I'm reading in the video here from a finished copy of The Book of Scotlands, which comes out in Europe within the next couple of weeks, and in the US in mid-August. There's a bit in the Interview interview that touches on this Employee's Guide text:
Matthew Evans: The quotation on the front of your new book reads, "Every lie creates a parallel world, the world in which it is true." You like alternatives.
Momus: Well, Picasso said, "Art is the lie that tells the truth," and it's not a terribly radical statement. It's always been that you can tell truth through fiction. And this idea also comes from nuclear physics.
Matthew Evans: In what sense?
Momus: Well, in the sense that for every reality there are many parallel, co-existing states.
Matthew Evans: Because the physical world that we're accustomed to is not at all the physical reality discovered in the realm of physics?
Momus: Quantum physics says that there is an infinite number of possibilities and parallels to the one that we know, and every event is also played out in a parallel world. It's kind of a crazy idea, but someone called Saibal Mitra at the University of Amsterdam says that if you could back up your memory in case of a catastrophic event, you could actually revert to that back-up and find an alternative world in which the Earth didn't explode or collide with Mars. In The Book of Scotlands, I present a series of parallel Scotlands that aren't tied to the theories of quantum physics, but instead to the idea of delirious speculation. And if you look at the steps being taken towards Scottish independence right now, they're being dealt with politically in very dull and boring ways. So if you just feverishly speculate numbered but random Scotlands—because in the book, it's a random sequence of possibilities—you can imagine many ways in which different things might happen.
Matthew Evans: So part of the book's purpose is to reveal the current efforts towards Scottish independence?
Momus: That's the general context, although I don't really talk about it specifically. I'm more interested in the possibilities that could arise from that context, the crazy peripheral and unlikely scenarios.
Matthew Evans: But some of the content seems to be about places other than Scotland.
Momus: They might be about Japan. They might be about a company working in a Third-World situation bringing a manual to its employees, saying, "Don't trust the Scots, they might be terrorists. They might be trying to infiltrate our company."
Matthew Evans: It reminds me of the Instructions for American Servicemen series that were passed out during WWII to culturally prepare soldiers for France, Britain, or Japan.
Momus: Those types of manuals continued in Japan after the War, only they concentrated on how to do business instead of warfare. And each one presents a conflicting picture of Japanese etiquette, a conflicting idea of what Japan is.
The entire Interview interview is here.