Friday, January 23, 2009

Metaphysics, Magiphysics, and the Misologue, or 'Why I Hate Illusionists' by Tilo Greenbottle

Tilo Greenbottle has grown to like the gnome Zook much more than he had expected, and on many occasions over the last month Tilo has almost brought himself to explain his deep antipathy for the school of illusion with this wise old showman. But, on each of these occasions, Tilo eventually convinced himself to say nothing. He has learned over the last several years of his life that, despite his undeniable intelligence, he often seems to be unable to express himself as clearly as he'd like in conversation. Additionally, while Tilo notices the easy way in which many of his compatriots are greeted and treated even by strangers, he is always well aware that something about him tends to bring out suspicion in all those he wishes to persuade. Consequently, not being an idiot halfling, Tilo decided to express his thoughts and confusion over illusionists in a form that has become comfortable over the last several months - an essay in his growing tome Portia Halfling (The Knowing Halfling). What follows are a few excerpts of Tilo's epistemological thoughts on the subject which he would only share with his compatriots if they asked.


People often have the wrong idea about magic users in general, and evokers in particular. The popular view, at least on the Hrothgar, is that of all the schools of arcane arts, evocation and its practitioners are the most mindless and unintellectual of all magic users, deliberately choosing a school of specialization that leads to the atrophy of mind by completely emphasizing brawn over brain.

As is usual, the popular view couldn't be more mistaken. Perhaps it is true that many evoker sorcerers fit this description (hence the old mage adage that while it is not true that all evoker sorcerers are stupid, it is true that all stupid sorcerers are evokers), but such a description utterly fails to accurately characterize any magic user who has made evocation her self-conscious calling.

I, myself, once shared such a popular prejudice against evocation, although I had never once understood it as a prejudice before I met my first evokers in the Academy in Northwaite. To my total surprise, the evokers were often the most erudite and studied of all teachers and colleagues. And while all magic users understand the singular importance of growing their comprehension of the essential magical nature of reality, again and again I found the practitioners of evocation to be more committed than most to, forgive the expression, laying waste to all barriers to the powers of intelligent reason to unlock the arcane secrets locked behind reality's veil. Evokers, with their research that allows them to channel raging sluices of miasmal destruction, are committed to the view that reality had to be completely understood magically.

When you look at reality magically, magically reality looks back at you. This is the first great arcane truth.

And this philosophy, adopted completely by evokers, strives above all to keep the distinction between the magical and the mysterious. To look at reality magically is not to see the basic nature of reality as ineffable or unknowable. No, to look at reality magically means to embrace and embody a point of view as one apprehends that which is; a point of view that pierces the non-magical veil of inert matter and energy. Of course these are just words on parchment. Their full appreciation requires much training and study.

The evokers at Northwaite were insatiable scholars and students of the physics, metaphysics, and magiphysics of our world, always craving more and greater understanding. They were far from the brutish magical thugs I had always envisioned. They were even delicate and thoughtful and, above all, insatiably curious, at least when it came to their scholarship, research, and teaching. And through the course of my studies I discovered that the intellectualism and curiousity of these evokers was no accident, but intimately related to the task of casting an evocation spell from study and memory. I ultimately concluded that the specific channels of magically reality that evokers seek to open, guide and manipulate require a closer attention to the details of their inner workings on the part of the spell caster. A necromancer or diviner might possible get by successfully on some level of intuition, but for their part evokers seem to only succeed and thrive when they develop something far greater than a working knowledge of magical reality. They must strive for complete comprehension and mastery. And as I have grown in experience as a practitioner of this school, I have learned first hand the terrible importance of an evoker curbing and limiting that arcana into which he taps.

To the studied evoker, then, with greater knowlege of the magical nature of reality comes greater control. So greater knowledge is always sought, sometimes even for its own sake. If you spend any time with magic users, you will undoubtedly hear them utter the insult Misologue from time to time. To the studied evoker, Misologue is the greatest insult he can issue. Short for Misologisist, a Misologue is a hater of reason. Those who see only chaos in the cosmos are haters of reason. Those who assume that reality cannot be comprehended are haters of reason. You know a misologist because they often have to perform great feats of mental gymnastics in order to accomplish their denial of reason, and yet they abound and no shortage of examples can be produced. They deny what all magic users (and evokers in particular) know to be true - that the veins of magic that criss-cross the fabric of reality can be grasped and understood entirely, and that there is nothing ultimately mysterious or unknowable in existence.

And this is, ultimately, why I hate illusionsists. In and through their tricks, their deceptions, their slight-of-hand conjuring, they endlessly encourage skepticism toward intelligent powers of comprehension. They encourage the hatred of reason. The distrust they sow bends otherwise clear thinking beings toward panic and fear and induces attempts to flee from comprehension of the order behind what is only apparent disorder. No doubt this is not the chief or explicit aim of illusionists themselves. But of what matter is their self-
understanding when their actions serve only to strengthen the misologue? And, what is worse, illusionists, as brothers and sisters in the arcane arts, can be expected to know better than the common folk what havoc they wreck. They are all too well aware that their cosmic fakeries exist because magical reality is knowable and not shrouded in mystery. And yet they revel in their power to obfuscate and confuse and to shake the epistemic foundations of the subjects of their spells. I have never met an illusionist who I have not since learned has taken deep satisfaction in her power to reduce a being to a confused and whimpering idiot who can no longer tell fiction from reality.


It should be noted that Tilo's wholehearted embrace of the evoker dislike of the illusionist school has put him at odds with his halfling family and community. Illusionists are especially valued in halfling society, many of whom are held in extremely high esteem and are often cared for and provided for in their later years at the expense of the community as a whole.

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