Skepticism In The World Of Magic

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under Featured, How to Tips...

Many people are skeptical about magic, particularly stage magic. However, there are many different types of skepticism, and some are more valid as forms of criticism. For example, a lot of people can see what a magician is doing to give the appearance, or the illusion, that magic is being used, and will call attention to it. This is fine, and separates good illusionists from bad.

Then there are others who start from the position that “magic is not real”, and will deride a stage magician for practising their craft without offering any explanation as to how the performance is being carried out. This is a more cowardly form of criticism, since we can all assume that an illusionist is using some form of sleight of hand. Just saying “that’s not real” is not particularly good criticism, since you are offering no alternative explanation.

This is an important distinction. If you were in the cinema watching a movie where, for example, a main character shot a fireball from his or her fingertips, you would not be well advised to stand up and tell the other people watching that “that’s not really happening – it’s just a film!”. Of course it is, but people go along to be impressed by the show.

Picking holes in a magician’s act without having any cold hard facts is a stupid thing to do. Most of the people in the audience have pretty much gathered that the illusionist is using some kind of trick to give the appearance of magic, but they enjoy the show because the tricks are well covered and look authentic. We can all be skeptical from a position of ignorance, but it is only really valid when we come from a position of knowledge.

When Shall We Three Meet Again?

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under How to Tips...

Although anyone with an appreciation for the author’s craft would have to be in a supremely bad mood to deny the quality of the Harry Potter books, you could forgive someone for being a little bad tempered over the fact that people seem to relate every book about witches and wizards back to them. Witches and wizards have been present in literature since long before JK Rowling put pen to paper, and will continue to be so.

Shakespeare himself uses three witches to compelling effect in perhaps his most famous play, Macbeth, while including such characters elsewhere in his oeuvre. He himself was most likely not the first, as there is a certain fascination to the idea of magic which makes for very entertaining reading. Authors like Philip Pullman and Sir Terry Pratchett have also created fascinating magical worlds.

The upshot of this is, for some, a certain lack of enthusiasm for stage magic. If you have read a book in which magic is used to create new ways of traveling, as a weapon and in other extraordinary ways, as a child you would be forgiven for wondering why the magician in front of you is using it to make a marble disappear. Where’s the shock and awe in that?

Smart illusionists will take this as a challenge. Harry Potter may well be able to produce a corporeal Patronus, and that’s nice and all, but Penn and Teller can catch bullets between their teeth. Stage magic needs to keep improving to keep people interested, and the best illusionists will know what they need to do.

Magic In The World Of Entertainment

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under How to Tips...

Part of the difficulty of being a stage magician in this day and age comes from the impossibility of living up to magical phenomena as seen in popular culture. Non-illusionists can only imagine how difficult it was to be a stage magician in the aftermath of the Harry Potter books and movies, as people are likely to be less impressed by a simple card trick when they have seen or read about a person making themselves invisible.

Magic entertains us. JK Rowling has done a particularly good job in making the whole idea accessible to a wider audience by creating a world where there are magical ways of doing just about everything that we do by hand in the non-magical world. It has been beguiling enough to make kids and adults alike feel a little bit cheated that they have not had the opportunity to attend Hogwarts.

One thing that has made the Harry Potter books popular with adults is the darker nature of the later books. Harry grows from a young wizard with no more skill or knowledge than most to being the boy who saves the world, and if that sounds hokey then it is worth reading the books to see how cleverly and how starkly the challenges are conveyed.

We have come a long way since the early characterisations of witches and wizards on TV and in books and movies, where characters were either evil old crones or cheerful and witty. In a world where everyone is magical, the spells are real and magic itself is no advantage, and this is what gives the books their depth.

Switch to our mobile site