CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
|Excerpts from the Glossary for A Practical History of Dr. Horatio Bergen’s Experiments in Time Travel
Absence of Time: For the purposes of this volume, references to an absence of time primarily address a subject’s lack of an internal perception module by which humans experience the passage of time. According to Dr. Hannah Marie Gedeon, such modules can be damaged or otherwise upset as a result of time travel. As part of her theory, Dr. Gedeon proposes that, were a subject’s intrinsic time-perception module modified or damaged in a particular manner, said person would experience time nonlinearly, meaning all moments in time at which that person was or will be present, and that exist within space-time, would be accessible to the subject’s conscious mind.
Absence of Time Tourists: In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, physicists argued that time travel was impossible, citing the fact that neither past nor present people had records of encountering time tourists from the future. This argument was made most famously by Stephen Hawking, a respected physicist on whose work much of the foundation for time travel was built. Hawking’s argument failed to account for the caution time tourists might take in concealing themselves during their journeys to the past. The editors of this volume believe it is probable that, before time travel was invented, humans were interacting with time travelers, perhaps regularly, without realizing it.
Bergen, Horatio T., PhD: The first man to travel through time. Dr. Horatio T. Bergen based his time-travel theories around the existence of quantum-particle clusters that he termed space-time filaments. In his dissertation, written while Bergen was a doctoral candidate at Stanford, Bergen argued that these filaments are present in all moments that physically exist within the space-time continuum. Bergen’s work was fueled by his desire to understand the true nature of time’s existence.
Dr. Bergen, like many of his peers, was uncertain as to what elements of space-time were in a state of continual existence, though it was his belief and hope that the existence of time reflected the Growing Block Universe theory. Bergen favored this theory because it allowed for the perpetual existence of the past and present while providing an unfixed series of potential futures that would manifest themselves in successive present moments. In essence, Dr. Bergen suspected that the future may exist in a fluid state reflective of all possible outcomes for all possible present situations, the multiplicities of which would be gradually pared down as the probability for each occurring is decreased to zero, at which time a future possibility would become a present moment. When Bergen was able to prove the existence of space-time filaments, he began work on a method of traveling through time. Bergen believed that the only way to truly know if the past and future continually exist, or are “real” at all times, was to physically travel to those times. Despite the transparency Bergen provided into his research regarding the physical possibility of time travel, the man was notoriously secretive about his proposed destinations in time. Bergen was also secretive as to the experiments he was to perform in the past, though it is commonly agreed upon that they were intended to test time’s mutability. These experiments regarding the fixedness of time were chronicled in Dr. Bergen’s diaries and verified by an independent observer named Noel Youngblom. While the public results of Bergen’s experiments clearly demonstrate that humanity can travel through time, his data regarding time’s mutability, with the exception of the release of a single, controversial diary entry, has been shrouded in secrecy for decades.
When the first edition of this volume about Bergen’s life and work was printed, Dr. Bergen’s whereabouts were unknown. We have since uncovered evidence that Dr. Bergen may be living in the future, and we are but the past he left behind.
Block Time (also known as Eternalism): The possibly disproved theory that all time—past, present, and future—exists as a continuous physical reality. According to this theory, the past is not really “the past,” nor is the future “the future,” and the present is only “the present” by virtue of being the moment that subjects are capable of perceiving as “the present.” Eternalists believe that the past, present, and future always exist. This theory is convenient for time travelers who desire to travel both forward and backward in time, as they would be certain to arrive at their destinations in history. Despite its advantages for physical time travel, however, Block Theory is discouraging to time travelers who wish to change the past as the theory implies that time and all of the events it encompasses are immutable. That being said, if we are to believe Dr. Bergen’s assertions that he altered history, then we must also believe that Block Time is no longer a valid theory.
Data, Instability of, Due to Temporal Alterations: One difficulty of studying the mutability of time, via time travel, lies in protecting data from changes to our timeline. If the flow of time can be changed through human interference, then it stands to reason that those who might wish to observe said changes in the flow of time would be unable to, as they would have been born in, raised in, and know only the new version of history. Dr. Bergen theoretically solved this problem through his invention of displacement modules, capsulelike structures capable of protecting their contents from the effects of changed histories.
