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My kind of magic, from the magic beard man, Eugene Burger. I'll drop a few quotes, as some of our members into magick may think that 'my kind of magic' has nothing to do with what they have got involved in (maybe they see 'stage magic' as little more than card tricks done by 'skeptics about the supernatural'), but I think the gap can prove smaller than some might imagine.
I think the central image of magic, the central metaphor, is transformation. And 'I thought it would be interesting to take an example of something that I think is magical thinking and to look at it specifically to see what is going on, because all of us indulge in magical thinking at one time or another. All you have to do is buy a lottery ticket and you are in the midst of magical thinking: All reason tells me that I am not going to win, and yet whenever I buy a lottery ticket it's the only time I enjoy giving money to the State!
I would like to talk about a person who clearly seemed to indulge in magical thinking and his name was Emil Coue. Coue was born in 1857 and died in 1926. He was an obscure pharmacist in France. Around the turn of the century his interests turned to hypnosis and autosuggestion. In 1922, he wrote a rather famous book called Self-Mastery Through Auto-Suggestion. He made trips to England and to the United States and claimed to have effected many rather remarkable cures for people.
If that's all true, then I think we can restate the game of performance magic this way: that the performance magician is telling you that you are the magician in your own life. You are the agent of transformation, your own transformation, and other peoples' transformation -- the people whom you come into contact with, the people you love. You are the agent of transformation; you are the magician and that is a fabulous, liberating, and even a little scary notion, because it puts all of the responsibility back on me. If I want my life to be different, I am the magician and I must make this happen. If I want a relationship to be improved, I am the magician and it's up to me, I can't wait for the other person.
So it comes as a great gift, and it is also a kind of shocking challenge because I think many people don't want to be the magician. They fight it. It's much easier to play the roll in life of the victim, "poor me." Magic says "no more poor me." It says, "you are the magician, and what are you going to do to make your life more magical?"
Margaret and I have a dear friend whose name is Max Maven who has a theory that little boys get into magic because of what we might call character disorders. I'm sure Max has a better phrase here! But this happens usually just before puberty. Here's this little boy who is powerless, whose parents might be hassling him, whose teachers are a pain in the neck, whose friends might be problematic as well and this kid is powerless and now he discovers magic. It's interesting how little boys go through a magic period very often. Not everybody, but certainly a lot more than you think. This little magic period, some of them get out of it. Others like Margaret and me get drawn into it. The idea is, here's this powerless kid, eleven or twelve years old. What gives him power? Well, having a secret.
We should talk about the phenomenology of the secret. What does the secret do to a person? Knowing a secret is power. So we have this little kid who is having all these problems in life, not terrible problems, but problems of estrangement, problems with parents, teachers and peers. This kid learns a couple of magic tricks, he can make a coin disappear, and that's power.
Dynamo ("the UK's David Blaine") might appear to fit this profile...