The two forms of magic
There are two levels of magic that exist in a sense. Magic as the art of the conjurer is an illusion created by the practitioner that appears to subvert or violate natural laws such as the vanishing of a small object or the transformation of an object. Magic spelled with a "k" or magick is that which is attributed to wizards, witches and sorcerers and is the manipulation of the known physical universe through supernatural means. This type of magician may define magick as the use of the will to bring about transformation or change within the natural world.
The difference between the two forms of magic is the former uses props, gimmicks and subterfuge to cause the effects in the minds of the audience while the later is based on manipulating energy in the natural world to create the same changes. In addition the former is for entertainment purposes while the latter is concerned with transformation of individuals or situations in a manner favorable for the magician's purpose.
To most people, magic and science are polarizing concepts. They exist at opposite ends of a spectrum but in reality I believe they are closely related. Magicians have taken advantage of scientific principles through the ages to produce magical effects for their audiences. I also think that some of our greatest scientists have drawn inspiration for their experiments and advances from effects one may have regarded at one time as magic.
Science, which in one sense is the study of how everything works, has a double-edged sword for us as a civilized society. From one point of view, science has made our lives better than at any time in history through its theories being implemented by technology or applied science. We can cure diseases, instantly speak to anyone in the world, view moving pictures and sounds beamed to billions of people simultaneously and see to the very heart of our universe with a large telescope. These are just some of the accomplishments we have made.
In the same sense though, science has robbed us of our spirit. We are moving much too fast. Our technological abilities have created a monster that requires us to chase our tails to keep up with advances. My profession, Information Technology, is probably one of the best examples of this. Computers are obsolete before they hit store shelves. Techniques and advances can literally occur overnight. It is virtually impossible to keep up with this pace and keep oneself relevant.
The problem is when we move so fast for too long we eventually have to stop or crash. My fear is that technology is going to outpace us to the point that we crash and burn someday overwhelmed by the very innovations we praise and see as vital today. Information overload wreaks havoc on our society causing stress and separation. Our communal spirit is weaker and weaker as time goes by and in many cases is replaced by technology. Think about it. We chat on computers. We post pictures on Facebook, but when was the last time you called someone? It's too easy to put technology between us and lose the personal touch.
There is a more important issue with the march of technology. We are allowing technological advances to dumb down our youth. How many times have you been in a store with someone who was having "computer problems" with a register and struggled to make change for a dollar? How many of our students can add or subtract, multiply or divide? We are being unfair to our children to substitute a computer for knowledge.
In addition, we are robbing them of the ability to research and learn and explore. How much effort does it take to Google anything? Not much effort, but some of the most interesting things I learned in life was during the trip I needed to take to find information. For example, we need to find out about colonial life in New England. Today we can just do a search online and in seconds find exactly what we need.
Most of us adults though remember how we answered the same question. We went to the library and looked in the card catalog for books or better yet in the encyclopedia for our answers. There was a good chance as we physically searched for that material we found other things that were interesting and which we later studied and found out things that we might never have found if the information was instantly given to us.
Our children are losing this gift of knowledge and self-education. Technology is magical and can be a great tool, but I think we must always start slowly and with basics before turning over the keys to our kingdom. There is still a power in learning and gratification over time and I think it's important to us to provide this to our offspring. In my opinion, it could be one of the greatest gifts we can provide our children.
Til next time…