demystifying magic

Belief is an odd thing. Folk will see a close-up magician at the mall and come with 101 variations as to how he must have done this trick (all guesses probably wrong) and yet they’ll see David Copperfield fly on stage and tell everyone about it and wonder in amazement, “how, oh how, did he do it?”. I’ll give you a clue: he was on stage, his stage. Folk will say, “yeah, the magic with the coins… that isn’t really magic” and in the same breath talk about that tarot card reader and how amazing he was, or how their psychic told them they used to have a cat named Mary. The guy beside the Charminar telling people when they were born and when they’ll die is supernaturally endowed while the scrawny kid telling people the card in their mind is “just doing tricks”.

Sometimes we have difficulties separating what is true from what we want to be true. Most of those mentioned above use similar techniques. Some of them use exactly the same techniques. Yet the belief ranges widely and oddly.

To demonstrate, here is one of my absolutely favourite magicians performing an effect. This exact effect was performed by David Blaine on one of his specials. It’s interesting to note the leverage and the pull each magician gets out of his performance. Here’s David Williamson:

He’s doing more than just performing magic there. There’s a lot of interaction going on – a lot of it impromptu, some of it disgusting… hahaha. He does a lot: the fake moustache/beards, the high fives, the insulting his audience, etc, etc. But don’t let his crazy demeanour fool you, this guy has created some amazing magic. Basically, he’s super awesome.

Here’s David Blaine doing the same effect on one of his specials. Note Blaine’s audience here and also how he plays his personality into the effect.

David Blaine’s show reruns on TV every so often and he rakes up millions of viewers and millions of dollars. Same effect. David Williamson’s TV appearance was probably a decade before Blaine’s. Some folk will swear by Blaine’s magic. “Yo, did you see him float in the air!!!”, hahahahaha. Seriously people, it’s television. Superman ain’t really flying either.

This is not to down play Blaine’s technique. He’s got chops, for sure. But Williamson is in a whole different league. Williamson is of the magicians that create the magic magicians like Blaine and Copperfield perform. Williamson also has a fantastic sense of humour.

Here’s Williamson making a fun video clip during a magic conference:

Haha, so much fun.

I think I’ll want to do some actual analysis of some magic videos in the future. David Stone, Gregory Wilson and David Williamson as some of the magicians to analyze.

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