If you met a unicorn, would you take a picture of it, or would watch it for as long as it stayed, then let it leave you with nothing but a memory? Would you close your eyes?
The first specimen of the unicorn was spotted in India, millennia before Christ. It has reappeared many times since, as described by numerous religions. Unicorns are white, four-legged, large mammals who supposedly dwell in dense forests, where they are accompanied by a sprinkly melody. They look like white horses with a single horn pointing out of their forehead, which serves for non-violent communication only. A unicorn can be caught solely by virgins and North Korean emperors. Throughout the years, it has embodied purity, innocence, enchantment, and all their opposites. A bit like the colour pink, in fact.
When Nietzsche said “God is dead”, he did not mention unicorns, who supposedly remain alive untill further notice. This is visible in the three Western subcultures which are currently most concerned with the unicorn.
The first and most prominent unicorn-concerned subculture is that of the little and not-so-little unicorn girls. They revere a kind of unicorn that looks like a new version of My Little Pony, This unicorn commonly dances on a rainbow, bathes in it or takes a bite out of it. Oh, don’t worry, it’ll grow back. Girls in this group regularly post unicorn related content on Facebook, along with some fairy dust. This way, they reveal how magical their lives are.
Then there is the equally notable subculture of the proud unicorn spotters. These are the people (or the state in the case of North Korea) that announce they have captured a unicorn in the wild, and post their proof online. It could be a shaky YouTube video, a blurry picture or, in the case of North Korea, archaeological evidence. They usually fuel an online debate on whether the interpretation of their proof is accurate or not. This group is generally not concerned with unicorns alone: they’d capture multiple kinds of mythological creatures and a UFO or two if they get the chance. Behaviour or ecology of these creatures do not matter much to them, nor the types of rainbows they come along with. All they need is the documentation.
Thirdly, there is the group of atheists who say they believe in the unicorn (sometimes pink…) as a metaphor to rhetorically prove to religious people that God doesn’t exist. That could sound like this: “Hey religious guy! Do you think unicorns exist?” “No, dear atheist man” “Why, not?” “Because nobody ever saw one.” “Well, religious guy, that’s why I don’t think God exists.” The internet examples where the unicorn is brought forward as the terminator of God are endless.
What does the prevalence of the unicorn in an otherwise secularising global society mean? For one thing, I think it is an indication that the appreciation of the supernatural is still alive among us. It even gives atheists a smile on their face. Are we guarding our mental state of the child’s fantasy, perhaps? Silently protecting the thought that there may yet be something more? Luckily that hasn’t died.