I didn’t want readers to have to make allowances for what they couldn’t see, but to be able to say to themselves that the fabric of the magic detailed was perfectly believable- Terry Brooks
One amidst many of things I am thankful for is the importance that was placed upon reading when I was a child. One particularly fond memory takes place within the deep, book-filled hallways of the San Juan Capistrano Public Library. I don’t recall if there was a maximum number of books you can check out, but if there was, we certainly came close. My mother often gave us a number anyhow. “Only three this time” or “okay, five is enough,” or “seven will do.” Hell, we were just happy to be there- in amongst the middle reader series books that never seamed to cease, the Choose Your Own Adventure stories that were so gosh darn hard to be sincere, and the classics (at least for me) from the likes of Wilson Rawls, Judy Blume, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
There was, like any great room or building replete with books, a certain level of magic. It is within these places we find our moments to perchance believe in the magic we encounter, the magic we read in the stories of adventure, of myth and fantasy. This, mind you, does not necessitate a belief- or a yearning to believe- in the magic that exists in the aforementioned tales. Of course that’s up to you and is quite fine by me. What I am really trying to get at is the importance of magic as it pertains to one’s life.
Magic. The spells, the sorcery, the potions and the lot. These things may be real, or they may not be. I’m not an expert; and it’s not what is important here. Regardless of that fact, magic still exists as an important idea, within literature and out. Magic, in the practical sense, can be used as a tool to heal, to cause harm, or to construct in some form or fashion, to give a few examples. One can wield the power of magic for something “good,” or something that is “evil.” Is it within this aspect of magic I find the most beneficial importance.
What does it say about a person who utilizes the powerful elements of magic to cause harm to others, to do evil, to destroy? What does it say about a person who chooses to use magic to better his or her self, to build, to create, to do good? This is what I find the most fascinating attribute of magic within literature. Where is the divide between good and evil? Is there a clear divide? Does that divide exist within the reality of our own lives? Are we swimming in a cloud of grays? These are the defining moments that matter. Magic, as viewed from this perspective, is wholly philosophical. To create, to destroy. To better, to worsen. To do harm, to heal. These are the choices. And sure, it’s not always black and white. But I do think we tend to throw in a bit more gray than need be.
So I ask this of you. Do you believe in magic? I sure as hell do.
Project Update: Finally got through the retirement home/magic show scene. That became more challenging than I foresaw. Alasdair comments on the modern-day magic show and the willingness to playfully- and understandably- ignore objective reality for a moment.
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