Part 4: Astonishment, magic, and those who captured imaginations….

Part 4: Astonishment, magic, and those who captured imaginations….

A more modern taste of ‘real magic’ came courtesy of karate expert and sleight of hand artist James Hydrick. In 1981 Hydrick was invited to appear on American National Television to demonstrate his skill of using ‘telekinesis’  to spin a pencil using the power of his mind.  Hydrick performed a similar trick using his supposed magical and superhuman abilities to turn the pages of a phone directory without touching it. This garnered a huge and almost cult-like following. Again people could not these feats of impossibility could only be attributed to ‘magic’.

The following year – debunker of psychics – James Randi – invite Hydick to appear on That’s my Line television show and for Hydrick to replicate the trick under test conditions. (The phone book surrounded by pieces of Styrofoam) to check if Hydrick was simply blowing. Sadly, after an hour and half and several excuses Hydrick had to resign and this signalled the end of his following, TV career and cult-like following. Again – what originally appeared like magic that captivated the nation, was nothing more than a trick.

To an extent these two examples show that people want to believe in magic. I mean real want to. They want to be astonished. Without being heavily duplicitous claiming powers we don’t, I feel we can at least reach out with our magic and allow those to believe and be astonished who journey with us on that path to magic. To astonishment

As profound as this may sound, this is to some extent the beauty of magic. There is nothing else which can compare or take us back to this state of astonishment in our conscious state. Regression therapy or hypnosis may take us there, but we are in a different state of consciousness and are therefore unable to fully appreciate that moment of stillness in our mind. We may be able to thumb through a box of old photos and reminisce on the memories of our childhood but there is nothing that really transports us metaphorically to that infantile state of astonishment.

I believe there are 2 schools of thought with regards to what is the art of astonishment in magic. The first is less my viewpoint than the latter but has it’s own positives.

Effect Vs Trick

Audience sees and effect.

Audience sees a trick – it will always be a trick. Trick has so many connatations to deceptions, deceit  and an attempt to outwit someone.

I believe a ‘trick’ will always leave a sour aftertaste in the spectator’s mouth of having bee ‘tricked’, duped, or fooled. If this is the case then sadly the magic has been performed incredibly badly, and is so far removed for the ideal state of astonishment which magic should attempt to achieve.

For some, the art of magic is not merely to be puzzling, but impossible. This level of impossibility for some in turn leads to that feeling of astonishment. But for me, that is still too complicated. Theere is still too much chicanery and trickery involved in the ‘impossible’. For something to be labelled as impossible still requires a cerebral interaction – a conscious state to question – query, know that it is a trick, look for the possible solution – not matter how believable able or believable and buy into the self-made answer (which is inevitably wrong) but helps us to make meaning of the world around us.

Part 5 will look at astonishment and the psychology behind why we are astonished or not…… keep your eyes peeled 😉 and feel free to share with your friends…

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