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02 March 2005 @ 10:00 pm
That's why we only work when we need the money  
I was thinking about Harry Potter - as one does when one is making parade costumes out of chickenwire (that stuff hurts!) and bedsheets - or, to be specific, the magic in it. It's fairly utilitarian, isn't it? Most of the magic could be summed up as - to stretch the term a little - labour-saving: Summoning Charms, Vanishing Charms, all those Silencing and Cleansing Charms that, if you are of a practical bent, must exist (if only to facilitate the smut) and a whole rake of others I can't call to mind. In the Potterverse, there's a potion to cure colds. Magic, in this form, isn't exactly the main focus of the stories. It's merely a backdrop for a doppelganger world in which you see echoes of our own society.

What, then, consitutes magic?

In the Potterverse, it's merely a talent, like being able to draw, play an instrument, kick a football. In most fantasies, is it really the main ideal of the book? I move to disagree. It may be the bedrock, the foundation, the reason for the definition, but it's secondary to the other messages. In the Potterverse, this message seems to be that 'Love is the answer'. In the Discworld, it might be that intelligence and possessing an insight into the steaming, squalid depths of the human psyche is the real magic. For the Six Duchies/Bingtown, magic is the forbidden fruit, the reason for jealousy- and fear-incited discrimination; those who use it fall to ruin or at least pay a high price (thinking: the Rainwild Traders and the Old Blood). Middle-Earth's magic seems to be of an archaic bent, in that it is wielded for the most part in the past - a vague, mysterious, god-like power that people, rather than discovering or learning how to use, merely possess.

So, I suck at this kind of analysis. So I turn to those who are better (ie everyone) for some input (if you care for't). What, for you, sums up the magic in whatever 'verses you dabble in? And what exactly constitutes your magic in this, the everyday, humdrum, real (or so we're told) 'verse? (For me, it'd have to be music).

Why? Because I'm interested. And also because I spend my time with people whose idea of titillating conversation is the event in last night's Eastenders or The Swan, and who can dredge up six extensive comments on the weather in the course of every day. I love them and whatever, but sometimes I want to throw something out to people who might be on the same wavelength I am. *shrugs* You never know your luck.

Seriously, I don't. He doesn't tend to drop by much any more.
 
 
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
Current Music: Franz Ferdinand are so freakin' compulsive
 
 
 
gabbysun on March 2nd, 2005 02:46 pm (UTC)
You know, I never think about this sort of thing. I'm going to give it some rumination and post with it later. xD;

My magic is, I think, laughing . . . does that count? Trying to be as crazy and happy and talkative as possible and I never feel as good as I do when I'm laughing, or when I make someone else laugh. It is like ahh! And heart-wrenching emotions . . . and you know, I don't think laughing is my magic. Maybe it's just living and that boredom is impossible because the world is so magnificent that if you don't laugh at it at some point in time then you will go insane.

*confusing self* YANNO WHAT!? I'm going to think about this. :O
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Possibilityscoradh on March 4th, 2005 12:01 pm (UTC)
My magic is, I think, laughing . . . does that count?

Bloody hell yes! There's this feeling you get with your mates, when you're after belly laughing for ages at nothing at all, and you look around and think - yes. If this isn't magic, it isn't far off it either. Good call, hon.

Maybe it's just living and that boredom is impossible because the world is so magnificent that if you don't laugh at it at some point in time then you will go insane.

And WOW. That is really very beautiful, and I agree wholeheartedly. *thumbs up*
(no subject) - gabbysun on March 6th, 2005 09:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on March 7th, 2005 03:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gabbysun on March 7th, 2005 05:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Diet Cokescoradh on March 4th, 2005 12:02 pm (UTC)
*pets you*

I'm crap at it in RL too, that's why I just nod and listen. xD
hobviously on March 2nd, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC)
In the Buffyverse, magic is either happy fun lesbianism, or evil crack of doom.

No, there is no grey area.
hobviously on March 2nd, 2005 03:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, but I guess before magic becomes TEH GAY, it's more properly self-knowledge, self-exploration.
(no subject) - scoradh on March 4th, 2005 12:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on March 4th, 2005 12:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
kabeyk on March 2nd, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC)
I think you summed it up pretty well for Discworld and HP. Definitely with the love and trust and friendship and understanding and all that for HP. But also JKR has said in interview that she hates any kind of prejudice, and that is an underlying theme of the books. Prejudice against magic, or muggleborns, or poor people, or other houses. Dumbledore accepts and forgives anyone who deserves it. You know what I'm trying to say. I agree that it isn't the literal magic that is important in HP, even if that's what makes it draw you in to begin with, it is still the characters and their situations that you fall in love with. The magic is merely something the readers wistfully wish they had to ease their everyday lives.

