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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Unimpressed by magic

I’ve seen magic shows (live, on TV, on web) and I’ve read about them. Because they are magic shows, they are, well, magical and unbelievable. Some stuff just seems impossible, but being magical, is shown to be possible. I’ve read about people being handcuffed and locked in multiple iron boxes and thrown in sea and come out free as a bird few hours later. This is quite unbelievable and more magical than tricks on stage because you don’t have access to equipment and stage itself. I’ve seen people in audience dropping their jaw and going ‘wow’ over magic. I’ve found myself interestingly amused but not blown over. Why?

For first, I am convinced that there is some trick to magic so it’s not real magic but merely an illusion. It’s not a momentous insight but this knowledge doesn’t let me really get into magic because part of being blown over is to believe it as real. Second, being aware that trickery is being performed, and being aware that I don’t know what is it, implies ignorance on my part which is not something I am impressed by. Magic, thus, is thrown in category of things-unexplained-yet-but-there-is-explanation-somewhere-that-i-don’t-know-yet along with God, black holes and what women want. These are the things I am fascinated by but not awestruck by.

What gets me going is though the explanation behind magical tricks. That, of course, is not easy to come by. I’ve read workings of trivial magical tricks in books and on web and seen some of those in movie The Prestige (which is a must watch movie, by the way). A double layered milk bottle which when turned upside down drains its little quantity of milk into oversized bottle stopper thus creating a illusion of whole bottle worth of milk disappearing is simple yet impressive trick for me.

Genius which creates illusion which blows over masses and confuses prowess of brain is worthy of my true admiration, and not it’s creation.

Edit 20/03/2010: Explanation of one of truely amazing tricks:


no signal said...

Magic is all about audience being fooled. ... "Here is a coin. Now its gone. You are a jerk." Magic has become soporific and kind of dead. As a young kid I found it appealing.

Ashish Gupta said...

Amit Virmani via Facebook:-
I think you're missing an essential point here - magic tricks are to amuse and entertain kids (that's the primary purpose), and not for adults like you and me. Almost all magic tricks involve misdirection and/or speed/sleight of hand.

Vaibhav Goyal via Facebook:-
to my mind, magic business is all about creating perceptions that u n me get hooked to. the art is in creating that perception and not revealing the truth...

Ashish Gupta via Facebook:-
I am talking of professional magicians whose shows are almost always attended by adults. Yeah, they are sleight of hand or illusive perception which is exactly the reason I am amused but not awestruck.

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