Magic* is a lie that makes us realize the truth. Pablo Picasso
This quote defines art/magic as a metaphor that points to something deeper. However, I think it can be easily misinterpreted, Art is not meant to be a tool to indoctrinate “our truth”. I believe when we try to explicit “our deeper message” through what we do, the result is most often poor and lacking in depth. The thing with “deeper messages” is that they are so deep, they’re out of our reach. They don’t belong to us so we can put them or remove them at will, they’re there either we like it or not. The thing is, the more we are conscious of them the more they will resonate (and the opposite).
What would be a deeper message in magic? One that we cannot put or remove at will, that is always present and most often we are unaware of it. I think it may be related to what this quote says:
Because our entire universe is made up of consciousness, we never really experience the universe directly. We just experience our consciousness of the universe, our perception of it, so right, our only universe is perception. Alan Moore
I think what this quote expresses is that basically we, humans, don’t know shit; we don’t know shit and there is nothing we can do about it. Not only that, but the vast majority think that the opposite is true.
What most of us assume as reality is only our own perception of it, so our experience of reality is intrinsically incomplete and biased. Only because we are constantly experiencing things like gravity, light, dreams, time, memory, consciousness… we are not amazed with them anymore. Sure, we developed our theories and models (and we keep doing it) that serve us to predict their behaviour within certain limits… but we cannot explain their very existence (footnote). They’re all magical in a way.
Then Magic comes along. With Magic we give the spectators (and ourselves with them) the opportunity to have a fresh experience of the unexplainable, to feel the thrill of the impossible and to be left with nothing to hold on but the enjoyment of our cluelessness. Which is exactly what we stopped doing with all the things that surrounds us, because we just got used to them. That is beautiful!
That’s why I don’t particularly like the idea of exposing the methods to generate interest towards our performance. Most likely it will caught audience’s attention, because people are curious about our secrets, but I think it is sad in a way. To me it misses this point and most of the time only reveals our inability to create this interest from something else.
Make no mistake, we magicians know very little more than our spectators do. In fact we know far less than them in most of the areas of knowledge. As a whole, the audience will surely know more than we do. And just with those «little» things that we know but they don’t, an immense and beautiful universe unfolds (Gabi Pareras dixit). To me the only way to explain it, is that we are ALL far less knowledgeable than we think we are. The beauty of magic, in a way, is that it reminds us of this all the time (to both the spectator and the performer). Magic also let us enjoy the fact we don’t have a clue and there is nothing we can’t do about it.
I think maybe that’s why shows that are based solely on the idea of the magician being more that the audience, the smart guy, do not seem very attractive to me. Sometimes the magician is even used (or sick and tired) of his own magic and only performs it to show off in front of the audience. In those shows, regardless of the power of the illusions, I am unable to feel anything or relate at all.
It is simply not true that a magician is more than the audience in any way, at the most, we are all equally clueless overall. I think selling that our “powers” are for real, is not only morally questionable (and most of the time hilarious), but it misses completely the point as well. To me the beauty of magic has nothing to do with we magicians having wonderful powers that the rest of the mortals don’t have.
And now for the best part!! Some of the most successful magicians of all times fall into one or more of theses categories:
- Stating that their magic powers are for real.
- Exposing methods as an interest generator.
- Putting the magician above the rest of the audience (by ANY means necessary)
Who would you listen to? A bunch of successful magicians surrounded by fame and tons of money? Or a blog made on a WordPress template? (a good looking template but a template after all)
Think about it, maybe you should start thinking about changing your readings preferences… well, while it lasts, thanks for reading!
Footnote: I am not saying the quest for knowledge is a futile quest, not at all; It is a beautiful and noble goal. The thing is, I believe, we approach it most of the time with arrogance and little humility and because of that we miss a lot of things along the way.
Recommended viewing: The Mindscape of Alan Moore
Special thanks to Nicolas Miguez Javet