Why would anyone want to be a mage?

Why would anyone want to be a mage? It’s a dangerous profession, barely one in twenty survive the apprenticeship, and fewer still survive to a ripe old age. The competitiveness of mages is well known and the attrition rate of their competitions is higher than that of birds at a duck-shoot. Is it any wonder, then, that mages are cantankerous bastards, suspicious to the point of paranoia, who have higher body-counts than most great heroes? Why, I ask you, would anyone want to subject themselves to such danger, loneliness, and fear? And what do you answer? Nothing. You answer nothing because you’re not a prat. Only prats answer rhetorical questions posed by authors. But if you were here, and if we were face to face, and if you didn’t feel that you’d be forced into pratdom by answering the question, you’d still have trouble with it. After all, you’re not a mage, and therefore you are, supposedly, and of reasonable expectation, at least moderately sane; so how could you know the answer? That’s right, you prat, you couldn’t. That is, after all, why you are reading this, if you still are. So, why would anyone want to be a mage? It’s an obvious question that hasn’t been looked at with any degree of seriousness for at least seven millennia. [Don’t get me started about the ancient records. They’re there if you know where to look, and know how to read them.] This monograph is an attempt to redress this egregious oversight.

What is the normal, knee-jerk, clichéd answer to why anyone wants to rise to the pinnacle of their society? [Don’t answer that prat! It’s rhetorical.] What is the explanation most often given as to why people strive to become kings or prime ministers or presidents? No, dumpfkist, it is not that they are selfless heroes seeking positions from which they can better help their fellow humans. Where did you go to school to be giving answers like that? Never mind. No, the answer of course, is power. All those people seek positions of authority in order to gain access to the holy triumvirate; power, money, sex. Power to shape the world according to your desire. Money to buy all the good things that the world has to offer, including power and sex. Sex, because everyone wants to propagate their genes and multitudes of children are the way in which one extends one’s control from the present into the far future. The whole ‘helping their fellow humans’ thing is the propaganda they use to get the dumpfkists like you elect them.

But, and here is the large hurdle that most people stumble over when equating the rampaging hormones of most politicians to the ice-cold drive of most mages; mages don’t have any of these things. They don’t have power over the fate of nations, they aren’t rich, and, paranoid as they are, they’re not going to let anyone close enough to them to be able to engage in carnal intercourse. And they’re definitely not becoming mages in order to selflessly provide aid to their fellow humans. When was the last time you ever heard of a mage doing anything selflessly? Or even doing anything to aid their fellow humans whether selflessly or not? That’s right, never. It’s usually more the opposite. Now that may just be that they don’t want to advertise that they’re helpful because if they did they’d be besieged by importunate sods like you asking them for help and their enemies might use that to their advantage. Or it might be that their reputations as horrible examples of the human species is well deserved. Either way, I think we can discount any form of altruism as the source of their drive for magical supremacy.

If, then, they aren’t doing it for the power, and they aren’t doing it for the money (what need have they for money when they can have whatever they desire with the utterance of a single spell?), and they aren’t doing it for the sex (because, quite frankly, they aren’t getting any of that unless they’re getting it from magical constructs), and they aren’t doing it out of altruistic desires; why are they doing it? You’re strangely silent now, aren’t you, Prat? [For all you non-prats who don’t try to answer these rhetorical questions, please ignore all comments relating to prats and dumpfkists and importunate sods; these obviously do not relate to you in your silent absorption of this argument.] So, now that you’ve all had time to consider the question, and hopefully, unpratfully, kept your answers to yourself, allow me to enlighten you as to the real reason. It’s really quite simple.

Everyone, at some point in their lives realises that they actually have very little control over their lives. Outside forces always conspire to wrest that control away. You have a job? Wonderful. But do you control every aspect of that employment? No. Your customers choose to come to you or to your rival. Your clients choose to employ you or go elsewhere. Your boss chooses your hours and the work you will do. Your suppliers decide how much to deliver, when, and how much to charge. Your editor decides if your work is publishable, and how much she is prepared to offer, or charge, for the right to publish it. Your lover decides if they are in the mood for love, or the mood for leaving. Your children run their own lives according to their desires, insofar as they are able. You have control only over yourself, and that limited by your circumstances, instincts, desires, and societal moulding. In short, the average person has less control over themselves than they imagine a slave does. The mage, on the other hand, has seized all of these reins and curbs into their own hands and controls their own fate to a degree undreamed of by the proud tyrants and kings who cling so tenaciously to their illusion of power.

What greater cause could there be? What more noble fight? [Shut up, Prat!] Freedom! Personal liberty! The pursuit, however tortuous, of happiness! This is the evolution of the human species, from sheep who blindly follow every fleeting impulse to true humans, sapiens libertas sapiens. Humans free from the constraints of nature and of society. Humans who have taken that step that brings them, however infinitesimally, closer to the divine; not merely freed from nature’s bonds, but in a position to use those bonds to bind nature. This, though circuitous has been the path of discovery, is the underlying motivations of those people brave enough to see and seize upon the opportunity that mastery of magic offers. This then is the reason why anyone would want, why everyone should want, to be a mage. Mages are the people with the greatest control over their own fates and fortunes, and, quite incidentally, over the fates and fortunes of their fellows.

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