We ARE the Magic
I’ve made a couple of observations this fall that may point to something real or may be as magical as the subjects of the observations.
Observation one: The ranks of conspiracy theorists are burgeoning, growing larger and seemingly more gullible with each day. The website “Livescience.com” claims that 29 per cent of Americans believe in a “Deep State.” More than 50 per cent of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy.
This did not come out of nowhere. In fact, it’s human nature. In the early twentieth century, when technology was on the rise and everyone pretended that superstition was a thing of the past, spiritualism was actually making a huge resurgence. The Order of the Golden Dawn was a secret society of British gentlemen, Aleister Crowley was beginning his campaign as the most evil man in the world; belief in ghosts and spirits was so pervasive that it ran rampant through all strata of society. William Lyon McKenzie King, the Prime Minister whose likeness graces the Canadian 50 dollar bill was a secret spiritualist who earned the retrospective nickname “Weird Willy.”
The more you study human beings from a sociological perspective, the more obvious it becomes how dependent we are - and have always been – in believing in things beyond our perception or understanding. The words ‘faith’ and ‘faithful’ are generally used as praise of the highest order. The desire, or even need, to believe in essentially invisible and unknowable things seems undeniable and irresistible; whether that greater power be God, demons, angels, ghosts, a spirit world, Lady Luck, superstition, astrology, UFOs, secret global conspiracies, or Great Old Ones.
Observation two: Science fiction and fantasy are filled with skeptics and atheists. You might not think so when you look at the early days of the genre, with genre legends Robert Heinlein and John W. Campbell egging on L. Ron Hubbard to develop Dianetics; while other authors like A.E. Van Vogt were complicit in its creation and growth; but these genres have become home for many who embrace science and rationality. Likewise, some of the world’s most incontrovertible skeptics have been magicians.
Some of us grew up in environments of no-nonsense realism, or places where there was never much thought given to any faith more substantial than the tabloids, the gambling tables, and the angel on the top of the Christmas tree.
Some of us spent our adolescences actively avoiding and eschewing whatever faith-based claptrap our families attempted to foist on us. Many merely migrated to realities permeated by different sorts of fantasy.
A large proportion of us spent at least part of our youths genuinely engaged in searches for the sacred and mystical, but returned from our spiritual journeys, disillusioned and numb. Very few of us managed to stumble upon any sort of profundity.
Once again, set spiritually adrift, it grows harder not to opt for the easy path – the familiar, the comforting. We may not buy in to the same degree our parents did, but it gives us a moral framework that is easy and undemanding – and God knows we have enough to think about in this overwhelming new millennium filled with problems and portents we can never hope to solve or even understand.
As much as we may like to think otherwise, none of us are immune to the lure of the magical. In fact, I think writers of fantastic fiction value and relish the opportunities to create their own magical worlds, to defy the limitations of physics and known science and indulge in voyages into possible and imagined universes. They never stop inventing scenarios for the wondrous things – things they’d love to believe if only their personal realities weren’t so reasoned and mundane. They are so dedicated to the fantastic that they spend their lives searching for it in the realms of their imagination. And many genre readers are equally dedicated. Perhaps reading such delightful and distracting fabrications gives them all the magic they need or have time for in their lives. Readers can embrace it, immerse themselves in it for however long they need, and then emerge into their own mundane realities, knowing that the escape hatch is always there and if they don’t have the time, inclination or vision to actually read, the television remote is right over there. Writers can proffer their wares with clear consciences and the mutual acknowledgement that their creations are not real.
We have Conan and Gandalf and Peter Pan, so we don’t need to dream up conspiracies of baby eating politicians and look for the secret truths concealed for some unfathomable purpose beneath layers of fabrication. We can fabricate our own fantasies, dammit.
Every human being who can process a philosophical thought is looking for answers. And if we don’t find the answers within ourselves, we keep on looking, certain that the ethereal and otherworldly is just behind the next door...if only we could figure out which door that actually is. And as we search and find new ways to consciously manifest magic and mystery in our lives, we can make ourselves less vulnerable to the so-called “truths” that psychopaths and nutjobs in positions of power try to push upon us for their personal gain, or we can realize that the magic is inside each of us. Call it your soul. Call it your more optimistic self. Call it whatever you want – as long as you realize what it means.
We are the magic. And the sooner we can stop looking for it everywhere except within ourselves, the better off we’ll be.
Please visit my author website at dalelsproule.com and check out my new novel The Human Template.