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I have a serious outlook on life. As a Filipino magician who employs comedy in his presentation, I even look at comedy seriously.

But I almost fell from my chair (and could have brought my laptop crashing on the floor with me) when I read on one online forum a plea from a magician in distress. He was confused. Pricked by conscience, he wanted advice on how not to to tell a lie when performing magic.

UntitledMy instinctive reaction would have been to bark at him, “Get out of magic!”, but that would have been unfair. I didn’t know the fellow. He might have been brought up by parents in an environment steeped in truth and nothing but the truth. Had I grown up in the same environment, I would probably be pricked by my conscience when performing magic.

So I didn’t tell him my thoughts. Instead, I decided to write them  here—even though I doubt I have any worthwhile thoughts to write.

If one can’t stand telling lies, I think the best option is to leave magic and go into the business of inventing new models of lie detectors.  Maybe a magician without the gift of fib can do better there.

I’m sorry if I upset some readers. In my book, magic and lying are the same. That’s why magical effects are called illusions.  Dictionary.com tells us that illusion is “something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.” That sounds lying to me.

But why would a magician care when his performance of, say, a bill switch, deceives audiences by producing a false impression of reality? Apart from entertainment, isn’t producing a misleading reality the purpose of a magic performance?

Compare magic to other forms of art, say, fiction writing. When J. K. Rowling wrote seven fantasy novels about Harry Potter, not a single story of those series was true. Did Ms. Rowling become conscience-stricken like some magicians for telling us untruths? Well, she earned millions of dollars for weaving all those untrue stories. The last time I checked, dollars, when there are lots of them, are  a good balm for the soul.

PhotobucketThe latest Rambo flick shows him killing several dozen members of a ruthless Burmese infantry unit, a violent act that is a big lie on the silver screen. Those ruthless thugs are not even Burmese, and they do not die even though Rambo machine-guns them down for more than 10 minutes of screen time.

Is Sylvester Stallone a nervous wreck now for having lied to the world about killing scores of Burmese?

No, I don’t think so.  He may be even contemplating another Rambo sequel to show us how he will kill more bad guys next time. The movie will be titled Rambo XXV. It will still be about exploits that are not true.

Meanwhile, some magicians are gnashing their teeth because they are the epitome of honesty…Or are they bothered because they are not earning millions for not telling the truth?

Count me out from that type of magis. I want to earn my million, so I have suppressed my conscience. I have tamed it, instead of allowing it to exercise dominion over me.

Now, white lies, fibs, feints, pretenses, fictive storytelling, make-believing—all this and similar illusion-producing artifices or crafty devices are not exactly immoral in my book. I’m not a fine specimen of morality. As a Filipino magician performing in Metro Manila, I could be the worst example.

I have been lying to my audiences all my performing life. “Look, the coin goes into my left hand…” Actually it doesn’t. I classic palm it in my right.

“This is an ordinary candle…” I claim.  It is a Fantasio disappearing candle.

“This is an empty box!” I announce dramatically. It is not. A rabbit is hiding inside a secret compartment, waiting to appear.

IALIARSee, when performing magic, lying is as natural to me as breathing. It seems to me it’s likewise natural to bestselling authors when telling their stories.  It is natural to movie actors when pretending to hurt somebody on the screen. Why it is not natural to some magicians is something I have to ponder for a while to find an answer to.

No, the way I’m arguing this issue is not sophistry. On the contrary I’m using the crudest argument to put my point across, even though, as usual, I have no point.

Stay magical,