“Magic and Folklore”
The first ‘thing’ I do now when I wake up, is to find some topic to focus on. Something to write about that will help me (and hopefully others) to find an answer from posed questions concerning that topic and recently, folklore has been on my mind.
Just recently, it occurred to me that magic is diabolical trickery – so much in fact that it makes me check for my wallet every time just to make sure it’s still there. As I thought about this, my thoughts moved elsewhere among topics about the supernatural and to finally settle on the topic of werewolves.
A print that I made in high school during my print making class.
As much as that seems interesting, I couldn’t help but think about fear and how people make shit up. Since I am already convinced that magic is bullshit, I had to think about werewolves in the same way. Sure there are dangerous animals out there, which should be enough of a thing to fear when you’re out in the wilderness, but the only reason I think that ‘the werewolf’ would generate any interest for anyone is because of its association with magic.
If someone made your twenty dollar bill disappear and during ‘the act’ you were convinced that you didn’t know how it was done; through shock and amusement, than this makes a difference as to whether you’ll be mad or not, at losing that twenty. You know the magician has that twenty dollar bill somewhere, but the trick is masterful enough to respect it and in a way pay for it. The craft of the act is too good for you to think that they could have simply slid the money into their pocket or slipped it onto the floor with their foot over it. You’re certainly not thinking that it vanished into some portal to some other dimension, but you might think to yourself that losing a twenty was worth the trick.
I always look at patterns in human emotions and how things get started like these tales. I know in some cases where I was creep-ed out about something that wasn’t there. I knew what had happened and I knew what kind of story I could come up with. It would be a good one, now If I could just make it as creepy as the experience I had. A good story has lasting power and stories that survived represent a lost civilization or a culture, usually for a particular region. To me, this is commonsense, to others it isn’t.
But I want the magic and the mystery. I want that stuff to be true out there… somewhere. Maybe in some ancient culture this was the case, when there was more wilderness and less concrete and steel. Imagining what that time must have been like from an objective point-of-view is just like what you imagine when you read or hear a story – but let’s take an example that I’ve created where you can see that time in an ancient civilization and be a part of it.
Take your memories of being in a crowded marketplace, take your experience with various climates, take your memories of stone and dust and foliage and put yourself in the center of that crowded area with the ancient Maya. What process would convince you that you’re actually there? Magic through a time box? Some illusion created at someone’s expense to go to great lengths to recreate that world would be more realistic, all they would have to do is convince you somehow that you were there… what would convince you that what you were breathing and seeing was really happening thousands of years ago?
It would have to be very convincing.
I try to be as articulate as I can and it’s made me more ‘right’ about everything that I do and know. Sometimes this makes me feel like Brent Norton in ‘The Mist’, with that level of ‘asshole confidence’ and cynicism at seeing that everyone else is dumb when they fumble with things or aren’t good at spinning a good yarn. I’m making a generalization here about my approach to things because it serves the purpose of helping me keep my distance from getting wrapped up in bullshit. But If I’m convinced about something that goes against my programming, then I can measure that up to the tools that I’ve been given to see the bigger picture and it never comes to the conclusion that there is magic, it always falls in the realm of passive speculation.
But I’m also not taking ‘the fun’ out of it! I just don’t want to end up like Ellie in ‘Contact’. A very analytical and critical person who ended up vulnerable and fragile, cowering under a greater truth.
The two movie examples are just what I’m talking about. They are stories too, created by people that have as much to say as any other story that came before them. Stories stir up emotion and present information to people. You have some children acting up? Tell them about the boogie man. You want to weave a big tale about the beginning of the universe? Make it up and pepper it with a seven day calendar and when you start having writer’s block, then you start adding in stories about the people you know. Yeah, this dude killed his own brother – can you believe it!? It keeps people reading.
It’s magic guys. But it’s still a lot of fun.