Data, Problems of Relying on Observational: A chief critique made by challengers of Dr. Bergen’s research. As argued by prominent time-travel researchers, including Dr. Ruth Hyslop, Dr. Richard Lebo, and Dr. Earl Dockery, even if the full contents of Dr. Bergen’s diaries see release, the information in those journals would be inconsequential as it is believed to rely entirely on Dr. Bergen’s narrative-based accounts of his research. Lebo and Hyslop agree that Bergen’s written accounts of previous histories could be pure fabrications, written for the sole purpose of convincing temporal physicists that time is, in fact, changeable, even if it is not. Dr. Dockery goes a step further in his critique, suggesting that the contents of Dr. Bergen’s diaries could be the ravings of a mad man whose thought patterns and understanding of time had been distorted by his travels. In an attempt to counter these criticisms, Noel Youngblom was said to have enclosed himself in a time-displacement module each time Bergen traveled back in time so as to protect himself from the consequences of the doctor’s experiments. As the effectiveness of Bergen’s time-displacement modules has not been independently confirmed, Youngblom’s isolation did nothing to resolve this controversy.
Diaries of Horatio T. Bergen, PhD, The: Evidenced primarily through rumor and the curt assurances of Noel Youngblom, these diaries were intended to chronicle Dr. Bergen’s findings with regards to his experiments testing time’s mutability. Though few have read Dr. Bergen’s diaries, several theories and rumors exist as to the volumes’ contents. One popular theory posits that Dr. Bergen’s experiments proved the validity of Presentism, the notion that neither the past nor the future are “real.” Those who suspect that this is reflected in Bergen’s journals believe that the doctor, upon traveling back in time, found himself adrift in a timeless void. This is, of course, absurd, and we, the editors of this volume, can go on record to squarely and firmly discredit this rumor.
Other rumors surrounding Bergen’s journals include speculation that the doctor discovered that, though a traveler can jump backward in time and exist in the past, history proved to be unchangeable. We do not know if this rumor is true, though we suspect it is not, based on many of Bergen’s subsequent claims. Another prominent rumor asserts that Bergen discovered either that the flow of time can be changed within our timeline, or that changing events in the past results in forked timelines. One surprisingly vivid and specific rumor tells a tale in which Dr. Bergen was physically doubled after enacting a change in history that resulted in the creation of a new, forked timeline. As both Dr. Bergen and his double were identical, down to their basic desires, the two men both wished to inhabit the new timeline so they could experience the effects of the change that resulted in time’s forking. When neither version of Dr. Bergen relented—and why would one but not the other when, theoretically, the two would be identical—the men engaged in a violent argument that devolved into a physical fight, right at the intersection of the native timeline and its forked offspring. While the notion of Dr. Bergen, a small, frail man, fighting himself on the threshold of a space-time rupture is both romantic and amusing, the level of detail woven into the various tellings of this particular rumor is more in line with a vulgar folk tale than the scientific diaries of one of history’s greatest minds.
Finally, many rumors surrounding Dr. Bergen’s diaries presume that time is changeable within the context of a single timeline, and that the doctor’s diaries contain descriptions of previous histories that allegedly no longer exist as a result of changes made to the timeline. One such alternative history from Bergen’s diaries has been shared, resulting in a great deal of controversy. While many temporal physicists are dismissive, or even hostile toward the excerpt from Bergen’s diaries, the editors of this volume believe that the documents are accurate, and Bergen successfully changed the past at least once.
Displacement Module: Devices used to protect data and people from changes made to a timeline. These modules are constructed using an alloy containing space-time fibers so as to shield the contents of a module from changes made to history. For instance, if a time traveler were to poison his own grandfather before his grandfather produced a son (the time traveler’s father), as long as the traveler is encased in a displacement module at the time of, or shortly after his grandfather’s death, said death would not result in the time traveler’s own erasure from history.
