Price of Magic.
mcmullea at kl.com
Mon Sep 27 15:04:38 EDT 1999
And another exciting thread! You know, it's just *so* great to read and
consider all of your ideas because I can't tell you how many times I would
have *liked* to be having this conversation and couldn't find any spark of
interest in anyone I knew. Somehow there seems to be so many people who like
to talk about t.v. and mainly t.v. and sometimes only t.v. But onward:
"But I think this has precisely nothing to do with a need to stop
> mages from taking over. In Card's concept of the price of magic (as I
> understood it, Melissa), the good mages, with their respect for life,
> be unwilling to use any of their power. How could you justify forcing
> another to pay the price for you, unless you were bad? This brings us
> round to Laurel. She's the perfect example of a "bad mage" forcing others
> to pay the price. But yet she does also exemplify the other point of view
> - the idea that the price is to ourselves, as the cost for having anything
> we want. Remember the thread about Laurel being threatened by creativity,
> by change, being punished enough by being the "undying Laurel", being
> unlikely to take up gardening?"
Hmm, I think it probably was me who said that because I've recently
taken up gardening (just potted plants so far) and I've already learned some
surprising things from it which I never would have suspected. But anyway, I
really wanted to talk about bad mages and my mind is all boiling so I may
not put this together in the most cogent way, beg pardon.
Bad mages use the power of others to add to their own - that seems
pretty consistent in every book I can think of which addresses the idea.
Are they always dodging price? It would seem so, at least any time they use
the power of another for their own purposes. But like Hallie said, aren't
they just like the person who ends up being a criminal because they look at
the potential gain without counting the cost to themselves (we know the cost
to others doesn't make them flinch).
And basically, isn't Laurel just scared of dying? Rock bottom,
isn't that what it's all about? Just a being who is scared and selfish and
has the means in her hands to come up with a solution that makes people go
through untimely what it is past time for her to get busy doing herself. We
don't know her daily life too well (thank heavens) but just how great is it
that it's worth putting everyone else through all this? All indications
suggest sameness, sameness, sameness. So she would absolutely hate
gardening or have a wall of denial up about it because it is all about
birth, death, rebirth etc. just like the material world. Even though we
mainly see the power and benefits (youth, beauty etc.) of her exploitation,
the cost is still there - no integrity, no trust, no company, all
manipulation, no change, no newness, no difference. Bleah.
Then there is the cost of her lost opportunity - someone as powerful
as she could, with a fertile mind and good heart, conceivably do some
amazing things in the world, even locally on her own street and have a
dynamic influence on others. And the benefit of that course would be to
have a really interesting life with lots of various interesting, learning
experiences and many friendly relations with people. Of course, I suppose
that was probably (I imagine backstory) never a possibility in her case. So,
someone like her, I infer, would consider all these costs negligable,
threadbare compared to the more glittery benefits, if they even notice those
costs at all. And would be blind to the benefits or sneer at them.
Side thought: is there any way to dodge cost? Dodging cost seems to
be a detour or to exact its own cost. Immutably?
The whole question reminds me of when I read a Michael Moorcock book
when I was a teenager. It was all about Order v. Chaos and the "hero" was
sided from birth with chaos. Anyway, the hero was always sneering at
everyone and there was lots of punishment of offenders and things. My b.f.
points out to me that those books were intended for young guys circa 14.
Can't say why it reminds me so much of this topic - no wait - it might be
the trying to have power for free - without cost, responsibility, flaw, end
etc. etc. Basically the lesson I took away was that no one was ever
supposed to laugh at him, on pain of gruesome death.
"This brings me on to an idea I've been tossing around for a while,
> related, though perhaps not directly. That is, the price of not accepting
> magic (to stick with our analogy). This was obvious when we were talking
> about Sophie in H'sMC, but I got to thinking about it in relation to Ivy
> well. I had always read Ivy as one of those people who caused all her own
> problems, by being completely self-absorbed, and refusing to accept
> responsibility for her own actions."
Consider that Ivy is an apt name, because she is stuck. Totally
bound, twined around and choked by these ideas. Maybe her name should be
Kudzu. On the other hand, is anybody really totally free of these kind of
ideas - or other ideas that work the same way? Even if you are trying to
keep an eye out, some are just sneaking around. When I had a couple plants
die (this is what I meant about learning stuff from gardening) I had a
moment of "Oh well, what did you expect?" And then I had a much bigger and
more shocking moment of realizing that I had this mental vine which
basically suggested (mm kicked me when down?) I was the equivalent of weed
killer in my own endeavours - hadn't even realized it was there either -
probably because I didn't know how to think about it (metaphors seem to
help). It closed off my perceptions, because how am I supposed to learn what
might have gone wrong with those plants if I just assume it was me and look
no farther? Dead end. Anyway, it's much nicer to throw the field open and
*not know* that it will all go pffft just because I've touched it. Now
someone has just given me an african violet. I am feeling very trepidatious
because it is a finicky plant and despite the lesson in false assumption, I
am nervous about its survival in my keeping. I intend to give it a good go,
though and if it dies - well, I'll try to figure out what went wrong and get
None of this is not to say that Ivy isn't a dreary pain in the
"I still do consider her that way, but a slight shift of perception
> presented me with the possibility that Ivy could be seen as having a ghost
> of Tom's or Polly's gift. But so warped by years of shifting blame that
> it's become completely destructive, and has come to seem only
> self-defeatism at its most obvious."
I've already written quite a missive (oh! sorry!) but I'd like to
address the magic/thought/creativity talk going on more fully in a later
email. Meanwhile, don't we shape reality through our thoughts
(perceptions/actions) anyway? Not on a grand scale most of the time maybe,
but nonetheless. Look at me being weedkiller. Who knows what interesting
opportunities/learning/perceptions/possibilities I've missed while I was
busy assuming that. Who knows what's been squelched? But, just the kind of
thing that happens. Instead of thinking I had withering thumb on real
plants, I should use that withering thumb on the ivy-like misapprehension
idea fixee (like Sophie?).
p.s. in real life, I like ivy. It bolsters the confidence of a
beginning gardener too, because it is really hardy. lol! I have two of them
and sometimes feel a glow of excitement that they grow so well.
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