If you read and re-read Alice Hoffman’s novels (possibly with an initial focus on the “practical magic” series that concludes with The Book of Magic from 2021), you might slowly come to believe that books are the only true magic.
Some might suggest the magic is within the author and that in ways nobody can know, s/he transmits that magic to the page. Perhaps, but I doubt it. I believe the magic arises in the act of writing and the author only discovers its truth while reading through the manuscript.
One of my favorite Hoffman quotes comes fromPractical Magic when Aunt Francis says, “My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage.”
If one is normal, then s/he doesn’t consider magic at all, and should magic come up in a conversation, s/he will attack it as a scam. I’ve believed this since high school which, no doubt, accounts for the fact that my teachers considered me a troublemaker. I’m not sure “normal” shows a lack of courage so much as a lack of imagination and/or a simultaneous lack of the kind of curiosity it takes to “test the waters” when new ideas come to mind.
Perhaps the basis for a healthy aversion to consensus normality is an open mind. Having a closed mind seems to begin in high school where the goal of many students was “fitting in.” That was the way one became popular or even acknowledged. In The Rules of Magic, we read that ““Other people’s judgments were meaningless unless you allowed them to mean something.” In school, it seems, we became addicted to allowing those judgements to mean everything.
I suppose this herd mentality is built into us. It’s not easy breaking free, though the right books will certainly help (Hoffman, perhaps?).
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Florida Folk Magic Series, a 1950s-era story in which the good guys battle the KKK. Save money with the four-novels-in-one Kindle edition.