I’ve Arrived

I’m not entirely sure, but I think Jason Miller just picked a fight with me.  I have arrived!

Seriously, I’m kind of an evangelist for the information model, so it’s hard not to read that as a “get over it” to me.  And I can understand that.  Jason’s very much about practical magic, getting things done.  I’m very much about intellectual study of magic.  The two are not enemies, and one doesn’t preclude the other.  I get lots done.  (Weirdly: ’cause I rarely *do* anything).

I’m pretty sure he didn’t actually mean to direct it at me, and I certainly don’t want to pick a fight with him.  But I do want to address why I think it’s worthwhile to find a model that offers actual explanatory power in magic, Ramsey Dukes notwithstanding.

If magic is real, it is real.  That tautology means that it’s not “anything goes.”  Some things will work, others won’t.  Of course, that also doesn’t mean that there’s one true model.  It’s clear that a Hoodooist and a Cabalist can get the same results, so what’s universal and true about magic can’t be in the technology alone.  It must be in the models used to describe those theories, and the best model will come as close as possible to accounting for the widest range of successful techniques.

I think that’s the information model.  The energy model doesn’t explain spirits, prayer, or systems of folk magic that don’t involve imagining moving energy, all of which can work quite well.  But each of these acts is an act of communicating an intent.  Similarly, if something goes wrong with magic and it doesn’t work, the energy model offers no real advice, other than to “get more energy,” which means what?  Eat more glucose?  The information model says that the error may have been in several places: the intent may not have been unified so you may have been sending multiple messages; the channel of communication may not have been clear, so you need to work at clearing your mind and selecting appropriate symbolism; you may not have communicated the message you thought you did, so you should look again at your encoding.

Is this ultimate truth, therefore?  Not at all.  Communication as a model presupposed a separation that I’m not sure is there in reality between the magician and the ultimate consciousness he or she communicates with.  But it’s very much “like” communication, and a heck of a lot more so than it’s “like” energy.

It’s simply a more coherent and useful metaphor all around.  But I do understand that it’s useless to get angry about the whole thing, which I’ve seen.  And the energy model does have the virtue of being quite a bit easier for most people to visualize and “experience.”

So that’s why I can’t just “stop it.”  I think it’s a valuable avenue to think my way down.  And I fail to see why that’s silly.

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7 Responses to “I’ve Arrived”

  1. See this is what I get for late night, whiskey inspired posts.

    Actually I hadn’t thought of you. It was something RO said on the phone followed by something POS wrote on his blog regarding a conversation we had. The topic had been one that I was meaning to addtress, I was just hoping to do it with a bit more eloquence than I did.

    Sadly I was away from home all day to day giving a Financial Magic Intensive and just don’t have the energy to put up a more well thought out post.

    That said, I just don’t see the need for a Grand Unified Theory of magic that explains how both the Kabbalist and Rootworker work. There are areas that they overlap and areas that they dont.

    That said, my own dirty secret is that as a Buddhist I pretty much believe a version of the information model.

  2. “It’s clear that a Hoodooist and a Cabalist can get the same results, so what’s universal and true about magic can’t be in the technology alone. It must be in the models used to describe those theories, and the best model will come as close as possible to accounting for the widest range of successful techniques”

    Well… Yeeeeesss… Maybe. But what happens when that model gets superseded?

    Which the information model may well have been… It’s no longer even really necessary to use it to explain quantum entanglement (factoring in a few extra time dimensions and what is quite possibly a holographic universe if that new background hum physicists are picking up turns out to be accurate.)

    As I understand you, one of the things you really enjoy is thinking about the theoretical underpinnings of magic. Which is good. Me too.

    I think maybe Jason was flagging the dangers of mistaking the menu for the meal. Because as you say; magic works.

    Would you not say then, from a strictly developmental point of view, theories of magic are a “nice to have” rather than essential elements of a path?

    Or are they inseparable in how you roll? (For me they are almost inseparable… Almost.)

  3. I thought he was picking a fight with me. :D

  4. How is “information” being communicated if there is no energy involved?

    • pomomagic Says:

      Your question presupposes a materialistic worldview, in which information is a way of organizing energy or matter. I don’t share that worldview; it makes just as much sense to say that energy and matter are ways of organizing information.

      But even if we do say that we need energy to communicate information — so? I get my energy from eating a sandwich and some soup today, and that was enough to communicate this message. Why does that matter? It’s the message that matters, not the chemical energy in my lunch that fuels it. Yet the current state of magical theory is dominated by a model that would be as if we were to reduce all literary criticism to analyzing the amount of energy contained in the pages of the book, rather than the significance of the symbols themselves. It baffles me why — well, why I have to keep saying it. It strikes me as pretty obvious nonsense, all this talk of energy in magic, and yet — and yet — here I am, posting about it again. I just don’t get it.

      • If you are talking about information being transmitted without energy you aren’t actually talking about information as we generally understand it. Information is just another metaphor. What’s going on STILL hasn’t been explained. Magic is still a mystery.

        That said, I didn’t see you post that bit about the energy coming from sandwich before. Clever. I actually mostly hold to an information model myself, I’m just being persnickety ;)

      • pomomagic Says:

        Well, that depends. If you’re a materialist, then yes, what I’m talking about isn’t like information as materialists understand it. But I’m not a materialist. Information is primary. Matter is just what information looks like when it’s in a certain state.

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