Did she succeed, like Majorana, in effecting a ‘quantum disappearance’?

I am now starting to believe that the key to After Her Blood, to Emma’s disappearance, maybe even to this entire puzzle, lies in the words of O.B. Zaslavskii at the start of the book (page ii):

We argue that the underlying motive force in the story of [Majorana’s] disappearance consisted in existential intention to overcome the fixed frame of personal identity and dichotomy ‘life-death’ and mimic breakthrough to plurality of worlds… Thus a whole complex of motives actual is revealed – ‘transitions’ between life and death, ‘transitions’ between different personalities, the role of the probabilistic nature of the world in human’s fate, actuality of alternative variants…

For the past few weeks I have been researching the case of the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana and his mysterious disappearance at the age of 32. Majorana, born in Sicily in 1906, was a theoretical physicist, mathematician and engineer most famous for his work on quantum theory and neutrino masses. In 1938 he left a supposed suicide note to Antonio Carrelli, the director of the Naples Physics Institute where he worked, that ended: ‘I ask you to remind me to all those I learned to know and appreciate in your Institute, especially Sciuti: I will keep a fond memory of them all at least until 11 pm tonight, and perhaps beyond.’ (Emphasis added).

After writing the note, Majorana was seen boarding a mail boat to Palermo but disappeared on that journey. A number of ‘unexplained mysteries’ blogs and websites consider Majorana’s fate. Some of these claim he was seen and photographed (by a friend of a caller to an Italian TV show about Majorana) in 1955 in Venezuela and, according to some accounts, he looked about the right age (in his 50s); other accounts say he had not aged at all, thus ‘proving’ that he had successfully achieved time travel based on his early scientific theories and discoveries. A more reliable source regarding Majorana’s intention is to be found in Nobel prize winning scientist Enrico Fermi’s pronouncement at the time about his friend’s disappearance: ‘With his intelligence, once he decided to disappear or to make his body disappear, Majorana would certainly have succeeded.’

Zaslavskii provides an in-depth analysis of Majorana’s vanishing act in his paper Ettore Majorana: quantum mechanics of destiny (2006) that attempts to show how Majorana engineered his own ‘quantum disappearance’, ‘”carrying into life” the principles of quantum theory’*. But be warned, once you start down the rabbit hole that is Zaslavskii’s account, you may find yourself unable to get out. But maybe that was Majorana’s point all along (read, for example, the ‘hoax’ variants table on page 4).

As to the relevance of Majorana’s case to that of Emma Fielding’s, I am convinced there is a reason reference to Majorana is made at the start of After Her Blood in the way that it is – a direct quote from Zaslavskii’s paper about plurality of identity, the ‘transitions’ between life and death and ‘different personalities’. After page ii, however, there is scant further reference to it. Indeed, Majorana appears of so little relevance to the story itself that you forget the author’s initial allusion to it at the start of the book.

Until, chapter 8 that is, and the following:

It had always seemed to her that her marriage must be where she disappeared forever. Previously – before this last outburst of his, which had led to her broken bones – she had simply continued with her Majorana preoccupation, and her despicable double life, with the concurring belief in both a confirmed and out of the question escape. Even though her secret accumulation of essential and non essential items for a certain and most fanciful future disappearance did not of course strictly accord with the idea that Majorana both did, and did not, have a bag of possessions with him when he engineered his quantum flight, Emma had relied on the existence of her first and second getaway bags as some sort of buttress against her current state of intractable unhappiness. But she simply couldn’t do it anymore. She could not continue living this life. She had made her decision.

Could this have been both Emma Fielding’s fate and her intention from the start (all supposing the Emma I know is the same Emma Fielding of After Her Blood, problematic though this may be – see my last post, 25 March, 2019)? Could this be the reason behind everything – all that she wrote and everything she told to me – to instigate such an elaborate set of events and to write about them as if they were true? Is it possible, or likely, that she intended creating such a puzzling story, a narrative within a labyrinthine narrative, that no one would be able to work it out, while she succeeded, like Majorana, in effecting a quantum disappearance (or at least the appearance of one)?

 

* O.B. Zaslavskii (2006) Ettore Majorana: quantum mechanics of destiny: https://avxiv.org/abs/physics/0605001

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