Discover more from Raids on the Unspeakable
On the sublimity of original myth
"Infinity has a tendency to fill the mind with that sort of delightful horror, which is the most genuine effect and truest test of the sublime."
For any order to carry true moral force it must be imbued with something of the sublime, some element of that infinite awe by which the cries of reason are subdued. Hence why movements entail some founding myth, that they may be anchored as far in the ages as to have been forever. There is no value in analytic history, the mere trivia of a profane age; what matters is the impetus given by such myths to the living moral law. Those pedants that disturb the sands of time, to tell us that such and such was not really so—these are termites tearing at the foundations. Any that quibble with a founding myth must be thought enemies or fools, can never be reckoned with. There is no room for debate when it comes to these touchstones of the moral imagination. They are the necessary grounds of all order in the here and now.
What matters, then, is less historicity than belief and awe, that this ancient visage may give moral strength to the living order. When we tear down the past, or even alter it in an effort towards historicity, we tend to disturb the foundations of the present. Too much motion here and the whole structure will crumble into the sands out of which, by blood and faith, it was first built—and here, a hint at one corollary to this retrospective, a way for those that might construct anew:
I know of a magic wand, but it is a wand that only one or two may rightly use, and only seldom. It is a fairy wand of great fear, stronger than those who use it—often frightful, often wicked to use. But whatever is touched with it is never again wholly common; whatever is touched with it takes a magic from outside the world. If I touch, with this fairy wand, the railways and the roads of Notting Hill, men will love them, and be afraid of them for ever.