A day is not all that long.
Passing over emptying oceans and the illuminated grids of cities below. In a day. New Scientist is writing about whether we can actually feed 10 billion people.
I flew over a frozen ocean on my way to Hamburg once. This is an astonishing sight for an Australian.
Maybe such a sight should be more than a day away? Not to restrict access to them, but to re-enchant them back into our world.
One of the roles of The Trickster is to introduce uncertainty and novelty into your existence. It is a reminder that you cannot ever correctly map something. Bugs Bunny, a literal incarnation of this Being, demonstrates that man (Elmer Fudd) never quite masters the natural world.
As mentioned previously, it surprises me that Captain Jack didn’t get the obvious Trickster props I feel he deserve as they’re right there in every movie. (Watch them all through one weekend and it’s less confusing. It’s actually Bugs Bunny does Homer’s Odyssey.)
The villain in the second film says outright: “The world is shrinking. The blank edges of the map are being filled in.” This refrain is picked up by Jack himself in the third film, when he’s just returned from the Other Realm (clue!) to discover the kraken dead on the beach. Watch:
Barbossa: The world used to be a bigger place.
Sparrow: World’s still the same. There’s just less in it.
I think about this when I fly over oceans. I think about krakens washed up on beaches. I think about the bankruptcy of vision offered to us by the Demiurge-as-egregore we have accidentally created. We are having our map filled in, even your very consciousness is being pushed off the edges as mere epiphenomena.
Do you know what one of my favourite words was as a kid? Zanzibar. Even saying it sounded like a spell. This place couldn’t possibly exist in our realm. It just sounded too wonderful, too far off.
Last month, a friend of a friend took up that recent, infuriating middle class hobby. She fell into the third category of posts in my Facestalk newsfeed (the other two being unfunny e-cards and photos of other people’s kids); endlessly begging Facebook contacts for charity money to do something really fucking amazing that I would pay actual money for. She was cycling around Zanzibar to “raise money for an eye hospital there”. (Previous contenders have wanted money to go sky-diving or sleep in a haunted castle.)
This morning a different friend from back in Australia sends a mass mail out in a similar vein. Except he’s decided to walk 100km from the Hawkesbury River to Mosman on the north shore of Sydney Harbour.
For those of you unacquainted with Sydney topography:
- Hawkesbury Riverfront property sells for millions.
- He’ll walk down Sydney’s north shore, home to the very wealthy middle classes and the most expensive private schools in the Southern Hemisphere.
- He’ll end up in a suburb where the top price for a house last year was USD $20 million.
- Looking at the most beautiful urban harbour on earth.
In no way is this judgemental of either of their actions, except to point out the obvious that flights to Zanzibar aren’t exactly cheap. Why not donate the airfare instead if you’re such a big fan of eyes? There are plenty of poor people for you to cycle around here in the UK.
Of course, that’s not why she’s doing it, nor why I’m crazy jealous. Growing up, cycling around Zanzibar would have been the trip of a lifetime. But now it requires something extra because the world is so small. Now I can get to Zanzibar using nothing but my work phone and a passport. Where is the narrative through-line if it’s no longer just about getting there?
Simply put, we are running out of krakens and the dominant narrative that is killing them has turned out to be utterly bankrupt.
But I’m not sure raising £128 from a few people on the internet after weeks of annoying them is the best way to improve your encounter rates with sea monsters.
This is from a second hand philosophy book by Alain Badiou picked up here in Paris over the weekend:
The trouble is that, nowadays, the word ‘philosophy’ is used in an attempt to force upon us quite the opposite maxim, which might read: ‘Cling to your illusions, prepare to surrender.’ We have seen a ‘philosophy’ appearing in magazines that looks like a vegetable-based natural medicine, or euthanasia for enthusiasts. Philosophizing would appear to be a small part of a vast programme: keep fit and be efficient, but stay cool.
And so we revive ‘values’ that philosophy has always helped us to get rid of: obedience (to commercial contracts), modesty (in the face of the arrogance of the ham actor on TV), realism (we must have profits and inequalities), utter selfishness (now known as ‘modern individualism’), colonial superiority (the democratic goodies of the West versus the despotic baddies of the South), hostility to living thought (all opinions have to be taken into account), the cult of numbers (the majority are always right), obtuse millenarianism (the planet is getting hotter under my very feet), empty religion (there must be Something), and I could go on.
[The dead philosophers of the twentieth century] have come to say, through the voice that eulogizes them, that the imperative of contemporary democratic materialism -’Live without Ideas’- is both cheap and inconsistent.
Seems to me there is a better way to restock the ocean that Facebegging and that’s through re-enchantment. Here’s a quote from Ursula LeGuin’s essay, Things Not Actually Present:
“Fantasy, or Phantasy,” Auntie replies, clearing her throat, “is from the Greek phantasia, lit. ‘a making visible,’ ” She explains that phantasia is related to the verbs phantasein, “to make visible,” or in Late Greek, “to imagine, have visions,” and phainein, “to show.” And she summarises the earliest meanings of the word fantasy in English: an appearance, a phantom, the mental process of sensuous perception, the faculty of imagination, a false notion, a caprice or a whim.
Fantasy thus arrives in the English language as both the Trickster and its Power. It goes on:
So the word fantasy remains ambiguous, standing between the false, the foolish, the delusory, the shallows of the mind, and the mind’s deep connection with the real. On this threshold it sometimes faces one way, masked and costumed, frivolous, an escapist; then it turns, and we glimpse as it turns the face of an angel, bright truthful messenger, arisen Urizen.
Since the completion of my Oxford English Dictionary, the tracks of the word have been complicated still further by the comings and goings of psychologists. Their technical use of fantasy and phantasy have influenced our sense and use of the word; and they have also given us the handy verb “to fantasise.” If you are fantasising, you may be daydreaming, or might be using your imagination therapeutically as a means of discovering reasons Reason does not know, discovering yourself to yourself.
Looking for krakens in the physical oceans while ignoring the inner ones will ultimately end in that horrible modern heartache that no amount of charity walking can ever cure. Because, as Captain Jack says, there is indeed less and less in the world.
It’s just that wizards have a few other places to look.
“I immediately tore out and purchased some a couple of packs of blue morning glory seeds and then noticed that the leaves imprinted in the fabric of the drapes in the living room all seemed to have little faces dancing. This was, in fact, clearly the intent of the designer, but was something in all the years living around these ratty drapes I had never noticed.
And then I looked at everything around me and discovered that this affinity for looking into things… had become turbocharged. And swimming in the depths of polished stones, pawns, the ditch running down the back of the backyard were myriads of worlds.
And I went outside and I was looking around at everything and then I just felt physically overcome, my knees basically gave way beneath me and I sat down under a tree and I closed my eyes… and my life has never been the same since.
Because there, waiting, behind closed eyelids, were ruined cities, covered with creeping jewelled lichen and inhabited by shining eyed creatures who were… I’m not sure exactly what… and much, much more. And I just spent a half hour or so, literally entranced, gazing into this unfolding reverie of deserts, jungles, machines, archaeological artefacts, machines in orbit around alien worlds, all of this stuff. I was stunned. I still am stunned.”
- Terence McKenna, speaking about his first LSA experience at age 14
Wherever you keep it… release the kraken.