Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why England Actually Is Still Magical and Other Thoughts

      Tea. Accents. Dry humor. Place-names like Waltham on the Wolds. Rows of tall brick chimneys. Footpaths. Layers of living history and fogs of fiction and fantasy. Pedantic societies. Cravats and top-hats.
      I pondered these beauties, gathering up the ephemeral threads that tug at my heart when I hear the name of that Magical Land.
      Somehow, though, something was different. After what I'd written here about far countries and living in mine, it didn't all jibe. Possessing my new "live here and now" philosophy, am I allowed to pine anymore? And anyways, these all seemed to be just the paraphernalia. Only magic by association, perhaps. But by association with what? The stories set there? Or does the whole nation have an aura of magic merely because it's far away? Since I live in a story here, why should I think I'd be more happy if I lived in the land of red phone-booths?
      If Wendell Berry, William Carlos Williams, and Annie Dillard, to name a few, have valid things to say with phrases like "no ideas but in things" and "holy the firm"--that there is sacredness in simple realness--then this implies that all real (simple, good) things have intrinsic worth, even Barnsdall, Oklahoma. [Insert: I have made a semi-regular pastime of morosely comparing randomly selected American and English towns on Google Maps. Though potentially depressing, it is an activity I recommend you try at least once.]
      So how do I reconcile this? My belief that one ought to see the world as sacred in all its particulars, as the apparatus of the true present stories as lampposts and golden rings are of others, and then the fact that I still pine for everything in Paragraph 1? I love the Oxford societies and propriety of speech and old, classy clothing. England is the place of my imaginings, the place where so many of my inkblooded friends live... I feel that if I were to be there I would be in their company.
      It's an open question. Which, for once, is fine with me.