Sunday, March 7, 2010


So I was reading this playthough of the Quest for Glory series, a series I quite enjoyed when I was younger. It's quite an enjoyable series of old school adventure/RPGs that is crammed full of mythology and folk tales from all over the world, with a touch of RPG fantasy, and a whole lot of humor. I always found them quite fun and amazingly insightful, both about obscure myths and more generally about the symbolism and ideals of myth and magic. The forth game in particular has alot of it, including quite accurate to it's source tarot card mysticism and interesting magical concepts such as "the senses" and more mysteriously "essence". It's all a game of course, but thats not the point. The point is the ideas it seems to put forth.

It's one of the first things that got me interested in metaphysics and mysticism in general. Though I always try to stay away from "the occult" (a habit I picked up mostly to being raised Christian on one side and atheist on the other... although it's really more agnostic). Whats the difference you may ask? Metaphysics and mysticism is about knowledge, and "the occult" isn't. Also "the occult" always implied to me (again mostly because of my upbringing) a bunch of people calling on spirits or devils or other entities to do stuff for them. Metaphysics and mysticism is about finding the way they are done in the first place. This is the point of true "magic".

In real life, we generally don't call anything "magic" anymore. The only thing we call "magic" is slight of hand tricks. And why not? In real life, physics are law. We don't disobey them, but like those who do tricks and illusions, we use them. Science is much the same thing. We seek knowledge of the "how" of the "why", not simply because we can, but because we can use it to better ourselves. But we only know half the story. We only know the "law" that we find in nature. We don't know how and why it is there. Thats where metaphysics and mysticism come in.

Now here I am not really talking about real life. I am talking about fantasy. But really, as far as metaphysics and mysticism goes, it's the same thing. Because we are now in the realm of ideas, of something less about reality it's self, and more about the ideas that underline it. The question becomes less about what metaphysical systems or mystical insights we can use to describe reality, and more, what ones work at all, and why.

Now here is the thing about fantasy. It's obsessed with magic. Why? Because it makes thinks simpler to write I guess, but also becuase it's a very very old and deeply rooted idea in the human mind. Magic is about concepts, not things. In magical terms, "matter" doesn't exist or is an illusion. But also less obviously, energy doesn't exist either. Only ideas exist. Of course the problem becomes that, if that's true, where does the concept of matter and energy come from? Heck, where does any concept come from? A realist would only accept the idea of actual "things" that exist.

In fiction that whole issue is swept aside because it's fiction. Words on a page. Words are concepts. Changing them, playing with them, becomes fictions law. Of course only a few works of clever fiction do this directly, but the idea is there, in the back of the mind. "Gods" wrote the world into being. This idea is a very old religious idea. That words, written or spoken, have the true power. And sometimes, just sometimes it even works. I mean look at lawyers and the justice system. Look at how people can talk people into doing things. But alter reality directly with words? Is this possible? This is how magic in fantasy works, although in an indirect way.

Of course it's not really that simple is it? Even in fantasy usually only particular words work, or ones in an old dead language, or some set combination. So what's the difference? Some may say faith, or willpower, or mental discipline. I say something else. Taking a hint from Quest for Glory, I call it "Essence". What is "Essence"? Well I am glad you asked that imaginary readers! "Essence" is, to put it simply, "that what makes something what it is" sort of like something's "soul". To put it in more philosophical terms, it's nearly identical to the idea of "forms" Particularly related to Aristotle's ideas about them. See "Essence" are embodied in things or part of things the same way "Forms" are. In fact they are basically the same thing, i just like the word "Essence" better. Anyway if we use "Essence" as an underlaying principle, it's easy to see how words, letters, objects, and matter could be connected, invisibly, and how it might even be possible to imagine such a magic system actually working. Does reality actually work like that? Probably not. But it's fun to think about.

Also I really should play the Quest for Glory 2 remake sometime. I got it a while ago but I have been to lazy to actualy play it. I heard there is a Pizza Elemental to fight!


  1. Life is about seeking the truth and live by the truth, the natural course to happiness and success. There is simple and sure way to find out the fundamental truth of our lives. It kis in the book: THE TRUTH OF UPS AND DOWNS, COSMIC INEQUALITY, authored by Lily Chung, a production of 24 years; hard work.
    If we don’t have the desirable energy (as it often happens to the majority of people), we can take remedy of natural laws from I Ching (Success Naturally, the I Ching Way).

    I have article on subjects along the line. You are welcome to share.

  2. Great, my first comment ever, and it seems to be spam. Le sigh.

    Anyway, for your information "COSMIC INEQUALITY" is the reason we even exist, "UPS AND DOWNS" are because life is inherently chaotic, and "THE TRUTH" is happiness and success is a matter of luck or hard work or wit. So there,\.

    Though I Ching is rather interesting, I more think it's interesting for it's binary math and symbolism then anything.