Dockery, Earl PhD: A prominent mid-twenty-first century space-time theorist and astrophysicist. Though he was once best known as the first scientist to successfully send particles back through time, current popular awareness of Dockery revolves around his book The Grand Museum: Backwards Temporal Displacement and the Immutability of Time. Dockery gained additional notoriety through his staunch opposition to Dr. Bergen’s theories regarding time travelers’ abilities to alter the flow of time.
Eternalism: See Block Time
Forked Time: The theory that, were a time traveler able to travel backwards in time and perform an action that changed the past, the moment at which said change in the timeline occurred would mark the beginning of a new, “forked” timeline. According to this theory, the time traveler’s “native timeline” would continue to exist, but so too would a new timeline, or “universe,” or “world.” While this idea, which gained popularity in popular science fiction of the twentieth century, seems to have been roundly dispelled by Bergen’s research, the editors of this volume are reluctant to rule out the possibility as the theories underlying the concept of forked time are sound.
Frozen Sleep: A method of stasis developed to allow a time traveler who has traveled backwards a significant amount of time to await his return to the present without suffering the effects of aging. In describing his experiments, Dr. Bergen claimed to have traveled backwards to specific moments in history where he attempted to change the flow of time, locate a pre-identified hiding place for his displacement capsule—often buried under ground—enclose himself in said capsule, inject himself with a frozen-sleep compound, and wait, sometimes several decades, if not centuries, at which time he (meaning a new, present iteration of Bergen, before he traveled back in time in his own present) and his team of assistants would retrieve the displacement module from its hiding place and return it to their laboratory. After the new, present iteration of Bergen traveled backwards in time, his assistants would free the original Bergen from the displacement module and revive him using a serum that reverses the effects of frozen sleep. This process is quite efficient as, in our present, each of Dr. Bergen’s experiments seems to take only seconds. As soon as one version of the doctor travels backwards in time, the previous version is immediately revived and ready to report on his findings.
Despite its efficiency, the process can also be perilous if changes are, indeed, made to the timeline. If a time traveler has changed history in a way that will alter the course of his own life, the lives of anyone whose work influenced his own, or the lives of his assistants and financial backers, the time traveler would be at the mercy of time’s unpredictability. While some safeguards were built into Bergen’s process—a homing beacon to be initialized at the appropriate time if a module was not retrieved; an upgrade to the module that would automatically inject the scientist with the antifrozen-sleep serum at a predetermined time; the writing down of plans and coordinates to be sealed in a displacement module with Noel Youngblom in case the present was changed in ways that could prevent Bergen from being retrieved; a small, single-use temporal-displacement ray in case a second trip into the past was required to undo unwanted changes; and a single dose of cyanide in case a trip in time went so horribly awry that Bergen would need to end his own life—time travel with the intention of changing the past could be perilous, and perhaps even fatal.
Additionally, frozen sleep is understood to be one of the only ways to “time travel” to the future. Because temporal physicists widely believe that the future does not exist until it happens, as described by the Growing Block Universe theory, in order to “travel” to the future, a traveler must either speed up the passage of time or put himself into stasis to allow time to happen around him.
Future, The: Any moment that will occur after the “present.” We are still uncertain whether the future exists, as posited by Block Time theory, or if the future only exists as a series of possibilities that aren’t realized until they become the present, and then the past.
Gedeon, Hannah Marie, PhD: A neurobiologist who specializes in temporal mechanics and the brain. Dr. Gedeon’s pioneering work in the study of intrinsic time-perception modules in humans has been crucial to studies of the ways that time travel might affect the human brain. Dr. Gedeon argues that such modules could be subject to failure when exposed to the duress of time travel. Dr. Gedeon also theorizes that time travel could destabilize a time traveler’s intrinsic time-perception module to the point where, if the theories of Eternalists or Growing Block Universe theorists are true, said time traveler could experience the entirety of his life experience nonlinearly. In the case of Growing Block Universe theory, because “the future” does not in fact exist as a physical point in space-time, in order for a time traveler to experience the future, he would need to be placed in frozen sleep until a future moment. For the sake of argument, let us say a time traveler existed in stasis until the moment directly preceding the end of time, then woke up. At this point, because all of time would exist as the past, the time traveler’s consciousness would be able to inhabit any moment in time in which he was present, though in many of those moments he would simply be in stasis. We do not want to contemplate the implications were such a person to learn of important future events then travel backward in time to change his past, which would be our present.
