On the Nature of Magic

OK, I’ll admit that parts of my upcoming book, The Fireborn, are a little tongue in cheek.  A big part of this is in rewriting the myths as the story goes on.  The main character, Elliot, is a bit of a storyteller.  The odd thing is, the more he changes his story the more reality changes to fit that story.

Here is an excerpt from close to the beginning where Elliot discusses magic with his older brother, William.  William does not go in for most of Elliot’s explanations and likes to stick with just the facts, thank you very much.

— — —

“Hold on right there,” William said.  “I’ve been going along with your mumbo-jumbo but I just have to put my foot down here with this mysticism, voodoo magic crap.  I mean, I’m a scientist and don’t believe in curses, the boogieman or magic.”

“Hmm, I know you’ve met my ex-wife,” Elliot answered. “I’m sure you understand curses.  As far as the Boogieman goes, when I couldn’t sleep at night, I used to go watch him play at ‘The Blue Page’ down in the Village back in New York.  By the way, thinking of good performances, have you ever seen a professional magician?”

“Of course, but that’s not what I mean,” said William.  “That’s just sleight of hand, trickery and illusion.  It’s simple once you know the secret, not ‘real’ magic.”

“I wouldn’t call some of those illusions simple, not by a stretch!” Elliot continued.  “Remember this, an audience member doesn’t know the secret.  To the lady sitting in the seventeenth row the magician is doing the impossible.  There’s no explanation of how he’s doing it.  She knows that the magician has to follow the same laws of physics as every other person who’s ever breathed, and yet her mind allows for the illusion and wants to believe he’s performing magic in much the same way that your mind allows itself to temporarily believe the Star Wars Universe is real.”

“What!” William broke in with mock surprise.  “You’re telling me Star Wars isn’t a documentary?!”

“Magic is just something that can’t be explained,” Elliot continued.  “It doesn’t mean there isn’t some explanation someplace, a hidden wire and a mirror maybe, just that the person perceiving the magic doesn’t know the explanation.

“Imagine you’re a scientist in the late nineteenth century.  You’re perfectly happy with your clock-work universe and know that the only thing left for future science to do is fill in some details.  Would you laugh at someone who told you that there are stars that suck in light, never to return?  How about if you were told about entangled particles where if you change the state of one the state of the other will change, even if they are a billion light years apart?  Would television seem like magic?  How about the Internet?  Could you wrap your mind around a handheld device that acts as a portal to the shared knowledge of our species?  Magic?”

“Cell phones are magic; black magic, unless you’re under the age of 35,” William said.

“Exactly. Advanced science and technology are no different to the layman.”

“And that has exactly what to do with deathless blue warriors?”

“To start, the only terms I have to describe our current phenomena come from the realm of mysticism, the occult and magic.  That doesn’t mean that there isn’t some scientific explanation for it, just that we don’t know the science.  Perhaps it’s some strange mutation of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle based on an obscure branch of mathematics.  Or possibly it’s some field of physics as far removed from present understanding as Relativity and Quantum Physics are from simple Newtonian Mechanics.”

“Or your thoughts removed from reality.”

“Or yours.  You’ve seen and experienced this ‘magic’.  It’s real, it’s happening.  OK, so we don’t have a rational explanation, that doesn’t mean it’s going to go away.  This is a case of fighting fire with fire.  If it’s magic, we need to use magic to stop it.

“Oh yes, and since you’ve met my ex-wife I thought you’d be very familiar with ideas that have no logical or scientific explanation.”

“Right,” answered William, “I always thought Eleanor was by far the more rational of the two of you.”

— — — —

Note one – As I was planning the book, this is the first thing that I wrote out.  It came to mind and I wanted to capture it as i thought it.

Note two – Elliot’s ex-wife, Eleanor, actually is very logical and does make an appearance in the story ;)

Note three – The picture at the top is a quick watercolor.  I used a version of this picture in the video I posted last week.

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10 thoughts on “On the Nature of Magic

  1. Pingback: Four Years – The Fireborn | Trent's World (the Blog)

  2. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee on the 15th of July, 2017 | Trent's World (the Blog)

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