technology, magic, and play

Magic consists of a symbolic ‘commentary’ on technical strategies in production, reproduction, and psychological manipulation. I suggest that magic derives from play. When children play, they provide a continuous stream of commentary on their own behaviour. This commentary frames their actions, divides it up into segments, defines momentary goals, and so on. It seems that this superimposed organizational format both guides imaginative play as it proceeds, and also provides a means of internalizing it and recalling it, as well as raw materials for subsequent exercises in innovation and recombination, using previously accumulated materials in new configurations.

Gell 1988, p.8.