I really get into these proof-of-concept demos. In truth, I need to complete more. But how does that even work, really?
Around a decade ago(...wow, old), I quit blogging. I quit blogging due to a girl, and mistakes I had made. I love making mistakes. “Fail faster” has always been an anthem that resonated with me. For a long time, I described my relationship to failure in terms of audio processing: the digital signal processing concept called dither. Dither is a fascinating idea: by adding noise (especially noise tailored to frequencies in which human hearing is deficient) you can make a signal sound more like an original than you could without the added noise. So it was with my life. Read that paragraph again. It‘s incredibly significant in my life.
I quit blogging because I wrote things that were damaging. I saw the power of the written word and recoiled in terror. Indeed, there is great power in what I do right now. What has been so egregiously lost to time is the reality that the written word is perhaps the most potent remedy to magic in existence.
The written word does not age. What is written can continue to be reproduced. This reproduction can be completed without error. We have developed elaborate technologies to ensure that the same message is reproduced many, many times. It's to the point where I can store, I'd estimate, roughly one hundred million million letters, and reproduce them without error in a day or two. Yes, bulk data transfer takes time.
I stated earlier that the written word is a potent remedy to magic. Again, our concept of magic is very... unmagical. We present it in books and media as something that does something. It's a proxy for science in almost all cases. Perhaps the most idealist (and here, I disagree with one of my greatest teachers) conceptualization of magic comes in Tolkien's work. Tolkien believed in the magic of words. This is his nature as a philologist. I do not agree. To me, words are tools.
Tolkien's magic was wielded by the wise; by and large, in our world, we see magic wielded by the meek, the humble, the obscure, the unknown. This is deeply embedded into our tropes. Witches are solitary creatures, often associated with felines. This connection actually has some depth, and some links deeper down this rabbit trail.
So if the written word is inimicable to magic, then how does its tool-nature relate?
I'm so glad you asked...