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Monday, March 27, 2017

Lent / Tarot / Magic: The Ace of Wands

There is one lesson that folklore, in many a tale, hammers away at over and over and over again: everybody wants a magic wand. Everybody would screw up if he or she got a magic wand.

It's one of the most famous episodes from the Disney classic Fantasia: The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Mickey Mouse is an apprentice to a sorcerer. The sorcerer leaves, tasking Mickey with carrying water. It's one of the oldest and most fundamental of chores: transport water from A to B. When I was in Peace Corps and lived in a tiny, remote village, I often reflected on how many hours a day my job was to transport water. Carry it from the stream, boil it on the fire, pour it into my canteen, drink it, go outside to pee, wash myself, wash my clothes, hang my clothes, wait for them to dry, boil rice and beans, eat rice and beans, use water to wash the pots: so much of my work was moving water from A to B.

That's what Mickey has to do. Carry water. When the sorcerer is gone, Mickey uses a magic spell to enchant a broom. The broom carries the water for Mickey. Everything goes fine, for a while. But soon Mickey is under water.

There are many such folktales. People get the magic wand; they get the magical device that gives them their wish. And they screw up.

I've never read a single Harry Potter book, and I hope never to do so. I have never seen the appeal of fantasy or sci fi literature. To me, it's like tennis without the net. If you can get everything you want, what's the point?

In Save Send Delete I tried to talk about theodicy, the problem of suffering, in a different way. I talked about a man I knew who had everything, and who, to my surprise, was so miserable he attempted suicide. A veritable Richard Cory. No, I'm not saying that suffering is good or fair. What I'm saying is that we know in the marrow of our bones that magic wands present their own problems. 

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