Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Magical You

The previous post revolved around the ancient meaning of the word choose (from Old English cēosan and the way it betrays our links to a magical medieval past, a past we may have thought we’d outgrown by now.

Naturally, in addition to Magical Me, there has to be a Magical You, my view of your magical homunculus who also happily violates the laws of cause and effect. Magical Me automatically assumes a Magical You who chooses to do this or that, just as Magical Me chooses. So Magical Me loads Magical You with all kinds of responsibilities you simply don’t have, because there are always non-magical reasons for your choices, just as there are for mine.

How easy is it to escape a disadvantaged background? If Magical Me and Magical You really could exercise what we call choice, then I think we know we’d soon find out how to choose well, how to choose advantageously. But that isn’t how it works, as we all know. To make a punishment-based legal system work, I have to blame Magical You or you have to blame Magical Me for choosing to commit a crime. We must have chosen to commit that crime, chosen to stand by, to become an accessory, chosen to emulate a violent father, chosen to try narcotics, chosen to plan that fraud, chosen to cherry-pick that data. It all relies on this magical, medieval word choose.

This antiquated finger-pointing lies at the root of more tragedy than we can possibly comprehend. Instead of looking for a reason why Magical You might behave as you do, Magical Me simply points that stupid, antiquated finger. I blame you and you blame me and if either of us gets the upper hand, then one of us is doomed.


James Higham said...

Excellent point about choice - how much of it is there in reality? "You chose to ..."

Well sorry but no I didn't. It was forced upon me. Very interesting debate, that.

A K Haart said...

JH - welcome and thanks for your interest.