A neuroscientist will tell you that magic takes advantage of our prefrontal cortex. Specifically its inability to multitask as well as it thinks it can, its tendency to choose what to pay attention to as it hastens to dismiss all other data as murky, unfocused ephemera.
Or the prefrontal cortex may become overly helpful, a small, grey gestalt psychologist bringing together what need not be connected. Suggesting a holism and narrative…
where clearly, none exists.
This is because the line between magic and miracle is tenuous.
Speaking as it does to the occult,
and a sizable percentage of songs on AM radio. The ways we contemplate the meanings of songs on AM radio. The way radio itself is magic. All night, through the wind, to our ears.
A sonic illusion different from the magic of optical illusions.
And different from the magic of joy.
Money is magic. The way it can hold water and sway mighty palms. Grow the greenest grass.
And communication, too. The myriad magics that are translation. And the magic of appropriate response.
The magic of being seen or understood by another person.
Or the magic of their disappearance.
Ghosts are magic.
Their need to remain—evidence of an inverted blueprint. Clarity and desire resulting in a permeable morphological vagrancy.
I understand. It can be hard to move on.
But before you pray for eternal life, either for yourself or those you love…
before you embark on magic ritual…
desperate to avoid any ending…
ask yourself if you have crossed out the right faces in old class photos?
If you have tempted the right spirits to come do your bidding?
There are some things you may not want to summon forth, or may not be able to re-contain after they have been released.
Magical thinking need not lead to magical action. Need not result in surplus.
James Brown is an English magician from Bournemouth, Dorset. He did not sing the song “It’s Magic,” which asks, “Why do I tell myself these things that happen are really true?” Because, as a professional, he knows better than to ask.
Stephanie Barber is an American writer and artist. Her recent book, Night Moves, was published by Publishing Genius Press in 2013. Other essays, stories and poems have been published in books, magazines and online journals. Barber is currently a resident artist at The Mt. Royal MFA for Interdisciplinary Art at MICA in Baltimore, MD.