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.