Recently a magical student saw a post about my floating ball known as THE SPHERE. He stated that he loved the effect. However, he wondered WHY perform the effect at all? What was the rational reason for making a silver sphere float around? Like most magic, he said, there wasn’t a good reason WHY.
Today many performers are trying to understand the logical reason for magic.
The truth? There isn’t one.
What is the “why” of magic and mentalism anyway? Why do they even exist? Why is it when we ask about “whys” in magic and mentalism we rarely get wise? Why do we never ask “WHY?” about magic and mentalism themselves, not just about their tricks?
The answer: Asking why leads us to things that make our intellects and egos uncomfortable.
The floating SPHERE makes perfect sense on a symbolic level. That is the “why” of it. Magic is inherently meant to be working with symbols, like an awake dream, although too few performers realize this today.
If everything we needed was merely rational, there would be no need for magic at all.
Some Western cultures suffer from the delusion that everything must be explained and appreciated logically, intellectually, rationally. This leads to very big egos, and many mental, even physical, battles.
The psychologist Carl Jung suggested that often the ills of humanity could be traced to the loss of ability for the psyche, soul, deeper mind, or emotion, to come out and honestly play. He stated that many of the personality twists, deep unhappiness and restlessness that people experience have to do with a lack of connection to something greater than what the rational mind can comprehend.
Take a look at any performance art. Why do we have “performance” and “theatre” at all? Theatre was originally ritual. Performance was a way to help the masses connect to bigger ideas and unconscious emotions. Stories, plays, archetypes and symbols were used to suggest to the Public something beyond mere rationality and intellect. Morals, the importance of cultural ideas, worship, the representation of inner worlds, all came out in social performance.
We think today of performance as mere amusement. Many script writers and producers know better. They use the power of performance to suggest and pave the way for societal changes.
Magic tricks don’t do that of course, at least not very often. But maybe they should.
Still, most performance is not intended to be a rational, anti-emotional, merely intellectual, exercise. You can perform that way, but is magic or mentalism really the best way to amuse the intellect? Don’t people have other options that are much more popular and rationally useful? It sure seems that other forms are far more popular intellectually, if we merely need to amuse the intellect. The news itself is intellectual amusement, if that is what people need.
If you stop to consider however that the purpose of magic is intended to work on a symbolic level, then magic makes more sense. Magic finds its better purpose expressing the inner worlds of humanity. Magic and mentalism are greatest when they inspire super-human traits within us, or express the beauty and wonder of what is secretly held deep within our hearts.
We might want to make certain moves rational, so that they do not catch the intellectual scrutiny of an audience. That much is true. Beyond that, magic and mentalism is about much more than mere intellect and ego. They mean to hint, suggest, and taunt what is within us, so that these aspects of out inner life can to rise to the surface. Rather than hiding and burying out imaginative greatness and secret good, magic and mentalism uses presentations that urge us to reconsider the merely intellectual life. At least, that is what they should do. This is why performance magic and mentalism exist, and why they hold a place in our human imagination.
Magic and mentalism dares challenge our belief in our senses as the best and most accurate measurement of life. Magic and mentalism dares us to consider the dreamlike possibilities within us as fact. Such symbolic prodding isn’t meant to give us baby food, nor does it desire to pat our egos on the head. Magic is meant to challenge us to consider the things the intellect is certain is impossible.
So, a silver sphere that floats around a performer’s atmosphere, adhering to his or her commands, is not a rational thing. There is not a logical “why” to answer about it. The real answer is that it feeds a deeper part of us that is beyond rational thought. It feeds an inner life that desperately needs nurturing in these times, and perhaps in all times. It feeds our “soul” even if you don’t believe we have one.
Magic is the art of personal transformation through the use of symbol. Sure, maybe your ego and intellect don’t like that idea. They’d rather be running the show, after all. But the truth is emotions and levels below your conscious mind tend to run the show, and your intellect finds reasons to justify those inner urges. That is where magic and mentalism is built to work best–deep within.
To quote just one creative author:
“Symbolism exists precisely for the purpose of conveying to the imagination what the intellect is not ready for.” – C.S. Lewis
Magic is inherently meant to be working on symbolic levels, though too few performers realize that today.
If everything needed was merely rational there would be no need for magic at all.
That is the “why”.
Maybe you consciously wish we’d never ask.
P.S. I have done a lot of teaching over the decades concerning suggestion and symbol. You will find many of these teachings at my website HERE.
If you feel very much like this is the sort of work with magic and mentalism that you need to explore, I highly suggest you look into my Inner Sanctum HERE.