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What is astonishment? What is magic? Part 1

The art of astonishment part 1

The art of astonishment part 1

“If you take any activity, any art, any discipline, any skill, take it and push it as far as it has ever been pushed before, push it into the wildest edge of edges, then you force it into the realm of real magic”

-Tom Robbins

What is magic?

To define what astonishment is in the context of magic, we must first define magic.

Magic is something that takes us back to that infantile state of astonishment where the world is unfurling before our very eyes. This state of astonishment is the very core of magic. Magic is an art. The art of astonishment. Without astonishment, you are merely an entertainer.

If you are merely an entertainer, those you are entertaining for are unlikely to be investing in what you are doing. To achieve astonishment, you must believe in what you are doing. If you believe, it is far easier for the participant to suspend their disbelief and buy into the magic.

Assuming you believe in your craft, it is then possible to use this magic as a vehicle to create the illusion of impossibility. The only way to render something impossible is of course to eliminate all of the possibilities before that final crescendo of impossibility is reached. If you navigate the elements of your effect removing all elements of possibility before you reach the prestige, then you are by its very definition, left with nothing but an unadulterated level of impossibility  – the by-product of which is the participants’ astonishment.

The more pure the routine we demonstrate, the less eliminations of possibility we need to demonstrate.

You must have a self-belief.  A self-belief in yourself and most importantly in the magic. (Note I refer to the magic as ‘the’ and not ‘yours’. This is a different entity. It is one which is shared. One which hides. One which can be created and lost in the blink of an eye. One which can only be seen once by one pair of eyes. Belief shapes what is believed. This belief will allow you to take them by the hand and guide them down the path to astonishment and from them, to reach out to your hand and allow you to show them the way.

If we convey our belief in magic, ourselves and what we are doing, then we can take the participant on an unbridled journey to that place of astonishment.  There are of course, different levels of astonishment and different feels they summon up. But to truly engage in that moment, one must let go of their skepticsm, belief structure and buy into your frame, albeit briefly.

How often does a magician or the others in the group hear the phrase; “Can you make my wife disappear?” and have to don a false smile so as not to appear rude and convey the thoughts of “If I had a pound for every time I heard that…..” Potentially, this person has a greater distance to travel to believe in what you do if they want to, or you want them to feel that heightened state of astonishment. Keep your eyes posted for part 2 in my astonishment series…