Monthly Archives: February 2012

“There is no magic.

There is only knowledge, more or less hidden.” Gene Wolfe

The one time I allowed myself to be talked into going to Las Vegas, I justified the trip by going to see Penn and Teller at the Rio (thanks to one of Neil’s own magic tricks). I didn’t want to go see the flash and artifice of one of the other Vegas magic acts–as amazing as their shows may be–I wanted to see these men who are blatantly honest about their magic, and yet still manage to do things which are breathtakingly mysterious to someone who doesn’t know the methods. Early in the show, they did a trick which they then deconstructed without the various methods of distraction, so the audience could follow each step to see how the illusion was created so effectively. Before the deconstruction, Penn warns the audience that if they don’t want the magic to be revealed as a trick, they ought to close their eyes, and he’d let them know when to open them again. I watched the whole time, and didn’t regret it, but I also envied the people who kept the mystery by closing out the truth. Ostensibly, you can’t have both things. There is knowledge, and there is magic. You get to choose which to keep.

Teller did an illusion later in the show, an old one for him, but one for which I will never want to know the methods, because it was so beautiful as an illusion. But somehow, knowing it was an illusion, that a craftsman designed each step physically to create something that tricked us into this sort of beauty, didn’t take away from its existence. It was magic regardless of its human construction.

I have learned to live inside this sort of redefinition. There are mysteries, and you can choose to shake them out into the light, or you can leave them as they are–whatever takes you. There is magic still in some things you could or do understand and a different gradation of magic in the things you do or could not. It’s occasionally wildly satisfying to create the mystery for someone else, and there’s so much magic in someone creating mystery for you.

I don’t understand the people who only choose one thing or the other. People who, for example, embrace the dogma of a religion to the extent where they discount rational thought and science altogether, and the people who are equally as dogmatic about the mundanity of life so that living becomes banal and colorless, make no sense to me.

There can always be magic, and there is always a mystery to solve.

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These newfangled contraptions.

I started a Pinterest thing because Ariella and Miranda were so excited about it, and while I cannot be a part of their excitement over their shared love of terrifying television, I figured I could give this a shot. I don’t quite understand its purpose yet, and have no idea what I’m doing, but it’s right here. I’ll probably abandon it, if I can’t figure out why it is.

 

 

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adventure/trepidation

Adventure always requires running away from, or to, something; adventure can’t be sifted from loss.

I just quoted myself there. I can’t decide whether or not it’s as embarrassing to quote yourself as it is to retweet yourself, but I realized I don’t care that much at the moment.

I dream of adventure. I watch for it, carefully, and cautiously–a method that typically does not invite adventure, but I watch that way regardless because it is my nature and because it is what I have learned, both. I know very well what it is like being the one who covers the waterfront while a ship takes my own adventure away across the sea. This has undoubtedly been my own fault, a situation I constructed through caution, and through silences, and I have accepted it as my own fault and have been silent on it, accordingly.

I can take being the reason for my own unhappiness. I can’t bear the thought of being the architect of the ship which takes away another woman’s dream of adventure. Adventures always have a price. It is a terrible thing to exact it from another person. My heart remembers the price it has paid; how could I be so careless as to cost someone else the same? How do you weigh that against what you stand to lose by refusing to leave the shore?

How much more than enough for both of us
darling.

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what can you have of a cat, but her skin?

This proverb traditionally meant to say something about things with just one value (i.e. cats are useless but for their skin), but I read a story once where it made more sense to me. The story used it dually, about a woman subservient to her abusive husband, who obviously felt she was good for just one thing, and that he owned that thing, but as she struggles with her own power, it also came to mean that while you can own a cat’s skin, the essence of a cat will always elude you. The details of the horror story (it was ostensibly a horror story) have mostly faded, but I remember that proverb in that light, a description of something that cannot be owned no matter how you claim it physically.

I love that about cats. They behave independently, totally disregarding how you may suppose you own them. Cat is named after Capote’s Cat, the poor slob without a name, out of my love for this trait. “We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.”

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Let him think and be still.

I’m trying to get out of going to L.A. by convincing Wancy that we should instead rent Naulakha for a week, and while he writes his novel, I will take turns around the garden and read the books in Kipling’s library.

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The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that’s the most interesting.

When I feel out of sorts, I watch Richard Feynman videos. I love so much about how he saw the world.

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between the shadow and the soul

Te amo como se aman ciertas cosa oscuras, secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

For the most part, love has always been a secret thing to me. Part of this is my selfish nature; if I love you, that love is mine, and I don’t want anyone to touch it–they don’t have the right even to speak of it. Partly it’s that love is so incredibly important, and I feel that people use the word carelessly to mean the more pedestrian forms of affection, which is an offense. You ought not call a piece of glass a diamond. A darker part of it is that love is a tool that can easily be used against you. This sheltering fear, that love is a means of control, was fostered in me at a very early age, most likely unconsciously, by watching my extended family dynamic. I was observant, and understood things innately without much effort, so even when very young and otherwise stupid, I understood the power and damage of “You love me, so you will do this for me,” and “I know I can do this to you, because you love me and will let me,” as well as, “I will not love you if you are not this,” and “You are not this way, and so do not deserve to be loved.”

I am forever grateful that from my immediate family, I was never in want of love. I grew up watching how destructive love can be when it’s subverted into something manipulative and controlling, but I have never doubted, for example, my parents’ love for me. I struggled and still struggle with the awful effects of a narcissistic and desperate matriarch’s thoughtless cruelty, which sounds melodramatic, but when her actions are still informing my thoughts and actions well after childhood and her own death, I can’t think of it as being theater dressing.

So I was steeped in a weird contradiction. I felt very loved, and for the most part have always been secure in loving them back, and at the same time, I learned how to see love as something that cuts and rots. Basically where that’s left me is I don’t feel like I have any emptiness inside which needs love to fill it, and I am alarmed by the idea that anyone should know what or who I love.

I’ve gotten better about this. Today I talked with a friend who said he frequently tells his friends he loves them. I joked that I never say that to my friends. That wasn’t entirely true. I do say it, and I mean it wholly when I say it, but I say it reluctantly. It’s easier with some, but even with Wancy and Ian, both of whom I’ve known the longest of all my friends, it took years for me to say it without immediately wishing I could take it back and hide it away. My friend also said he hugs his friends all the time, and I had to think about it before sort of half-heartedly protesting that I hug my friends too. Do I? Yes, of course. I hug Tom and Ian all the time, even when they are disgusting with stage sweat and their slimy unwashed band shirts. I hug Wancy and Alyssa, I do hug my friends, but oh, it takes some time, doesn’t it?

I’m going out with my friends tonight, to see my other friends do the things that they love to do. And I’m going to hug the bejesus out of them, because I love them terribly, even if I don’t want to say it. I think they probably know.

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