Ballad of the Londoner

Evening falls on the smoky walls,
    And the railings drip with rain,
And I will cross the old river
    To see my girl again.

The great and solemn-gliding tram,
    Love’s still-mysterious car,
Has many a light of gold and white,
    And a single dark red star.

I know a garden in a street
    Which no one ever knew;
I know a rose beyond the Thames,
    Where flowers are pale and few.

— James Elroy Flecker (1884 – 1915)

Published in: on February 28, 2007 at 12:00 am  Leave a Comment  


MagicianThe magician is a person who realises that he is broken. Having experienced such a realisation, he is unable to do anything but strive to fix himself. Sometimes this striving becomes too much for him. If, rather than make himself whole, he has patched himself together like a broken clay pot reassembled with the aid of Blu Tack and Pritt Stick, he is liable to fall apart under the strain and end up in a worse situation than he was when he started. More likely, he will attempt to hide his broken nature from himself through the performance of empty rituals designed to convince that nagging part of his mind that he really is doing something about the problem. In time, the nagging will cease and he will forget why he started the rituals in the first place; then he will either grow bored of them and dismiss the whole episode as a fanciful phase, now long behind him, or he will continue the rituals for their own sake.

The force by which a person is driven to fix himself is directly proportional to the degree to which he perceives himself to be broken. Many people, recognising flaws in themselves, deem them of little import, perhaps interesting character quirks, and feel no desire to change them. Others may wish to change them but believe that change is not possible. The former may be a more palatable expression of the latter. For some, their broken nature drives them to seek help and, having received help from others, they look to others in order to gauge their recovery. When their helper tells them that they are helped, or when they perceive themselves to be on a par with their peers, they consider themselves fixed.

The successful magician, however, for one reason or another, obtains a clearer insight into his broken nature than most. Thus he may begin with a common goal, of the sort provided by a parish priest or psychoanalyst, but upon achieving that goal, if he even retains it for that long, as it is likely to transmute quickly and he may not even have known what it was when he started, he knows that he is not yet fixed and continues to strive for something greater.

We are all broken. Some of us revel in it, some of us suppress it, some of us rectify it, some of us do all three. Most probably don’t realise it, which would explain why most magicians are more obviously crazy than the rest.

Published in: on February 21, 2007 at 12:00 am  Comments (6)