Growing Block Universe: The largely accepted theory that the past and present always exist as physical locations in space-time, but that the future is unwritten and therefore can never exist as a known entity understood to be “the future.” Before, thanks to the work of Dr. Bergen, the model was widely accepted, it was championed primarily by philosophers who believed in the importance of free will as, though the theory states that the past exists as a temporal entity that can be visited and observed, no such future exists, which allows for present actions to be meaningful in building toward an unknown future through a succession of present moments.
Harrer, Ernst: According to Dr. Bergen’s diaries, in a previous version of Earth’s history Ernst Harrer was an Austrian-born politician who led the Socialist German Worker’s Party, was Chancellor of Germany from 1933–1945, founded and led the Nazi party, and was responsible for a second world war, as well as a holocaust, which, according, again, to Bergen, resulted in the deaths of approximately five hundred thousand people from religious and political groups who were viewed as either political or social threats to the German state. In essence, this Ernst Harrer, according to Bergen, was an alternate, less effective version of Adolf Hitler. In our own history, Harrer doesn’t seem to have ever existed, though detailed searches into birth and death records have been impossible due to damage to the medical facility in which Harrer was allegedly born. According to Bergen, in Earth’s previous history, Harrer had similar ambitions to Hitler’s, but lacked the wherewithal to develop the social, economic, and military-industrial infrastructure necessary to achieve anything nearly as destructive or historically significant. To put the contrast in perspective, in the previous history, as described, once again, by Bergen, Harrer’s time as chancellor of Germany, his botched attempts at ethnic cleansing, and the brief regional conflict instigated by his policies rated little more than a few paragraphs, if that, in history textbooks.
In his diaries, Bergen claims that on one of his early trips back in time, he killed Ernst Harrer in an attempt to undo the dictator’s evil deed. Bergen’s diaries describe a months-long search for, and the eventual cold-blooded slaying of the young Harrer. After murdering Harrer and destroying all evidence of the child’s existence, Bergen buried his displacement capsule in an isolated region of Germany, set the capsule to wake him twenty years after the time of his own birth, then placed himself in frozen sleep. Upon waking, Bergen was pleased to find that he had, indeed, been born in the current timeline, and was on a career path similar to his own. According to Bergen’s diaries, he gave his younger self the location of his displacement module, and all pertinent data needed to eventually develop time travel and its necessary components so as to be certain that the future would happen as expected.
Bergen’s claim to have changed time has been the source of considerable controversy. This information about the man named Ernst Harrer was the only specific information released from Dr. Bergen’s diaries. The response was fast and violent. Many in the community of time-travel physicists expressed incredulity about Bergen’s claims. Others reacted with utter outrage that Bergen would alter Earth’s history in such a way as to make it worse by trading an evil but incompetent man for a supremely competent man who has become one of our history’s most easily recognizable iconic embodiments of evil. Others chose to remain silent until more information was released. This last group of people is still patiently waiting.
