The Land of Matta

A philosophical, quantum-mechanical phantasy

Michael Eldred

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e-book cover: The Land of Matta at Amazon.compaperback cover: The Land of Matta
Available from, CreateSpace, in Kindle e-book format, and from other Amazon online bookstores worldwide (e.g. at as a paperback or Kindle e-book) under the title The Land of Matta: A philosophical, quantum-mechanical phantasy CreateSpace 2015 358 pp. ISBN 978-1512208009. See also the philosophical companion to this book: A Question of Time: An alternative cast of mind and listen also to its companion song, The Ballad of Phi & Psi.
"Eldred strikes a wonderful, absurdist tone that harkens back to an earlier age of children's fantasy... buoyant cartoonishness... A fantastical puzzle that may be too difficult to solve." — Kirkus Reviews.
A Pilgrim's Progress in Quantum Action "Eldred brings ideas that are having a profound influence on our culture, but which are poorly understood, into both imaginative and cognitive grasp by means of a road trip in a parallel world with many resemblances to our own. Two friends are followed in their search for understanding, using methods of travel that are aspects of the phenomenon and examples of the ideas that intrigue them. Along the road they meet highly original and entertaining characters who are easily recognised as representing various modern theoretical positions taken on the nature of reality and our responsibility in interpreting, even in obstructing and deforming it. A story also of the hidden roles fear, ambition, and will for power play in ostensively pure intellectual pursuits. All told with a sparkling sense of humour and conceptual clarity." — J. S. Bragdon, Amsterdam

"A grand sort of work" "Eldred's grand philosophical phantasy presents a mathematical journey unlike no other. Allegorical fictions align in an almost impermeable complexity comparable only to David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest but dressed in the quirkiness of the best of classical childhood fables. Toying with reader expectations of genre and trope and balanced between joviality and sombre reflection, The Land of Matta demands a simultaneous appreciation of both satire and wide-eyed wonder as it propels the reader through a humorous exposé of modern scientific inquiry, promulgated by protagonists Phi and Psi whose monomyth mirrors the incarnation of quantum formulae more than it does existential passage.
Divided into two parts, The Land of Matta first recounts In Quest of Mu, the upward journey of Phi and Psi from their home Rutan to the land of Matta in a plot that pays homage to classical mythological archetypes of ascension reminiscent of Olympus and Sinai. In their search for Mu, an ancient philosophical refugee from Athens, the pair encounter a number of characters along their journey where each character represents the subtle workings of quantum mechanics sung to the theme of movement. Similar to classical stories of absurdist self-discovery reflective of the Wizard of Oz and Alice and Wonderland, Phi and Psi discover with each encounter those lessons most reflective of their own being's journey. Existential angst is met when the wanderers uncover the truth of their quest: that their mountain god has abandoned his perch in heaven, i.e. Matta, and moved on, pursuant his own philosophical quest towards the discovery of why it is that there is movement at all.
Book Two, in a nod to quantum physics, courts disenchantment on The Way Back to Anaxaton when the final curtain is pulled back to reveal an Oz-like puppeteer arbitrarily controlling the scenes, and Phi and Psi discover that there is in fact no formulae to reality at all, but only random symbolism, reflective perhaps of the existential abyss of their own being, where only choice decoupled from destiny can define one's journey.
Eldred has constructed a multi-layered narrative in this work, best reflected in the book's subtitle: a philosophical, quantum-mechanical phantasy. Indeed, the tale of Phi and Psi is a narrative that joins an intricately fictionalized philosophical examination to the oft incomprehensible realm of quantum physics and explores the nature of being along the way. The Land of Matta is a grand sort of work, one that could easily be interpreted towards more than one end. Unexpectedly esoteric at times and packed with anagrams and hidden linguistic devices, this work is not for the faint-hearted. Ripe with scientific and philosophical complexity, some of it too subtle for the average reader to unpack, Eldred's venture into fiction presents a wonderfully original alternative to the usual academic "philosophical quantum-mechanical" investigation. " — Jared Bielby IRIE Vol. 26 (12/2017)

Comments by two of the book's protagonists:
"One of the funniest books I've ever read." — G.W. Zinbeil
"More than thought-provoking." — Megaristes Athenaios

e-book cover: The Land of Matta at

About the book 

A fantasy in the sense of Alice in Wonderland, but not for children. It's cock-and-bull like Tristram Shandy, but without the digressions. It's satire in the tradition of Gulliver's Travels, but the satire is on modern science. The humour is British, like the Goons or Monty Python. The protagonists are two young students, Phi and Psi, finding their way in life. In Book I, In Quest of Mu, they go in search of the ancient Mu, a philosophical refugee from Athens to Upper Matta. Mu himself is on a philosophical quest to answer his guiding question, Why is there movement at all, rather than standstill? In Book II, The Way Back to Anaxaton, the main character turns out to be the mysterious Willy P., the power behind the scenes. Matta stands for 'mathematics', but there are no formulae, only a more or less playful, historical treatment of maths along with a couple of Greek symbols. The quantum mechanics is accurate, but blown up to fantastic proportions with fun-loving, unbridled literary licence. This makes it look superficially like sci-fi, but it's subtler. The philosophical strand is substantial, but presented narratively and playfully camouflaged. The presentation is tongue-in-cheek, so the reader constantly has to decide at each point whether it's serious sense or straight-faced nonsense. Usually it's both. It has some quasi-Platonic dialogue, and the whole is borne by philosophical questions subversively at work in the background.

The author 

Michael Eldred is an Australian philosopher, mathematician and translator currently living in Cologne, Germany. He gained degrees from the University of Sydney, including a doctorate in philosophy. Over a long career he has published copiously in several languages in the areas of hermeneutic phenomenology and socio-political philosophy. Books include Critique of Competitive Freedom and the Bourgeois-Democratic State: Outline of a Form-Analytic Extension of Marx's Uncompleted System 1984, Phänomenologie der Männlichkeit 1999, Heidegger, Hölderlin e John Cage 2000, Capital and Technology: Marx and Heidegger 2000/2015, Social Ontology: Recasting Political Philosophy Through a Phenomenology of Whoness 2008, The Digital Cast of Being: Metaphysics, Mathematics, Cartesianism, Cybernetics, Capitalism, Communication 2009, A Question of Time: An alternative cast of mind 2015 and Thinking of Music: An approach along a parallel path 2015.

Copyright (c) 2015-2018 by Michael Eldred, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author.
Last modified: 10-Feb-2018
First put on site 28-May-2015

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