Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Random Thoughts: Imaginary Places

In our stories and dreams, sometimes we think of places that aren't.  They don't exist.  But we humans have these strong collective mythologies.  We even craft physical embodiments of them in the real

I'm a monist.  I don't believe in the supernatural.  For me, these fictions are always that: fictions.  They don't exist.
world.  Places that mirror the imagined locales in our minds.

There is no such thing as a spirit of a place or thing.  There is no metaphysical entity that actually does the things that are done by such things.  They don't exist.

Yet we still require to alter the state of a place to fit the dreams we imagine.  What creatures are we, that such things need to be?  Why?

I've visited some of them.  There is something important about such things humans craft for the sake of dreams and whimsy.  Disneyland.  The Pyramids.  The Statue of Liberty.

I've also visited natural places.  Wild locales that seem unchained.  That same word crops up again: they have a spirit to them.  That's the rub.

The idea of a genius loci or kami of a place is important.  A spirit exists in these places.  An imaginary one.  Not a real one.  The difference is key: an imaginary spirit is a human metaphor for something.  The genius loci of a place is a metaphor for things we can't describe accurately.

We name them.  We give them epithets.  We even spend years of our lives dedicated to their upkeep.

Yet we can't quite grasp in words or art what exactly they mean to us.  But encapsulated in the idea of a spirit, we can carry across what we feel about a place.  Spirit do not exist.  But the cultural metaphor does.

Sometimes there is a spirit in a thing.  And using that word to articulate the notion that a place is something you can't quite describe, is fine.  More fittingly, I doubt you can truly capture some things without such metaphors.

As long as we believe they are important, that is what makes the spirit exist.  We give them the breath of life.  They are manifestations of us.  We are projecting our will through reality.  What we feel about a place, that is its spirit.

Sometimes you need to embrace it.  Relive the magic before you lose the thing that keeps you sane.  The madness of your very human imagination.