Hyslop, Ruth, PhD: A physicist, time-travel expert, and former colleague of Dr. Bergen. Dr. Hyslop broke off her work with Dr. Bergen several years before the latter’s development of a time-displacement ray, citing Bergen’s irresponsible desire for knowledge, as evidenced by several unspecified experiments the doctor performed on himself while trying to develop the ability to travel through time. After she stopped working with Bergen, Hyslop continued her own work, but primarily focused on challenging and critiquing Bergen’s research and theories. Hyslop has been credited with making one of the most famous statements regarding Bergen and his work: “The difference between being a great man and being a dangerous man is this: The great man searches for truths with respect for his environment and fellow humans; a dangerous man searches for his truth with little regard for himself, others, or his environment. Horatio Bergen is not a great man. I don’t believe he will stop mucking about with time until he knows every secret that the universe has to offer, and then what does he become? A god? No, Dr. Bergen will never be a god; the best he can hope for is to become an omnipotent menace.” While Dr. Hyslop’s concerns could be cause for concern, it is important to note that the end of her professional relationship with Dr. Bergen is said to have been quite unpleasant. Some have even speculated that Dr. Bergen terminated his working relationship with Dr. Hyslop due to consistent inaccuracies in her work. As such, we feel that Hyslop’s comments may have been driven more by professional jealousy than an honest concern for either Dr. Bergen or the integrity of the space-time continuum.
Lebo, Richard, PhD: A prominent time-travel theorist and former mentee of Dr. Horatio Bergen. Lebo discontinued his work with Bergen several years before the creation of the first temporal-displacement ray, noting that his mentor was displaying alarming behaviors consistent with narcissism and megalomania. After Bergen’s disappearance, Lebo vehemently spoke out against the plausibility of alleged data in Bergen’s diaries. Lebo’s associations with Dr. Ruth Hyslop, both professional and, as has been rumored in the physics community, romantic, call his credibility into question.
Linear Time: The notion that time advances in a succession of moments related by cause and effect. While time’s true nature is still open for debate and further research, we can at least be certain that humans perceive time in this manner.
Memory: The continuing existence of the past as stored by the human brain. Dr. Horatio Bergen was said to have a poor memory, and was at times unable to recall even important details from his young life. At a press conference prior to his first trip through time, Bergen is quoted as saying, “Memory is fragile and subject to distortions via nostalgia and ideology, or worse, can be obliterated entirely by the very vessels that struggle so mightily to contain it. If we can look at the past as an object, if we can touch the past, smell the past, taste the past—if we can inhabit the past, then does memory matter? What good are photographs, even? With time travel, we can make memory obsolete. Soon we will test the belief that the past is always with us, is always alive—time travel will give us a way to access that living past, to know all that is knowable.”
Memory, Space-Time Corruption of: A troubling theory that arose from public observations made by Noel Youngblom during a press conference following the disappearance of Dr. Horatio T. Bergen. Youngblom argued that, if a time traveler were to successfully alter a timeline, despite the new lived experiences of inhabitants of the new timeline, the existence of scientifically dubious and barely understood but seemingly quite real brain functions that exhibit behaviors consistent with religious notions of the soul might cause inhabitants of the new timeline to begin intuiting facts or memories about the previous form of their timeline. In effect, Youngblom proposed that it is possible for old and new versions of timelines to bleed together in memory, leading to potential disorientation and possible damage to a subject’s intrinsic time-perception module. While no reports have been made of civilians remembering a German dictator named Ernst Harrer, it is rumored that both Noel Youngblom and Dr. Bergen experienced this condition.
Novikov Self-Consistency Principle: The once dogmatic but now controversial notion that time is immutable and that the flow of space-time does not allow any action to occur that might somehow change the flow of time within a given timeline and result in a paradox. While Novikov’s theory is still sound with regard to unprotected time travel, he could not have accounted for the invention of displacement modules built with the express intent of shielding a time traveler from paradoxes that could undo his work or existence.
Paradox: The idea that changing events in the past undoes the future possibility of the time traveler changing the past. The most famous theoretical example of this is the “Grandfather Paradox,” in which a time traveler kills his own grandfather, thus negating his own existence, preventing himself from traveling back in time to kill his own grandfather. Another example would find a time traveler going to the past to kill Ernst Harrer, only, upon completion of his mission, to negate the reason that he traveled backwards in time in the first place. The existence of such paradoxes depends on the idea that time is a fixed entity. If all of time is a fixed entity, it is plausible that a time traveler’s role within fixed time could be to travel backwards to the point where he negates his own existence or reason for traveling through time. The notion of the paradox becomes decidedly less problematic when time is viewed as fluid, not fixed. In this scenario, a time traveler might change the past, which changes the flow of a timeline resulting in a different future. The time traveler may have ceased to exist, or his reason for or ability to travel backwards in time may have been negated, but, as far as the editors of this volume can tell, the change to history would have already been, making the point of paradoxes moot.
