I don’t know how it works – that why they call it magic!

In an era when the answer to almost any question is obtainable with the click of a mouse, it surprises me not one jot that 55% of Americans believe in Angels
There are also many who believe in creationism or ‘intelligent design’ (oh puh-lease! – get off the fence people!) and others who believe in the existence of unicorns (I’m gunning for the unicorns over creationism). They are people seeking wonder and joy and, in some cases, hope.

I’m not suggesting that knowledge is a bad thing here, I’m just saying that its great to not know how things work sometimes. A little mystery is a good thing.

Skilled craftsmen, actors, designers, builders and many other professions go to great pains to hide the efforts taken to achieve the fruits of their labor. If we knew how much time was expended, what painstaking measures were taken, we would somehow lose the sense of amazement and awe we feel when experiencing the results of their work.

Guggenheim - Bilbao

Who really wants to know how a magic trick is done? If you know how the trick works – there is no joy, there’s no amazement. And those are things we need as much today as we’ve ever needed them. Magic is the wonder stuff of kids and adults alike. I don’t want to know how the trick works – I don’t want to know the secrets of magicians and I certainly don’t want it thrust upon me. There’s not enough magic or mystery in the world today.

When I was a kid I used to come home from school and watch a children’s television program in Australia called Wombat it periodically featured a segment, hosted by local entertainer Eric Summons, that explained the secrets of magic. I was appalled. How could they allow such a thing? Furthermore, what genius had the temerity to agree to produce such a piece?

Years later magic/comedy duo Penn and Teller did exactly the same in a nationally televised series. They later did a series called Bullshit! that debunked widely held myths. Bullshit! is about all I have to say to Messrs. Penn and Teller – if they want to tackle subjects as diverse as creationism and circumcision that’s fine – but leave the magic alone! Exposing trade secrets not only robs the audience of their sense of wonder it also increases the likelihood of that one jackass in the crowd insisting on letting everyone know that he knows how the trick is done.

These are the fabulous words that make up the known lexicon of magic tricks – production, vanish, transformation, restoration, teleportation, escape, levitation, penetration, prediction. Aren’t they wonderful? There’s a magic in the words themselves.

I once had the pleasure of working at a theatre restaurant that had a some terrific magicians working there. Not one of those guys ever spilt the beans – despite being harassed by staff members wanting to know how tricks were done. Kudos to you guys!

There are a very good many things we need to learn about and understand, there are many things it is our duty to know about. There are also many things it is lovely not knowing about – I’m just saying.

On the weekend I was reprimanding my eldest son and reminded him that Santa was watching and asked him why he would undo all his fantastic work of late (behaving so fantastically) when it was so close to him coming. His eyes lit up and he asked “How does Santa know we are asleep?”
“I don’t know – but he does! I’ve tried to figure it out – but I still don’t know,” I answered.
He thought for a while. Then a huge smile crept over his face. “He’s amaaaaazing”
“Yes he is Bax… yes he is.”

About Simon

Simon Houghton creator of The Bloke Show started life as a baby, going on to become a boy and then a man, at which time he became an actor. As time passed he went on to be a director, later still he became a sales guy, then a business owner. Most recently he regressed and became a writer. Then a driver, then an actor again.
Decisiveness is not one of his strong suits.

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