The magician as Rebel Physicist

June 16, 2015 | By admin

by Pete Carroll.

A scientist, whose name eludes us, once described artists as interesting people with dull ideas, and scientists as dull people with interesting ideas; his comments on sports people shall go unrecorded here. Magicians, on the other hand, usually go to extreme lengths to make themselves seem interesting, often with counterproductive results, and their ideas tend to vary from the puerile to the astonishing, depending on the quality of the speculative science that they base them on. We do not necessarily imply negative connotations by the use of the term speculative science. Speculative science exists in both good (useful) and bad (useless) forms.

Established science spreads like a gradually expanding irregular lump of concrete into one field of knowledge after another, replacing rule of thumb and intuition with formal rules and mathematical precision. Many people then tend to regard the captured territory as somehow boring or deadened, usually because they lack the patience to understand the intricate details and principles involved. Good (useful) speculative science occurs in the form of experimental theories beyond the edges of the concrete of 'proven' science. Imagine it as the reinforcing bars sticking out of the existing concrete: some of it will eventually have concrete poured over it, other parts will eventually get sawn off and discarded. Bad (useless) speculative science consists of the pieces already sawn off and thrown away but rescued and carried around like fetishes. Astrology and the supposed healing powers of magnets and crystals provide examples of this.

The soft or 'parody' sciences, such as psychology and sociology, mimic but fail to emulate the hard sciences. We may liken them to structures built of jelly reinforced with wet spaghetti, and subject to rapid putrefaction.

Because you need knowledge of established science to create or appreciate good speculative science, far too few people realise how vast the subject has become. Three areas of particular interest to magicians have shown spectacular growth over the last few decades: cosmology, the physics of the entire universe; particle physics, the study of the ultimate building blocks of everything; and neurophysiology, the study of what makes us tick and aware of our ticking.

All three sciences say the same basic things to the magician. In their established form they all imply that conventional magical symbolism remains myopically small and parochial. The Elements, the Kabbala, the Runes and so on: how simplistic and local these now seem. In their speculative form, all three fields offer plenty of scope for an upgrade of magical metaphysics: theories of how magick actually works (or fails to work). Magick can, by definition, only develop such theories from speculative science, for once an idea has entered the fold of the proven or disproved it becom


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