Sunday, 20 September 2015

New Statesman review of The Land of the Green Man by Carolyne Larrington


"Supernatural stories can help us understand reality." What I find interesting about this statement (New Statesman) is that reality is made up of all kinds of ways of being which coalesce into perceptual experience. By which I mean supernatural stories are part of the fabric of reality. Will this age of reason be remembered as the time when we were caught in the mechanical jaws of Newton’s Universe? (According to Chomsky the way we think about language, the very mutation from which we derive self-reflective consciousness, is pre-Newtonian.) I’m not blaming Newton – remember he was only able to make the breakthrough to understanding gravity because of his belief in invisible forces. He didn’t intend for the next five hundred years to be shaped by the idea of gravity as down to earth reason. Before Newton people believed things moved to their proper place but Newton worked out that there was in fact an invisible force pulling them there. This idea of gravity as logical and immutable has come to symbolise levelheaded reality. Anything wholesome is not very sexy; we prefer a piecemeal version of reality where things are separate and categorised accurately. I’m not advocating we ditch science (far from it) but I somehow wish we could escape ourselves and this notion we’ve got that we know everything. I guess it is a trick of the brain (lets say the left brain but I’m not bothered where this trait emerges only that it is recognised) which prevents us running screaming into the void of intangibility. But I find that a life experienced on every level is much more secure. The demand for us to subscribe to a cognitive order is where madness comes from. We need to be more phenomenologically inclusive because refusal to be so leads to quacks ruling the roost. There is no god if you want. Likewise there fleetingly is a god if I pray to her. This is really where supernatural stories come in because the writer or originator understands that this is where real life resides. Lately we have tried to reduce the idea of ourselves more and more until even story telling is en extension of gravity with no room for spooky action at a distance. 
So realty tends to mean scientific reality but it doesn't really mean that because cutting edge science now realises that our perception and role as observers shapes the universe. Fact.

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