Past, The: The series of events happening prior to and informing the present. The past may only exist through memory and documentation, or as theorized by Block Time, may perpetually exist in space-time. The time-travel experiments of Dr. Horatio Bergen are said to have proven that the past does, in fact, exist as a space-time destination to which a person can travel. There is much debate surrounding whether or not the past can be changed by a time traveler.
Present, The: The exact moment in which a subject exists. Attempting to precisely identify a present moment is difficult. The smallest known measurement of time is called a Planck unit. A Planck unit represents the amount of time necessary for light to travel one Planck length. This is the equation for Planck time, the duration of the present:
The duration of a unit of Planck time is 10–43 seconds, less than the amount of time it takes a subject to recognize that he is in the present. As the Planck unit is the smallest known measurement of time, it also represents the most accurate duration for a given present moment. As such, it is virtually impossible to “live in” the present, as the adage dictates, or to even recognize “the present” before it becomes the past.
Presentism: An antiquated theory stating that the present is the only “real” manifestation of space-time, that the past does not exist once it occurs, and that the future does not exist until it happens.
Real: For the purposes of this text, whether or not a thing is treated as being real depends on its ability to exist as an independent object that can be studied and verified. Thus, because a time traveler can move backwards in time and exist in the past, the past is decidedly “real.” We place “real” in quotation marks to avoid difficult questions of philosophy.
Space-Time Filaments: Infinitesimally small threads of space-time that connect all existing points in time. Dr. Horatio Bergen’s temporal-displacement ray works by sending particles along these filaments to different moments in history. Space-time filaments are also used in the creation of displacement modules so as to protect the contents of said modules from changes to a timeline. Before Dr. Bergen’s disappearance, several of this edition’s editors were given the opportunity to watch the doctor harvest space-time filaments. While wearing a protective lab coat and goggles, the doctor activated one of his temporal-displacement rays, then used a device that emitted a small beam of light to probe the space directly around the ray to guide filaments into a container. Upon completing his harvest, Dr. Bergen held the jar up to the light and announced, “This container now holds millions of space-time filaments.” Though the editors in attendance were disappointed that they could not actually see the filaments, they were thrilled to have witnessed the process.
Temporal-Displacement Ray: The crowning technical achievement of Dr. Horatio Bergen’s career as a temporal physicist. By firing a beam of energy at a subject, the temporal-displacement ray breaks the subject down into particles and sends the particulated subject backwards in time, along a space-time filament, where the subject is then rematerialized.
Time-Travel Dementia: A hypothetical condition that might arise from a subject’s travel through time. This crude terminology, which arose from popular media in speculative, sensationalized articles about Dr. Bergen after a group of reporters witnessed his return from one of his many experiments, seems to describe the effects of a damaged intrinsic time-perception module or space-time memory corruption. The popular beliefs surrounding time-travel dementia state that an affected subject will appear disoriented, be unable to recognize his own “present,” and exhibit severe delusions of grandeur. An oft-remembered excerpt from an otherwise forgotten article quotes Dr. Bergen, upon awaking from frozen sleep, as saying, “God is time. I have conquered God.”
Time Travel, Future: There is no known way to travel into the future. When a subject is said to have traveled into the future, what we mean is that the subject has somehow surpassed the development of history to arrive at a point in time that is designated “the future,” relative to the subject’s point of origin. When we speculate that Dr. Bergen has allegedly traveled to and is living in the future, what we really mean is that Dr. Bergen is presently in frozen sleep, secure in a displacement module, awaiting a moment in the future when he will be awakened. If the future currently exists, as in Block Time, then Dr. Bergen is there. In our present reality, however, he is merely in stasis.
