Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass, His Dark Materials) spends some time at The Guardian this weekend, asking why we believe in magic. The result is beautiful.
The universe of magic is a large place. It contains phenomena ranging from simple good luck charms to complicated systems of belief and practice such as astrology and alchemy, and it comes to us from prehistory, and from every part of the world, and it still flourishes today. The variety of ideas and objects it contains is almost limitless; the one thing they have in common is that rationalism would scoff at all of them as absurd, outdated, meaningless superstitions that aren’t worth wasting time on.
And the piece is never more beautiful than when Pullman talks about poetry:
…I think that poetry itself is a kind of enchantment. The effect that certain lines and images can have on us can’t be explained by translating them into simple modern English. The very form is part of the meaning, and the sound the poem makes works like a spell on our senses and not only on our minds. But it’s not just true of poetry. Everything that touches human life is surrounded by a penumbra of associations, memories, echoes and correspondences that extend far into the unknown. In this way of seeing things, the world is full of tenuous filaments of meaning, and the very worst way of trying to see these shadowy existences is to shine a light on them.
You can read the full piece here.