Why I’m careful about what I read

Posted on August 29, 2013
Filed Under Magic | 2 Comments

Books

 

I’ve become very selective about what I read, both in terms of enjoyment and in more practical terms of inspiration. I was thinking that the other day as I was looking at a variety of blog posts from other people on the web. To be honest, I don’t read many of the other blogs of other magicians, and even the few I do read, I read infrequently, because I’m selective about what I’m putting into my head. At a certain point, I think that if you oversaturate yourself with the thoughts and ideas of other people you cut yourself off from a very vital part of yourself, which is your own imagination and creativity.  Your imagination and creativity need some access to other material as a way of inspiring them, but too much ends up dulling them. That’s true not just of books, but any form of media. At a certain point too much exposure dulls you because it fits you with preconceived ideas of how something ought to be done, as handed down by various “authorities.”

One of the criticisms I received about Pop Culture Magick was that the examples I drew on didn’t include any of Grant Morrison’s works or Neal Gaiman’s works. I thought it was a rather odd criticism, until I realized that the critics were applying their expectations of pop culture onto me. What they didn’t realize is that I had never read any of Morrison’s or Gaiman’s work and I had no interest in reading their works. Yes, those works are popular to a good number of occultists, but for me they weren’t of any interest. I’ve since read a bit of both authors’ works and even now I don’t find it that interesting for me to explore further because it’s not where I draw my inspiration from. I recognize that other people are inspired by those authors, but what inspires me is different and that’s fine by me.

Your inspiration is something which has to be cultivated carefully. A few years back I killed my inspiration, in part due to life situations, but also because I was reading far too much information and not giving myself time to process it or really appreciate its relevance. Eventually I did get that time and afterwards my inspiration came back, but it was because I took a break from reading the books I was reading. Even now I regularly take breaks from whatever I’m reading so that I can process what’s already been read and consider its relevance in my life, particularly by applying it.

Feed your mind carefully with what really interests you, but don’t let it get distracted by the minutiae of other people’s ideas or approaches to that interest. They have their inspiration, and it’s worthy of respect, but respect your own as well and choose carefully what you’ll read. You want to draw on what’s meaningful to you, but you also want to give yourself time to savor it and apply it. By giving yourself that gift you will better appreciate what you do read and you’ll be more selective because whatever you draw on has to be something that is relevant to those interests. By extension, this same caveat also applies to what you do, specifically in terms of other people approaching you about participating in their projects. I get a fair amount of people who want me to weigh in on their ideas or participate in their projects and I tend to not get involved because I’m working on my own projects and have enough to do their, but also because I want to cultivate my own creativity and inspiration by focusing on what my own interests and projects are.

Comments

2 comments
AmehanaArashi
AmehanaArashi like.author.displayName 1 Like

Thank you. This is why I think so hard about the titles that I give my blog posts, my stories, and the notifications about events I facilitate in Second Life. I want to make it clear what I'm talking about so that people can decide whether the post has anything they want in it. It is also why I appreciate abstracts so much when I'm doing research for my degree, even though I tend to dislike writing said abstracts for my own papers before handing them in.

Something that has always interested me is what others consider "pop culture." I can't remember reading any of Neil Gaiman's works. There are so many other works out there that they simply haven't gotten in front of me to read yet. However, I've read Harry Potter, and some of the Percy Jackson series. I was loving Ninja Turtles during their big years (even working with Leonardo as a teen and beyond, before I learned that others did similar...learning there was to be a third movie years before word of one got to the public). I bring up Ninja Turtles since in so much of the country back in the 80's and 90's they were well known and followed, and yet were not very popular where I grew up. I suspect this is actually one of the reasons my friends and I were considered nerds and unpopular. I just wasn't into Power Rangers or sports (skiing, and later hockey, were exceptions). Even as a pre-teen and teen I was aware that that I focused on shaped who I was becoming and how I was perceiving the world.

...Which is probably the reason that the first stories I was writing (which I'm still planning to eventually turn to books once done with current book projects) centered around a girl who would become a sphinx. Back then I had not ever come across any stories like that. Of course now there is the webcomic Skin Deep, which I have no idea if it classifies as "pop culture" or not. What is "pop culture" seems to vary depending on area, demographic, and so much more that I gave up trying to define it.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

@AmehanaArashi I tend to skim most online writing and then if I find it interesting, I'll look it over more thoroughly. Like you I try to keep things simple on my end so that people can determine if they want to read what I've written.

I was a fan of Teenage Mutant Turtles, but I grew up with them. In terms of pop culture, I think that what matters is what is relevant to you. Something may not be popular to many people, but if you fnd it meaningful, work with it!