Monday, July 09, 2007


This is a response to Cranky Weasel's latest entry.

Personally, I think the modern stage magician is the greatest gift the West has given to the world. If you have never been personally acquainted with a person who genuinely believes in “true magic” you cannot understand the tragedy of a person lost in superstition, devoted to “mystery,” suborned to superior “magicians.” The worst is the one that knows she is a fraud, and wishes she had the real power possessed by her superiors! I can only imagine what a whole society caught in the grip of a terror or reverence of practitioners of “magic” would look like. I don’t imagine it is pretty.

The Stage Magician changes that for a majority of people. While his watchers are fully aware he is deceiving them, they are nevertheless entertained. Because he claims that he will do nothing more than entertain them (that his “powers” are little more than tricks), his profession is honest. In addition, his watchers, aware that deception is at the root of this magic, extend the principle to all claims to “magic.” Simply put, the stage magician completely robs the “real” (read: totally fake, but dishonest about it) magician of his power, thus freeing the non-practitioner from superstition.

This is far better than societies dominated by people who claim phenomenal cosmic power and derive authority from that claim, whose entire authority comes from their ability to deceive. In my book, the first magician to choose a suit and top hat over the robes (a man whose name I once knew, but have since forgotten) is a true hero.

Personally, I don’t seek out the “secrets” behind the big tricks. I do, however, enjoy expanding my knowledge of small tricks–ones I can personally perform. There is truly no better feeling than transforming a group of rowdy, undisciplined children into rapt observers with a few simple tricks. I sometimes dream of learning some of the more often “believed” tricks such as hot reading and, especially, cold reading, to be able to topple the remaining charlatans who still claim (to much public credulity) to practice “genuine” magic (such as contacting dead relatives).

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