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PhotobucketToday, I’ll spend the hour contemplating a riddle. It has been bugging me for some time. I have not yet fathomed it. I don’t see how I can fathom it any time soon.

Magic is hard enough to perform. Some performers, and a slew of magic thinkers, make it even more difficult by issuing all sorts of philosophies on how not to perform it easily.

PhotobucketOnly in magic can we find practitioners that look down on props. The magic art is rich with performers who claim they are purists. I think the term means they perform magic sans props or gaffed objects.

Related to this, I have heard some Filipino magicians bandy about the inappropriateness of props in a magic show. They even have a disparaging term for performers who use gaudy, garishly painted props. They call them “proppy” magicians.

This attitude stumps me. The phenomenon of practitioners looking down on other practitioners because the latter use props (or equipment) to get their jobs done seems alien in other fields. I could be wrong, but perhaps only because I’m not looking hard enough at the world outside of magic.

A patient who goes to a doctor is inspired to confidence when he sees the doctor is well-equipped with the latest technology—ECG machines, state-of-the-art laboratory, magnetic imaging machines, etc.

A car owner brings his vehicle to the repair shop and feels certain the mechanic can do an excellent job if he sees he is adequately equipped with tools and machines.

PhotobucketA housewife who calls a plumber to fix a leaking pipe will surely feel at ease when she sees the plumber has brought with him a monkey wrench and a box filled with other tools.

Not so in magic. The purist magicians claim props tend to diminish the magic and illusion in the mind of the audience.

Then there are those purists who are less pure. They are the ones who accept magic props as a way of life but insist that these should look ordinary. There contention is that magic inspires more wonder when props seem like everyday objects.

Hmm…ordinary looking magic props. What happened to magic being an esoteric art? I think there’s a clash of ideas somewhere when one insists on using ordinary looking (meaning not mysterious) props in a mysterious art.

PhotobucketImagine a patient going to a doctor and insisting that the doctor use a stethoscope that looks like a plunger, a scalpel that looks like butter knife, or an X-ray machine that looks like a refrigerator. All this because stethoscopes, scalpels and X-ray machines are not ordinary-looking but plungers, butter knives and refrigerators are.

Imagine a car owner who goes to a repair shop demanding that the mechanic use screw drivers that look like spoon and fork, acetylene torch that looks like a garden hose, or a tire wrench that looks like an egg beater.

Imagine also a housewife wanting the plumber to bring ordinary-looking tools such as nuts and bolts that look like things she uses for her arts and crafts project.

PhotobucketRidiculous demands? That’s what I thought. But these sorts of demands are common in magic. The purists say boxes, if they were to be used, should look like ordinary, everyday boxes. If they had their way, the world would have not seen Zig-Zag, Origami, Modern Art and a host of other beautiful magic.

That would have been sad.

That’s why I spend this day in an unproductive way musing over this bewildering discrepancy. I don’t think I’ll find soon enough the answer to my bewilderment.

I have to ask the lay public what they think. Maybe the lay people hold the answer to this mystery.

Stay magical,



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