Saturday, September 13, 2003

Intersubjective Magic

Richard's post makes me think of John Crowley's keynote speech about magic at the 2001 ICFA. First he distinguished between physical magic -- e.g., turning lead into gold -- which doesn't actually work, and intersubjective magic -- e.g., casting a hex on someone -- which very often does work. Citing Ioan Culianu's book Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, Crowley described magic as the place where subjectivity and technology meet. Magicians study how one consciousness reacts to another, and apply that knowledge in a deliberate, controlled manner. In this way a magician can instill certain emotions in another person and even compel actions. This is most commonly done as a form of manipulation or control -- advertising and propaganda being widespread modern examples -- but Crowley suggested it could also be used to heal, to unbind people instead of bind them. And perhaps writers can do it with fiction.


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