Images Of Vellum And Ink
A Book Of Darkness
- A book of hours, I said. Or a book of names. Nobody knows.
- Bullshit, said Joey. You’re making it up.
- Shut up, said Jack. I'm listening to this.
He slid the G’n’T across the table to me, handed Joey his Guinness and sat down in his own seat with his Ouzo, sniffed it with a wrinkle-nosed grin.
- Go on, he said.
- The Book Of All Hours, my father had said. Your grandfather went looking for it, but he never found it. He couldn’t find it; it’s a myth, a pipe-dream. It doesn’t exist.
The Book of All Hours, the Benedictines called it, in the Middle Ages, believing it to be the Deus’s own version of some grand duke’s book of hours – those hour-by-hour and day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month tomes of ceremony and meditation...
... inked by monks in lamplight, drawn in brilliant colours on vellum, pale but rich in tone, not bleached pure white but yellowed, brown, the colour of skin, of earth, of wood, old bone, of things that were all once alive.
Princes and kings would commission these books and they’d take years of hunched backs and cramped hands and fading eyesight to produce by hand.
It was said by the Benedictines that God himself commissioned such a tome from the one angel allowed to step beyond the veil and see his face and listen to his words, and write them down.
There was a Jewish scholar, Isaac ben Joshua, in Moorish Spain who said that the Book drove everyone who saw it crazy.
He referenced an Islamic source, a story saying that all but one solitary page were blank, and on that page there was only a single simple sentence, an equation which captured the very essence of existence.
This, he said, was why all those who’d ever looked upon the book had gone insane, unable to comprehend, unable to accept, the meaning of life laid out in a few words of mathematical purity.
After what happened to Thomas, I remember thinking that I knew what that sentence was.