29.3.11

Toque of the Beachcomber.

I mentioned in my last post that I'd acquired a denim jacket at the Corner Gas auction. It's a good jacket - wide enough to be roomy, short enough to be lightweight. Ample pocket room, some smart-looking seams. A tear on the left cuff, but it adds character. There's only one problem with it: I don't know whose jacket it was.

However, I happen to be in the middle of a very strange and wonderful book right now: Baudolino, by Umberto Eco. It's the tale of an old knight who's spent his entire life telling lies, and now he has to tell his life story so that he can remember how much of his life actually occurred, and how much of it was completely fabricated. And so, the reader is taken on a journey through the Crusades, following Baudolino through life and his stories interchangeably.

Naturally, a key theme of this book is that the true value of something lies in people's belief in it. To believe that a city exists is as much of a threat as the city itself. To believe the person who saw a unicorn in the forest is to believe there are unicorns. To believe that a wooden cup of a carpenter is the Holy Grail is to create the Grail - and the Grail it truly is, so long as it isn't used in a manner that would be unbecoming of it.

I know it's not very rational of me to say this, but I love this school of thought. It's the power of belief. Things believed to be valuable seem to be of a higher quality - but usually because they're treated so reverently that their mettle is rarely tested. Look at a classic restored car, which almost never leaves its garage. A designer dress, which is never worn for more than an hour or two at a time.

And if such things do bear defects, the power of selective perception will save us. The idiosyncrasies of that car's electrical system? A reflection of the engineer's vision. Remember that tear on my jacket's cuff? Character.

These are more than just the things that provide sentimental value - for some items, all their value is provided by faith. Indeed, what other reason is there that I'm so happy to own a carafe that was once held by a couple of actors? And so, if faith can take me this far, it can take me the rest of the way.

That jacket was worn by none other than "Hank Yarbo", as played by Fred Ewaniuck, and it's as simple as that.

And it's awesome.

1 comment:

The Capillary said...

I think I'm not alone in the thought that when we read "scientist" as part of a person's resume we have the notion that the individual has typically given up notions such as faith and belief. And sometimes scoffs at them.

I like this post, I think, because obviously you can have science and faith and not contradict each other.

About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.