By Andrew Vu
If you’re in any of my classes, you’ve probably seen me dropping cards all over the place, flicking them between hands, or just literally holding them. It’s partly because I’m practicing for magic effects, and partly because I tend to fidget a lot.
You also might have seen me do a magic trick, and may or may not have seen how I did something “impossible.”
The goal of magic is not to fool people with wily and deceptive moves. Lots of people attribute the effects to misdirection, and while this could be true, to a certain point, artists sometimes conceal the tricky parts of their work. You’ve probably never heard a symphony rehearse, and that’s for a reason. When they start, they don’t sound as good as they normally do. And as a violinist and orchestra member, you would not believe how much BS’ing student musicians are capable of pulling off when they had a test or essay due and didn’t have time to practice.
Of course, if you feel like the magician is just telling you to look somewhere so they can do some sleights, the magician is doing it incorrectly.
When magicians discuss magic, they distinguish between the effect and the method. The effect is what you, the spectator, see. A card changes into another card while you’re holding it. A card changes color from blue to red. A card magically rises to the top of the deck several times in a row. The method is how the magician actually does it.
There are also magic effects where spectators could be laser focused on the cards the entire time, and still see nothing. Indeed, there are magic effects where the magician never touches the cards at all. (There are magic effects that don’t involve magic at all. For example, how my bio lecture constantly disappears unless I staple it to my forehead)
Magic tends to evoke from some people irritation and a hell-bent determination to figure out how the magic trick was “actually” done. In my extremely humble opinion of an admittedly selfish magician, I would like to ask people to not overanalyze it.
Of course it’s natural to wonder (for example) how the ****ing hell a magician can pluck a visualized card straight out of your brain. Surely, the laws of physics prohibit it, and, at the very least, it would make a loud sound.
I have to admit, the smarmy “I can’t tell you” irritates me, even when I know exactly how the method is done. I did it when I first started, and occasionally still do it when I’m feeling really grouchy, but it just makes everyone mad.
However, one of the key features of magic is the impossibility of what was done, and if magicians told you how it was done, you could never experience the same amazement.
On a final note, I do teach a magic trick to anyone who asks me. It is very simple and I promise you that anyone can do it with very little practice.