To many, magic is something unusual that they may come into contact with it at a party or corporate event. To me magic is everywhere. I have hundreds of decks of cards floating around that I pick up and practice sleight of hand and effects with. I make coins disappear whilst walking to the shop. I follow a lot of amazing magicians on social media so I can see the newest effects on the market. But magic really comes into its own when in a social setting. I visited my girlfriend in France during her year abroad not long ago, and she was excited to show me off to her friends. I spent the night in a bar with a crowd around me showing them all the tricks I’ve learnt over the past ten years. I even had some French spectators get involved, and despite my limited knowledge of the language, they were gasping and laughing, amazed with every trick.
However, to me, magic has a far deeper meaning than just its entertainment value. Magic is art. Magic allows you to believe that the world is not as banal as it seems. It allows you, for at least a few moments, to consider that miracles can happen. And whilst it challenges your perceptions of what is possible and what is impossible, it is also beautiful, whether that be in the aesthetics or the sentiment. This is the magic I know, and the magic I strive to portray. I don’t want to present a routine of standard effects. I don’t want people to simply think ‘he has quick hands’. And I don’t want people to go away thinking that I relished in deceiving them. Magic is essentially that: One big deception. Can I read your mind? No of course I can’t. Can I make a card really change between red and black? Nope. Can I take a bite out of a ten pence piece? I think that would hurt actually. But, the presentation I give should convince you that what is happening is real.
But there’s a problem. With modern day technology, it is getting easier for people who aren’t interested in presenting magic in an artistic way to learn the secrets behind some of magic’s most incredible effects. These individuals then make their own videos on how to do the trick, creating more and more coverage, and the cycle continues. When you have tricks by great magicians such as Wayne Houchin (who has developed many of my favourite tricks) being revealed in easy to access videos, something that could have changed somebody’s perspective on the world suddenly becomes an inconsequential event. With a quick google search the entire sentiment behind the effect is lost, and the trite truth is revealed.
I’ll end on a beautiful anecdote recounted to me by one of my best friends. He told me about a time when he was approached by a street magician. This street magician did a few standard card tricks that my friend really loved, but had seen before. This all changed when the magician presented his final trick. The magician asked my friend to pick any card, so my friend complied. The magician then took the card, and showed him the back of it. The centre of the top half of the card was printed with the image of an angel riding a bicycle, which was symmetrical with the bottom half (this is a standard Bicycle deck back design). The magician then put his thumb over the angel on the top of the card and pulled it round to be next to the one at the bottom, leaving a blank space where the angel had originally been. When my friend told me this story, he took the card out of his wallet and displayed it like it was a holy relic to him. He’d kept it in there because that moment was so unbelievable to him that he wanted to be reminded of it every day. And that is how magic should be. Magic should be beautiful. Magic should change something in you. And in the immortal words of Derren Brown himself: great magic should sting.