Why are we drawn to magic?

From the AMA pile, Nameless One (though not the Nameless One . . . I don't think) asks:
Why are we so drawn to the theme of magic?

When viewing cravings, be it one for air, food, sex and something else...they are all based on things that we can observe and acquire, so why do we crave works of fiction that involve magical themes as strongly as we do?

Well, I can't tell you why you are drawn to the theme of magic. I can tell you that there are people who aren't drawn to the theme of magic, who feel fantasy fiction is ludicrous and a waste of time (and I really can't tell you why they feel that way).

But I can tell you why I am drawn to themes of magic: because I want to believe there is more to this world than what we think we know.

I want to believe there are powers we don't understand, worlds we've never visited and can't imagine, wonders that we could accomplish -- right now, even -- if we only knew how.

This sounds superstitious and silly (okay, I guess I can understand why those people feel that way about fantasy), but it's not. Gravity is a power I can calculate but don't fully understand, and I understand black holes and the strong nuclear force even less. The universe is filled with worlds we've never visited and can only imagine by pointing really powerful telescopes at distant stars and measuring how they twinkle.

And we are surrounded by wonders that, whether we can explain them or not, are no less wonderful for that. Cancer survivors are magic. Forests that regrow after a raging wildfire are miraculous. Everything at the bottom of the ocean is a fricking horror marvel.

Shoot, man, my kids are magic. They are people, with thoughts and ideas of their own, who will one day do things that no one has done before. And yet twenty-five years ago, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM EXISTED.

So I don't know about you, but I'm drawn to themes of magic because my world is filled with it and nobody seems to notice. I want to notice. I don't want to think that, just because I can explain or reproduce a thing, it means that thing is now mundane. And I want to believe -- I do believe -- that there are greater marvels out there that we know nothing about yet, or perhaps that we've dismissed because they don't fit our schema of what the world should be like. There's got to be more than this world seems to offer. We just gotta find it.

I don't know, guys. Why are you drawn to themes of magic?

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5 comments:

Steve MC said...

Got to agree - the world is full of magic we haven't yet imagined, and so much of today's technology is magic, to the point where if Benjamin Franklin had invented the iPhone, they would've burned him at the stake.

As for magic in books, it's still a way to acquire things, whether protection or knowledge or pulling your X-Wing out of a swamp. Plus, magic is often instant gratification, delivered with surprise and style. It's secret and subversive and taps into the depths that kings can only ponder.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I think it's easy. We already live in real life. I want to experience something OTHER than real life.

Matthew MacNish said...

Because magic is cool.

Taryn Tyler said...

I think I'm drawn to magic for similar reasons. Because I see magic in so many mundane things and because magic questions what we think we know about the universe.

Nick said...

When I finally figure out how to water bend or do mind tricks or fly or whatever it ends up being, I'm not going to be surprised nor freaked out, simply annoyed that it took me so long.