Every now and then I come across the comment that the world has become disenchanted. Once upon a time, we had a lovely enchanted world, full of magic and wonder, but now it has become drearily disenchanted. The reasons are various: capitalism, industrialisation, Protestantism (a position taken, among others, by that pious dickhead, Kevin Hart)… So the solution is some form of re-enchantment, usually with a traditional Roman Catholic angle. More hocus pocus, not less, is the cry. Unfortunately, some greens follow a version of this argument, arguing that the cause of our environmental problems is a spiritual crisis, a  loss of the sense that the earth is sacred, vibrant and filled with spiritual wonder.

But do we really want to believe once again that aubergines are deadly for Christians or that the devil pisses on blackberries? If you are going to re-enchant the world, then go the whole hog. In that medieval golden age so beloved of radical orthodoxy, Alasdair Maclagan, eco-spiritualists, and muddle-headed theologians, the devil does indeed piss on blackberries. You see, you need to pick your berries by 29 September (in the northern hemisphere at least), since on that day the devil has an almighty leak and makes them inedible.

At a deeper level, the whole narrative of enchantment-disenchantment-re-enchantment is skewed. As Marx in his early comments on fetishism argued, it is more a case of profane-sacred-profane, the enchanted or profane moment being an anomaly in the story. On that matter, he shares this argument with the biblical polemic against idolatry as found in Isaiah 44.

About these ads