Why is my blog called The Mystery & the Magic?
Here's the short answer. These are the things I seek. Whether I am writing or reading, or creating or consuming some other form of popular culture, my hope and deepest desire is to witness a spark of the transcendent. I want to see between the drapes separating the mysteries of our world and the answers beyond. Great writing, and great art in general, has this unique ability to wonder openly at the mysteries of our lives, to put shape to our shuddering spirituality, and to attempt to grasp those deeper resonant heart pangs we all feel. This for me is the mystery, and the magic.
Here's the longer answer:
I recall a scene in the indie film Waking the Dead starring Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly. I put on the movie a few years ago during a season in which I watched everything, like everything I could lay my hands on. Indie films, mainstream movies, and oddball documentaries and features produced in obscure corners of the world. Every so often I stumbled across something that blew my mind. Waking the Dead was one of those movies for me. In the film, Billy Crudup (amazing actor!) loses his girlfriend (Connelly) in a fatal accident but years later as he moves on with his life and goes into politics he has all but forgotten about her.
Then he starts to see her again.
Or he thinks he sees her. Is he seeing a ghost, something from the afterlife? Is he just experiencing a deep grief that he never resolved? There is a scene, near the end of this movie, after a major political triumph, in which Crudup breaks DOWN. He is at dinner with his family, and he tells them that he has something to say, and his emotions have reached that point and the floodgates explode, he's completely overcome, crying, telling his family how badly he is losing it, how he is seeing his old girlfriend but she's not really there, and how much he doesn't know what is happening to him, how he cannot stop freaking out and the moment is so honest and intense and wonderful. We should all be so honest with our families. And when its done, his family smiles hugs him, totally accepting. He wipes his eyes and they eat.
For me, it was a profound moment that spoke to something about the human experience and condition that we all long to express even when it's difficult. This story brings light to the mystery of human grief, the need for family and how we grapple with death even when it's so difficult and raw, that somehow beauty surfaces in our own vulnerability. There is a magic in this kind of story. And it's amazing when that spark appears out of nowhere in a place where it shouldn't appear at all. It's when our world rubs up against the supernatural one, which is all around us and oh boy, I know it inside when I see it.
When I first started to read fiction, I began with a fantasy novel. I read a book called The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, published in 1977 (the same year Star Wars came out, and the year I was born). Before The Sword of Shannara I hadn't really read any proper "books" of that length - the edition I read was over 700 pages long. It looked massive in my hands. I was young, 12 years old.
I was home sick from school that day and my dad handed me the book, and after everyone else went to school and work, I opened it without any idea what it was and began to read, and proceeded to tear through the book from morning to night, stopping briefly for meals, my eyes to the page ALL day. I stayed home from school again the next day and finished the 700-page book the second night. I have never read a book that length so fast since. It was a whirlwind reading experience, first of its kind, and the beginning for me of a whole new world. Reading. Stories. Magic.
What was it that propelled me forward at such a pace? Obviously, the characters and the story, which I found out later, were in large part based on The Lord of the Rings. But also, the magic used in the story, and the mystery of how that magic worked and where it came from; the mystery of the supernatural. It was the draw of that thing beyond what I knew, what I know. And to this day, I know there is a world beyond our own and I am ever-fascinated by the flickers of it that I see ever-so-rarely in my life. I was inspired by the magic and mystery of this book, the wondrous things the author explored through this strange and new idea that I hadn't seen explored in this way. It captivated my imagination.
This blog is all about writing, publishing and fantastical stories, my own and those of others authors, creators and filmmakers. So when I distill down the ideas that I am most drawn to in my favorite stories, the mysteries, and the magic of life are what's left. And there it is.