Science, the largest religion of the twentieth century, had become tarnished by images of exploding space shuttles, crack babies, and a generation of complacent Americans who allowed the television to raise their children. People were looking for something - I think they just didn't know what. And even though they were once again starting to open their eyes to the world of magic and the arcane that had been with them all the while, they still thought I must be some kind of joke.
The world rarely shrieks its meaning at you. It whispers, in private languages and obscure modalities, in arcane and quixotic imagery, through symbol systems in which every element has multiple meanings determined by juxtaposition.
Many faculty retreated into academic specializations and an arcane language that made them irrelevant to the task of defending the university as a public good, except for in some cases a very small audience. This has become more and more clear in the last few years as academics have become so insular, often unwilling or unable to defend the university as a public good, in spite of the widespread attacks on academic freedom, the role of the university as a democratic public sphere, and the increasing reduction of knowledge to a saleable commodity, and students to customers.
I’ve often wished that I had some suave and socially acceptable hobby that I could fall back on in times like this. You know, play the violin (or was it the viola) like Sherlock Holmes, or maybe twiddle away on the pipe organ like the Disney version of Captain Nemo. But I don’t. I’m sort of the arcane equivalent of a classic computer geek. I do magic, in one form or another, and that’s pretty much it. I really need to get a life, one of these days
Then all at once in late August's heat, tall leafless stalks crowned with iridescent pink and purple blossoms burst from the purgatory in the earth. This arcane act of nature, though perceived by us as ordinary, is a manifestation of Maya's phantom play, the great immensity expressed in every way. My garden is the universe. I am the universe. I am my garden. All things are the same.
We should take comfort in two conjoined features of nature: first, that our world is incredibly strange and therefore supremely fascinating ... second, that however bizarre and arcane our world might be, nature remains potentially comprehensible to the human mind.