Time Travel, Past: The dislocation of a subject from his present to previous moments.
Youngblom, Noel: The independent observer hired to oversee and verify the experiments of Dr. Horatio Bergen. Mr. Youngblom, an internationally renowned intellectual who has extensive knowledge in many fields, including temporal physics, has offered little commentary about Bergen’s work, but his few statements have been picked over by the scientific community and press. His affiliation with Bergen’s experiments has made Youngblom something of a controversial figure. It was Youngblom, after all, who shared Bergen’s diary entries about the killing of a boy named Ernst Harrer, and the subsequent changes to the timeline in which we all previously lived. Not only did Youngblom share this information, he also verified its accuracy and, after a series of experiments of his own, warned Dr. Bergen and the rest of the scientific community of the potential for travel through and changes to space-time to corrupt memory. Youngblom claims to have identified several individuals with no knowledge of Bergen’s “Harrer Experiment,” to whom he asked a series of questions about both the “original” or “native” timeline in which Ernst Harrer was not killed, and the “new” timeline, in which Harrer was killed. According to Youngblom’s findings, participants were able to recall almost as many details from the original timeline as from the one in which they were currently living. Unfortunately, Youngblom’s methodology was the source of great controversy as the individuals whom he claimed to have interviewed denied ever having met him. Youngblom countered by asserting that the subjects were so prone to space-time memory corruption that certain events from their current timeline were being purged from their memories—a fair assertion if Youngblom’s theory was accurate. After Bergen’s disappearance, as Youngblom continued his own experiments, he discovered an alarming trend: Many of his alleged subjects were beginning to recall events and facts from timelines of which Youngblom, himself, was unaware. After these interviews, Youngblom claimed that his own memories were being corrupted and that he was experiencing unsettling visions from what seemed to be different versions of history. Regardless of whether or not Youngblom’s claims are accurate, he has taken to spending much of his time, and storing much of his data, in displacement modules.
Perhaps even more controversial, however, are Youngblom’s cryptic answers to questions pertaining to Dr. Bergen’s current whereabouts. For a period of some months, Youngblom would only address such questions with simple answers. When asked directly where Bergen was, Youngblom’s only answer was, “He is safe.” When asked if Youngblom was hiding in the past, he would say, “In a manner of speaking, yes.” When asked if Bergen had found a way to travel to the future, Youngblom would say, “How can a man hide in that which doesn’t yet exist?” Upon witnessing this answer at a press conference, one savvy reporter seized on Youngblom’s choice of words and asked, “So, Dr. Bergen is hiding then?” Youngblom’s response was the longest he’d given to any question to that point: “Hiding from a man, or from a social institution, or out of any sort of fear—no, Dr. Bergen is not hiding in that manner. Perhaps hiding isn’t the best choice of words. The doctor is waiting.”
It was not until several years had passed that Youngblom revealed anything more regarding Bergen’s whereabouts. In an interview conducted by another biographer—who was working on a competing volume to the one you now hold in your hands—when asked why Bergen never returned, Youngblom offered the following: “Dr. Bergen was a sick man. Horatio was arrogant, and prideful, and narcissistic—certainly he was all of those things, and the more he traveled through time, the sicker he grew.” When pressed further as to the implications of his statement, Youngblom added, “Horatio Bergen could return at any moment. He could, but he won’t. For all we know, Horatio Bergen does not even exist anymore. Perhaps he is only remembered by those who spend their nights in displacement modules. If Dr. Bergen does still exist, however, I am certain that he doesn’t want to come back. And even if he did, we would only be a different past in which he could meddle.” The competing biographer chose to omit these interviews with Youngblom from his own volume, and graciously gave the information to us.
James Brubaker’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The Normal School, Indiana Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Vector Press, West Wind Review, and Keyhole, among others. His chapbook Pilot Season is forthcoming from sunnyoutside, and he is the music editor for The Fiddleback.