Friday, June 29, 2007

Luck as a Magic System

Luck is a kind of magic that we don't believe in; but it's different from other magic because you have to actively avow your disbelief at a certain age. It is more intimately tied to our society than other kinds of magic. You have to know what the rules of it are to understand scenes in movies, commercials, and cartoons.
I had a dream the other night that I was in a world where luck works, and no one doubted that fact. It had technologies built around it, the same way we have technology that takes advantage of electromagnetism.
I'm not sure where the list of lucky and unlucky things comes from. When I was growing up these things were lucky:
finding a penny
seeing a shooting star
a rabbits foot
a four-leaf clover
breaking a wishbone

these things were unlucky:
black cats
opening umbrellas indoors
breaking mirrors
stepping on a crack

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian have a lot of musings on the nature of Luck. The sailors certainly believed in it, and would do all sorts of things to make sure they didn't offend it. For example, you can't say aloud, or even think concretely about, whatever lucky outcome you want -- such as winning a battle, or having the wind stay true. Touching wood could sometimes dispel the bad luck of doing this, but it was better to speak hypothetically.

-Karen