15.9.08

magicians

Magicians separate themselves from the social group, functioning as outsiders as they perform particular rituals. Because they exploit the fears and predetermined truths of the population, the public feeling produced becomes genuine as the reactions to magic come into existence. The beliefs and actions that magicians hold and perform over others are thus not simply illusions but rather are the very real affects of social phenomena, as they exert control over the general population. It is in this way that we can realize the origins of the powers of Magicians; and perhaps more importantly, how to diffuse those same powers.

The Magician's power comes from how he is perceived. He has a knowledge of the laws of nature that far exceeds the public's own. This power over the public derives from how the Magician perceives his own power- his own self in relation to his environment. This is how a society comes to believe that a person is of Magical origins and therefore participates in the social phenomenon of Magic itself. We can recognize the validity of this statement by seeing that the Magician is actually part of the whole, containing the essence of the whole within himself. The Magician believes in his Magic as does the public.   

Whether or not the public accepts the Magician's power or not is determined by Kant's distinctions between a priori and a posteriori judgements. A priori judgements are based on reason alone and are held with strict universality. A posteriori judgements are based on sensory experiences and are thus uncertain. Similarly, these distinctions can be broken down further into analytic and synthetic judgements. Analytic judgements are those which assert truths based on previous conceptions of truth. Synthetic judgements are those which attempt to create new truths and require justification from previous notions of truth. 

In the case of mathematics for instance, we see the previously stated assertions (the equations) we accept to be truth. From knowing particular equations, one can predict new truths. By knowing the mathematical equation 5 + 5 = 10, I can predict that we will have ten apples if you combine your five with my five. As people accept and conform to these rules, every possible object of experience becomes subjected to those rules. If it is not, then it is because these truths are not accepted and no prediction or understanding can take place, since what we consider to be true is constructed within our minds. 

This is how Magicians create and maintain their power. The perception that the Magician has of himself creates the public's perception of him. Because the Magician is Magic, everything he does is Magic. All the spirits he invokes are real because he is calling them. All the incantations he speaks are effective, because the Magician speaks them. Simply because the public has understood and determined from the synthetic a priori judgement that the Magician is capable of performing Magic, it follows that all the actions he performs are Magical ones. 

This is how we can come to understand an exorcism- ejecting a demon or spirit from an individual's body. On the website http://www.fortea.us/english/psiquiatria/evolution.htm, a woman had an "Inner Self-Helper" (ISH), or demon, who knew God and all of her problems. As time went on, the woman gained more and more personalities and created more self destructive crises. However, the scientist "exorcised" her with the power he created for himself which was perceived by the patient. Because the woman believed that there was a demon within her and the scientist had the power to draw it out, the scientist became a Magician and exorcised the woman. 

As we have said before, the Magician has a greater understanding of the forces of nature than the public does, his power growing stronger as his knowledge of the world increases. Mauss states incorrectly that Magic fits somewhere between religion on the one hand and science/technology on the other. What is perhaps more accurate to say is that religion and science/technology are two disciplines of the general concept of knowledge. As the elements of the universe became uncovered to a larger and larger extent, truth began to be classified into two categories: the spiritual truths and the physical truths. Religion came to be the realm of the spiritual while science/technology became the realm for physical knowledge.

As people in Magical societies realized more of the world's truths, they began to live their lives by how they felt the gods and spirits would want them to. Thus, rituals and tradition became established law. Magicians were those persons who took on the role of relating the word's truths to the public and became the law-givers. As knowledge progressed and refined itself, the evolution of Magic reinvented itself again and again. Magicians became priests, who looked at their own belief system as more advanced than those of the Magi. When scientists created ground breaking new technology and realized the earth revolved around the sun, the priests denounced the knowledge as blasphemy. However, with the eventual acceptance that this new knowledge was truth, the general public gained an even greater understanding of the universe. These scientists are then Magicians in themselves- through the use of their Magical instruments (telescope, microscope...) they have become in tune with the environment more precisely; and knowledge evolves again. 

As we progress with history and determine truth to a greater and greater extent, our knowledge evolves to even greater levels. We can realize that while Magic was considered to be man's most basic understanding of the world around him (and indeed it was!), through his continuous contact with nature and other forms of Magic (or knowledge), his understanding of Magic developed as well. However, while some may say that our knowledge has developed out of Magic, it is more correctly stated that our knowledge is rather more developed forms of Magic.  

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