Sunday, June 11, 2006

Indistinguishable From Magic

A while back I mentioned that I would post more about my theories on magic, and I still intend to. It will probably just come in bits and pieces, though, especially since my ideas on the subject are under constant development. Anyway, here's one more bit of it, to expand on some of my recent comments on Tarot cards. One thing I said there was that I don't explicitly look for anything magical to come out of a Tarot reading (or any other sort of divination system for that matter). However, I do believe there is a form of magic involved.

A favorite quote of mine is from a book called Why Be Jewish?, by David J. Wolpe: "Prophets do not foretell the future; rather, they see deeply into the present." This is more or less what I mean when I say I use tools like the Tarot, Medicine Cards, whatever, as thinking aids. By using them to focus my attention in certain areas, I can see more deeply into the present and learn why I think, feel or act the way I do. The better I do at this, the better idea I have of where things are going, since the future flows from the present. I'm not saying this in a completely deterministic way, though, as if we have no free will. This would merely be an indication of where things are going given the conditions that currently exist. If you don't like what you see, then you will hopefully also be having some insight on what you need to do to change it.

Now, one can imagine a person developing such skill at this sort of thing that they really do appear to be literally seeing into the future, or "fortune telling" in a stereotypical view of Tarot. Like Arthur C. Clarke's famous quote about "any sufficiently advanced technology," this person's skill would be indistinguishable from magic. And this is what I'm aiming at in my general theory of magic: that it is based in reality and therefore, in some degree, accessible to us without requiring supernatural or fictional powers. I'm certainly only a novice wizard, if you want to think of it that way, since my insights in Tarot readings are probably relatively minor as these things go. And I can really only do this for myself -- I don't think I could properly interpret cards for someone else. But the interesting point is that this is something I can do, and therefore something I can get better at. Which is why I think magic is possible.


andrea drugay said...

great post, graham! magic *is* real... and fun! :-)

Anonymous said...

there's no magic.. just the magicians ;)

Natalie said...

It would be indistinguishable from magic to us, if you're taking it from the Clarkian point of view. But it would still be different from magic. Are you making the further suggestion that it would be magic?

Tandava said...

Yes. I see now where the ambiguity is, though. "Indistinguishable from magic" implies that it isn't magic, but I meant that only in the sense of magic as something apparently miraculous or unexplained. If I'm going to go around trying to explain what magic is, I'll need a separate definition of it that lets it be explained while still calling it magic, i.e. the definition from the perspective of an actual magician/wizard/witch/whatever who is doing the magic (and therefore knows how it's done). From the Clarke quote, it's the difference between being the person who doesn't understand the technology and calls it magic, and the person who built the technology and may call it something else. I'm just using the same word for both relationships to it, because I'm working at it from the lower end.

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