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Recently I heard of an early twentieth-century anthropologist named James Frazer. Seems he had a theory about what he called Sympathetic Magic.
Now if I got it straight, he argued that “things that have once been in contact with each other continue to act upon each other at a distance, even after the contact has been severed.”
Hmmmm… see those boats in today's image? There is no body of water nearby to the City of Lancaster that would permit ships like them to operate. Now, see the bricks, and the window arch? See the repeating arch over the coal-bin window to this building’s basement? I’m told you’ll find exactly this design routinely throughout the British Isles.
Do these two things point just one way – toward the truth of Frazer’s Sympathetic Magic? Somehow bricklaying and ship building techniques are just as real here in one of Lancaster’s lovely alleyways as they were when they were bumped up against sometime long ago. These two images, one made from brick, the others from wood and canvas are both material objects yet they are signs from long long ago, and far far away. What’s most magical is that we accept the fusion here on this tiny street without a thought.
And yet because they are, therefore I think. How would one say that, Sum ergo cogito? Sympathetic Magic, eh?