Thought for the day: Magic, religion, and Mad Uncle Al(an)

I picked up a copy of Mustard in GOSH, yesterday, because it was a quid fifty, and contained a sizeable interview with Alan Moore. In between talking about comics, and his new novel, and etc, there is, as usual, a bit about magic, in which Alan says “I approach magic the same way I approach writing – no one taught me how to do it, I just thought let’s take a look at this from the outside, see if I can figure it out, and come up with my own approach from there. Y’know, magic is an art, so I’ve decided to approach it the same way I would any art.”

He goes on to say a lot of other things, some of which I agree with, and some of which I don’t, but that quote is such a nice summation of my attitude to the whole thing, I though it was worth noting. I’m always suspicious of magic traditions that require teachers and initiations, and similar bollocks, partly because they have the stink of religion on them, and if magic is anything concrete and proveable, it’s a device for thinking for one’s self, by one’s own lights (I think it’s more, but that’s the most basic use for it, I feel) where as every. single. religion. is about suggesting to their followers that “this is the way you ought to think/feel”. Some of them are nicer about it, some (many) don’t evangelise, some appeal to different subsets, some don’t suggest that it matters much if you do or don’t, but still, every relgion I’ve run across is a means for defining your patterns of thought by the light of belonging to a group of like-minded others. If you like it, ace, glad it works for you, but I have no need for it myself.

I also avoid them partly because, as Moore says: magic is an art (or the Art, if you want to get terribly pretentious about it), and frankly, teachers and tradtions and that sort of thing seems as useful to me as writers workshops, or painting classes. Again, if you like them, good, glad you’re happy. They’re not for me. I’m a hopeless autodidact – if I can’t learn it on my own, by practice and reading a few books, then I don’t want to know. Creativity, to me, is a totally individual thing. Being taught someone else’s techniques *might* be helpful, but I think it has as much, if not more chance of just getting in the way.

I have this sense that today might be a slightly odd day.

(Cheese update: not *as* fucked up as the opium shit, but still, a bit of quality traumatic subconcious behaviour last night.)

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