This Is Magic!
Magic is the art of performing seemingly impossible feats such as pulling rabbits from hats, sawing women in half and re-attaching them or making monuments disappear.
The term magic “trick” is acknowledgement of the deception involved in creating these illusions. The history of magic is long and colourful, and mythology is rich with accounts of rivers parting and of the dead revived.
Magic has long been used, by those with the dexterity to hoodwink, to win wars, cheat at games and frighten the naive into submission.
Some simple tricks are child’s play – literally. Pick up one of those children’s hobby kits with clever props and abracadabra! you have a readymade little magician in a jiffy. Remember to discreetly look the other way when bloopers happen.
And who among us hasn’t at some time mastered a nifty little “I can read your mind” trick with cards? Card tricks usually involve a predetermined sequence of steps (the logic of which is not easily apparent to the observer) through which the audience is tricked into giving clues which ultimately lead to the identification of the secretly chosen card.
Some Famous Magicians
Perhaps the most commercially successful magician in history has been David Copperfield (a.k.a David Seth Kotkin), an Emmy Award-winning contemporary American illusionist. Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, originally a clockmaker and later a specialist in creating machines that moved and seemed “alive”, opened a theatre in Paris in the 1840s for magic shows, and may in a sense be considered the father of modern entertainment magic.
The more famous Harry Houdini borrowed his stage name from Houdin, and developed tricks involving a combination of skilled lock-picking, traditional modified props and collusion with certain members of the audience.
Interestingly, several illusionists have followed the tradition, started by Houdini, of using their skills to expose and discredit swindlers.