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What is astonishment in magic for adults: Part 2

Art of astonishment part 2

Art of astonishment part 2

If you asked “Do you believe in magic? Do you believe in mind reading?”

(to an adult:)

If the answer is yes, then that is fantastic that you have been able to retain that glorious level of imagination that has sadly dissipated from the mind of others. If the answer is no, then I’d be willing to bet that if I asked the same question to your seven year old self – the answer would be very different! This, is because, over time we lose our infantile state of astonishment and childlike sense of wonder and most importantly imagination. Our minds are sullied when we are told there is no tooth fairy, father Christmas, Leprechauns, and magic and mind reading.

Magic becomes fiction. If the climax of the effect ends with a question of ‘how did you do that’ part of them has failed to understand but the other part of them scrabbles to make sense of the world again. Nobody watches Toy Story and says – it was a great movie but I don’t think Woody and Buzz were actually real – I think they may have used special FX. Nobody was angry with Steven Spielberg for not using real animals! The premise of fiction is that it is possible to communicate the truth through fiction. If a magician is trying to fool the audience or trick the audience, then they are delivering and executing their performance exactly wrong.

For me, I can honestly say I struggle to watch a lot of magic. Why – because there is a lot of bad magic out there. Not in so much of the effects themselves (which are mere finger flicking pieces of skills – which have a time and place) but in so much of the execution by a fumbling fool of a magician who is performing in favour of his own self-importance and wanting his ego-massaged at the sacrifice of delivering pure astonishment.

That said, when magic is delivered with the aplomb, finesse and beauty which it can be – and take you to a level of astonishment – there is nothing finer – even for a magician whose recognised sleights of hand, slight of tongue in the form of linguistic based mentalism effects. Cynicism is sadly a seductive state of mind which others are easily infected by.

For a magician, whose career or hobby is shrouded in elements of duplicity, misdirection, stories and essentially fiction as well as countless other factors all tightly woven to produce a small few second window of astonishment – astonishment (at least for me) becomes harder to find. But when it does, (for me) it lingers longer, sweeter and more glorious as once my mind has bathed in the sea of astonishment, scrambles to find the box of magical techniques, ruses and skills inside my mind. It really is a thing of wonder and astonishment to me, and nothing finer……

As I mentioned before, as a child, the world is amazing. We rush to our mum’s open arms with a huge sycamore leaf. But then we see another, and another and another and as autumn draws to a close, we are no longer seduced by the amazing big leaf or leaves. When we taste something new – our taste buds our fired into life discerning the subtle flavours, textures and tastes but as we get older and new experiences become less and less we find it harder and harder to become impressed, amazed and astonished.