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The Burning Point: Magnifying Chaos into a Book

There is no more light in a genius than in any other honest person — but she has a particular kind of lens to concentrate this light into a burning point.

— Ludwig Wittgenstein

In the beginning, it was not the word or the deed, but Chaos. A handful of primordial elements burst forth, as if from the will of Nothing, onward and outward, never collapsing, only scattering and gathering, in a cosmic dance with no rules or set boundaries. Skip ahead — never mind Time — where worlds are set apart from the burning and all-encompassing emptiness. Take a double-skip and consciousness erupts, like it was always there and nothing but History existed before, just like it always has. Characters of the world make all kinds of choices, while both sea and landscapes shape those choices, as surely as gold. ‘Things’ are discovered, both palpable and metaphysical, while magic is confined to the stake, before being bound and buried in the salt mines of cliche, after the fires of ignorance fail. What seems like a relatively ordered world carries on, while magic sleeps away the centuries, savoring the time when a bit of it can pry itself loose and enchant the world again. A little chaos ensues, rumbling the salt mine and magic finds a way out.

In the dream of the one who dreamed, the dreamed one awoke.

— Jorge Luis Borges

The Genesis of any good story begins with Chaos. When all seems possible, the impossible task of choosing ensues, carving out a world from countless ones, hearing a singular voice in the cacophony of endless screams. The singularity of choice is a metaphysical chaos, one that obliterates all that could have been and embraces what’s left, the seed of the story blowing around the sky of an inchoate world. Magic lies in the way any artist is able to face that Chaos of the blank canvas and not turn away from its inherent infinitude of possibilities. When everything is possible, nothing happens. Magic is inherently scattered and latent, whether it’s the elements needed for the spell, or the will within the witch, magic only works when the blinding light is focused into a burning point. Within the real world, the artist must engender a new world within, all while trying to find the elements to express this world, through paints, musical instruments, pens, pencils, keyboards, knives, hammers, chisels, oils, blood, spit; all those magical ingredients needed for the execution of the spell to come. The spell is an execution, always, since the completed work is no longer the artist’s, as soon as it breathes its first magical breath. Whatever bound the artist and the work together is severed, while that work is passed along, becoming another spell in every mind that perceives it.

All things change to fire,

And fire exhausted

Falls back into things.

— Heraclitus

To find a little world in the form of something like a good book is magic. There are certainly paintings I’ve come across in museums and dusty basements that begin to move, animate themselves, as soon as I look upon them, as if a latent world of magic was waiting for me. But magic has no singularity when it comes to its effect, only the multitudinous effects on those who are moved by it. All things can change to fire when the burning point of the lens of creation is focused, but all things can only lead to ‘one’ thing, a thing among things that make this Chaos livable, never mind thinkable.

Hayden Moore

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