Monday, July 8, 2013

Magical Midicholorian Malarkey

Why explaining magic in novels / movies / etc. is typically, bullshit.

I'm not exactly entirely sure how I was inspired to write a post about this. Perhaps it's something that's been stewing in my head since those disastrous STAR WARS prequels made their way into my life a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Or maybe it was because a friend of mine on twitter happened to say she hopes I get struck by lightning to gain some inspiration. Maybe that "magical" bolt of lightning was the inspiration.

Or maybe it's just my extreme frustration as a nerd.

Now the point of this "nerd rant" is to discuss the true purpose behind introducing the source of a magic. Is this something that should be attempted, or something that should be left to the imagination of the reader? Has there ever been a time when the explanation of magic has even been, how can I put it, NOT CRAP?

Allow me to bring forward exhibit 'A' in my rant, and something that has caused foul language to spew forth from my mouth like the aftermath of three day old sushi binge fest.


What....the...F*#!@ is a MIDICHLORIAN? In all seriousness, did we NEED an explanation as to what the origination of the force is, and how a JEDI acquires such power. Was it really necessary to elaborate on Obi-Wan's brilliant description of the force? Were people NOT content on the below?

"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." - Obi Wan

To me, there is nothing wrong with that. It's straight to the point, and describes the force EXACTLY as how it should be. Do we need any more explanation or understanding as to what this mystical energy is? When I watched the Star Wars movies for the first time, I never questioned this. The force was, what it was. A MAGICAL ENERGY. 

But, the brilliantly absurd Mr. George Lucas decided to take it one step further. And what step was that? Why, this of course.

"What are midi-chlorians?" - Anakin
"Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells." - Qui-Gon Jinn

Well, now that's just lovely. Now instead of it just being a mystical energy, anyone who has the force has weird critters living in them allowing them to shoot lightning from their finger tips and force push people off cliffs. THANKS, CRAZY AMOEBAS! 
Seriously - was this necessary? Did this expand the universe, or just make it take a right turn into the crap heap?

On another note, did Obi-Wan not learn about midi-chlorians? Or did he just forget due to old age to tell Luke what the force really was. Or maybe he realized that Qui-Gon and the rest of the Jedi council were smoking a little bit too much of Yoda's Dagobah weed. Who knows, but really George Lucas has an issue with continuity.

And don't get me started on immaculate conception of Anakin Skywalker. That's a whole new rant. *growls*

Jumping into hyperspace and out of the STAR WARS universe, let's tackle some of the other universes where magic exists. First stop, the world of TOLKIEN.

Tolkien's magic is your cut and dry, black and white, fantasy magic. Or magik. Or magick. Or however you spell it. Is there anything wrong with this? No. Does he go on to explain where magic comes from in this world? No, not really. Because magic in the tolkien universe is a given. Even in his novels when he starts discussing the nature of magic, he doesn't stray far from just saying "it's just there." Sure he may bring up the ability to harness nature, or control elements, but does he ever say "Oh Gandalf has magic powers because his hat is imbued with tiny little organisms that control nature by use of repelling magnetic fields and by going off the periodic table of elements to combine elements through nuclear fusion." 

Obviously I'm not that bright when it comes to science.

But here's my point - there was never need for a retarded explanation of the source of magic in Tolkiens world. Well, not an explanation that is like George Lucas' midi-chloriwhatthefuck. It's a given. It's a fantasy world. There's magic. Done.

JK Rowling never had to explain where magic came from in Harry Potter. It was just there. And people accepted it. Why did people have magic powers? They were born with special abilities. That's all. Once again. People accepted it.

I don't want to go on too much longer with this rant, but I just wanted to bring up a few questions to those who may stumble upon this blog.

1) Do you feel its necessary to explain the origin of MAGIC in your works? 

2) Can you think of any novels / movies / etc. where they do good job of actually explaining the source of MAGIC in their world?

I may add on to this post, to discuss about some video games that do a "decent" job of describing magic. Since I can think of a few. But I didn't wan to go too crazy.

Thus concludes my nerd rant.



  1. Wow! I think lightning just hit me. Here's why. While I don't think the source of magic needs to be explained, it does need to follow rules. There needs to be some logic. If you have three aliens and one can melt metal and another can dreamwalk and a third can shapeshift, then I don't get it. So my epiphany is that's why I don't write about magic. I write science-fiction because I need my "magic" explainable and grounded in logic somehow (even if it is fantastic science).

    1. Agreed that there needs to be some sort of logic behind the magic. As long as there is logic, then rules can be set. Logic + rules are probably THE most important thing to consider when dealing with magic.

      If you can explain why rules are able to be broken, then that's another thing. But you're right this is more towards the "sci-fi" based explanation. Which George Lucas....did a shit show of a job lol.

      I think I'll have a very hard time writing "magic" based fantasy (if I ever do) because I too, am way too science oriented. Even though I am pitiful at science lol.

    2. I thought of something else. We don't know how magic works in Harry Potter. But, for me, that's ok because there are still rules. The students have to practice - to say the right words with the proper intonation, hold their wands the right way - for it to work.

      Feeling kind of psycho to be harping on the need for rules, so I'm gonna stop now.

      But I'll be honest with you, although I didn't need to know the source of the Force, the midichlorians didn't actually bother me (ducking my head - carry on with your rant) :-)