What is magic?

This is.

I don’t know if I mean writing, or listening to music, or just being alive.

But they all are.


I think magic is creation. The act of making something. Constructing something. Building something. Something from nothing.

Except that doesn’t really happen.

We’re just moving stuff around, everything we ever do, from eating to shitting, from drawing to making love, from thinking to dancing. It’s just moving matter (and energy, if we’re going to get detailed) from one place to another.

And then back again.

So we don’t create per se. We don’t make something new.

But we build structure. We find a path.

That’s magic.

I’m obsessed with the notion of reverse entropy. This is my fancypants way of saying creativity.

If entropy is defined as the tendency of ordered states to disintegrate into less ordered ones. It’s meant to refer to thermodynamics, so it’s just about the tendency of heat to eventually spread out as far and wide as it can.

To reverse entropy, you need energy. You put energy into something, and it heats. It gains something.

When you put a piece of paper in front of you, you have a completely and utterly chaotic void. The potential for everything that could ever be drawn, written, typed, painted, burnt, marked, folded, marbled, torn or whatever, is present in that paper. There is no restriction to what that paper can recieve. It is chaos.

And the second you lay a pen to it, you bring a small amount of order. You start tracing a path through that chaos, and build something out of it.

You tell a story.

That’s what life is like too.

Every moment we are faced with the future. A blank chaotic void in which every possibility is sketched invisibly, but nothing is chosen.

And as you step forward into it, you make a story. Your story. Your life.

That’s magic. Right there. Right here.

In the now, and the now becoming the next. The next step walking forward. Where we are going. The freedom. The choice. What’s next?


Arthur C Clarke told us that ‘any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic’. I think he was making a statement about how inscrutable the future was, and about how much fun you could have writing science fiction.

But that’s limited, if we just think of science and technology as part of that magical future.

The fact is, that anything sufficiently advanced from now, will be indistinguishable from magic.

Anything the future holds will seem impossible to us, until we get there.

So we march forwards, into chaotic infinity, with powdered glittering dust springing up from our footprints. We keep on walking, and writing, and drawing and loving and learning and living.

And it’s all magic.

We’re making something from nothing.

Or at least, we’re making something from now.


What are you going to magic today?

Illustration by Stevyn.


About Alex Ava

Joiner of Dots. Player of Games. Unreliable Narrator. Dancing Fool.
This entry was posted in Questions by Clair, Special Guest Illustrations. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What is magic?

  1. Pingback: What is magick? | Unstruck

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