Friday, August 19, 2022

Hocus Pocus – The Mystery of Magic

If you want to impress people with magic, or illusion, you need to make sure that you draw their attention in a way which makes the trick all the more individual. Being an illusionist of average talent is not all that difficult – enough practice and we could all perform certain tricks. It is how you hide and mask the tricks that really makes the show.

The author Sir Terry Pratchett has created a certain number of characters who are witches, and who have special supernatural powers which they use only in extreme circumstances. Much of their “magic” comes from knowing when common sense will give them a better answer, and then performing the task required while using some mysterious wording to give the occasion more of a spin.

The thinking behind this, for both the author and the characters, is that people will be impressed by the things they do not recognise. A simple flick of the wrist might be enough to solve the problem, but the mystical words convince people that what has taken place is magical. The most obvious example of this is the “magic word”. A common or garden illusion might be fairly impressive, but making people think that the words were what caused it to work is showmanship.

In some ways, illusionist acts are about a magician knowing one thing that the audience do not, and exploiting that fact to make it look like they have special powers. Selling the trick is the most important thing.

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