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Mechanics and Magicians

Let wise men piece the world together with wisdom
Or poets with holy magic.
— Wallace Stevens, Hieroglyphica
(via Rhys Tranter)

I’ll admit to this: I need a bit of magic to begin some of my Mondays. Magic that goes beyond the second cuppa, beyond the brace of cold water on the skin, but something that acts upon me as caffeine works to clear early morning fog or cold water shocks the extremities to action. Poetry or great prose will do in such circumstances.

Seeing the first two lines of the Stevens poem on a social media feed, I received the desired jolt, but if we learn anything from social media, it’s to confirm the source before repeating (if only the world took such care!). These particular lines seem evasive, quoted either with or without the Hey-di-ho bit, but largely found as the simple nugget of bright insight you see above. What to do with it? Hold for another day or perpetuate the magic in the quote? I choose to perpetuate. Blame it on Monday, if you will.

Most of us are skeptical of magic. When confronted with it we search for an answer. But should we wonder how the magician pulls off their sleight of hand or simply wonder in the act? No doubt, progress lies in wisdom, and it’s a very fine thing. There’s a time for knowing the mechanics happening just behind the curtain. For process is progress, quite necessary for us to make productive use of our lifetime of Mondays. The car isn’t going to fix itself, you know.

But, conceding that, isn’t there also a time for leaving magic just so now and then, that we may sprinkle it over moments otherwise mundane?

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