“It’s not men’s minds that are at stake, but their consciousness, their awareness. This isn’t a struggle over a market area. Make no mistake about it. This is a struggle over what’s to be judged valuable in the universe. Outside, they value whatever can be measured, counted or tabulated. Here, we go by different standards.”
-Frank Herbert, The Santaroga Barrier
If you don’t believe in brighter days and better ways, or believe in them but have no use for them, this is your disclaimer. I am a wizard. I understand that this claim may bother some, so I am taking extra steps in the interest of full disclosure. If you aren’t interested in the Technicolor mosaic behind the monochrome veil, either consider reading something that you’ll actually enjoy, or continue at the risk of being annoyed. You’ve been warned.
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I’ll introduce myself by stating that I am a practicing mystic following a virtually unknown discipline. Instead of spending my days in a monk’s cell, however, I spend them in an average man’s office cubicle. Smaller than average, in fact. What I do each day for the sake of an extremely modest paycheck consumes so much of my personal energy that if I succeed at leading to halves of the same life, I do so just barely. I live quietly in the shadow of the eternally majestic Mount Monadnock.
That is as specific as I care to get, for the time being, regarding my specific identity (which isn’t as important as you’d think).
The above quote, from a highly philosophical 1968 science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert (better known as the author of the masterful Dune series) succinctly summarizes both my primary complaints and my primary mission, but, by your leave, I will expand upon them briefly anyway.
Let’s start with the complaints. I believe the conditions I am describing are indicative of a worldwide situation, but as I’ve already told you that I’m an American wizard, I speak primarily to other Americans and about what I perceive in America. Around fifty years ago, the process began that resulted in the murder of “the old ways”—a phrase some would use to describe the sociological behavior and mores of the outdated and rarely applicable, often bizarre and inconsistent American WASP tribe—and their affiliated institutions. I am in favor of this cultural shift. I am not among those who lament the loss of the disproportionately powerful and often corrupt Church, nor do I decry the fact that it is increasingly unacceptable for any of society’s at-large authorities to discriminate against our differences and peer into our bedrooms. I do not believe that everyone should have the same haircut or wear the same clothes, and I certainly don’t find it productive to ever force square pegs into round holes for the sake of some mythologically perfect nuclear family model or life path.
Quite the contrary.
These reforms represent personal liberation and freedom, which all good wizards can stand behind. My complaint is that they were never actually completed, leaving us as exposed and in danger as if we were wandering around the upper levels of a construction site that’s an unfinished high-rise—at night. The old order, which we’ve ostensibly cast aside, was never replaced with a new one. I’m not saying we should have deposed a despot only to install a different kind of dictator, I’m saying that the personal liberations and personal freedoms granted were never granted to the group. I’m saying this leads to a place, the present, in which, as a group, we generally don’t have much of an idea who we are or what we are doing.
I’m saying that the way we’ve come to live today is forever fractured. We’re fractured from the earth itself when hardly any of us find it possible to earn a livelihood in any way connected to the beasts who spring forth from it and the plants that grow out of it, and when the few shared celebrations and rituals we do possess fail to adequately take account for our planet’s changing seasons and cycles. When we intrinsically see ourselves as existing outside of, or independent from, those phases and circles, we’re fractured.
We’re fractured from the heavens in the same way—a malady afflicting our collective spiritual life not because we don’t read the Bible and go to church and make purity pledges but because we deny the existence of any such shared spiritual plane altogether. Taking our own selves out of context, we fail to see our own patterns as a portion (and in the image) of the grand mosaic of all the cosmos, and we’re fractured.
We’re fractured from one another in what seems like millions of ways. While it’s great that drastically fewer among us band together on the basis of religious denomination and great that blind jingoism is sometimes a lesser force than it once was, it is nonetheless the extreme independence of our identities that hinders us from healthy union of any kind. It’s why our holidays, the two or three we actually have in common, are so dry and prepackaged and lacking in nearly all significant meaning beyond bland pink nostalgia. It’s why workers, both intra-company colleagues and in the broad economy as a whole, see one another most often as rivals competing for a meager share of a finite bounty instead of brothers and sisters or even peers. Our individual sovereignty is what leads us to vote against our own interests, to narrowly battle for the present instead of conscientiously considering the future, to vigorously defend our own little buttressed snow-forts against the sun’s rays instead of finding solidarity and common ground with the rest of the humans in the interests of stability and harmony. Defying not just our soft hearts but reason itself, we are thus fractured.
We’re fractured from those who employ us, who often see themselves as existing separately from regular people in the same erroneous way we see ourselves as set apart from nature itself. Along with the power-huffers in Washington and the money-spinners in New York and Chicago, they take advantage of the previously mentioned fractures because they believe it to be profitable for them, and to many, that is the sole consideration given. I’m not here to point fingers, to determine fault or expose conspiracies, but to state that many of us are cut off even from our own work, unable even to find within it any dignity, worth, or duty, even upon exerting tremendous effort to do so. This is a state of profound fracturing.
All told, I put forward that we have become fractured from many aspects of reality itself, and we’re getting the shaft. That’s my complaint.
But I believe in brighter days and better ways, and I can see the Technicolor mosaic behind the monochrome veil.
From the foot of Monadnock, one can marvel at its grand and immovable superiority. From its peak, one can marvel at everything else. One sees nearly fifty miles in all directions—an area that includes not merely a huge chunk of the cities and towns comprising the civilization of New England but one that contains all the tragedies and infirmities I’ve just described. Yet with all that lies within one’s scope, all of this becomes suddenly invisible. The towns, the cities, and especially the now-petty problems are almost entirely invisible. If this perspective of the world were all that one knew, one would believe it to be a world comprised mainly of trees, rolling hills, formidable birds, and glistening lakes, and nothing more.
Of course, that really is the world. Just not the one we can generally see. If this is a glimpse easily won, how much more is there that exists readily available to us, just barely out of reach?
I’m just a wizard, not something more than that. I don’t claim that I know the path to a better age, because I don’t. My mission isn’t to declare anything or provide any answers. My mission is to walk, to walk in the direction that seems to hold the dim light of feeble progress and promise. If this sounds kinda fun to you, maybe we’ll find our way somewhere. If not, maybe it will still be fun.
A wizard’s job is to respond to the fracturing by transcending it. A wizard’s job is not merely to ascend the mountain and see the world but to descend it afterwards carrying the knowledge of what he’s seen. A wizard lives in multiple worlds and on multiple planes at the same time. A wizard parts the veils seldom parted, interprets truths rarely audible, and intercedes with entities rarely engaged by anyone else. I do these things not because I am the only one who can—I make no such claim. I do these things because it is my responsibility to do them.
As the Wizard of Monadnock, you can expect to hear from me with regularity, but this page will also feature posts from my trusted collaborators, and I encourage contributions and commentary from absolutely any reader so moved to do so. We’re all humans in here.
Missives directly related to what I’ve discussed so far will be filed under our Wizardry section. We’ll also feature a variety of short fiction and poetry under the False Truths banner. Musings and Statements will house essays and commentary on an unrestricted array of topics (including frequent posts by our in-house political and world affairs guru, Joachim the News Hobbit. Finally, we encourage you to check out the links of our Friends to see what they have to say.
Come back as often as you like, whether you want to lurk quietly or say your piece. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and peace be upon you. Mahalo.