Learning How To Perform Magic

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under Magic Tricks

While as children we mostly look on magicians as just that – people who can control forces that are beyond most normal human beings – as we get older we learn to see that what they are doing is, while exceptionally skilful, not actual magic. This often makes it no less impressive, but what it does do is give us the desire to “see how they do it”.

The difference between magic and illusion is probably thinner than most of us think. No doubt, as soon as we notice that there is trickery at play, many of us become quite passionate in our denunciation of the “magician”. This tendency to draw attention to the absence of “real” magic can result from various impulses, but most of all it will be a way to show that we are no longer taken in (and possibly to hide the fact that we were taken in for longer than we were comfortable with).

While “real magic” involves the bending of natural forces by supernatural means, illusion in its purest form does something similar – it uses the consummate skill of an illusionist to make it appear that nature has been overcome. To do this successfully without anyone being able to explain just how it happened is pretty remarkable in itself – and indeed, may be why so many people are stung when they learn that it is illusion.

You can take this news one of two ways – develop an irrational dislike for all illusionists (even the really good ones), or try to learn how to do it yourself. If you practise hard enough and are possessed of natural skill (no less impressive than supernatural force) then you can make it work for you.

It’s All Part Of The Magic

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under Magic Tricks

If you were a magician – by definition, someone able to control natural forces by calling upon the supernatural – what would you do? Visit the home of an acquaintance who had wronged you and make it rain in their bedroom? Control events in such a way as to ensure financial prosperity for you and yours? Protect your home from intrusion? Or would you make a playing card disappear and reappear in someone’s pocket?

This is part of what is referred to in professional wrestling as “kayfabe”. The suspension of disbelief, as it may more commonly be described. When we see an illusionist perform tricks on stage, we may think to ourselves “I’m sure they are doing well for themselves financially, but if I could do all this stuff I’d use it to make money without ever having to leave the house”. A reasonable response, but it misses the point.

In reality, we know there is a trick there, something we are missing which explains all the actions of the illusionist in a way which makes everything clear. They are no more controlling dark forces than we are causing rain when we turn on the shower. The key point in all of this is that we don’t care – it’s about the show. Just as wrestlers are not actually beating each other to a pulp, but the appearance of such feats is interesting enough.

It is curmudgeonly to look at the acts of an illusionist and tell everyone else that what they are doing is not magic. It assumes that everyone else is being tricked and only you are in on the magician’s secret. In actual fact, everyone else knows that it is a trick, but they suspend disbelief because it makes things more interesting.

Shining A Light On Magic Tricks

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under Magic Tricks

From childhood, we are beguiled by a magician’s abilities to perform tricks that seem to have no obvious explanation. As we get older, we may begin to understand more about how a trick has been performed and with practice may be able to perform the tricks ourselves. However, most of us will still in adulthood be unable to see the “unseen hand” that makes these tricks happen.

There are however a number of talented illusionists who seek to shine some light on what is otherwise a fairly murky world. Objectively we all know that the illusionist is not really making a big truck disappear into nothingness. How could they do that? Where would it go? And if they had such powers, would they be performing on stage when they had the opportunity to use the powers for greater gain?

What the illusionists mentioned above manage to do is show how these tricks are performed by first doing the trick themselves as “normal”, and then showing how they did it. This has led to an outcry from the Magic Circle, a UK organisation which represents illusionists, saying that the acts of these “rogue” illusionists represent a threat to the mystery that is necessary for magic to exist. Other similar organisations have made equally dire pronouncements.

For many, however, the joy of such “whistle blower” illusionists is that they show how the tricks are actually performed in a way which makes the act seem even more impressive. Famously, Penn and Teller (an American illusionist act) have performed these tricks and ones they devise themselves while reading a newspaper or delivering a complicated monologue – demonstrating great dexterity in so doing.

Could It Be Magic?

November 17, 2010 by Admin  
Filed under Magic Tricks

Performing magic is something that has become a very broad term. On the one hand, there are people who perform spells in a Wiccan, naturalist sense which are designed, supposedly, to bring safety, prosperity and good luck. Then there are showman magicians who perform what might more reasonably be described as “tricks” which fool the eye and make it appear that they have done what we consider to be impossible – such as sawing another person in half and rejoining them, or making an object disappear totally.

It makes for a question – what is magic? The accepted definition as listed by numerous dictionaries is the use of supernatural forces to control natural forces. What we understand by magic, at least in an everyday sense, is simply people seeming to do this as opposed to anyone actually carrying it out. That coin is not disappearing and magically reappearing behind your ear – but a skilled illusionist can make it appear so.

There are arguments for and against the existence of an ability of people to perform actual magic. Unexplained events are often attributed to unseen forces controlling an event or an entity. It is hard to completely disprove this, but often there are other, more realistic explanations for such events. It ends up coming down to what we believe (in the absence of any measurable demonstration of the existence of magic) and really, is that not part of the fun of magic? Knowing how you have done something, and not explaining it?

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