What is magic?
I ask this because in my line of interest – fantasy novels – magic is a helpful if not vital ingredient. Yet, the real world we live in discourages imagination. Perhaps it is just a fad of the times, but realism is valued and anything outside of a mature view of the world is labelled as a derogatory trait.
Example: Children in kindergarten are the greatest targets for psychologists and pharmaceutical companies. At five-years-old, a healthy child will not want to sit still, will create a universe out of wooden blocks and plastic dinosaurs, and will have deeply intellectual conversations about crayon colours with his imaginary friend. A teacher, spotting these bizarre actions, is expected to remedy them by informing a school councilor, who will approach the parents with the sad news that their child has ADHD, or even being as bold as to say the child is mentally retarded. I don’t have clear memories of my childhood, perhaps because my brain is scattered with a thousand fictional childhoods of other people, but I do remember enough to know that while I enjoyed story time and learning to write letters was a hoot, it was sure a lot more interesting to pretend that plastic animals were drowning in the water table and I was a magnificent goddess who had to save them all.
I had a discussion with a friend yesterday whom I think is brilliant, and she mentioned when she was in second grade, her teacher informed her father that she was mentally retarded. I looked at her and I surpressed a laugh. This girl is soon to be sixteen, is in honors classes, has written a three-hundred page novel and more short stories than I can count on all my digits, and is – besides being in high school – holding three jobs and volunteering two days a week at a community theatre. In kindergarten, my parents were highly advised to put my little brother on riddlin, and they chose not to, and today he’s seventeen, a junior in high school, and has straight A’s (this semester anyway). I cannot help but wonder if movements such as “catching mental illnesses in children before it’s too late” have contributed to the deterioration of imagination – and with it, magic – in modern society.
That brings me back around to the question- what is magic?
To the technologically run world, science is magic. Medicine. Technology itself. I can’t count how many people I’ve talked to at Staples who look at me delightedly when the copiers spit out their copies, as though there were faeries inside the thing.
The type or magic I deal in is imagination. Mere humans conjuring windstorms, freezing time. Where did such concepts come from? Who first theorised that which we now call magic? Did it once exist? Or is it a product of imagination? And most importantly, could it exist? And if it could, could it exist in the present, in an ancient time, the distant future, or all the above?
People would look at me sideways, but human nature is to question and things such as dragons and magic… they have been surfacing in literature since the medieval era if not before. One can’t help but wonder if that’s too much of a coincidence.
Then again, if this world of faltering imagination, is it ever fair to question?