Our Earth is big, but it can be traversed by industrialized methods of travel. Our galaxy is annoyingly big and has only been traversed by abstract scientific concepts largely relating to light. Our universe is quite simply, frustratingly big. Too large to ponder for too long, to do is to put oneself in a trance like no other. Even to lean one’s face into your hand and stare at the sky brings forth a feeling of wonder, horror and awe. This is a form of enchantment that is necessary for man. It is also a form of enchantment that since the late 19th century has been almost entirely lost, at least within everyday life. Why is this? Well, space, galaxies and the universe as whole are not of our primary design and construction, and industrialization and the arrival of runaway-techno-capital subtly taught us that those ideas and things of which we are not in primary relation to are, for lack of real reason, not of our concern. There are those who are concerned with these things of course, thinkers, engineers, scientists, but they usually interrogate it in a way of intelligibility which I feel is a grave error to make. What makes life worth living is not conclusions, or ends, nor completion or constructed merit, no. What makes life consistently, deliriously sublime is the unintelligible, that which we cannot grasp. Of course, the horror is found in the screaming between what we know we do not know. (Levinas’ il y a, is fantastic on this.)
To think on this unintelligibility is to be enchanted by life itself. The problem herein is that modern humans direct their attention to that which is primary to their perspective. We fully understand the spheres we exist within. We roughly understand how cars work, how we get to work, what lunchtime means, why we may watch TV shows, what it means to have status etc. To cut a long story short we only understand that which is already fully constructed, we can only ever understand completeness. And all out bubbles and socio-cultural spheres are pretty much complete, they are of the same. In fact, the reason people are so averse to leaving their spheres of comfort is that they fear difference. The eternal return of the same – in its most banal reading – is the soft pillow of disenchanted man. A man who has fully accepted. Not accepted X or Y, no. A person who has simply accepted, accepted it all. It is, for them, done. And now they simply just continue down the routes of the same which are open for them, routes which in their very nature as the same are no different to any other route. One cannot find difference in that which they can already attend. It comes from elsewhere, from possessions, communions, enchantment, deliriums, bemusement, fevers, from the weird and the strange.
“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.” – Einstein
It’s a slight shame that Einstein had to insert ‘science’ into that quote, it sort of throws it out of joint, pertains to the idea of an overarching ‘theme’. But it covers the idea I’m writing about here nicely.
You’re more than likely caught up in something or other. Some domestic with your partner, a financial problem, an intellectual pursuit, some form of construction or conclusion that you’re aiming yourself at. Your own little temporal pathway which has an end, a end which in the grand scheme of things is always false. Have you ever felt satisfied? If you think of that question – if you’re anything like me – you realize that none of the material, societal or cultural pressures which you attended to and concluded ever culminated into any form of actual conclusion. They always drag on into some haphazard, drawn out affair regarding status, worth or value, and almost always end only in fatigue or submission.
We have forgotten how to be enchanted. Something which arguably should be a priori to our existence. I’m idling close to the pitfalls of extrapolating some deep-seated depersonalization here, but perhaps we all need to fragment our minds from time to time. Maybe people don’t stand in the mirror as long as me, and no, it’s not because I’m staring at myself, it’s because it doesn’t, never really has, and hopefully never will…make sense. This whole ‘living’ thing, when you get right down to it, is fucking weird. To forget enchantment is to forget the inherent weirdness and peculiarity of existence itself. Tying into my previous post regarding office work, it used to infuriate me that people could exist in such a sullen and dead manner, acting in such a way as if this is how it is and it’s never to be any other way, and that outside of their labour, and actions of flesh, is not wonder, but nothing. I say used to because now I’m apathetic to those who still so caged in. I will spend time messaging and chatting to those who wish to about how or why to become unplugged and re-enchant oneself, but ultimately you can drag a boring horse before the crab nebula and it will still moan its hooves hurt. Basically a large percentage of the populous miss the moon because they’re too busy looking at the hand pointing at it.
It’s easy to retreat, in fact it’s so easy that is has become our default setting. Someone pointed out something very strange that is put upon us at a young age. ‘Keep your head down!’. That’s what we say to children who are idly gazing upwards at the clouds, sky, birds or rafters of a large building. We instantly put a stop to their enchantment, but we not only stop it, we shame it. It has become a shameful act to mention that one feels a little uneasy at existing. Not in any angsty way. Don’t worry, when I’m assembling a door-frame I’m not shaking and holding onto the floor, but I am often thinking how odd it all is.
To lean into this feeling is to put yourself more and more at ease each day. This is one of the methods I routinely use to ‘exit’ myself from modernity and from that which I never needed/wanted in the first place. To buy, want, desire or buy-into various facets of life is usually because you wish to escape from this feeling, you cannot handle being and you cannot handle being enchanted. Human affairs – other than those you must take responsibility for (Health, family, friends.) should be secondary worries. You can watch that film tomorrow or not at all, you could visit that place another time, you may or may not do that thing, that cursed thing which is all jagged, striated and finished. Completion is the enemy of enchantment. I believe this is why more and more people in make-work jobs are beginning to feel alienated, lonely and depressed. These jobs are getting further and further away from enchanting existence. They are creating bubbles within bubbles, constraints within constraints, to add another lock onto the cage in hope that it will be the one which will make the boredom of the cage disappear.
One of my more controversial opinions is that I’m in agreement with R.D. Laing regarding depression. Give this a watch, but I’ll write out Laing’s speech here:
“It’s not necessarily a good idea if you’re in prison, in a dungeon, and the door happens to be open, to adopt the policy that ‘I’m not going to walk out of this state of affairs unless I discover how I got into it.’
Now understandably depression is a complex issue and I wont get into here, and wish to utilize Laing’s point to articulate my thoughts regarding enchantment. See, much like Laing’s ‘dungeon’ in the linked video, much of our neuroses and depressive pessimism regarding life is of our construction and is itself related to further constructions which pull us to and fro, and as Laing states, you’re more than welcome to exit that dungeon. You don’t need to know how you got there, who or what put you there or why it even exists…fuck the dungeon. The dungeon or more aptly prison is in this case the existence of dis-enchantment. Life feels dry, heavy, a little dead all the time and you keep wondering why, you don’t really anything, or dwell on that which isn’t dry or heavy, you just sit in that dungeon and repeat to yourself that life has become boring. “Same shit, different day.” you say to yourself. Well, I’ve got news for you. If you re-enchant life, then that statement will quite quickly be reversed “Different shit, same day.”. Your place of work, your commute, your home, your hobbies, when inspected on an ontological, philosophical or mystical level become wondrous activities.
You’re mowing the lawn. You focus on the grass, the green seems brighter today. it’s as if the birdsong is poetic, rhythmic regarding the swell of the day. The breeze hits cobwebs on your shed, you notice the spider making repairs. Everything is flowing and you were letting all this pass-by. Before the ‘boredom’ of the prison would have been momentarily satiated with modernity’s latest trinket, but now, you just look around and relax into the awe and horror of being itself and think of beauty.