Friday, 18 September 2009

It Has to Mean Something...

So, yeah - a British magician called Derren Brown just predicted the results of the National Lottery (or "Lotto," as they have totally failed to convince us to call it). I was fooled, and enjoyed the experience. Naturally enough, there are some perfectly plausible explanations flying around already, but that interests me a lot less than the fact that otherwise normal people are actually talking about magic now. It has suddenly become meaningful to them, if only briefly.

I'm reminded of the following YouTube clip, which was making the rounds a little while back.



Leaving aside the performing animal debate for a moment, it's pretty clear that if you want your magic to be meaningful to a chimpanzee, perform it using watermelons. As the watery-eyed guy in the first Mission Impossible movie puts it, you find something that's personally important to them and you squeeze.

To be honest (and with apologies to Lewis Carroll for the clumsy paraphrasing), who seriously gives a shit about a pack of cards? I only know one professional card player personally, and even she's never expressed any real interest in card magic. If you want to perform grab-you-by-the-throat magic for British people, you might consider using money. I'd guess that over 80% of the magic I practise and perform regularly involves coins - often very old, very beautiful ones with a lot of character to them. Many of my favourite routines centre around the origins and "life stories" of these precise little slivers of history - whose hands they have passed through and what they've been exchanged for. There's a gravity and authority to them that I'd personally find difficult to capture with a £2 deck of playing cards. That's just a statement of personal bias, of course, but I'm coming around to comics in a second so bear with me.

This all plays into my... well, I won't go so far as to call it a theory, but my general feeling that magic and storytelling are intrinsically related. If a magic trick can make such an unapologetic breakthrough into the mainstream, what would it take to do the same for comics? Is stealing the glamour and perceived "legitimacy" of the movie industry through a stream of (occasionally wonderful) Hollywood adaptations really the best way to make comics meaningful or to draw people to the medium? Is that even the goal?

Dunno, mate. I just work here. Besides, this horse is a little too high for me so I'd better climb down before I break my damn fool neck...

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