One of the most significant scientific advancements in human history was the identification of the Saros Cycle by the ancient Mesopotamians. The cycle accurately predicted solar eclipses, allowing our forebears to deduce meaning from what had previously been considered a random celestial event.

While the Mesopatamians are considered to be the fathers of Western astronomy, their knowledge of the stars was based upon empirical study, rather than the application of mathematical theory. The Saros Cycle was identified following centuries of detailed observations and meticulous record-keeping. Over time, improved understanding of mathematics allowed for the development of more sophisticated methods of prediction, from the Antikythera mechanism dating from around 100BC, to the automated orreries of the eighteenth century. Parallels can be drawn between the Mesopotamian methods and the techniques adopted by the Followers in their ongoing quest to uncover the mysteries at the heart of the Theatre District, particularly in relation to the Show’s ever-changing schedule. All attempts to identify a pattern have been unsuccessful, not least because of the obvious difficulties in piecing together the observations of a group whose own comings and goings are dependent upon their ability to secure access to the Show at any given time.

There are, of course, many patterns within the Theatre District. Some are static, existing within the permanent structures of the district, but others are dynamic, only observable when certain conditions are met. Some of these patterns have an element of predictability, albeit on a very limited basis. Consider the character loop. Every performer plays their role on a repeating basis, and these loops tend to be broadly consistent in nature. If a performer is observed at the starting point of their loop, then there is a high degree of certainty that they will also be observed at all other points of that loop. The action of the basic loop can, therefore, be encapsulated within a simple conditional statement. If A then B.

Similarly, some of the non-animate patterns within the district recur with some degree of predictability, one example being the phenomenon known as the Shadow Path. As suggested by its name, the path is formed by a pattern of light and shadow linking a series of apparently unconnected locations within the House of Doors. The existence of the path was only confirmed after lengthy observation, and its purpose is yet to be discerned. The starting point is only discoverable when a particular combination of brass lanterns are illuminated, and the intervals between occurrences of this event are not consistent. Again, there is predictability at the point at which the initial event is observed – if the first shadow line is observed at time t=0 then the final stage will be observable at time t=21 where each intermediate integer represents an elapsed time of one minute – but the timing of the event itself is not predictable, based upon the data available.

It is my belief that, just as the mathematicians of the early modern age were able to replace observational methods with predictions based upon mathematical calculations, if the correct formula could be identified, the Theatre District’s currently impenetrable schedule could be rendered entirely transparent and predictable. Many people believe that there is a secret at the heart of the district. I am inclined to agree, although, unlike the more whimsically-minded, I do not believe that this secret exists in the form of a locked chest, or a hidden room, but rather in the existence of an overarching pattern, dynamic and mathematically predictable. If the district conforms – and there are various reasons why I believe that it does – to the Poincare Recurrence Theorem, then it must be true that, at some point in the future, it will return to whatever state in which it existed when it began. That is to say that the district is itself operating as part of a loop, which will, at some point, reset. It may well be that this was once widely known, and that some residual collective memory remains, explaining the recurring idea that to discover the true meaning of the show would be to bring the show to an end. If my theory is correct, that end would also be a beginning.

I believe that the mysteries of the Theatre District can be laid bare, not by the current practice of laborious observation, but by the application of mathematics. I would be keen to hear from any fellow mathematicians or physicists, or indeed any individual in possession of a science-based degree from a reputable academic establishment, who may be interested in collaborating with me in this task. I can usually be found in The Shipping News on a Tuesday and Friday evening.

I am, of course, aware that there are those who have a more esoteric interest in unravelling the patterns of the Theatre District, but, while I do not seek to disparage the beliefs of any individual Follower, the task with which I am engaged is scientific, not spiritual in nature. If, as some people believe, the ending of the show will coincide with the ending of the world as we know it, I do not anticipate that this cataclysm will prove predictable by the application of mathematical principles. I may, of course, be mistaken, and if, in the course of this work, it does become clear that the end of the world is nigh, I will, of course, communicate this to all interested parties. In the meantime, I trust, as all of us do, that, the show will go on. Or, rather, go on again.

John Blenkinsop