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Magician and Superman.

Favorite line from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, thus far:

“Well, I suppose one ought not to employ a magician and then complain that he does not behave like other people,” said Wellington.

Doesn’t hurt, I suppose, that it’s Stephen Fry’s Wellington I’m seeing in my head.

I’m enjoying the book a great deal: it is, in its own gentle way, precisely the antidote I needed for Stone, even if it’s coming from an unexpected quarter. (I like wondering what Aubrey and Maturin are up to, in this alternate history.) —But (as with any upstairs Britfic, or Merchant & Ivory production) I’m spoiling the fun a little with those nagging issues of class: how delightfully easy it is to study magic, when one doesn’t have to worry about meals or a mortgage or a day job! (But that’s just envy talking. Don’t mind it.) I’m reminded of sprezzatura in evening clothes, and how keeping one’s head when all about you etc. is much easier when you have a certain amount of power, over the situation that’s lopping heads, or at least yourself; it’s therefore a sign of power, and that’s why coolth’s so cool—and maybe, just maybe, why I’m finding Mr Norrell the more sympathetic. (Thus far.)

Which leads me to Scott McCloud, ruminating on the difference between rage, and calm, and how they apply to power fantasies. And I suppose I could dig into the differences between power over and power with—but I’ve just straddled the Pond, by golly. And there’s work elsewhere to be done.

  1. Dylan Meconis    Oct 22, 11:20 AM    #
    This looks seriously charming.

  2. jholbo    Oct 23, 06:22 AM    #
    Kip, I started the novel just today, am enjoying it immensely, and was thinking about blogging how much I liked the opening in particular. The obvious - and amusing - allegory between the fate of philosophy and the fate of magic. Why are modern magicians unable to work the magic they write about? The distinction between books OF magic and books ABOUT magic. But then I drank a beer and left this comment instead of writing my own post. Which is fine.

  3. Alas, a Blog    Oct 27, 06:07 AM    #
    New Superman comci by Scott McCloud
    I'm not one to get excited about a new Superman comic. But this upcoming comic - written and laid out by Scott McCloud - looks like it could be fun. It's a shame that the finished drawings are so mediocre....

  4. Patrick Nielsen Hayden    Oct 29, 09:43 PM    #
    "But (as with any upstairs Britfic, or Merchant & Ivory production) I’m spoiling the fun a little with those nagging issues of class: how delightfully easy it is to study magic, when one doesn’t have to worry about meals or a mortgage or a day job!"

    Goodness. I'm a third of the way into Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and one of the most striking facts about it seems to be that, in it, servants and other lower-class people turn out to be in fact human beings, with outlooks and stories of their own. What book are you reading?

  5. --k.    Oct 29, 10:03 PM    #
    Which is largely why, my dear Patrick, I said, just after the bit cited: "But that's just the envy talking. Don't mind it." (Not every single one of my asides is snarky.) I am, indeed, reading and enjoying pretty much the same book you are. (Standard disclaimer re: how if we all remembered the same we would not be different people taken as read.) —That I wish I could so easily hare off into a study of magic, supported so thoughtlessly by the labor of servants and lower-class people who are quite clearly human beings much as myself, says far more about me and my mortgage and my day job than it does about the book or the author or the characters in it.

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