Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why Do We Love Magic?

Oh, Magic. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

  1. (You thought I was joking about the counting, huh.) Escape. Movies, music, books, and plays about magic take us out of the mundane world and allow us to escape momentarily into a better (in some ways) world. There is still evil and intrigue, but that's part of the magic, too. And the evil can be defeated.
  2. Metaphor and theme. We love the metaphor involved in a magical story--the way a person with a goofy name can stand for all that is wrong in the world, or maybe they stand for a principle like, "Self-interest always backfires," or, "People who wear pickles on their feet will never find true love". Any story can have metaphor, but I enjoy the obviousness of themes in magical stories. This layering makes a seemingly cute story turn out to be truly meaningful. 
  3. It's Shiny. Maybe this should have been my first reason. We love the shiny pictures magical stories paint, like Harry Potter being chosen by his wand in Ollivander's Wand Shop or a magical golden ring with a glowing inscription. Lots of money is made on merchandise that helps kids (and adults) relive these moments. Myself, I'm still heartbroken that Quidditch is not an actual game. If I could pay to fly on a broomstick whilst dodging bludgers and scoring points, I would seriously save my money, no matter how much it cost. (Nasa, are you listening?)
  4. Rules. This one is less obvious, but still a big reason we love magic. There are rules, usually clear-cut rules with predictable outcomes. Since real life is a messy grey blob where the good are sometimes punished unfairly and the wicked get away with murder, it's nice to believe for a few moments in a world where the wicked are always punished and the good, while sometimes misjudged, always triumph in the end. In magical stories, if you follow the rules, you will win. 

 Okay, I ran out of steam on the counting. This is why I've never been able to count sheep to fall asleep! :-)

I'd like to hear from you, and maybe we'll continue our counting sans the pesky numbers! Why do you love magic?


  1. I love that magic allows us, as readers and writers, to, for a moment, do the impossible alongside our characters. It's fantasy. It's wonderful. :)

  2. I knew I wasn't alone in that! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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