Price of Magic.

alexandra.bolintineanu at utoronto.ca alexandra.bolintineanu at utoronto.ca
Sat Sep 25 15:09:41 EDT 1999


Sally wrote:

"Evil would have to take the shape of the creation of miseries, and good
would oppose it be creating something to combat it. Good could not create
(say) endless food, because that would deprive characters of the virtue
and
satisfaction of work and result in a loss of health and purpose. The way I
see it, magical creation should be a gradual process, a suggesting, that
persuades something to go along its natural bent, but lets it realise its
potential."

The creation of miseries!  Please pardon my wildly shooting off ona a
tangent, but that describes just about every high school English course
I've taken!  All the books we had to read were about people
leading lives of either quiet (and occasionally squalid) desperation or
(in Shakespeare plays) splendid, enlightening, transcending misery.  And,
while I don't think that books have to be essentially "happy" to be good
books, I will disagree till I turn blue in the face that misery always
makes good literature.  To quote one of my favourite authors, 

"The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and
sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid.  Only
pain is intellectual, only evil interesting.  This is the treason of the
artist:  a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom
of pain... But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace
violence is to lose hold of everything else.  We have almost lost hold; we
can no longer describe a happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.  How
can I tell you about the people of Omelas [the city of happiness]?  They
were not naive and happy children--though their children were, in fact,
happy.  They were mature, intelligent, passionate adults whose lives were
not wretched."  (Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas").

As to evil creation magic, I think that would be the equivalent of
"cheating the cwidder"--taking truth and twisting it for selfish purposes,
or maybe simply for purposes, however good, that require the truth to be
twisted.  

And as to Ivy's magic powers:  cool idea!  It never occurred to me!
<HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE SPOILER BELOW] 

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Sort of like (as someone pointed out) Sophie's reinforcing the Witch of
the Waste's ageing spell by telling herself that the old woman's shape was
really the one best suited to her.


Cheers,

Alexandra









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