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Parabola as a question.

"That's not the lens you see in your hand: it's a rose. A white rose. No: a red rose. You think: It's difficult with all these colours. No: a squirming serpent! [...] Just before the snake disappeared, you thought you heard it hiss something. A word. A name. 'Parabola'?"

- an experiment with a Nephrite Lens

"'Parabola'? What is 'Parabola'? And why are their faces so grim when they say the word?"

-a pair of special constables

"'Will we find the Trapped King? [...] Is this Parabola?"

- a blindfolded girl in a dream of earthquakes

"Your horse turns and offers to take you somewhere safe. 'Parabola?', he says."

- a dream of assassination and flight

"A full third of the messages mention mirrors. And what on earth is the Parabola?"

- a series of interceptions in the Flit

"The place is the nearest thing to the mythical Parabola you've yet come across, and that in itself will startle London."

- notes on the Grunting Fen

"'They clash. They hate. They strike. Masters. They use us in their war.' You are close to finding something out here, but a cat's voice in your ear sends the wind spinning away. 'Yes,' it says. 'Foolish thing. Came to it. Why? In Parabola. No point asking me. I'm just a cat.'"

- what the Thunder said

"The jungle crouched, humped in silence [...] You know where it is? You know Parabola? Where the stones are seeds and the trees birth stone? Where the serpent gnaws the roots? Where the apple waits unclaimed?"

- Dr Schlomo on mirrors and nightmares

Paths to Parabola.

"This, too, is a map [...] A map of history, perhaps. A map of the territories of greed, certainly. A map to Parabola, possibly. Fair's fair."

- a Dust-Soaked Confidante

"... the Theorem tried to escape into Parabola, the realm of Is-Not and its adoptive home, but the Truthbreaker Turbine's assault blinded and deafened it long enough that you could imprison it... here. On this slate. With this chalk."

- an Impossible Theorem

"He covets the honeyed roads into Parabola: he and Spices have fought over them for centuries, since their colleague was cast down."

- a meeting with Mr Wines in a possible future

"This place is very close to Parabola. The Rosers showed us the way. I don't know if any of them still exist. Perhaps only in the space between day and dawn. But I love the scent of their flowers. I love it so."

- an Unlikely Gardener of the Nadir

"The light is strong. And I think that Parabola must be close in this place. Often I smell roses. I see a child, and a great cat. They wait for me to dream."

- a voice in the Nadir

"You swing on the heavy spar [...] The gilded shell waits always to carry you down stream, past the white towers of Parabola."

- Dr Schlomo in a consultation

"No, no. Create illusions? Why would we want to do that? No, no. We just twist the mirrors. The audience see what they want. We’re the… it’s like Bugsby’s Marshes, see. Smuggling brandy. [...] We’re like the fellers at the edge of the dock with a lantern, do you see? The Fingerkings are the chaps bringing it in. Taking it out again. Only top hats and rabbits, not barrels. Why do we get through so many? Well, it’s not like the postal service. They don’t always end up where you expect them. Somewhere in Parabola, there’s probably a dirty great pile of them!"

- the magician Jonesion

"It claims to remember when the Cantigaster was 'his real self, before the asp bit and the pact was sealed. That's why they won't abide talk of that place, you know. She's still there, though, isn't she? Sending him to Parabola when she wants, no doubt.'"

- a deep pond of Grunting Fen

"The marks on the rock are each a sign pointing dreamwards. This is Parabola."

- a realization in the Nadir

Parabola as a dream-space.

"Parabola is the enemy-kingdom. The Judgements determine what is. Parabola’s citizens are Is-Not. Sunlight destroys them, starlight corrodes them. Dreams come at night. Dreams thrive in the Neath. The Judgements cannot see – "

- a Searing Enigma

"Here is a glimpse of the Menagerie of Roses, where the dreamers never see the tops of the walls. Here is the Castle of Forests (white trees in darkness or black bark in snow?) Here is the Daughter's dream, rising gold into the Parabola-space. They hunger for her, the citizens of Parabola, but they can never touch sunlight."

- a vision in the Nadir

"It was once thought that dreams were the product of nature, of the mind itself. But the sensations that accompany certain kinds of dreams are so common to all men that I cannot but conclude that they are sharing in a commonality of experience in a common space. I shall describe this conclusion further in the chapter on Parabola."

- the writings of Dr Schlomo

Parabola as a place of reflection.

"Games of war, struggles played out like games. The coloured stone. Cities lost to bats or battle. The parabola of dreaming underlies the plane of meaning. There are points at which they touch, you see?"

- Dr Schlomo on chess

"Parabola is ringed by the flat horizon. If we cross that horizon, we might meet ourselves, no? Or at least our own shadows."

- Dr Schlomo on matters of subtlety

"The mirror. The archetype of the soul. The primal Narcissism. The... ahem... love... of Self. The wish for understanding. The vampire. The other Self. The leaves of Parabola. Vials of ivory and colored glass."

- Dr Schlomo on the Glass

The history of Parabola.

"Out there in the night are the forge of souls, the dragons which consume time, the egg that hatched Parabola."

- a dream of the Road

"After the frosty silence in the gardens of Parabola [...] you must have a little patience. Consider those who are considered messengers. Remember the crime they witnessed. Who will speak for the thunder."

- Dr Schlomo on matters of understanding

"I remember when these were every girl's dream [...] And every boy's. It was quite a thing. Parabola changed. There were rivers of molten brass. Rivers..."

- a secretary presenting a Brass Ring

"This evening, Silas is a surprise. He arrives gravely sober, in immaculate evening-dress. He conducts an hour-long lecture on the wars of the Fourth City: the battles they conducted against the Motherlings who worshipped spiders, the Rosers and their patrons in Parabola, and the Copper with their black knives and butterfly-gods."

- a summation of a salon

"They went where we all went [...] And where you will go. All you of the Fifth City. Across the sea, into Parabola, into dust."

- an Unlikely Gardener on the fate of the Rosers

"They summoned me to confirm me as their Huntsman. In fact, I have always been their Huntsman. History in Parabola is mutable. When I complete my plan, I'll always have been something quite different."

- a dream of a Wednesday in Parabola


The Neath is closer to Parabola than the Surface, the Nadir (the lowest point) closest of all. The neath is, according to the Elemental Secret, ‘the place where Earth places the memories that shame her.’ Because Parabola is a realm of what Is-Not, it can stand in opposition to -- or at least seclusion from -- the Judgments, who determine what Is. It is therefore a fine place for a criminal to hide, or for a star-crossed lover to nurture a dream of possibility. When discussing Parabola, Doctor Schlomo asks us to consider ‘those who are considered messengers’ (the Bazaar is also the Courier) and ‘the crime they witnessed’ (Unlicensed Love).

Mr Wines and Mr Spices compete over the ‘honeyed roads into Parabola’ but they were once the domain of a master who is now Eaten.

[a collaborative document can be found here; use it to share your own quotes, correspondences, and speculations.]


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September 2015

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