SUZY SPREADWELL #1 by John Linton Roberson, available at Google Play Books!
I Didn't Write That!
29 June 2011
  Ramblings About Magic and Belief and Yadda Yadda

Reading the Invisibles again recently got me thinking about magic again for the first time in a while. Not as something to practice, just something to think about. Like the way I am with religion.

Grant Morrison's views on magic always appealed to me. Grant believes magic is pretty much just a way to trick your mind into doing things it can, but you don't know how to do, and that if it takes a ritual to convince your brain, you do that but it has no inherent power, because it's all you.

I can see the wisdom of using a crutch when it is in fact a useful tool. The trick is remembering they're all tools, and being able to make it work anyway. Temporary belief.

I myself don't know if magic is real or not but have had friends who did, like my Brazilian friend Angel, who was a serious believer, of some kind of Santeria-like Catholic strain of healing magic. We argued about it a lot, which I regret now, not because I believe differently, exactly, but that I was so inconsiderate, knowing everything before I'd experienced anything. I wince. Does everyone?

I was more of a rationalist absolutist back then, and she left me with a lot of doubt on the issue, which reading Grant Morrison (whom she liked, along with Ennis' Hellblazer--particularly the First of the Fallen) strengthened. Not so much my otherwise guru Alan Moore, because...well, I always had an interest in it, but the arcana, frankly, is really corny. Do NOT show me Crowley. That was something I almost didn't forgive Moore in Promethea, which I otherwise enjoyed--especially the walk through the Kabbalah, because the superhero stuff that others love to rave about so much, apart from the excellent J.H. Williams art, wasn't my thing. But.... CROWLEY? You've got the much more interesting Austin Osman Spare in there too, but you barely show us him, but on every level you focus on that walking cliche Crowley? Arrrgh.

I mean, if the process of art is magic, as both men like to say, and that's my favorite way of looking at it--something greater than the sum of its parts with no apparent reason for being and yet, there it is, something from nothing? A better model for that kind of sorcerer image is William S. Burroughs, I'd think. Who Moore actually introduced me to, via one page in Watchmen I read in 1987.

The thing is, if magic is of any use, it's not against rationality, because it wouldn't work if on some level it did not make sense. What YOU (or I) know and can understand is not the same as rationality. It may not make sense, but how many other things you deal with each day don't actually make sense to you?

You don't know what you don't know.

If it works (if, and in no way am I saying, apart from art, that it does) then it makes sense on some level that you're not on. It's just that it deals with things we perhaps don't know how to describe rationally yet. But the limits of our knowledge doesn't change that if something works, it is rational, only what can happen does happen, and if something does not work there is no sense believing in it. The only real irrationality here would be blind denial calling itself(but what is not) faith.

Always remember, in art or anything: You owe your tools nothing.

Myself, I don't know if I believe, because I'm not so arrogant. I don't know what I don't know. But I do not fuck with it because I am not in full cognizance of what's brewing in my subconscious. I suspect something self-defeating lurks down there. I once tried to perform a sigil in the manner Grant once defined (famously in a letter column in the Invisibles, in an attempt to increase sales), and quite poetically got THE EXACT OPPOSITE, point for point, of what I'd wanted.

Incidentally, I met Grant once in 1996 in San Francisco, at Comix Experience, as mentioned previously here. I didn't say what I spoke about though. I told him of my plight when I tried his method, and asked him what one does then, if your own subconscious were acting against you: how would you know? He said something in very quiet Glaswegian, and as mentioned before, I was polite and pretended I understood.

Oh, and Mindless Ones have a new podcast interview with him, partly about his new book Supergods. Understand him if you can.
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