Where has the magic gone?


Although I’m not married I still sometimes ask myself, ‘Where has the magic gone? Why don’t I feel like I sometimes did as a child?’ I suppose the short answer is that I am no longer a child. Why would a fully grown adult think there might be magic anywhere to be found?

Even so, Richard Dawkins wrote a book called The Magic of Reality. As much as I like Richard Dawkins, I can’t help thinking that things only seem magical when they don’t belong to reality. Some real things, like fireworks, can perhaps appear a little bit magical until you get used to them. Yet once you do they lose their magic.

Unlike Richard Dawkins, after seeing some rainbows and elephants both lost their interest for me. Maybe I am missing something or have a short attention span. For me they become relatively pretty compared to a heap of rubble, or relatively impressive compared to a sheep, but not magical.

It would be nice to be able to feel that reality was magical as Richard Dawkins seems to do, or go back to childhood when simply watching a Disney movie convinced me that there was a magical dimension to the world. But I can’t go back to my childhood or pretend that I have never seen a rainbow or elephant before. Trying to recapture something you no longer feel is not possible, unless you are into self-deception.

I’m sure that Richard Dawkins is genuine in his sense of wonderment at the natural world, but professions of awe and wonder have become so commonplace nowadays that I no longer believe them. I think a manufactured sense of awe has become the spiritual equivalent of bottled water and cell phones: they are fashion accessories. This pretend-wonder is a product of our age. Everything nowadays is ‘amazing’ and unless you speak in superlatives you are considered dull and only half alive. Just look at TV presenters today. They are breathless with faux enthusiasm and I feel exhausted and depressed just watching them.

Since modern man no longer believes in an afterlife or heaven we seem doggedly determined to wring the most out of our three score years and ten, even if it means jacking ourselves up into an artificial ecstasy over the tiniest thing. If earlier people could see us now I’m sure they would wonder what all the fuss was about. Yes, it’s a rainbow and yes, it’s quite nice. But why the raptures? Have you never seen one before?


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