Such a powerful thought, I said, so loudly that the Dark Youth woke from his dark thoughts and said, what are you reading?
“In the existential situation of embodied souls, Iamblichus’s introduction of theurgic rituals provided a mediation between man’s experience of matter as an oppressive weight, separating him from the divine, and his innate awareness of matter as the vehicle that joined him with the gods.”
Matter sure is heavy, said TDY.
Yes I, said, but what would we be without it?
And what would that be like?
Sex, drugs and ice cream, whatever you cared to imagine.
So what would you imagine? I asked.
A world, he said, like this one but better.
And what would you make your world with?
Mind stuff, he said. I’d make it out of my own substance—pure mind.
And it would have grass that lived on dirt and deer that lived on grass and tigers that lived on deer?
Yeah, he said, it would all be made of dirt, but nicer dirt.
Nicer matter, I said.
Yeah, he said, magical matter.
Could this magical matter evolve into an animal that thinks?
Sure, he said. A magical animal.
What would it think about?
That would depend, he said. When it was little it would think about its mom and dad.
Then it might pick up a magical leaf or stone, I said.
Yeah, he said, it might pick up a red leaf, dying on the ground. And wonder.
Yeah, he said, it might wonder why leaves turn red and fall. Why anything falls, why things have weight.
Why magical matter is so heavy, I said.
Yeah, he said. I saw them carry a man I knew on a stretcher. Two ambulance guys with a heavy load. He had just died, someone said, and I was surprised. His body should be lighter now, I thought, since he’s no longer in it.
So if you want to imagine a world, I said, you have to imagine matter. And it has to be heavy so that it gloms into planets and sprouts bodies that struggle with their own weight and the obdurate solidity of walls and floors, the permanence of struggle, the impermanence of pleasure. When you step away and look at the whole show it is…
Is what? he asked.
A child, I said, looking at a leaf, the veins that branch like highways from the stem, to the edges where her fingers curve then let it fall to examine those very fingers that branch from the palm of her hand, an expanse of living translucent stuff that makes her ask, What is this stuff I call my hand?
What is this stuff called me?