on magic

UrlLouis B. Jones at Threepenny Review:

As for magic’s nonexistence in the world, I think I haven’t missed it. Maybe there was—there surely must have been—one afternoon in childhood when (getting out of a sugary Disney movie, emerging into an Illinois parking lot’s dirty old snow) a pang of loss, or of exile, gave me pause. But mostly I’m an uncomplaining citizen of a desolate world. It’s possible I’ve never properly mourned magic’s departure, or grieved it. Because magic: what a wonderful life ingredient to have to forswear, to renounce and call tawdry!

If I’m able to be so peaceful in my disillusionment, the reason must be that I still do believe in magic, deep in the nerves and tissues, where all assumptions lie. Of course I know that the flourish of the playing-cards over the green baize will have seeded one faker in the fifty-two. I know the lady doesn’t really get sawn in half, and, moreover, I wonder if, after the show, she might be faced with the professional dilemma of whether as hired assistant she’d be a bad sport if she declined the invitation to visit the tuxedoed wizard’s dressing room for a drink, or a joint, and for whatever is supposed to ensue. That the great athletes are on steroids, that the spoon didn’t really bend, that the yogis on YouTube aren’t really levitating, that the gentle Galilean didn’t, on the third day, rise again, yes, yes, we all know what to mistrust. But, deep at an unexaminable level of muscle-memory, I still move and behave with a Master-of-the-Universe assurance.

more here.