The End Of Magic?

Once again, Seth Godin has put into words something that rattled around my brain but wouldn’t join into full sentences.  His blog post, An End Of Magic, starts with Arthur C. Clarke’s famous quote that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

And Seth goes on to say that we know it’s all possible through technology now.  We can imagine things that don’t exist yet.  And not only do we assume it can be done, we EXPECT it to be done any second.

I think it’s sad that we can’t just say “Must be magic!” anymore.  But we may not be losing it just yet.  In a rare thought, I’ll disagree with Seth a little bit.  Magic in any form is a combination of surprise and, for lack of a better term, ignorance.

While technology may not give us those things anymore, I think the arts do.  Especially live performance art.  I know, I’m biased.  Deal with it.  But when I can make a roomful of people erupt with laughter and have them asking me after “How did you ever think of that?”, that’s magic.  They were surprised and ignorant of the process.  I hate that word, but can’t come up with another.  Someone please suggest one.

Granted, that’s a very short lived magic, but magic nonetheless.  The same thing happens in music.  Many people have absolutely no idea how to play an instrument or write a song.  Give them something enticing and surprising, and music becomes magic.

By the way, this is why you don’t see performers react as strongly as regular people.  We know the levers and trap doors are there.  We know how the assistant got out of the box.  We know how it’s done.  But that sure doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate a well performed trick. 🙂

Phil Johnson

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