There are so, so many different kinds of magic. Card magic, coin magic, magic with weird gimmicks and devices that look like no normal object, stage illusions, mind reading, and on and on. More magic than any one normal person could possibly perform (or at least, perform well). People always talk about finding your own style, and finding the material that fits you. Clearly that’s good advice, but I always found it hard to follow. Instead, I always ended up asking myself “what magic compels me?” Not just magic I like, but effects that stick in my head and nudge some little part of my psyche. Effects not just that I wish I could see performed well, but effects that, if I saw them performed well, would change me somehow, and would speak to something deeper. And beyond the effects themselves, thinking about the kinds of dramatic settings these effects would inhabit, or the feelings of the places this magic would be performed. Now go perform that magic. Obviously that’s a tall order, but you have to start at the top, with the ideal, because along the way life will inject more than enough reality to temper your dreams.
So that’s what I strive for.
A lot of people, when going down that road, get tied up in the idea of just performing the most impossible magic they can think of. This is certainly not a bad thing. I will never be against more utterly impossible magic. But for me, I found that impossibility was not my highest goal. Instead, I wanted magic that was meaningful. Meaningful? What does that even mean? It means there must be no veneer of trickery or ‘fooling,’ but instead an authentic willingness to have an experience. It’s not that the participants need to think the magic is real, but experiencing it must really change how they experience or understand something, or even better someone, else in their life. The magic doesn’t have to be real, it has to touch the real. So that when they go on with their lives afterwards and experience that bit of real again it carries with it a faint hint of magic, a little reminder of the impossibility of the word we live in. So maybe I do care about performing impossible magic after all…