Psychologists have something they like to call “magical thinking” and they don’t mean that phrase in a fun whimsical way, but more of “hey dude, face reality” kind of way. The website Healthline says “Magical thinking refers to the idea that you can influence the outcome of specific events by doing something that has no bearing on the circumstances.” Let’s take a look at some examples I’ve come up with:
Imagine this: you have two gates in your yard that are open and go through to a white wall. Someone shoots a paintball without you watching and it seems to splat as if it has gone through both gates. You put a camera on the gates for the next paintball and record which gate it goes through and it splats on the wall in only the one place you would expect given what the camera records. Take the camera away and you get the two gate splat again. So the magical thinking is that just by you watching to see which gate it goes through the result changes.
Or imagine this: You build a room and build a scale under it. You now know what the empty room weighs. You weigh a bunch of stuff on another scale and fill the room up with the stuff. After you are finished you notice the weight of the room has gone up eight times more than the weight of stuff you have added. So, magical thinking would be there must be invisible things in there too.
And imagine this: You and your friend are experts at balancing basketballs on the tip of your finger. You start spinning the ball on your finger. Immediately without your friend doing anything the ball on his finger starts spinning, matching the spinning ball on your finger exactly. Your magical thinking is that spinning the ball made the ball spin on your friend’s finger.
You get the idea, right? Well, actually all three of those are analogues for things scientists believe. Science says all those three things are possible: the first is seen in the double slit experiment that uses light, the second is why they invented something called dark matter because they can’t explain why the universe is so heavy given what they can see and the third is particle entanglements, something Einstein called “spooky action at a distance“.
And then when I was reading about magical thinking I noticed the psychologists twisting logic all kinds of ways to avoid saying a belief in God was magical thinking. So if you believe in God, quantum mechanics or dark matter it isn’t magical thinking. But if you believe in unlucky 13, elves or astrology to a modern scientist it is magical thinking. Face it, most of what we believe in we as individuals have not actually seen, I have no idea how a cellphone works for example, pretty well magic to me. Don’t mention to scientists it wasn’t that long ago they believed there was something called phlogiston to explain why things burned. Or that continental drift as a concept was laughed at by scientists.
And that is why creative writing is so great. You don’t have to live in a world where someone else decides whether things are real or not. In fact magical realism is a genre. Which is especially great, seeing as how the whole idea is that magic just shows up as a part of a what we like to think as our consensus reality. Though, for some people that is also how they live anyway and has been true for most of humankind’s time on this planet.
The video poem Marriage follows this one so this is meant as an introduction to it because Marriage includes magical realism in both the poem and video. While I do discuss magic in the video Magic, there isn’t really any shown, unless you are willing to say a snowstorm has its own kind of magic (which I am more than willing to say). I do talk about dark matter and quantum mechanics though.
An interesting, though I found somewhat difficult read, book is Technic and Magic: The Reconstruction of Reality, which discusses the difference in “reality settings” between two ways of deciding how the world works. The book has a lot of philosophy mixed in with a smattering of poetry as well, it was hard but worth it for me. The author Federico Campagna puts forward a pretty good case for trying what he and others call Magic, which is a reality view generated from the ineffable versus the soul and planet destroying reality settings most at work today from the cold irrational exploitive view point.
Hope you enjoy the video.