June 18 James Stephens: The Wind

There is a magic to Nature that science simply cannot explain. This isn’t to say that the lack of scientific understanding makes the world more magical – in fact, it makes the world less magical and more delusional. Saying that fire goes up because it is attracted to a fiery sphere up in the sky (a medieval theory as to why fire always goes up) and leaving that theory untested, just simply believing it, does not make fire magical. Eventually, belief has to give over to reality. Even those Global Warming Deniers are grudgingly admitting that there is such a thing as Global Warming, but now they’re changing their tactic and claiming that it can’t be man-made.

But when you learn how the world really works, it turns out that there is a magic to it and that understanding has helped to facilitate that awe and wonder that you experience when you discover it. No, there is no fiery sphere up in the sky (and we can argue your conspiracies until your blue in the face – eventually, you’ll be forced to change your tactics as well), but the idea that something as violent as fire can erupt from a stagnant piece of stable carbon chains, the fact that matter can be converted to energy, the fact that something as alive as fire can come from a dead piece of wood just because it’s been heated to a certain temperature, now that IS magic! The fact that a virus, a thing only made of DNA, can purposely root around in a cell, hijack its DNA code and trick the cell into replicating the virus DNA, that’s magic too.

We listen to lectures on theoretical physics and they say that certain things can happen that you only thought were special effects on the show Bewitched. In fact, it turns out that there is a point where magic and science meet, where one becomes indefinable from the other. Yeah, we know that in the primordial ooze, several amino acids and sugar molecules found each other and one day became DNA, but how did that thing go from chemicals to life – that’s the great mystery and science will never really solve it. Who is to say that there isn’t a soul? Or, as the Native Americans believe, that inanimate objects don’t have souls, don’t have emotional lives, ecstatic elations and furious temper tantrums?

Perhaps that goes too far, but we look at animals and plants and are certain that they don’t have emotions or thoughts, but how do we know? Science might not be able to say either way. Though having said so, I have seen shows that talked about recent studies about animal behavior that suggest that animals, at least, do have complex emotional lives that we thought only humans could have. Who knows what extraordinary discovery science will make tomorrow.

In this poem, the wind is personified. He’s having a temper tantrum – actually a bit of a berserker rage. The wind has often been personified (given human qualities) in myth and poetry. Storms are often said to be a god’s fury by ancient cultures and some people believed that they’d done something to make the gods mad. Sometimes, I wonder if Nature is angry at us for over-polluting and over-populating the planet, that the storms are her way of telling us she’s angry. Perhaps that’s just silly, magical thinking. But when Seattle’s version of Global Warming is a beautiful and temperate summer (Seattle being a very environmental city) and the South (Global Warming deniers) gets massive and destructive hurricanes as a result of Global Warming, it kind of makes you wonder. But that wouldn’t be rational.

The Wind

by James Stephens

The wind stood up and gave a shout.
He whistled on his fingers and

Kicked the withered leaves about
And thumped the branches with his hand

And said he’d kill and kill and kill,
And so he will and so he will.

About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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