Tag Archives: magic in the midst of empiricism

Fog

Mist, drifting. Enchantment airborne.

Magically transporting me back in time, to a youthful state of awe. Mystically obscuring the linear shapes of the mundane. Cloaking the world in mystery, transforming the ordinary into the unknown.

I have always welcomed fog, found it to be a special gift.

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In the fog, anything seems possible. Objects appear and disappear, figures and shapes loom out of it in an instant, just as rapidly returning to those concealing tendrils. The quotidian sounds of life become muffled, adding a sense of expectancy, of pregnancy to every fog-shrouded moment.

It seemed to me, when young, quite obvious that the realm of Faerie (if it existed) depended on fog, mist, and starlight. It hinged on twilight. If it was real, it was only real in the blurred realm of soft lighting, not in the harsh, empirical light of the midday sun.

Fog seems a gateway, a misty portal.

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Walking the streets of San Francisco or London, enveloped in mist so thick it seems tangible, palpable, anything seems possible. Strolling through foggy rural Germany, the likelihood of trolls under bridges seems more certain than doubtful.  Hiking through the redwood forests, fog imbues the surroundings with the attributes of a cathedral, of a forgotten, ancient, and holy temple.

I know it is just a ground-hugging cloud, a floating sea of mist that refracts and reflects light according to the laws of physics. I know the silence is due to the attenuative effect of water on sound propagation…yet I still sense the magic. I know it is just a cooler air mass meeting warmer ground, not a mystical event.

Yet I dare my fellow empiricists to deny the sense of magic and mystery inherent in the fog. We know it may simply be reactions of our amygdalae at the unexpected distortion coming from the optic nerve…still you would surely jump out of your boots if an unexpected sight or sound arose from this fog.

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Drifting in a North Atlantic fog bank, the rest of the world seems quite unlikely. In this misty soup, the philosophic question/statement of ‘cogito, ergo sum’ seems less ridiculous, the Zen koan of the tree falling unobserved makes a bit more sense. Without the reassuring visual and auditory inputs, the existence of another world beyond our senses (a ‘real’, logical, linear one) seems less likely than our logical brains tell us it is (the converse of more sunlit times).

In the enfolding vapors, the romantic are called to romance, the evil to evil, and the fearful to fear. In the obscuring shrouds, none of us sally boldly forth. No, the mist adds a sense of trepidity to our steps. In the refracted world of fog, we find humility, uncertainty made palpable.

If fog magnifies the sense of mystery in life, it also amplifies the awesome beauty of natural events; snow and fog or lightning/thunder in fog are even more awesome than without it. We’ve all (most of us, anyhow) witnessed the grace of snowfall, the power of lightning. But to behold them both at once is a gift given to few.

In the monochrome world of fog, shape gains a new ascendency, is highlighted by the simple background pallette of grays and white shades. Subtle, almost imagined contrasts impart an air of simultaneous hyper-reality and surrealism. The backdrop against which geometry manifests itself no longer distracts our eye. Objects spring forth in a sudden moment of stark clarity, then fade back into the obscuring vapors, where those once-stark shapes fade with distance into the blur of mist.

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None the less magical in the explainability of its source or physics, fog remains a large factor in our perceptions and mood. Regardless of its cause, fog retains an awesome power, one undiluted by the quantifications of science.

For understanding comes from raw experience, rises from the heart, the guts, and not the head. ¬†We experience fog…and all natural wonders from the place of the heart. If we do not, we miss the gift of magic that resides there, in spite of the explanations and protestations of the head, of the ‘logical’ mind.

The fog has magic within it…whether we see it so or not.

 

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