Friday, November 23, 2007

It’s A Small World But I Wouldn’t Want To Paint It

I feel exceptionally dense: until I saw a trailer for a BBC documentary last night it never before occurred to me that Mark Everett, aka E of Eels, who has written several of my most favourite songs, ever, is the son of Hugh Everett III, who fifty years ago, at the age of twenty-four, devised the many-worlds theory. Checking through my Eels CDs I find that the drawing on the inner back face of the jewel case of Electro-shock Blues is from Hugh Everett III’s school biology textbook. It shows a boy crying over split milk. In another universe, of course, the milk is unspilt. In another universe, Hugh Everett III received a full measure of the recognition he deserved for his ideas while he was yet alive. We can’t get there from here, but we know, now, that it’s almost certainly true.

As well as feeling dense, I also feel a little guilty, because there is only an oblique reference to Hugh Everett III in Cowboy Angels; in the timeline buried inside the story it was necessary for someone to come up with the idea earlier.

Presently rereading: Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor. Presently playing: Blinking Lights and other revelations, Eels.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Astonishing - I had no idea about that either, despite reading the sleeves of my Eels CDs almost obsessively (I know *exactly* the spilt milk drawing you mention).

Aren't they/he great, though? Really fantastic, heart-breakingly good stuff. I feel like an railroad man myself...

November 25, 2007 8:16 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Hi Al,

Hope you'll be able to watch the documentary on Monday - the BBC does repeat digital stuff quite a lot, but often the good stuff doesn't get repeated... Since posting that quite a few interviews with E appeared, one in the current New Scientist (currently cooking with gas when it comes to inpiration).

November 25, 2007 9:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone's taping the documentary for me, so I'll catch it in a few weeks. Ripped open new copies of both New Scientist and SciAm today; both had interviews with E in.

November 26, 2007 7:43 pm  

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