I agree with you on the Discworld thing, PTerry definitely admires cunning and intelligence, but also worldly knowledge and doing what you have to to get by. People don't just find happiness or contentment through romantic love in his stories, they redeem themselves in other ways, find other paths to happiness. His characters are often loners who are comfortable with themselves and therefore need little else, except of course money and food and the literal means to survive.

In most other 'verses love is the key to most things. Oh god, I've already talked enough bollocks here, don't start me on other fandoms. I'm wondering about H2G2 now (same as Discworld probably, and no magic involved except 'science') and Artemis Fowl (worryingly love and family and friendship again, despite constant quests for large amounts of gold and exploiting fairies and dwarfs).

God knows about the real life magic, but I am ashamed to say that while I was at work I was merely checking the time every five minutes and really wishing that Nottingham Forest would just bloody score.

Hope some of all that makes sense.

kx
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Canon hairscoradh on March 4th, 2005 12:09 pm (UTC)
I agree that it isn't the literal magic that is important in HP, even if that's what makes it draw you in to begin with, it is still the characters and their situations that you fall in love with. The magic is merely something the readers wistfully wish they had to ease their everyday lives.

Totally! If the books were just thaumatological theory that'd be pretty damn boring. It's people that make the magic anywhere - as well as all the shitty stuff too, natch. But for a hardened cynic I seem to have this undying faith that there's this rainbow reflection on the oil spill that is humanity. Contradictory? You don't say...

His characters are often loners who are comfortable with themselves and therefore need little else, except of course money and food and the literal means to survive.

Indeed! Sometimes I'm a little wistful about the lack of the auld romance, but at the same time the romance there is is so realistic and down-to-earth. You can't but love Sam and Sybil, and Angua and Carrot, and Vetinari and Drumknott...I SEE IT, IF NO ONE ELSE DOES!! copperbadge once made the interesting statement that he thinks these relationships are based on Terry's own with his wife, and that the strong capable women are a copy of her. P'raps. Not to mind, there's still the most amazing things I ever had the good fortune to read.

My philosophy is Leonard's: I believe in the secret geometries, the colours at the edge of light, and the marvellous in everything...

Yep. Total sap am I...
Liz_eliza_b on March 2nd, 2005 05:34 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to imagine, if magic wasn't used for practical purposes (since you rightfully point out that it is in books) what would it be used for? Summoning up pink unicorns for one's amusement? Sorry...anyway...

Never thought about it before, but I think you're right about magic being secondary in these worlds. Wrinkle in Time is, like HP, more about the power of love and family than the weird goings-on. And if you could define the events in ones like "The Invisible Man" and "Frankenstein" as magic, then the magic is just a device used to caution readers against messing with nature.

Magic = books. (Didn't see that one coming, huh?) Also, great mini-essay. You have a way with words, whatever you think about your ability to analize.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Life exceeds expectationsscoradh on March 4th, 2005 11:57 am (UTC)
Have you ever read Sex, Drugs and Sausage Rolls by Robert Rankin? Norman summons up a unicorn when he's trying to make the ultimate racehorse for his mate! But it does make you wonder - and little wonder that there's always epic battles to save the world from evil and whatnot, because what the hell else would they do with all this random magic?!

Bit like Terry Pratchett, then - the more magic you have, the less you should use it. I love thinking about this a leetle too much, methinks...

Oh, books are the greatest magic I could ever see in this world. Some things help you transcend reality, and they don't have to be class A narcotics. *g*

You have a way with words, whatever you think about your ability to analize.

