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Do you believe in magic? - John C. Kirk

Sep. 17th, 2003

12:54 am - Do you believe in magic?

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There was a good quote I read in a novel a while back (I think it was one of the Narnia books), where one character is talking about magic. He dismisses parlour tricks, where objects are hidden behind curtains, and says something like "True magic is when a cow appears out of thin air, right in front of you". So, question for the audience - leaving aside conjurers like Paul Daniels, do you believe in real magic? I do, mainly because I've experienced it.

When I was younger, I remember playing Skudo (a variant of Ludo) with my sister, where we each had four counters to move around the board. Anyway, one day I was sitting there, and I had one of the counters in my hand, and I was just idly rubbing it between my thumb and forefinger. I was quite surprised when I suddenly wound up with 2 counters in my hand. I have no idea how that happened. The only "plausible" explanation we could come up with was that there were 2 counters stuck together, but it's odd that we never noticed one of them being twice the size of all the others. Personally, I believe that I somehow created a new counter. But I've never been able to duplicate that, and there was only one witness (who would probably be considered biased), so it's not exactly something I can prove. Kind of a shame, since that would be quite a nice money-earning talent if I could master it. Some people have suggested that I may have picked up two counters without realising it. However, there were 4 of each colour before, and after that there were 5 greens, so that would mean that we'd never noticed the 5th counter before. I think it's significant that 1 counter became 2, rather than a new one just appearing between my fingers. And at the risk of lightning-bolt, it does remind me a bit of the story of Jesus with the loaves and the fishes (which many people would accept as true). I don't claim to be divine, but if that power exists, it's maybe possible that I tapped into it. It's equally possible that I just happened to be nearby when someone else was wielding power, and was only a witness rather than an agent.

More recently, there was an odd situation a couple of weeks ago. I had some forms to fill out (regarding credit cards etc.), so I put them all in my lap, and worked my way down through the stack. When I got to the bottom, the letter that I was expecting to see had disappeared. I know that I brought it into my room, and didn't take it out, which means it should still be here. However, I spent about an hour and a half looking for it, without success. In particular, I went through the bin about five times, just in case it had somehow fallen in. It's possible that it may yet turn up, as I do more tidying. But the alternate explanation is that it literally disappeared. One thing that this has in common with the new Skudo counter is that I was touching both. Another theory is that it could be a case of summoning/banishing, rather than creating/destroying. E.g. "I have one counter - bring me another one like it", and "I don't want this letter - send it away".

I realise that this all sounds pretty implausible. However, related to my comment above, I would suggest that anyone who believes what's in the Bible shouldn't automatically dismiss this, since that recounts stranger events. In fact, I think that it does explicitly say that magic exists (although I can't quote chapter and verse). On the other hand, it also says that the source of magic is evil (hence all the controversy about the Catholic church vs Harry Potter etc.), so it's not exactly an endorsement.

On a related note, I wouldn't say that I'm very superstitious. However, I will go out of my way to avoid saying the words "I wish", since I've read/seen enough stories where that ends badly. There was a good quote from the film Bernard and the Genie along these lines. Paraphrasing from memory: "Please say the words 'I wish' with the caution you would normally reserve for the phrase 'Please remove my testicles with a rusty scythe'..."

Disclaimer: Anyone who is disturbed by the above is welcome to attribute it to alcohol induced ramblings.

On a lighter note, I've spent the evening watching "Mannequin" and "Weekend at Bernie's" - great films, both of them.

Comments:

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From:taigrrr
Date:September 16th, 2003 05:37 pm (UTC)
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I believe it was "say the words 'I wish' with the caution you would normally reserve for the words 'please castrate me'", since I never understood what that meant when I was (much) younger.

If I understand it correctly (and I'm relating this information second-hand), the Catholic Church was of the view that there was good and evil magic, but since noone could work out which was which, or what the difference was, it was decided to be too dangerous for us to use, and forbidden.
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From:bazzalisk
Date:September 17th, 2003 11:19 am (UTC)
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Not exactly, they believed that there were three types of magic: Divine Magics, which were the province of angels; Natural Magics, which were simply applying laws which god had built into the Universe when he created it; and Diabolical Magics, which were basicly Divine Magics performed by Lucifer (he was an angel afterall).

Oh, and Miricles, but they aren't magic, and only god can cause them to happen.

The not being able to tell the difference bit is quite acurate though. Some of the saints are recorded to have performed Natural Magic, and Jewish Kabalah has generaly been considered to fall into that category, but otherwise the church just reconed that Natural and Diabolical Magics were just too difficult to distinguish.
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From:bazzalisk
Date:September 17th, 2003 11:24 am (UTC)
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Oh, and to quote Rose Walker in Sandman 8

"No, I don't, but that's not what you're asking. You want to know whether I believe in Weird Shit, of course I do, I'd be stupid not to, I've led a Weird Shit life."
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From:elvum
Date:September 17th, 2003 03:11 pm (UTC)
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I think the general consensus when you related the first of these events to us in the pub was that if it was a case of humanity's understanding of the laws of physics vs John's childhood memories, we'd stick with the former, no offense intended, whose round is it? :-)
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From:shuripentu
Date:September 19th, 2003 08:05 am (UTC)
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Yes, I believe in magic :)

I personally believe you probably did duplicate the counter. I mean, it's an unlikely thing to happen, but so is there being 5 counters, 2 of which are stuck together, and you guys never noticing that. (Okay, that's actually less unlikely than you duplicating the counter, but I've chosen to believe in magic, so I'll believe the former explanation :)
I guess you have magical talent, just that since you've never (afaik) tried to train it or practiced it, it's not as obvious a talent as, say, your talent for coding.

Maybe you should start rubbing pound coins :)
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