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In college, she taught us to make positive statements. She said it’s better to say, “Her face is a like a beautiful flower,” than to say, “Her face is not unlike a beautiful flower.”
This is a good lesson—whether in grammar or in gardening. It is so good I’m going to break it today, not once but five times.
I’ll tell you five things magic is NOT.
Strobe lights and fog machines on stage can create mood. They can awe, they can shock. But they are not magic per se. They are special effects.
Throw streamers are special effects. And so is Snow Storm in China if done for just the heck of it.
However, with a good storyline accompanying it, and with excellent build up and presentation, Snow Storm in China can tug on one’s emotion. The pieces of paper then that burst into the air under vigorous fanning will create the illusion of snow, which audience members who suspend their disbelief will readily accept, if only momentarily.
2. Magic is not about moves. Many young magicians suffer from the false belief that their hard-earned sleight-of-hand skill is itself magic.
I once watched a nationally televised program, where the female host had magicians as guests. She asked each magician to perform quick magic tricks. One guest turned a silk handkerchief into a cane, another produced a dove from a Change Bag, and yet another restored a torn newspaper into its original piece.
The youngest guest, however, fished a deck of cards from his pocket and then went into a demonstration of fancy cuts. After his performance, the flustered female host remarked, “What was that all about?”
Yes, she was baffled, but it was not the kind of bafflement that magicians want to elicit from their audience. She was baffled, because she asked the guests to perform magic. Instead, one of them demonstrated his manipulative skills, thinking wrongly that dexterity, all by itself, constitutes magic.
Wrong. Sleight-of-hand, secret moves, expert techniques and manipulative dexterity by themselves are not magic.
They become magical only if the magician presents them in such a way that they hook the audience emotionally and create an illusion that moves spectators to suspend their disbelief.
3. Magic is not about props. Just as moves are not magic, at the other end of the spectrum props alone are not magic either. Whether the props are gaudily painted, or deceptively made, by themselves they are not magic.
Only through their correct use that they create mood, theater experience and magic.
4. Magic is not pipe-in music. To enjoy magic, the audience must pay attention to the performance while it is going on. If they as much as entertain intruding thoughts, they will not see the magic happen, let alone appreciate it when it happens.
Magic is not like pipe-in music that one can do other tasks and think of other thoughts, while enjoying the song.
One can meditate while listening to beautiful music. One can compose poems while music is playing in the background. But one cannot appreciate magic if he is meditating or writing poems during a magic performance.
5. Magic is not camera tricks. After David Blaine burst into the scene via his street magic specials, his kind of magic gave birth to a generation of copycats and wannabes on TV.
They perform impossible feats like climbing up building walls, floating in the middle of the street and reading people’s mind. However, they can’t replicate these feats live on stage, in theaters or on the streets.
Are they doing magic?
“There are performers who have built their whole career doing magic on TV and can’t really perform live at all—don’t really have jobs and skills. And people watch those shows and seem to enjoy them. I don’t think it’s magic. I don’t think it’s valid and not because they’re doing camera tricks which they are, and not because they’re using plants, which they are. And not because they’re using editing tricks, which they are. The problem is simply that what you’ve seen on that screen, what you’re competing with… I mean, once you’ve shown “Avatar” on video what does sleight of hand mean? It means nothing.” Camera Tricks are Not Magic