Cheers! I was afraid it'd be too long winded for people to stomach, but the hell! Yay.
Caitcoralia13 on March 2nd, 2005 09:08 pm (UTC)
Hmmm.... Well, I guess I will start by listing my magical 'verses - it won't take long. I think HP and His Dark Materials are the only ones worthy of note, and HDM is very toned down. Oh, and those ones by Tamara Pierce, and those ones about Princess Cimerene and the dragons... Dealing With Dragons and whatnot? But I haven't read those for a long time. In Dealing With Dragons (I think it's that one??) the king of the Enchanted Forest is tied to the magic there, which is like an invisible web with literal cords of power that are all interconnected and do different things. Only the ruler of the land is born with the knowledge of how to manipulate and utilize this power, which involves a few hand motions in which he tugs, thrums, wiggles, twitches (you get the idea) one or many of the invisible cords completely intuitively. When set upon by a violent animal, he doesn't even have to think - with a few quick jerks of the wrist, the animal is frozen in mid-air. This is what I think of as in-born magic.
In HDM, both Lyra is suddenly and inexplicably blessed with the ability to understand the alethiometer, something that takes most people decades to even begin to understand. This power remains with her until her adventure ends, at which point the ability vanishes and she has to learn it all over again, just like everyone else. This is, I suppose, a variation on learned magic, with exceptions made for Lyra while she was in extraordinary circumstances.
I am having a lot of trouble remembering exactly how it worked in Tamora Pierce's work. Seems to me that there were magical relics up the wazoo, and anyone could use them - some more effectively than others. There were people with special brands of in-born magic (Daine (sp?) was born with the ability to talk to animals, and I think there was always something a little off about Alanna and Thom, if I recall - their man-servant was a little put off by their "witchery"). Magic was something that not everyone had, some people did, and which was viewed as a gift by some, a curse (of sorts) by others. If I recall correctly, magic had a lot to do with healing and seeing into the future. People didn't have to get higher learning for their magic if they weren't interested in taking it further - it usually wasn't strong enough to warrant special attention. Basically, it was viewed as a helpful skill like anything else someone might have - unusual intellegence, strength, personality, etc.
Harry Potter is different from all of these. Like Tamora Pierce's world, some people can, some people can't kind of thing. Unlike Pierce's 'verse, however, people's reactions to magical abilities are never mild; people are divided over it, people die for it, wars are fought over it. Unlike any of the other books, which are all set in completely alternate universes, the Potter 'verse has a separate, secret society for those with magical abilities. In HDM, the tribes of witches separate themselves from the rest of the humans, but they are known to everyone, and are separated simply because their life-styles (partially due to their immortality) are not compatible with others'. Like Daine, children with magical abilities in the Potter 'verse are born with their abilities, but must learn how to control/understand/utilize them.

Looking back over this stuff, I see that none of these situations are really comparable to RL. I mean, sure, you have a skill, you need to learn how to use it well (true of every 'verse mentioned above except Dragons), but really only HDM touches on something I can understand to be like our world - the idea that things that came easily to you as a child must be re-learned as an adult, once the "magic" leaves you, and the idea that we are given extraordinary powers in extreme situations. In all of the 'verses, skills can be used for good or evil, and come with a huge amount of responcibility. In all cases, they do not make the characters' lives easy or simple. I take it back. I guess all of these situations are comparable to RL. Neat.

(Hows that for same wavelength?)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Dumbledore the Deadlyscoradh on March 4th, 2005 11:54 am (UTC)
*smacks cheeks* Lord, I remember Cimorene! I adored her - the ultimate anti-Sue. Didn't she used to send silly princes after silly captive princesses? She was the bee's knees and the cat's pyjamas. What was it - Dragonsbane. yes! And ebil wizards like woah!
I also loved Morgan and the way her hair kept itself tidy and her windowsill and her moving rooms...coolness.

I've never read Tamora Pierce - does that have badgers in it or am I hallucinating?

I was thinking about this when doing grocery shopping with the mother - the whole magic for good, magic for evil thing is a bit false, isn't it? Except for the basic tenets of humanity, good and evil are flexible terms. Who's to say 'good' magicians aren't misled, through poor education and brainwashing, into committing foul and narrow-minded acts? That argument for the use of magic is a pretty lame one, considering. I mean, imagine it in Dubya's hands...I guess the best one is Spiderman's - with great power comes great responsibility, yet we don't really see that in the Potterverse. They're just left to make up their own minds about morals. Which is okay in the non-brainwashing sense, but they aren't such a select society, they aren't taught to be kind and considerate and forgiving and whatnot. Ordinary humans with an extra dimension, as petty and silly and cruel as Muggles.

Mkay...

