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Amber Paulen

The Part of the Magician

15 October 2008


John Cowper Powys’s Autobiography is solely related to “autobiography” in that his chapters follow the chapters of his life. This is a very powerful book, loaded to the brim; ebullition is in order, that’s where I come in. I am always amazed at life’s long untwining links of one who is aware; links that lead one to something, to somewhere—or better yet, to all things and all places. When the continual self-meaning in experience and thoughts and ideas are scrutinized, the links strengthen and are given depth and meaning. If one does not know oneself—the finer the better—one can not move ahead.

This writer, this John Cowper Powys, excels at this conscious knowing more than any other author I have ever read. His autobiography is his life-illusion’s revelation. “The shape” his “character-destiny” assumed is “the shape of a compound, less self-contradictory than it used to be, but not even yet entirely harmonized, of five rather discordant elements. I will name them in the order in which, at the present moment, I feel them to be more or less dominant. They resolve themselves into—a desire to enjoy the Cosmos, a desire to appease my Conscience, a desire to play the part of the Magician, a desire to play the part of a Helper, and finally a desire to satisfy my Viciousness.”

Autobiography is proving to be a journey into a stringently invigorating mind. Such a sentence can not be taken lightly, for his mind, like mine and maybe your own, is a chaos of competing elements which fall into harmony of perfect duality, only every so often. We have the “Power” to bring such bliss about, with a tip-top consciousness and with daring to be much less (or much greater) than sane. Anyone knee-deep in normalization should skip this part—and maybe my whole website—completely.

John Cowper Powys’ thoughts stun me in their eccentricities. No one who grew up in the public schools, university, ad nauseam, would ever be able to think like him, for like it or not, we have all been influenced by what is called, “right” and “wrong, “crazy” thoughts and “normal” thoughts, accepted ways of being and the unacceptable. If John Cowper Powys was born in our day, he would have been so full of medications that his genius mind would have been fried at eighteen. We would shake our heads and groan, “He deserved it,” playing with words and thoughts like he did.

I’ve reached my point: a desire to play the part of the Magician. What John Cowper Powys is talking about is the desire “to exercise a certain supernatural control over my destiny and that of others.” The magician is a miracle worker, take Jesus, whose wonder workings gave him immortal acclaim. The magician has supernatural powers, powers stemming from Nature, always there, just floating in the air; the magician sees our silk threads of interconnectedness and plays with them, much like a guitar player strums a guitar. The magician sees and transforms another’s sight to seeing, for most, rarely see at all. I think that when John Cowper Powys speaks of being a Magician he is speaking of his developing power, his expression into words and books.

The solitary child, reading as much as can be devoured, learns the powers of imagination from those who have learned before. I think that the conception of most writer’s germ, ‘To Write,’ can be traced back to younger times. It is a desire to recreate the world into one’s own terms, to infuse it with one’s own. What else is childhood but a very firm dismissal of the world of adults and all that is “boring.” If John Cowper Powys learned the thrill of being a Magician in childhood, he then thought about it and desired to become it, over time.

To be the Magician in accord with one’s life is to transform the dull itinerary of everyday into a surging creative energy. It is the artist’s task, I think.

I touch here upon what is to me one of the profoundest philosophical mysteries; I mean the power of the individual mind to create its own world, not in complete independence of what is called “the objective world,” but in a steadily growing independence of the attitude of other minds towards this world.

This book is a long one. There will be more.

Thanks for reading.

Bracciano, Italia
October 2008



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