Why I'm careful about what I read


I've become very selective about what I read, both in terms of enjoyment and in more practical terms of inspiration. I was thinking that the other day as I was looking at a variety of blog posts from other people on the web. To be honest, I don't read many of the other blogs of other magicians, and even the few I do read, I read infrequently, because I'm selective about what I'm putting into my head. At a certain point, I think that if you oversaturate yourself with the thoughts and ideas of other people you cut yourself off from a very vital part of yourself, which is your own imagination and creativity.  Your imagination and creativity need some access to other material as a way of inspiring them, but too much ends up dulling them. That's true not just of books, but any form of media. At a certain point too much exposure dulls you because it fits you with preconceived ideas of how something ought to be done, as handed down by various "authorities."

One of the criticisms I received about Pop Culture Magick was that the examples I drew on didn't include any of Grant Morrison's works or Neal Gaiman's works. I thought it was a rather odd criticism, until I realized that the critics were applying their expectations of pop culture onto me. What they didn't realize is that I had never read any of Morrison's or Gaiman's work and I had no interest in reading their works. Yes, those works are popular to a good number of occultists, but for me they weren't of any interest. I've since read a bit of both authors' works and even now I don't find it that interesting for me to explore further because it's not where I draw my inspiration from. I recognize that other people are inspired by those authors, but what inspires me is different and that's fine by me.

Your inspiration is something which has to be cultivated carefully. A few years back I killed my inspiration, in part due to life situations, but also because I was reading far too much information and not giving myself time to process it or really appreciate its relevance. Eventually I did get that time and afterwards my inspiration came back, but it was because I took a break from reading the books I was reading. Even now I regularly take breaks from whatever I'm reading so that I can process what's already been read and consider its relevance in my life, particularly by applying it.

Feed your mind carefully with what really interests you, but don't let it get distracted by the minutiae of other people's ideas or approaches to that interest. They have their inspiration, and it's worthy of respect, but respect your own as well and choose carefully what you'll read. You want to draw on what's meaningful to you, but you also want to give yourself time to savor it and apply it. By giving yourself that gift you will better appreciate what you do read and you'll be more selective because whatever you draw on has to be something that is relevant to those interests. By extension, this same caveat also applies to what you do, specifically in terms of other people approaching you about participating in their projects. I get a fair amount of people who want me to weigh in on their ideas or participate in their projects and I tend to not get involved because I'm working on my own projects and have enough to do their, but also because I want to cultivate my own creativity and inspiration by focusing on what my own interests and projects are.