Blowing The Whistle – It Won’t Always Make You Popular

Many of us – perhaps most – have at one time or another been the ones to inform a group of friends or a younger sibling that the guy on the TV who seems to be making colored handkerchiefs appear out of the palm of his hand is actually doing no such thing. At the moment we do it, it makes us feel somewhat powerful. We’re in on the secret!

However, part of the enjoyment of magic or illusion is the very real spell it casts on the viewer – of being so impressed by an action that in all honesty we couldn’t care less is the rabbit was in a secret compartment all the time. It may not be “real magic”, but you won’t necessarily gain the appreciation of anyone for pointing that out.

Some illusionists do “break the code” by demonstrating how the tricks are carried out. To a greater or lesser extent this is a popular move. Much as we all love to be impressed by a spectacular trick, we won’t round on the person who reveals the illusion as long as they do it in an impressive way. Shouting out “it’s all fake” reveals you as a cynic with little to contribute. Demonstrating the trick while showing some wit and stagecraft keeps some sort of a show going.

In the end, this is what “magic” or illusion is all about. The show has to be at the center of things. Once you have watched The Usual Suspects, it is easy to tell everyone that Keyser Soze is a fictional character. But all you are doing is spoiling it for people who haven’t seen it.

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