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I bought "A Short History Of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson in the airport bookshop, on my way to Poland before Easter this year. It was almost "accidental" choice and it turned to be one of these books that change my attitude to reality.
Around two months ago I had discussion with my boyfriend about the modern world in general. We noticed that in our childhood we both felt as though the world was full of mysteries awaiting you "in every street corner" but with time there were less and less mysteries left until we started realising that there is no much more to be discovered. I even think that my obsession with paranormal world and UFO was coming form the deep need to find the world, I saw when I was a child.
And now I found this book, which in very simple words describes the history of science, lives of scientists and summarises the whole of the modern knowledge about the world. Almost every chapter ends with a conclusion that we barely know anything. We don't understand universe, we don't know what is really hidden inside our planet's core and its oceans, we don't know why we are here and how long it would take before people can become extinct. The whole of our world is built of bacteria and our existence depends on them, but more than 90 percent of them were never seen or classified. We don't know how the genes work and why they exist at all... Suddenly I feel as though I opened the door to some magical land which hides more mysteries that I could ever wish to discover!
The book lead me also to some reflection about magic and occult practices. As I mentioned previously, the book describes the history of science and many scientists. It turns out that many of them had strong interest in occult, including for example Newton who was fascinated in alchemy... ( I didn't know that). It is also surprising how many of them could be almost geniuses in one subject and at the same time complete ignorants in the other...
Many people criticize Crowley for some of his writings and they assume that he couldn't that smart after all. My theory now is that if science made so many mistakes in its quest to define the world, surely the same would apply to the occult world which by its nature deals with much more subtle matters. Humans are allowed mistakes and we shouldn't discredit all of their work just because they were wrong is some places. At the same time we should be able to question things and if something doesn't make much sense to us it is worth to explore it further. Maybe we can not see the whole picture of it or maybe it is all wrong. That's why conservatism in magic is as bad as conservatism in science or religion.