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What turns our cranks? Is there some celestial power that rotates the cerebral gears within us all? As a young boy, I remember asking my father many questions about life. His answers, often as intricate as the questions themselves, suggested that humans are not simple machines—or not even machines at all—but rather complex individuals with thousands of miles of veins and connective tissue responsible for movement and thought. And yet, in the face of this utter sophistication, we often try to reduce our circuitous experience on earth to be simple and unblemished, when, in reality, it is intricate and convoluted. However, I have found that by enlisting the help and guidance of another—a friend, pet, or in many cases a parent—we may gain a certain degree of clarity for ourselves. Whether it was learning to crank the pedals of my bike or discovering the definitions of lengthy words, my father acted as my personal homunculus.
The homunculus—first devised in medieval times—was a small, omniscient, and fully developed human with magical powers. This small creature was vastly helpful when it came to general human-specific dilemmas. Although some may say that these small, magical beings no longer exist, I would argue that their metaphysical ability remains present in some of us—in fact, I believe I may have been raised by one.
While technology has aided us in our understanding, it is no modern endeavor to seek out understanding through the help of others. For generations, humans have made pilgrimages, worshiped gods, and trusted elders to guide them. In this way—like the homunculus found in Goethe’s Faust—my father has acted as my source of advice and knowledge. Whether it is suggesting a rice cake as a snack or aiding in my college decision, I depend on my father for guidance. It is a direct result of his passion, vast knowledge, and an all too fond love for rice cakes, that I have gained a rich view of the world. On this Father’s Day, I look forward to many more years of debates, questions, and maybe even answers.
Written by Eno Little
Alchemy + Aim