There is Nothing Magic About Magic

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I like magic shows. I like the big stage gigs, the close up stuff with cards, and street magic.  I love thinking I know what is coming, and then being misdirected and amazed.

I recently listened to a podcast on magic and it focused on one particular trick from Teller, of Penn & Teller fame. He is the one that doesn't talk on stage. I put a clip of the trick below. And listening to this podcast, I was reminded of what I know to be true about magic.

The interview with Teller talks about how he came up with the idea of the trick. How he struggled to find his own way of doing it, and how he had to convince Penn to put it in the act. It took almost two years of continual effort to find the skill and the right story for the trick. The trick was done with a ball and string, they tried acting like the ball was alive or that the ball was possessed, but none of it really passed muster.

Then, they came upon the idea that the real magic was what Teller could actually do with the ball and that piece of string. So, they went right at it and declared, as Penn does at the outset of the trick, that this trick is done with a piece of string. You can't see the string, but you KNOW its there — they told you it was. In the end, Penn walks up with scissors and cuts the actual string. And yet, it's still magical.

Anyone who has tried to palm a playing card without anyone seeing, knows that it isn't easy.  And when you talk to magicians, they will tell you that they have to work their ass off to make their tricks work for an audience looking for the answer.

So, it turns out that magic is nothing more than practice and hard work.

When you see a teacher doing 'magic' in a classroom or a community center 'magically' transforming kids in a neighborhood, please know that it is nothing more than hard, grinding work done by tough, resourceful people.

Let's help them. Magic doesn't happen by itself.