Exquisite Words

Posted on June 6, 2011 by

I was powerfully struck by many things in M.K. Hobson’s The Hidden Goddess, but somehow this struck a deep chord. Emily’s talking to a magician who practices credomancy, whose power is all about the practitioner’s self-confidence and the way they’re viewed by others, and this magician tells her:

“I’m also a woman. Failure, struggle and doubt are my constant companions. They are not always pleasant, but they inoculate me against overconfidence. As such, I would not trade them for all the arrogant bravado in the world.”

It’s a nice bit of characterization, and it also speaks to something I feel, in my marrow, as truth. That idea of arrogant bravado–a thing I see as coming from a place of privilege, of developing from experience the expectation that one’s shiniest objects of desire will be dropped in their laps by the Universe–it’s the flip side of being trained to have low expectations.

Like most people, I’ve had my share of good and bad flips of the cosmic coin. The character in this novel who’s expressing this idea, on the other hand, is someone who, because of her ethnicity, gender and the society she lives in, has never had anything handed to her. Everything she is and everything she has she’s made herself, and she knows it could be yanked away by a wisp of bad luck, a mistake or even an accident of timing.

I understood her perfectly in that moment: in two lines, Hobson made her utterly real to me. It is very neatly done.

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