Totally the same frequency, even!
(no subject) - coralia13 on March 5th, 2005 01:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on March 5th, 2005 02:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - coralia13 on March 6th, 2005 09:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Jax: lupinlikesbackwall by prncessleiaimadra_blue on March 2nd, 2005 10:32 pm (UTC)
*stops making fun of the Japanese ninja movie her brother is watching*

I think you summed it up pretty well. Magic seems to be genetic in HP, according to JKR. It's a born gift, it can't be learned (the learning is merely practice).

Magic exists in the real world. It is a gift that you are born with, everyone has one. I've practicied real magic. Before you run off crying that I'm insane, I used to practice witchcraft. it always worked. But it's not a joke, and it can go wrong. It's a force of the mind. And if you don't believe that, well then music is magic, too. So art and literature. And beautiful scenery.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: I'm not madscoradh on March 4th, 2005 11:47 am (UTC)
Lord, how I would love to get my hands on some decent manga...but I digress.

Just makes me wonder how it came to be so, why everyone doesn't have it. But then again everyone doesn't have naturally blonde hair and no one cares to explain that!

Oh, I believe that there are some things like luck and stuff - well, have you ever read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelo? That's the kind of stuff I believe in. Not quite witchcraft, but then again I've never experienced it so I won't judge. And ordinary things can be imbued with wonder oftentimes...!
(no subject) - imadra_blue on March 4th, 2005 02:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on March 4th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - imadra_blue on March 4th, 2005 03:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
bat crimeiceetoile on March 4th, 2005 10:19 am (UTC)
see, you think about these things cleverly. I can't even do that. I'm more with the WRITE THE FANFIC, READ THE SLASH, AVOID THE BAD SMUT frame of mind. But actually, maybe you're right. I don't think the message of the Potterverse is that 'love is the answer'. Because if that was true, then Sirius wouldn't have died at the end of OotP, surely? ALthough against that argument you have the Dursleys, who are clearly mean and magic-less. And the Lily-love saving Harry's life many times. But you're absolutely right about magic often being everyday and utilitarian, but think like Molly Weasley; you don't want to wash pots and pans, but hey! You have magic! So you use charms to clean and polish and travel and so on. And that's how it goes.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: I'm Ronscoradh on March 4th, 2005 11:43 am (UTC)
Not all smut is bad, though, have to say...xD

That's how I see Harry defeating Voldemort - because the snake stopped trying to choke him when he wanted to die for love of Sirius. Voldemort is repulsed by love and in Harry's hands, it is a power...
(no subject) - iceetoile on March 5th, 2005 04:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on March 5th, 2005 02:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - iceetoile on March 6th, 2005 08:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
amazing vaguely humanoid armadillopersoncryptid on March 5th, 2005 12:24 pm (UTC)
Old post, belated answer, but what the hell... I'll try to come up with something coherent before hitting the town.

My magic? I'll take the risk of sounding pretentious here, and say art. That is, music, visual art, movies, all that kind of stuff that doesn't serve a real practical purpose but makes me feel like... makes me feel, simply. Some famous SF author, I misremember what his name was, said once that yes, over ninety percent of science fiction is crap. Then again, over ninety percent of any art is. Personally, I think he was a bit too optimistic. But even if you have to go through heaps of shite to find that song, that movie, that picture that really takes you away and makes you feel like you've uncovered a hidden treasure, it's all worth it once you do find it.

(Actually, the ninety percent figure might be more accurate or even an underestimation if you count every piece of art that really affects someone, not just me... that would indeed make it valuable, even if not for me personally. Whatever...)

... Joy. Wonder. Whatever makes it happen. For me, that's often but not always some kind of art. For another person, it might be something else altogether.

... by the way, speaking of music, I think you mentioned Snow Patrol as a band I might like in a discussion some time ago. At the time I didn't know who they were, but then I sent a message to my brother asking by which band this really neat untitled song he'd sent me a while ago was. Turns out, that was 'Run' by you guessed who. He's sent me another few songs since, and I've enjoyed them all. :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on March 5th, 2005 02:52 pm (UTC)
But even if you have to go through heaps of shite to find that song, that movie, that picture that really takes you away and makes you feel like you've uncovered a hidden treasure, it's all worth it once you do find it.


You have no idea how in tune that makes me feel with the world...it is so true. To get everything, you have to sacrifice everything, that sort of deal. w00t.

Also, I heart you on the 'it just affects me'. That's the point, isn't it - it is such a personal thing, it doesn't gain value or lose value by being shared. It can be wonderful when you are quite, quite alone.

Snow Patrol are excessively brilliant!! And Run is the R/S theme song. xD