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(NOT INCLUDED IN THE NOVEL) — I wrote this as an introductory preface to the themes novel, but the publisher did not like it.  What do you think?

Out of the primordial we rise, our feet in mire, our film-filled eyes cast heavenward. Our beginnings are spent at orientation. Where are we? Who are we? What is our place on the pile? Our strengths are our defects. Our ability to understand cause and effect better than the slug or the lamb or the lion is pollinated by our need to understand more than we we are able, more than the filters that constrain us allow. Our ability to imagine and to extrapolate from what we can see that which cannot be seen allows us to construct brilliant realities, perfectly sufficient and perfectly wrong. In our need to understand we see the order and patterns of the world in constant conflict with the chaos and randomness of existence. We see the hand of a being greater, more complex and more powerful than ourselves. We see God at work on the stage and behind the scenes and are confronted with two equally obvious and equally awesome realities: God loves us and God hates us. We invent ways to amplify the love and to mollify the hate, offering rituals and sacrifices, sometimes at great cost to ourselves, but all the while doubting, when we allow ourselves to doubt, that God is even remotely aware of our existence. Driven by these strengths, these weaknesses, we organize, we discover, we invent and we build upon the organizations, discoveries and inventions of those who came before us, in fits and starts, in risings and fallings, learning more, understanding more, and making life better, in material ways at least, for ourselves and our descendants.

The Roman Empire, built on Greek learning and Etruscan might, dissolved north, south, east and west. We do not know what was lost and not recovered. We cannot separate their discovery from our rediscovery. We can only extrapolate from what we know that which might have once been known. We cannot even estimate the cost in terms of lives lost and dark years and human suffering. Civilizations rise and fall and leave but remnants that only hint at the reality of their existence. We see the comings and goings of empires as inevitable, as natural as the births and deaths of the individuals who populate them. So it was inevitable, necessary even, that the Roman Empire would fall. Yet the loss of its knowledge was not inevitable. The deliberate effort of discovery and creation was undone by the deliberateness of destruction. And, contrary to what we often believe, the deliberateness of destruction was not fueled by unwitting ignorance, but by the certain knowledge of the destroyers that they were doing the work of God.

All this was yet to come in 324 of the Common Era when a blind Gnostic missionary found himself inside a sumptuous brothel in Antioch in search of his muse, in search of the living embodiment of the goddess from whom all knowledge springs, in search of his Sophia.


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