The Re-enchantment of Reality

Logic.  Analysis.  Criticism.  Sometimes, the only function of these seems to be to remove any sort of mystery or wonder from the world.

And this often is, unfortunately, a first step.  We do have do give up cherished beliefs.  But there is no need to stop there.

This disenchantment is merely a removal of our false enchantments.  As long as we cling to our quick cures, love-lorn logics, senses of soul, and desperate desire for immortality, as long as we stay in the sandbox with our simple magic spells, we miss a larger world around us.

The message of science and rationalism is not that there is no fairy tale.  It is that human beings are not the centre of the tale.  The dragon did not abduct our princess and the fey are unconcerned with our children.  Magic only sees the marvels that are manipulated for ourselves.  Science lets us look at wonders for their own sake, and so reveals so much more than the magical imagination could dream of.

We live in a world teeming with life, including single-celled organisms, massive creatures both past and present, things that strain any definitional limit we would place on life, and beings inhabiting the oddest and most inhospitable portions of the globe.  Evolution may be as blind and clumsy as Cupid, but look at the mysterious world slowly shaped and moulded from such simple principles, created a unified family history of life binding us all together. 

The utterly incomprehensible distances of the Universe, the massive furnaces which produce both all of our energy and our matter, spots of mass so dense that they literally bend space and time to their whim – these team with bizarre particle-waves defying all attempt at common-sense description in forming the entire world around us.

And that is merely the briefest of beginnings.  Leave your imaginaries behind – not because they are fantastic, but because they are not fantastic enough.  Following our initial desires and perceptions, we form security blankets for ourselves, comforting but devoid of aesthetic value.  Critical, close observation lets us see the stories going on all around us.

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Vision

The world is more than to-do lists and idle talk.

When you talk to me of the weather, I don’t see relative comfort or discomfort. What I do see are systems beyond human calculation, poised winds and currents locked in cyclical strife, where even the flap of a butterfly’s wings can change the outcome. Yet the chaos of the day is subsumed in the constant rise and fall of the seasons.

And when even those falter, I still see the marks of the great battles fought over every rise and fall of the terrain. The hills and ravines, the plans of cities, and the hills which delight in tormenting bikers all testify to this violence.

Your speech itself recalls to me the bards of a scant few hundred years past. Before that, the incessant wars and conquests of tribes left their mark in each word’s martial birth; earlier yet, I see a group of primates gathering together, their neurons slowly adapting to aid their exploration. The social interests from these hundreds of thousands of years past coalesce in every gossipy phrase or television trope.

When I look at the lake we are passing, I see the water, and also the history of generations upon generations of residents. Further out, there is the livelihood of sea-dwellers the world and ages over. I see the depths from which life sprang over a billion years ago, the vast eras of underwater drama taking place before the first fin fell upon land.

In each drop of dew, in our gait, in the angle of the sun’s rays, in absolutely everything, I see playgrounds. The mathematical laws of form are the lightest of fetters; instead of constraining, they open up the infinite pathways of order and symmetry from the slightest line or curve.

The money clinking in the tip jar at the coffee shop speaks to me of the Escherian web of supplies, demands, desires, and opportunities, criss-crossing every group in impossible weaves, every penny altering every other. The drink itself is a journey from Ethiopian shephards, through Middle Eastern tales and Viennese intellectuals. The seats we sit in – I have not learned their story yet. Perhaps you can teach me?

The affairs of today, the drive to exist in forgetful comfort, this supposed “real world” – this is a faded, blurred icon of what has been, is, and could possibly be. The important matters of the day are far more dead to me than the living and life-giving utterances of thought and nature.

So come, sit down, enjoy some malt and hops and the centuries of their recipe’s refinement, and spend eons in conversation with me.