“God despises everything, apparently. If he abandoned us, slashing creation loose at its base from any roots in the real; and if we in turn abandon everything—all these illusions of time and space and lives—in order to love only the real: then where are we?”
In layman’s terms, Dillard seems to be claiming that the physical world is not real. This has profound implications. If the physical world is not real, what is real? What is it that we perceive day to day? Illusions? And as Annie Dillard so astutely asks, where are we? Are we lost in a façade of reality, a complex illusion? This is almost reminiscent of a Matrix moment- could we one day wake up to find that our world is not as we know it? What if that’s what death is- an awakening?
In some ways, the physical world is an illusion. We perceive that which we are capable of perceiving. Our world is uniquely composed of our personal interpretations, thoughts, and experiences. It’s no wonder that Annie Dillard claims that the physical world is an illusion.
Even more jarringly than her assertion that the physical world is not real, Annie Dillard begins the passage with, “God despises everything, apparently.” Since when does Annie Dillard believe that God despises everything? Her entire view towards God has negatively shifted in the collection of essays Holy the Firm. Before, Annie Dillard may have perceived God as distant at most, but now she is comfortable claiming that he despises everything. What changed, Annie Dillard? Is it that Julie was burned, that the world makes no sense, that atrocities are committed?