Tag Archives: Fairy godmothers

Three Wishes

One of my favorite books is Aegypt (reissued as The Solitudes), by John Crowley. The book begins:

If ever some power with three wishes to grant were to appear before Pierce Moffett, he or she or it (djinn, fairy godmother, ring curiously inscribed) would find him not entirely unprepared, but not entirely ready either.

There turned out to be so many angles to consider–his changing desires even aside–that, a grown man now, professor, historian, he still hadn’t completed his formulations.

Pierce is on a long bus ride, and mulls over these angles to pass the time. Long ago, he formulated his ideal first two wishes:

The lifelong and long-lived mental and physical health and safety of himself and those whom he loved, nothing asked for in a subsequent wish to abrogate this

An income, not burdensomely immense but sufficient, safe from the fluctuations of economic life, requiring next to no attention on his part and not distorting his natural career.

Oliver Herford illustrated the fairy godmother...

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But what about that pesky third wish? In his childhood, Pierce had often resorted to the greedy idea of using the third to wish for three more, ad infinitum. But with growing maturity he came to see that unintended consequences could render that course fraught with danger.

He had pondered the rather safe idea of wishing the third time for oblivion: “to forget he had ever known wishes could be granted, to be returned to his (present) state of ignorance that such irruptions of power into the world, power placed at his unwise disposal, were really truly possible at all.”

What would your wishes be?

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Filed under Books, Deep Thoughts