Interim report on magic. Copyright Richard Ford
I received quite a bit of stick over the internet for mentioning the m word in a series of articles 'experiments in power' that explored things that women know about power and men do not.
I left the word undefined at that time because defining it was part of discovering what it was. I felt it worth discussing as women generally believe in its flakier manifestations. They believe that it is possible to use it to gain control of a man by covert means and cause him to become her willing slave. This made it all the more interesting to me as this is what women have succeeded in doing.
Here is my definition of magic- hopefully you will not think me a total flake once you read it.
1) The art of creating a state of emotional arousal or altered mental state through ritual. This need not involve slaughtering chickens at midnight but may simply involve burning some incense or hearing music. Suddenly we are transported to a special mental space away from current concerns. During this mental holiday things seem possible that were impossible before. When I find myself confused I will sometimes clap once- then focus upon the salient points.
We all do this quite naturally. We sit down at the table for meals and because the meal is now an 'event' it seems to taste a little better. We make lists of things to do- and somehow find the time to do them when previously we could not. There is nothing other worldly about this process- simply the art of giving things the meaning you intend them to have.
2) Charging objects with emotional value or changing their significance either to you or others. Have you ever been in a persons home that was exceptionally happy or unhappy? Notice the effect it has upon you?
Many 'happy' or 'unhappy' buildings are simply well or badly designed. We need not worry about the reason peoples personalities impregnate objects but we must recognise the effects are real. You will not succeed in an oppressive environment and may even become ill. You may change your environment by changing the physical structure or by changing the way the building feels- without changing the physical side. The fact that it may be all in your imagination need not concern us because it is not a practical question. The real question is 'can this help me'?
3) The women who practice women's magic believe that they can take this process a little further. Rather than imposing their personality upon their own homes or workplaces they seek to dominate the entire emotional and spiritual life of the culture. In this way men will become, by degrees slaves. The entire culture, national debate, economy, everything will begin to revolve around them because they have created the emotional conditions for it to happen. In other words the practitioner of magic intends to gain power by the most dishonest and irrational means possible- by changing the basic emotional responses of humanity by the back door.
This reads like the most fanciful science fiction, and I cannot prove that it even works. It is only the fact men have become enslaved in exactly the way predicted by the practitioners of women's magic that causes me to mention it at all.
So far I believe that.....
Definition one definitely works. This requires no mumbo jumbo or unprovable things. You can try it yourself.
Definition two works subjectively- nobody knows if there is a spiritual element to it or not. Fortunately we do not have to wait for this to be proved before it can improve our happiness. I burned some incense and walked through my home chanting 'f--- off, f--- off' to the emotional remnants of the hell my former wife put me through. Once the smoke cleared the atmosphere of the flat improved greatly. I now sleep better and it is quite possible the whole thing exists only in my own head- but who cares if it works?
Definition three. We will never know if there is a spiritual element to women's domination of men in our culture- but we know that it is emotional. Men are finding their own space and their own language. This will break the 'spell' however you define that word.