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“An artist has a privileged occupation: the observation of and practice of real magic.” — Aliyah Marr, Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity

I have been indulging in a guilty pleasure, one that I admit to freely now: I have been spending some quality time with Harry Potter.

I generally don’t like fantasy as a genre, but I have loved science fiction since 6th grade. I always liked the questions it poses. It is the questions that we ask that help us to imagine a new future, one that is different from our current reality, one that we can consciously choose.

But I could never appreciate fantasy, because it seemed so far-fetched, and silly. The protagonists and antagonists could do anything at anytime; they had magical powers that had nothing to do with their inner development. No inner discipline, no difficulty.

So I surprised myself recently when I found myself watching and enjoying the Harry Potter movies. The first thing I noticed was the sheer beauty of the production, and running a close second: I love the way the movies transport me into a feeling of magic, mystery and possibility.

Harry Potter and his friends don’t arrive at their powers easily. No, it is a difficult apprenticeship, full of danger and difficulty. Each lesson has profound implications: requiring the development of responsibility, ethical judgment, and clear discernment. The children learn how to establish true friendships and learn to see who is real and who is false. They discover how to navigate in a new wondrous world that has an entirely different set of rules.

This magical world exists  side-by-side with the hum-drum world of daily existence like an alternate universe. They go to sorcery school, learn their lessons and then return to the drab ordinary existence that has been somehow unaware of their absence.

Harry Potter and his cohorts — J.K. Rowlings, Chris Columbus, Steve Kloves and everyone on the set or in production — deserve kudos for their part in bringing magic to the world at large. It is as if suddenly everyone has been suddenly transported into a new realm of imagination and possibility.

The value of creativity is in the exercise of the imagination. Anything that we can imagine is possible, because we can imagine it. Somewhere, sometime, perhaps even in the near future, magic exists. It exists simply because it is practiced. We practice magic when we engage our creativity and our imaginations, and when we project our desires into a material form. That is the art of magic and the magic of art.

Copyright 2009 Aliyah Marr