An Old Mentalist Fragment

I was reminded today that some time back, I took part in the 1000 journals project, and after a quick check, I discover that the long forgotten piece (written in about 15 minutes) is available on line. This is what I wrote, just so I’ve got a record of it:

It’s tipping it down, so naturally, the randomiser on the iPod threw up The Pogues “Rain Street” the minute I stepped out the door.

Do you believe in magic?

Loaded question. You can’t answer it properly until you’ve defined what magic is.

So, move towards definition. You can make yourself believe anything, according to Robert Anton Wilson, whose model of the human brain composed of “Thinker” and “Prover” doesn’t entirely convince, but offers a start point, and would suggest that there’s magic wherever you think there is, that consensus reality doesn’t matter.

He’d suggest that if you think something to be true you’ll encounter mountains of evidence in support. Your brain’ll prove what you feel. In evidence, he offers “23 skidoo”, the idea that if you convince yourself that the number 23 is important, you’ll soon find that your life is inextricably tied up with that number. It’ll show up everywhere. Important phone numbers, house addresses, restaurant bills, all on its own.

“Whatever the thinker thinks, the prover proves” is Wilson’s phrase. It’s both the heart of magic, and it’s biggest weakness. The suggested answer would be that magic only exists if you believe in it, and if you do, you’ll see magic everywhere. Against that, of course, one might easily point out that this engenders credulousness.

Perhaps the Art of magic is as much in sifting out pattern from random chance, in diving meaning from chaos, and still maintaining some semblance of healthy sketicism. Looking at it square on, that seems like the heart of magic – another filter on the world through might we may imbue any event with meaning, render it more significant. And if we give it more power, more impact, who’s to say it doesn’t have it? And if we’re lending something power, creating something from nothing, isn’t that magic?

Alasdair Watson
22/1/2003, in Journal 203

Points to anyone who find the slightly obvious hidden message.

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