Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What is the Illusion?

Mt. Rainier

“I have left behind illusion,” I said to myself. “Henceforth I live in a world of three dimensions – with the aid of my five senses.”
I have since learned that there is no such world; but then, as the car turned out of sight of the house, I thought it took no finding, but lay all about me at the end of the avenue.
—Brideshead Revisited

The idea that the world can be fit down to the measure of man's mind is not a new one.  The atheist, the puritan, the rationalist, the modernist, the materialist, the fundamentalist (and they are all fundamentalists) — all believe that they have somehow escaped the illusion that the world is enchanted, that it is a mystery, that there are always more and more beautiful things to be wondered at and loved, and things beyond our ability to see, to measure, and to comprehend.  They think that the cosmos, and human life, and even "God," can be reduced to a few maxims of truth or falsehood, and that they have escaped the illusion of transcendence.  But they have in fact succumbed to illusion. Part of our job is precisely to dispel the illusion, to rediscover for ourselves and others that the world is enchanted, no easy task.

Of course, human society will sooner or later discover this fact for themselves.  Reality is a terrifying mystery, one which will eventually assert itself, and wipe away the neat little illusory world we have created to avoid it.  It is best that we should "agree with our adversary quickly" before He rises up against us.

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