Aug 18, 2012
Occasionally I wish that just one truly magical thing were real: flying carpets or wishing rings or alchemy or fairy dust. But then I realize that if that were the case these things would also become ordinary, because that’s what humans do: we take extraordinary things and make them commonplace and boring.
I mean, we have chemiluminescent plankton, wild horses running unaffected through Chernobyl, hunks of wood somehow fashioned into complicated stringed instruments, not to mention the complex sequence of biochemical and electrical processes that allow me to enjoy these things, express them in a language you can understand, and then type my thoughts onto a palm-sized tablet, which will then broadcast them through a wireless, invisible network of harnessed photons. All this in addition to auroras, motion pictures, water falling from the sky, the germ-killing mold that can make a sick person well again in a matter of days. These things are ordinary and unmagical because we’ve said that they are. But to quote the great Terry Pratchett, knowing how something is done doesn’t make it not magic.