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The mundane made magical

From steepholm's essay on enchanting places, over at Strange Horizons.

C. S. Lewis once wrote that a child "does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted" [32]. He proved his point by writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, since the publication of which wardrobes have ceased to be utilitarian pieces of bedroom furniture and have been invested with magical potential, as many thousands of Narnia-seeking children can attest.

Question: Can you think of other objects that have been similarly transformed by stories? I'm desperately curious! Ask your friends. Come tell me.


( 56 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 29th, 2014 01:32 pm (UTC)
Mirrors and rabbit holes, do you think?
Oct. 29th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC)

I think mirrors have always been magical--the technology of them, from the start, and what they do--but rabbit holes, for sure!
Oct. 29th, 2014 01:36 pm (UTC)
Police call boxes, in the UK. (Which were in familiar ordinary use when the series began.)
Oct. 29th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC)
Oct. 29th, 2014 01:38 pm (UTC)
It wasn't just wardrobes that he did, even. We were typical middle-class Americans of the early 1980s and did not have wardrobes. So he transformed the closet by proximity. I used to go sit in the coat closet and wait, when I was 4 or 5. Just in case. My mom would find me in there, just...waiting.
Oct. 29th, 2014 01:52 pm (UTC)
Yes: to be honest, when I read the books, I thought "wardrobe" was another word for closet.

I tried every trick in all the books.
Oct. 29th, 2014 02:07 pm (UTC)
Doors - especially doors that are tucked away somewhere where it's hard to find them. In junior high my friends and I found a secret door tucked behind a wall of the school building - just the kind of door that might lead somewhere brilliant. We checked it most days, just in case.

And Harry Potter has given a whole new meaning to eleventh birthdays.

Oct. 29th, 2014 05:03 pm (UTC)
Those of a previous generation fully expected to wake on their eleventh birthday and discover that they were an Old One.
(no subject) - asakiyume - Oct. 29th, 2014 08:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - danceswithwaves - Oct. 30th, 2014 04:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amaebi - Oct. 29th, 2014 10:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2014 02:16 pm (UTC)
CS Lewis again. The way a misty shoreline becomes the Sea at the End of the World. And I think I will be coming up with more.
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
I think a shoreline is bordering on magical even without a story to imbue it with more magic, but all the same, I agree that C.S. Lewis makes it even more deeply wonderful.
Oct. 29th, 2014 02:43 pm (UTC)
Attics are magical, though I don't know how they got that way in the first place, Ellen Klages story "Travel Agency" is about attics.
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:22 pm (UTC)
Oh yes! I've felt that way about attics ever since The Magician's Nephew, but I'm sure there are lots of stories that make attics magical.
(no subject) - heliopausa - Oct. 30th, 2014 12:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Oct. 30th, 2014 12:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2014 03:13 pm (UTC)
Well, dolls (especially realistic porcelain dolls) is the first thing that comes to mind... (poor dolls. I still think they're cute ;) But then I also like clowns too!)
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)

Dolls have a kind of an aura anyway, I think, because they look like people. They're special objects even without having magic associated with them. But like, a magic salt shaker, or a magic bus pass, or a magic carrot--something that you don't give a second look to, but that a story *makes* you give a second look--that's what wondering about.
Oct. 29th, 2014 03:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, so true, Prof. Lewis, so true.

I ate my first pomegranate after reading Greek Mythology, and it was and remains a magical fruit.

I will never not feel a magical, religious, numinous resonance when lighting a candle.

I will be pondering this wonderful question all day. :)
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:27 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you like the question!

I'm struggling to come up with really mundane things that have become magical. Some items are rather regal, or special, or magical anyway, you know? Like swords and things. But for instance, chocolate wrappers will always seem special to me because of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory--they might have a golden ticket in them.
Oct. 29th, 2014 04:54 pm (UTC)
Brick walls in train stations or alleys, thanks to Ms. Rolling.

Brooms have long been thought to fly, and everyone has one.
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:27 pm (UTC)
Absolutely, and those trolleys that you push your luggage on, too.
Oct. 29th, 2014 05:35 pm (UTC)
Glasses were never the same after Maurice Gee's The World Around the Corner (1980).
(Gee is primarily famous for his small-town NZ stories, dissecting the interactions of communities and the menace of situations, but he should be better known for his YA fantasy and sf.)
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC)
Ooh, a new story to check out!

For me A Wrinkle in Time made glasses special.
(no subject) - patty1943 - Oct. 30th, 2014 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2014 06:16 pm (UTC)
Can you think of other objects that have been similarly transformed by stories?

I have only ever given pomegranates to people with ritual significance intended.
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:29 pm (UTC)
Was the significance that you wanted them to stay with you always?
Oct. 29th, 2014 07:15 pm (UTC)
Mirrors. Always found Through the Looking Glass more magical than the rabbit hole. I spent one afternoon when I was a very small child trying to get through a large mirror and all I got was a sore nose.

Broom sticks. I can't even remember the story of Bedknobs & Broomsticks but I do remember trying to get the bloody broom to launch! (including climbing a ladder with it, figuring it might be easier that way) Sadly, my bed had no knobs.

Umbrellas. Mary Poppins. I knew the thing should lift me off! Especially in a high wind! Didn't work well at all.
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:14 pm (UTC)
Oooh, umbrellas are a good one; I hadn't thought of them, and you're right!
Oct. 29th, 2014 07:21 pm (UTC)
Little empty whisky bottles. Guns. Church buildings. Cats. Ravens. Whales. Truth.
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
Now tell me the books that worked this magic on whiskey bottles, guns, church buildings, cats, ravens, whales, and truth :-)
(no subject) - duccio - Oct. 29th, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Oct. 29th, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:07 pm (UTC)
Plain gold rings (I can remember once asking if I could put my mother's wedding band in the fire, to make sure no Black Speech appeared)?
Oct. 29th, 2014 08:32 pm (UTC)
Hahaha--you never know *where* the Ring of Power is going to turn up!
Oct. 29th, 2014 10:21 pm (UTC)
A brick. Just an ordinary one, not a keystone. Though keystones are pretty magical just in the physics of it.
Oct. 30th, 2014 07:26 am (UTC)
Ooh, a brick, eh? What story made a brick magic for you?
(no subject) - amaebi - Oct. 30th, 2014 11:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Oct. 30th, 2014 12:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
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