Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!
For this session we read an excerpt from The Once and Future King by T.H. White, posted below.
Our prompt was: “Write a magic spell.”
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“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewer of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then–to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn – pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and the criticism and geography and history and economics – why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough.”
“Apart from all these things,” said the Wart, “what do you suggest for me just now?”
“Let me see,” said the magician, considering. “We have had a short six years of this, and in that time I think I am right in saying that you have been many kinds of animal, vegetable, mineral, etc.–many things in earth, air, fire, and water“I don’t know much,” said the Wart, “about the animals and earth.”
“Then you had better meet my friend the badger.”
“I have never met a badger.”
“Good,” said Merlin. “Except for Archimedes, he is the most learned creature I know. You will like him.”
“By the way,” added the magician, stopping in the middle of his spell, “there is one thing I ought to tell you. This is the last time I shall be able to turn you into anything. All the magic for that sort of thing has been used up, and this is the end of your education. When Kay has been knighted my labours will be over. You will have to go away then, to be his squire in the wide world, and I shall go elsewhere. Do you think you have learned anything?”
“I have learned, and been happy.”
“That’s right, then,” said Merlin. “Try to remember what you learned.”
(pp. 183-184) New York: The Berkeley Publishing Co. 1958 [originally published 1939]