Fantastical visions of special objects which grant unlimited power seem to hold a compelling place in the human mythos. The Book of Thoth. Zeus’ thunderbolt. The names of God. The Ring of Gyges/Odin/ Solomon/Sauron. The genie in the lamp. The Spear of Destiny. The magic wand. The Holy Grail. The alchemist’s stone.
The myths typically warn us about the dangers of pursuing power objects. The lesson usually involves undesirable consequences to the fixated pursuer, or accidental consequences to the world or at least their loved ones. Yet the pursuer continues, ignoring the damage they cause.
The stories point to a deep pathological weakness in humans – the temptation of magical power. Think of how nice it sounds for you to be able to magically summon your heart’s desires without concern for the consequences. I mean, what real consequences could there be? It’s magic, right? “Poof! I have whatever I want.”
These stories are not all fictional. In many ways, the conquistador’s pursuit of gold during the period of Spanish exploration, was this kind of thing. The Nazi’s pursuit of supernatural weapons. The modern investment banker’s pursuit of money.
Yes. That’s right. I said money.