Black Magick

When I think of magick, I think it’s having the ability to think of something, support that thought (or plural) with ritualized actions, to bring about a very real manifestation of the something that had been thought of. And since you’re probably pretty clever, I’ll bet you’ve already hooked that to scale modeling. (I’m equally sure that finding this essay on a modeling site had nothing at all to do with connecting those dots.) Because that’s what modeling is for me (your mileage should vary)…seeing something in my head, sitting down at the altar workbench, and eventually I find something that closely resembles what I’d seen months earlier in my mind. So where does the whole “black” thing come from?

Again, to my way of thinking, “black magick” is going through all of the visualization, actions, and manifestations but without a beneficial end in mind. Black magick is not just without a beneficial end, it’s with a disagreeable or unhelpful end. The incantation that creates the maleficent is a simple one:

“I can’t.”

Two words, five letters, and one apostrophe and it all (whichever particular “it” is in play) comes abruptly to a halt…which is where it generally stays. Two words, five letters, and one apostrophe and the person did it to themself. And whatever “it” was torpedoed stays torpedoed until the person who uttered the incantation undoes it.

Too often that incantation doesn’t get undone. We don’t miss what we never had, right? And since they couldn’t to start with, there’s nothing to really miss, right? Pick up the remote, go to the social media junkie of your addiction, and nobody will know, right?

Not right. You will know. You did it to yourself and will know that you STILL “can’t.” So, clever hominid that thou art, can y’guess how to undo the spell? It’s a long incantation but I’ll lay it out here anyway in case you’re one of those rare people who can boot their Ego out of the driver’s seat and take control:

Change your mind.

Thoughts are not subject to Newtonian physics. Thoughts have no mass so there is nothing impeding their start, stop, or any direction changes between those states. Essentially, we think what we think because that’s what we THINK. But there’s a codicil to all that.

You see what you see because you’re prepared to see it and you do not see what you miss because you are not prepared to see it. The subject of that sentence is what keeps priests, politicians, and stage magicians well-paid and with no shortage of work. It doesn’t have to be like that…and in fact isn’t like that. The only thing that keeps us plodding along the same traces is habit. The ladder to a habit is a short one and goes much like this…

“How the hell am I going to do this thing? I’ll try doing this thing this way.”

“Wow…that worked! I’ll do it that way the next time!”

“EXcellent! It worked just like the first time.”

“Hmm…well, I have to do this thing. I guess I’ll do it the way I’ve always done it.”

Welcome to your new habit and tradition. You forgot that it was “always” done only twice. But unless you change your mind, that’s how you’re going to do it in the future unless and until something drastic happens to change your mind. Should that happen, we will focus on what “caused” us to change our mind; those surprising circumstances. Uhm…no. The circumstances did not change your mind. You changed your mind and passed the responsibility for that change onto the circumstances.

So why the intercourse are you reading this on a modeling site, of all places?!

It’s because of the standard excuses I get from people who don’t engage in this hobby.

“I don’t have the patience.” Black Magick.

“I’m not any good at it.” Black Magick.

“I don’t see in detail the way you do.” Black Magick.

“I can’t use tools like you do.” Black Magick.

“I’m too old.” Black Magick.

“I’m too young.” Showoff.

“I have no idea how to do any of that.” Okay…that excuse has potential. It’s also accurate because unless a person has tried it, screwed it up, and fixed it up, they’re correct. They have no idea…but they could get one (or a bazillion).

A person needs a few things to be decent at this hobby.


Hmm…I can’t think of anything else so maybe there aren’t “a few things” at all! Does this stuff fascinate you? Would you like to be able to make decent, or maybe good, or heresy of heresies…EXCELLENT models? If you have the desire, then you have all the foundation you need to get on with it. Others more eloquent than I have talked about how to learn, that it’s our mistakes and oh-goddammit moments that offer us opportunities to expand our skill-set(s). (“Teachable moments” are not particularly comfortable moments, so stay at it.) To make those mistakes requires that one pats Ego on the head, leave it a comfy bankie in the sun to nap on, and go make some sodding mistakes. Doing a new thing correctly from the get-go teaches nothing. We don’t “learn how to do”something. We learn how to not “do something.” If we stay at it, keep learning how not to do something, eventually we will, WE WILL, arrive at the knowledge of how to do something. The really smart ones don’t seem to have to go down that path very far before The Clue arrives. People like me, the plodders, have to make EVERY MISTAKE POSSIBLE before we get The Clue. [Sidebar, here. People who figure things out quickly or who are “naturals” at a thing generally make really lousy teachers. They seem to make the assumption that because it was relatively easy for them, well it’s relatively easy! People like me who have to make every mistake possible tend to be better teachers. We know all the mistakes, know where all the cognitive mines are buried, can spot when someone goes haring off down the wrong path quickly and stop them before the flawed methodology becomes “tradition”, and nudge them onto a more productive path…all the while remembering how we learned and not getting between the student and the really formative mistake so that they learn, too. End of sidebar.]

