We may have reached that sad time in my daughter’s life when she stops believing in Santa Claus. Last Christmas she put us on notice that my handwriting on her presents was suspiciously similar to Santa’s. Her passage away from magic may have been accelerated by Miley Cyrus and her bong. Still, as a father, I will try to keep her from throwing the baby out with the bath water: she and all of us do well to keep some magic in our lives. I am convinced it is best to live our feet firmly planted on the ground and with our head in the clouds. After all, “where there is no vision the people perish.”
Aristotle said that poetry and fiction are more truthful and reliable than science and facts. I feel he meant that so-called science is always influenced by subjective beliefs and the money of those who pay for it. Then, “objectivity” is unquestioned and vital emotional issues and beliefs of those preaching those facts are ignored, whereas fiction and poetry take full account of those subjective forces, without apologizing or hiding their impact. Besides, fiction/poetry is flexible and amenable to change as we grow and learn. A good poem may address reality more eloquently and clearly than a complicated essay by a stuffy, egocentric and over-intellectualized professor.
None of these ramblings mean that we ought to get rid of science and objectivity. I am only talking about a balance between both of them. Einstein seemed to agree. He is often quoted saying that in order to solve today’s problems, we need to stop thinking in the same worn out ways that have led us into the very problems we struggle with. Considering Arthur C. Clark’s statement in the same breath adds more credibility to these far-out statements; he famously wrote that what we may not understand and call magic today is tomorrow’s science.
Of course, the “balance” point is going to be different depending on the person. I have tried to balance the feminine magic or “lunacy” with the masculine logic and the intellect by alternating my reading between fiction and non-fiction. I love literature; it has inspired me and modulated my scientific reading into a blend that I am comfortable with, a whimsical balance that often allows me to see facts in a new and fresh light. This perspective may be lacking in over intellectualized people who dismiss novels, and, yes, magic. The fact that half of the graduates from the Georgia Institute of Technology are musicians comes to mind.
Right now I am reading FALL OF GIANTS by Ken Follet, a spellbinding fictionalized story about WWI. Tell me, how many of us will sit to read a factual account of that terrible war that shaped our modern world? Before that I read OBAMA’S WAR: I had to force myself to read such a micro-managed view of that issue. Such reductionism leaves me cold; I feel it also alienates most readers who might be remotely interested. Of course, eggheads loved the book…
So, accompanied by my favorite date, my 10-year old Cosette (named after LES MISERABLES’ Jean Valjean’s daughter,) I have watched Harry Potter, NARNIA, and TRON in 3-D, the latter on the planetarium’s gigantic screen. Hopefully, Cosette will retain a love of magic and “that which cannot be explained.” Therein lies most of reality, as the movie THE MATRIX proposes. Interestingly, many physicists feel there is enough evidence to support the view that we, that is, our minds and our imagination create the reality we have in front of us. This is the “observer effect,” taken to the next level in the book THE UNIVERSE SOLVED and many others.
So, when you run across magic and/or the works of angels, genies, druids, astrologists, alchemists, fairies, gnomes, visionaries, etc, don’t be too quick to dismiss them. Rather, enjoy the possibility that our reality is only an illusion, a trick we play on ourselves as we struggle as spirits in a materialistic world, a world we designed to improve ourselves and our ability to care, unconditionally, for one another. Therein we find health, peace and what matters most. Merry Christmas!