Sunday, May 24, 2009

Holding on to mystery

We all love a bit of mystery. Half the reason people date is because of the allure of the uknown. We create elaborate fantasies of what the other person is like; we wallow in their mixed signals and unfamiliar language like excited hippos in the mud. Science fiction and fantasy (and, some might say, religion) have all grown up because of our inherent desire to make the world more interesting, more fantastical, and to attribute to it some hidden depth, meaning and inexplicability. Mystery is a fine art. It captures our imagination and fills our hearts with possibility and hope.

And yet, it's a resource that is dwindling faster than fossil fuels or untouched forest. No one can be bothered with mystery any more. I'm all for honesty - but the levels of openness and candour that we've reached today haven't furthered the cause of honesty; they've merely stripped the world of any magic. Perhaps it's profoundly untrusting of me to think that without mystery the world loses any interest - it's all prosaic and mundane and straightforward. If what you see is what you get, then why bother looking? 

Despite the onslaught of digital media which make it unfashionable not to let everyone know exactly what you're thinking at any given moment (says the blogger), I think we should hold out and hold back. There are no longer undiscovered places on this planet for us to imagine the hell out of. But we still have silent smiles, hidden histories and complex motives. I know that, despite my propensity to be a hysterical groupie, I'm obsessing much more about the mysterious onesmallseed motorbike in my garage than I did when I met Matt Damon. The bike is alive with celebrity possibility: once I know for sure whose it is, it will just be means of transportation.

But then, maybe I should just get a life

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