I follow a few magicians online. I learn magic as a hobby. I don’t think I am a good magician, but I love the storytelling that goes along with all magic performance. Storytelling is what I enjoy.
Here is an extract from one of the wizards I learn from online – I like the message here:
I recently heard a magician, reply to the applause from his audience by saying, “Thank you so much. It’s a very difficult trick.”
And it got me wondering, “What makes magic impressive?”
Traditionally, it’s the mystery of the secret method: The Unknown.
Though more recently, there seems to be a trend towards overt displays of manual dexterity: The Difficult.
But if literally ANYONE can learn the secret to a trick, and MANY people can learn to execute a difficult sleight or flourish with enough practice…
…what’s so impressive about either?
Maybe this is why so many comedians, TV shows and movies make fun of magic.
Because they know, almost anyone can walk into a magic shop and buy the secrets, or lock themselves alone in their bedroom and practice shuffling cards for hours.
But the art of magic isn’t about buying secrets, or easily gained dexterity – any more than the art of music is about buying a guitar and having nimble fingers. (Though at least guitarist don’t walk around saying they have super natural powers!)
The art of magic, is about what we DO with the basic tools of knowledge and dexterity.
And especially how our performances inspire people to think and FEEL.
At its best, a magic performance is also a creative expression of the magician’s unique perspective on the world.
If we share nothing about our personal selves through our performances, then in a sense – anyone could have done it. And there’s nothing inherently creative or original about mere dexterity and keeping secrets.
Knowledge in itself is nothing. Skill in itself is nothing.
As performers, I think we should keep in mind the Greek myth of Narcissus, and how he fell in love with his own reflection – with disastrous results.