I won’t hear your answer to this question, but really…y’gotta ask it of yourself. Do you really want to learn how to build scale models? Do you have the desire? Do you want to or do you want to want to? Can you forgive your present ignorance while you’re busy working to diminish it? (Modeler’s Secret here: If the model TOTALLY SUCKS…don’t show it to anyone.) Don’t sit in the bleachers wishing you were a Modeling Deity because if you talk to a Modeling Deity you will find that they don’t usually think they’re that good…which leads me to the next wall a person learning something will probably have fall on them.


Good judgement comes from surviving bad judgement. The recurring theme here is (in case you missed it or the hammer I’m beating that particular horse corpse with isn’t working well enough) if you don’t do it, what’s to judge? If you do it, then the only thing you need to survive your own judgement is self-forgiveness. You ain’t perfect, I certainly ain’t perfect, and anyone who presents themselves as perfect is an excellent example of who (and what) to avoid. No matter how much anyone learns, the really, really, really, REALLY big universe will always have more than one person can learn. Big universe. Small brain (which is different from being little-minded). No meaningful amount of the universe CAN fit into our tiny little brains…which means that regardless of what can be assimilated intellectually, when we run out of bandwidth we run into our own ignorance.

The only way to work against the ignorance and entropy is to learn something new. We’ll never Get There, which is why I think it’s so important to choose activities that we enjoy the simple doing of, regardless of how well we do them. Enjoying the activity for itself becomes the reward and will encourage a person to keep doing it. And that’s some sneaky shit right there. If the pleasure of doing a thing is sufficient (remember…don’t let Ego take control), we will keep doing that thing. And if we keep doing that thing, we will err. Make mistakes…and then fix them (talk about a compressed learning situation) and keep doing the thing. If you pay attention to what you are doing, “how” you are doing takes care of itself.

Get with that and you’ll really have to work to stay lousy at it…whatever “it” is.

So go buy a kit. Don’t spend a lot of money on it because you ARE going to bitch it up. Follow the instructions and put the thing together. Stay at it until it’s done. Put a cloth or box over it and walk away from it for a few days…then come back and look at it. Pick ONE THING to fix and buy another kit. Build the next kit and figure out how to fix the ONE THING from the first one. Repeat. Repeat a lot. (How many scales does a musician have to play before they can be considered “good”?) Each time you finish one, pick ONE THING to get better at. The goal is to build the kit straight from the box, make all the seams disappear, make all the glue fingerprints a thing of the past. Discover how tricky it can be to glue clear parts in place without totally buggering them.

The real secret to anything is to just stay at it.

And one day, you’ll build a kit that you will be surprised at. No seams, glue smears, evident mistakes (please note the word “evident”…I can show you all the mistakes on the few contest winners I made and on the ones I never entered a contest with), a decent paint job (don’t let airbrushes scare you…it’s just another tool). And the really big one:


All the modeling Gods that have come before us were born with the same thing we were born with. Other than the ability to know what a nipple is for, nothing. If they could do it, why not me? Why not you?

If you have the desire, then indulge. If you don’t, then don’t kid yourself and go find something you like to do just for the doing of it.

Tempus fugit. Comes the night that no one escapes. Do good work. Be kind. Be compassionate. Use a moisture filter with an airbrush. Keep your blades sharp. Challenge yourself. Don’t start a kit you know how to finish (unless it’s a commission). Don’t mess around with old people. They didn’t get old by accident (people die young by accident all the time) and “life sentence” is less a deterrent the older one gets.

One response

  1. Geraldine Madormo | Reply

    Love this!

    Sent from my iPhone


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