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The Perception of Magic

Paul and Jason continue their trip across the country interviewing magicians about art, performance, friendships, rivalries, and other topics. This week however, we center the focus around a discussion on the public’s perception of magic. While we felt confident that we knew what most of our guests would say, we were consistently amazed at the quality of the thinking and the terrific ways in which some of them managed to express themselves. Yeah – we’re all basically on the same page. But if you think you won’t learn something from listening to these guys talk about it, you’re crazy.

As with our first video on the subject of magic and art, we hear from Danny DaOrtiz, Brad Henderson, Richard Kaufman, Chad Long, Eric Mead, Lance Pierce, Gary Plants, Johnny Thompson, Michael Weber and Asi Wind. Any of these men could carry an entire interview by themselves, but hearing the “group” (such as it were) discuss the topic brings an extra dimension that can’t be achieved with any single interview.

For us the highlights of the video are comments made by Weber regarding a soda can, by Eric Mead regarding “buying an act”, and by Brad Henderson regarding the pitfalls of the “brotherhood” mentality.

Past Episodes: Room for Wonder | Is Magic Art?

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2 Responses to The Perception of Magic

  1. These guys are all excellent magicians that’s for sure, but unfortunately they all seem to have attended the same school. Maybe that was intentional…I don’t know.

    They keep calling magic an art but it is not an art. Its a proto-form. Perhaps even the primal form. It’s the form that can become art or science or maybe even religion. All arts have limiting conventions which allow the viewer to fell safe. This why art can hit you on an emotional level. Magic has no limiting conventions. Magic kicks you in the gut! And if it seems stir emotions it is only because the magician is using other actual arts, like music, story telling, and theater. Because all art is “safe.” and magic is not. Magic is much more raw and the reaction it produces is a pre-language reaction. In other words it turns the viewer into his pre- language self. The reason for this is that language is the first construct we learn as children. By construct I mean a mental model which is used to describe or convey the ideas, of something. Language and words are only a models but they set up our brains to think in constructs. But the important thing is that constructs are not reality! Yet they do give us a sense that we understand a therefore a sense of well being. But its like a cat in a cage, it may feel safe from what’s outside but that safety is only in the mind. Constructs allow us to feel safe and allow us to believe that we understand something. But the fact is we are viewing only the surface and more it resembles something familiar the more safe the viewer feels and more it slips passed his curiosity.

    In a magic show, as in real life we are making all of our conclusions about what we observe based on a prejudicial believe anchored not on real examination, nor experimentation but on recalled passed experiences that only seem to be similar to what we believe we are now experiencing. Magic as a form is the Construct destroyer! It’s greatness and uniqueness is that it invites human beings to rethink all that we thought we knew. In this it has the power to conquer prejudice and short sightedness.

    So hopefully after “the show” we will continue to re-examine, our world our selves, our preconceptions about our external environment and even the internal one that makes us who we are…..which is probably much more fluid then we think.

    The point here being, that it does not matter what the general public thinks about magic. Sadly the most they ever perceive is the simplest, safest version of reality where anyone who tries to challenge them to see more, is just “tricking” them.

    But… this is our chosen form and it is important and metaphoric to the human experience. So I thank my lucky stars that I am allowed to be part of it.

    Daniel Sylvester

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