Friday, 16 March 2007

Contagious Magic - Blogging (2)

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

Dear old Hamlet -- always the apt words. But we don't believe in sympathetic magic, do we? That if we wear our lucky hats we will do better, or even win, when we run; that if we get up and walk around our chair the cards will start to fall for us, that if we step on the crack we will break our mother's back? Only very little kids believe stuff like that! Perhaps. Frazer calls it 'contagious magic' and there is a form of it that I do believe happens.

I think that how we describe behaviour and relate to it calls the behaviour into being. If a mother calls her daughter 'her little ray of sunshine', over time and with emotion, the daughter will try always to appear happy and sunshiny. If one of my little daughters does things in a way that I characterize as 'neat' and the other one does not, I will think, and talk of, my daughters as 'the neat one' and 'the messy one'.If I do it often enough, the ways in which the two girls do things will tend more and more toward neatness and messiness. If my parents don't value the things I do and the way I do them, my value to myself in my own eyes will decrease. Is that magical? I think so, in the same way that when you plant and water a seed, a sprout appears. Even though we can identify the chemistry and describe the process, the shoot is still a new life.

While we are growing up, part of the process requires us to throw off the parental values and identify ourselves to ourselves. Often this takes the form of rejecting those values or of opposing them. Adolescent Ray of Sunshine writes bad poetry about her smothering mother, messy daughter decides that she really likes mess, denigrated daughter gets angrier and angrier and breaks away. Once we recover from that, we start a continual process of inventing ourselves the way we want to be. Our choices in clothing, food, friends, types of sport and entertainment, all contain traces of contagious magic. Advertising is contagious magic gone crazy -- just look at the 'beauty industry' alone.

And some of us shape ourselves with words. Some people do it in conversation or in diaries or in ritualized words of promise or prayer. Blogging, putting up the words on the screen, reading what others have said, responding to that, reshaping the thought pattern, refining the images, setting the words out so that others can read them, rereading the words in the light of the comments they receive,; all acts of defining self. If I have found a common thread in the mommy bloggers' world of words I'm learning about, that is it. This self definition is a common preoccupation, also. It is written about a lot and in a lot of different ways.

I'm trying to learn about this world of words and images (lots of images, too). I suspect this post sounds like Psych 101, and that's a bit embarrassing, but it's what I think tonight and maybe tomorrow I'll do better.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! You have a blog now! Congratulations.

    Yes words and the way they frame us. I sometimes think that I am writing myself into being these days.

    Welcome to the big, bold 'sphere.