Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Let's Talk: Magic Tricks

I love magic.

I don't mean the mystical stuff you see in movies where the way it works is "if you need the plot to do something, this makes it happen because of reasons."  I don't mean the card game that's been around since the mid-90s.  I don't mean mysticism, chanting around bonfires, saying "Bloody Mary" in front of windows in the dark, or voodoo or any of that stuff.

I mean stage magic.  Tell me David Copperfield is coming to down, and I'm bubbling over with excitement.  Show me the cheap magic tricks section in a toy store, and I'm browsing through them and balancing my available funds in my head.  Anywhere the phrase "hey, want to see a magic trick?" is said, I want to be there.

....okay, except in one instance.

Why do I love magic so much?

Well, if we want to get deep into my psyche, you could say that magic tricks are a way to momentarily suspend disbelief and accept that there might, somehow, some way, be things outside our understanding that people can control.  Maybe that card really did magically appear on top of the deck.  Maybe you can actually levitate using a cane to hold yourself in place.  Maybe someone really can walk through the Great Wall of China or make the Statue of Liberty disappear.

I mean other than her.  Someone who's willing to put it back afterward.

Now, my brain knows that it's not real.  I know it's not real.  But there's that thrill that you get when someone comes out in front of you, shows you something, blows your expectations away, and leaves you wondering how he did it.  How did he manage to change places with the model so quickly behind that curtain, not to mention change outfits?  How did he shatter that pitcher without being anywhere near it?  How did he hover in mid-air?

It's that spark of "how" that excites me, because my brain is immediately trying to work it out.  Was there a moment of misdirection I missed?  Was there a plant in the audience?  Is the magician actually a twin?  What kind of contraption needs to be built to allow them to do that?

And there is still that slight suspension of disbelief.  That small part that, for one moment, believes that maybe, somehow, someone found a way to harness their psychic powers, control a ghost, or figure out how to survive being shot at point blank range.  Maybe, just maybe there's more out there that we don't understand but could.

But, of course, there is more out there that we don't understand.  Neil Degrasse Tyson and Morgan Freeman do television shows about things that humans are barely starting to understand and control.

I own a bunch of magic tricks.  There's even a few I can perform pretty well (though I've had little to no practice in front of an audience).  I'm pretty sure magic will always be part of my life, something I'll stop on if I'm switching through channels and see a special on, or spot a marquee at a theater advertising someone.  I love that feeling of trying to figure out the secret behind something another person has spent years perfecting, and when I do manage it, there's an intense sense of satisfaction that comes from it.  There's also a slight bit of disappointment (aw, another debunked psychic), but that's okay.  There's always another magician coming down the path with a new trick or new idea and gimmick.

And I'll be waiting.

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