If popular portrayals of magic have taught us anything, it’s this: to the inexperienced conjurer – beware! The forces you summon can have a mind (and power) of their own.* It follows, then, that the magic words over this 99th issue of Number, Wizardly prohibition; spells within reason, produced a series of outcomes and manifestations not wholly anticipated. Many of the usual, magical ingredients are here: love spells; illusions; the animation of inanimate objects; even a newt! And yet there is something in the final reckoning that was not entirely preapprehended.
Despite its insistence that all magic occurs against and within certain structural conditions (spells…within reason) this issue’s invitation did not give particular direction as to when, where, how, or which of those conditions were to be acknowledged or engaged. Significantly, it also did not suggest the spirit in which these were to be addressed – as constructive, disruptive, adversarial, etc. Despite this openness, the artists, activists and writers contributing and collected here have all chosen to focus their magic back onto and into a set of very practical concerns, emotional needs, and community transformations. That a project framed in terms of magic became a mediation on strategic transformation is not entirely unexpected (transformation, after all, is at the heart of magic both as a conceptual conceit and practiced craft). But the groundedness and generosity of these transformational efforts was a welcome and encouraging surprise. Magic, so often posited as a weapon or a way out, is here employed as a transformational tool – operating within bounded, and often challenging and discouraging circumstances.
As exemplified in the life of my favorite magician, it isn’t through the translation of material, but through the transformation of the conditions of community that we cause real waves. The contributors here have discovered a similar path. Let me say, without a hint of irony – how good of them! And how worthy an application of their gift.
On behalf of the guest-editorial team, let me express our most sincere gratitude to the staff of Number and all those who contributed their time, energies and talents to this undertaking! A very special thanks to Katie Maish for her patience, support and trust. And speaking on my own behalf, a heartfelt thank you to my colleague and collaborator Lauren Thorson – a wizard if there ever was one! (insert wizard hat emoji)