experience as the cosmical mind actually comprised eternity within it, and that within eternity there lay a multiplicity of temporal sequences wholly distinct from one another. For though in eternity all times are present, and the infinite spirit, being perfect, must comprise in itself the full achievement of all possible creations, yet this could not be unless in its finite, its temporal and creative mode, the infinite and absolute spirit conceived and executed the whole vast series of creations. For creation’s sake the eternal and infinite spirit entails time within its eternity, contains the whole protracted sequence of creations.

In my dream, the Star Maker himself, as eternal and absolute spirit, timelessly contemplated all his works; but also as the finite and creative mode of the absolute spirit, he bodied forth his creations one after the other in a time sequence proper to his own adventure and growth. And further, each of his works, each cosmos, was itself gifted with its own peculiar time, in such a manner that the whole sequence of events within any single cosmos could be viewed by the Star Maker not only from within the cosmical time itself but also externally, from the time proper to his own life, with all the cosmical epochs co-existing together. According to the strange dream or myth which took possession of my mind, the Star Maker in his finite and creative mode was actually a developing, an awakening spirit. That he should be so, and yet also eternally perfect, is of course humanly inconceivable; but my mind, overburdened with superhuman vision, found no other means of expressing to itself the mystery of creation.

Eternally, so my dream declared to me, the Star Maker is perfect and absolute; yet in the beginning of the time proper to his creative mode he was an infant deity, restless, eager, mighty, but without clear will. He was equipped with all creative power. He could make universes with all kinds of physical and mental attributes. He was limited only by logic. Thus he could ordain the most surprising natural laws, but he could not, for instance, make twice two equal five. In his early phase he was limited also by his immaturity. He was still in the trance of infancy. Though the unconscious source of his consciously exploring and creating mentality was none other than his own eternal essence, consciously he was at first but the vague blind hunger of creativity.

In his beginning he immediately set about exploring his power. He objectified from himself something of his own unconscious substance to be the medium of his art, and this he molded with conscious purpose. Thus again and again he fashioned toy cosmos after toy cosmos.

But the creative Star Maker’s own unconscious substance was none other than the eternal spirit itself, the Star Maker in his eternal and perfect aspect. Thus it was that, in his immature phases, whenever he evoked from his own depth the crude substance of a cosmos, the substance itself turned out to be not formless but rich in determinate potentialities, logical, physical, biological, psychological. These potentialities were sometimes recalcitrant to the conscious purpose of the young Star Maker. He could not always accommodate, still less fulfil them. It seemed to me that this idiosyncrasy of the medium itself often defeated his plan; but also that it suggested again and again more fertile conceptions. Again and again, according to my myth, the Star Maker learned from his creature, and thereby outgrew his creature, and craved to work upon an ampler plan. Again and again he set aside a finished cosmos and evoked from himself a new creation.

Many times in the early part of my dream I felt doubt as to what the Star Maker was striving to accomplish in his creating. I could not but believe that his purpose was at first not clearly conceived. He himself had evidently to discover it gradually; and often, as it seemed to me, his work was tentative, and his aim confused. But at the close of his maturity he willed to create as fully as possible, to call forth the full potentiality of his medium, to fashion works of increasing subtlety, and of increasingly harmonious diversity. As his purpose became clearer, it seemed also to include the will to create universes each of which might contain some unique achievement of awareness and expression. For the creature’s achievement of perception and of will was seemingly the instrument by which the Star Maker himself, cosmos by cosmos, woke into keener lucidity.

Thus it was that, through the succession of his creatures, the Star Maker advanced from stage to stage in the progress from infantile to mature divinity.

Thus it was that in the end he became what, in the eternal view, he already was in the beginning, the ground and crown of all things.

In the typically irrational manner of dreams, this dream-myth which arose in my mind represented the eternal spirit as being at once the cause and the result of the infinite host of finite existents. In some unintelligible manner all finite things, though they were in a sense figments of the absolute spirit, were also essential to the very existence of the absolute spirit. Apart from them it had no being. But whether this obscure relationship represented some important truth or was merely a trivial dream-fiction, I cannot say.

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30