Monday, August 20, 2007


#9: magic
So yes, no 'k'. Because rather than alluding to some questionable Rosicrucian 'psychick' ritual spell, or even Melvin pulling a rabbit out of a fucking hat, magic is to me something special nevetheless. My own definition is a relatively simple one, yet within it there is incredible potential for creativity and exploration. It's the realisation (or actualisation if you prefer) of something you used to think was utterly impossible and unachievable. That's it.

Doesn't sound like much, except the more you begin to contemplate those words the more you begin to come to terms with how very much that truly encompasses. How many pleasures have you never experienced because you thought you never would? And indeed, how much of it can or could you stand? What in fact are your limitations?

Wherever you choose to set that is the boundary between the you and magic. And that's where I want to go.

The realm of magic in this sense is indeed vast of which I could pen hundreds of pages, and as far as creativity is concerned, one very powerful technique of getting there is the utilisation of what I term the transparent concession, a notion to be discussed in a forthcoming post.

#10: and
As a child, I went to over a dozen different schools. Don't ask why. And at one of them in particular, a private one, you wouldn't believe the stick I'd get from teachers for commencing sentences with conjunctions like and and but. And whose infuriation I naturally would keep enflamed by wilfully continuing to do so. It all probably goes to explain a lot.

Anyway, fuck 'em. And is one of the most powerful and misunderstood words that exists. So small and seemingly insignificant, it's almost invisible in its fleeting appearances in real time, yet so much meaning is contained therein that, even if you looked up the definition in the most bloated dictionary in the world, you would not find.

And my love of and is because of its implicit presupposition that two things are linked together in a relationship, or cause and effect, and it's its very smallness that allows that implication to be unconsciously accepted like a ninja creeping under the fence in the dark of night. Indeed, whenever I found myself using that horrid word but which is the linguistic equivalent of the delete key on your computer, effectively communicating to a person that what you're about to say is more important and superior in value to that which you've just been told ('yes, I agree with you, but....'), I learnt to switch it to and.

And I now wish I'd ended more sentences at school with and.


Sarah Trotsky said...

but William,
ninja's don't creep under fences, they leap over them...

Sarah Trotsky said...

(hope to get in trouble for that one,
really I do!)

SYpHA_69 said...

well, even the most Crowley-obsessed occultist will eventually concede that most "magic" is nothing more than focused willpower. Not to mention lots of confidence.

This is an area of some interest because it seems like most of my life I've let other people make most of my major decisions for me, and I've gotten so use to this that the thought of making my own choices and doing what I actually want to do fill me with a sort of existential dread. As a result to some extent I've compromised myself to fit into so-called "society." Thus I find myself toiling away at a job I can't stand. I'd love to do nothing more than hand my two weeks notice in on a whim tomorrow, but of course there are the nagging questions such as "Without a job, how will I pay my bills? My student loans? My health care?" And so on.

This has all really hit home for me recently as tonight I started to read Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" and so far it's just really blowing me away. Yet at the same time I realize that rather than being Howard Roark I'm actually just Peter Keating, a reflection of what other people want me to be. I will have to fix this in the future.

flora_mundi said...

technically, both 'and' and 'but' indicate a linkage of ideas, however, 'and' is used to show a linkage of equals, whereas 'but' indicates the subordination of one idea to another.

William Bennett said...

yes, that's the technical surface definition, whereas I'm referring to the metalinguistic potential of these two conjunctions, it's a huge area for discussion and polemic, and that's not to be found in grammar books or dictionaries

Jeff said...

and yet, sometimes *but* isn't necessarily meant to discount a previous statement/observation. I mean in cases where it's needed to alert the listener that you're about to relate your own ignorance ("but I don't see how...") or in bringing up a necessary consideration ("but the Gotta Go closes after eleven."). But I'll admit that these two buts that I mention don't excuse the all too typical and usual presumptuous *but* usages.

William Bennett said...

as I've stated, both these ostensibly rather insignificant words are loaded with hidden subtext, even when completely unintended; and without wishing for this to become thesis-length, in this sense your own two examples are interesting, Jeff, because the sample presupposition I allude to will still, on an unconscious metalinguistic level at the very least, be communicated - with the resulting potential loss of rapport

in other words, in any discourse there is a psychological value to a word, any word, which transcends its communicator's intent, and furthermore, by logical extension, can also be manipulated by someone for that self-same purpose, and it's precisely this value and subsequent usage which is way beyond the remit of a dictionary

Locks said...

i don't have any brilliant comments on your post--i just enjoyed reading it.

I think the notion that "but" can communicate a kind of contempt is an interesting one. I remember reading somewhere that contempt (even when it's unintended) of one partner for the other's statement breeds a failing relationship.

Ever since then, I have tried to be aware of my tone and how I express myself (to make sure if i'm contemptuous i am intentionally so)...

...So maybe I will start noticing when I say "but" more often.

Thanks for your post.

David Cotner said...

Your refusal to grovel for grammar is something up with which I shall not put.

Wendell said...

Something good to chew on, this small-word significance. I find that "but" is used sometimes to excuse what was spoken immediately beforehand, as a sort of submission and attempt to not offend the other converser. It seems it would be worth drastically reducing the use of the word "but" in one's everyday, like the word "just" (though I cannot find my friend's blog post that discusses "just" so well!)

Miss Kerry said...

Having been a 'crowley obsessed magician" myself for some 20 odd years ( well, more like obsessed with what he FOUND, not the man himself ) I can honestly say this:
a 'and' is a window.
a "but" is a door. do you have the key?
yes, willpower is the key but it is science AND art to gain it. think of the many times we all have willed until we sweated blood metaphorically to do something or manifest something.
art involves- joy.
joy is that "and". this means, will is being used to BEAR up- not to struggle to use willpower, but to GIVE in to pleasure of joy, which means you break down those constraints that make one think such things as " i dont want to work, BUT I need to pay my loans" etc. why not pleasure?
why not pay your student loans with a job, which is not merely work?
to accept that you are putting your own walls up, is the hardest thing for people to concede, having used such willpower to no end.
its accepting that things may work out even better than you can imagine ( as my therapist once told me.)
REBT or rational emotive behavior therapy, shows the linguistic walls we put up in our minds, which hold us back in simple ways.
and yes, "and" instead of "but" fits gently in with such :)