Last weekend we watched “The Fellowship of the Ring” with our neighbors. Watching how much Gandalf behaves as a “normal” person is curious for those of us who have read a lot of scifi/fantasy novels. The magic doesn’t play a central role in the story, and no magic “system” is evident. Magic is used rarely, reluctantly, and never particularly explained.
Conversely, most modern fantasy revels in making a system out of magic, turning it into a science in keeping with the modernistic fetish for explanations. The irony of all of this is, of course, that any magic worth the name is inexplicable. Indeed, one of the attractions of fantasy novels for modern peoples is the ability to inhabit a world that is still enchanted, but we still feel the need to disenchant it by making magic a “system!”