My (Kinda Technical) Journey In Magic

I might make another post describing my “Spiritual” journey, considering the contents are slightly different from what I’m attempting to write here. If I don’t, I hope someone holds me up to it.

Some time ago, when I went to a Children’s Day event, organized by folks I knew far too well, I’ve been wondering the kinds of things that could help the children have a great time beyond mere games offered at the stalls, or food they could buy. Somehow, I kept thinking “Magic” at all times. It gave me motivation to learn some Performance Arts beyond merely my literary-visual-only interests, such as painting, poetry and animation. That said, Performance Arts can significantly enhance one’s mental health, as well allow you to perform in the presence of others as opposed to the isolation that non-performance arts provide.

But why did I choose Magic over things like Dancing, or Music, or anything else? That’s because these performance arts are already widely available and accepted compared to magic; guitars are EVERYWHERE, but magicians are not. And even where there are magicians, many rely on gimmicks and readily available “products” where no skill may required, and therein sleight of hand artists are hard to find.

Which is why I chose the art. It was not only fascinating for me, but also something that not many practice in proximity. It made me feel special in a way. And it ALSO helped me deal with my apparent clumsiness by helping me be mindful and developing my dexterity.

Up until a week back, when people realized that I do simple magic they used to ask me, “Are you a magician?” To which, the only response I used to have is, “No”. Because merely doing a few sleight of hand tricks does not make you a magician, just as applying lipstick does not make you a make-up artist (although I’ll disagree with myself here if we’re talking about “principles and potentials” and not “labels by action”; here, I believe everyone is BORN an artist / scientist).

But that might have changed recently: I might have finally achieved the state of a Magician (even if an amateur one at that), considering that NOW I’ve moved beyond mere tricks to a full-fledged routine that I can now gladly show around. I feel happy that my efforts since the past year has paid off, and NOW I can finally consider myself as a “Magician”.

But would I be a GOOD Magician? Hardly yet. That’s because, despite my constant practice, I still make terrible blunders, and it’s difficult to bounce back from it, because I also can’t “construct” and modify routines on the fly with what I have, so my magic isn’t as impromptu as I hoped it to be. At the same time, currently, I haven’t yet moved beyond coins, even beyond one coin, and the only routine I’ve managed to construct so far is a One Coin Routine (like the one you can find here, except I’m not THAT smooth): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1gStmLKheE

But ONE good routine, if done well, is good enough to establish oneself as an Artist, as it may demonstrate both your potential and dedication to your craft. And if I can build a one-routine, I can also step up to more difficult sleights like Spellbound and even Coins Across (which scare the hell out of me), and perhaps even move on to Cards, Canes, Candles or CDs. Much of magic was built in the aura in mystery since the ages, but considering we’re steadily moving ahead in the information age, that aura of mystery stands at an incredibly fragile circumstance. Many magicians, therefore, have instead adapted their magic around comedy for the sake of entertainment, but there are already better professionals than me around to do that. So instead, I’m looking forward to adapt and develop my magic to something of a graceful / stylistic entertainment art, along the lines of Cyril Takayama, Ponta The Smith and King Coffee.

And perhaps, even meld it together with poetry! I don’t think anyone’s done that, have they?

What’s fascinating about sleight of hand is that it captivates the imagination and interests of almost every child one can come across (and if you actually live around, prepare to be constantly bothered by them trying to get you to perform for them every single day), and that very same kind of interest plagues you, enough to make the mere practice of it cathartic. Enough to make the craft an addiction altogether, but an addiction that has all the benefits (and more) of smoking or drinking, but none of their drawbacks. Once you begin, and manage to learn a few sleights, it’s really hard NOT practice it around whenever you have a coin with you. As Vinh Giang would assure you, magic also seems to cease being a pressure of challenges the moment you realize it may also be the ultimate form of relaxation. And as such, it also serves as an excellent stress-reliever.

Despite the dedication, I don’t think I’ll ever turn this little hobby of mine into a profession. It’s more of a lifestyle for me, because I chose to give children especially a good time and spread happiness. I’m still not the best at doing that, but I’ve certainly come far on my own.

Practicing your Art on your own is one thing, and no matter how good you are, at some point in your life you will certainly need a mentor to guide you through. It makes happy that I’m able to pursue my interests that were once supported by millions of others who had the same connection, who essentially invented what I’m trying to learn now: Robert Houdin, Nelson Downs, Slydini, Eric Jones, etc. But there’s also always a need for someone who can guide you personally, rather than merely through books.

That said, it’s Guru Purnima today, isn’t it? A celebration of teachers. There ought to be no better a day than today to go out and finally seek someone who can help me go beyond what I am today.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants. And maybe some day, we’ll even learn how to fly. If nothing else besides Science, it’s Magic that encourages us to dream of things that are virtually impossible, and STILL have the courage to try turn that into a reality. It may be deception, it may be a lie, but it’s certainly an inspiring one.

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