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Clear as crystal? (Maktub)

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
The March 23, 2017 issue of "The Economist."
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Following a recommendation from my barber, I picked up a used copy of Paulo Coelho’s international bestseller The Alchemist, originally published in 1988.

Sure, I had heard of it, but then I tend to avoid/ignore books on the Oprah’s Book Club list. Is that snotty and elitist? I don’t know. I’m somewhat of a contrarian and if something is initially very popular I tend to pass on by. Of course, if I find the particular item (book, record, artwork, movie, etc.) on my own, it’s another story …

So, with The Alchemist – which I learned today is one of the best-selling books in history and set a Guinness World Record for the most translated (69 languages!) book by a living author.

I won’t go too much into the plot – or its message. But there were some things that, synchromystically, jumped out at me, from the magical “dust storms” out in the Sahara, which the protagonist is crossing. And the time the protagonist spends at the shop of a crystal merchant, actually improving the man’s businesss over time, before venturing off  to follow his “Personal Legend" and reach the Pyramids of Giza, as told to him by a fortune teller.

While in North Africa, the shepherd boy, Santiago, builds a fortune so he can travel onward. Part of what he tells the crystal merchant is that if he puts tea in the crystal glasses, the beauty and necessity of the crystal will become evident to the purchaser. And it works.

So, when I saw this story, about the International Crystal Manufacturing business here in Oklahoma City for 66 years, I thought of the importance of crystal – and the times when crystal’s potential isn’t always recognized.

At ICM, the produced RF control devices — quartz crystals, oscillators, QCM crystals, filters, TCXOs/VCTCXOs, and precision crystals, according to the article. Ham radio operators, it said, would have to look elsewhere.

I thought about the "crystal" theme that had been coming up for me of late. It's a word that has been resonating. 

The Economist featured a story in their March 23, 2017 issue that caught my attention. It was a science article about dust devils and crystals in Chile’s hostile Atacama Desert – a place that has long fascinated me, but a place I have never visited.

Back to The Alchemist, we get a sense of the haunting expanse of the Sahara as Santiago travels. Dust devils are thought to be genies. And battles are fought by warring tribes - even though an oasis is considered off limits.

I say all this to say that while the dust devils of our world are swirling and whirling, the air is beginning to clear, at least it seems to be on a certain level. 


Pyramids and illumination in Despicable Me. (Illumination Entertainment)

As I typed this piece, I happened to have randomly chosen to listen the 2015 comeback album by the New Zealand band The Chills - it's called Silver Bullets, and at the time I called it one of the top albums of that year. I admit to not having listened to it much since then, but I would say the lyrics of singer Martin Phillipps (who has struggled with health issues) are more resonant than even two years ago. Writing about Santiago's desire to reach the Pyramids. And while there is debate about what the Pyramids represent in Coelho's novel, in Phillipps's song "Pyramid/When The Poor Can Reach the Moon," he warns the pyramid builders (the global elite?) that the rest of us are getting wise to their schemes. 

There is clarity in Martin Phillipps's lyrics. Songs (which almost double as dreamscapes) about being kind to one another, eschewing intolerance and protecting the Earth, among other humanistic themes.

In the absolute gem of a song, "Molten Gold," which closes out Silver Bullets, Phillipps talks in almost alchemical terms, describing how feeling "richer than a billionaire" and how "the force which fired me felt like molten gold." 


Many of us are trying to read the swirling vortex of information in our Web-fueled world. It's hard when you have to sort through so much information. But this clarity is becoming, well, clearer. Crystal clear. We are learning ... 

To quote The Alchemist - "Maktub" (it is written ...")

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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