Magicians, Inhabitants of the Frontier
The line that separates illusion from reality is very fine; it is in this reduced space that magic and those who know its secrets live.
In each culture, the different techniques of vital preservation through health (which would eventually become medicine) and the mechanisms to make contact with other beings with the purpose of learning from them (fields that where later occupied by psychology or art) were encompassed in coherent visions of the world without fissures, like a single elemental continuum. At another time, these techniques were known as grimoire, language, or merely as the art.
Alan Moore, scriptwriter for comics such as V for Vendetta and From Hell affirms that in another time, magic was nothing other than the way in which changes in our consciousness were produced through the use of precise procedures, transmitted through a transformational process (or initiation) marked by an undivided line that dates back to the dawn of mankind.
In this way, the pyramid of Tarot, after losing its ritual sense, became a card game; everyday rituals became superstitions, repeated in empty forms through ignorance, and the recognition of the ability to produce said changes (positive or negative, according to the observer’s point of view) was lost, partially at least, in the night of time.
Magic, however, continues to be present in many ways in our everyday life. Magic manuals of the 19th century, for example, encouraged children to astound their audience through hundreds of card, handkerchief and top hat tricks. The magician entered the stage to astonish those that enjoyed testing their skepticism.
Even as a source of entertainment (we can think of Las Vegas’ showiest spectacles), the basic principles of illusionism are an empty form of ancient magic, where its fundamental postulates still survive; one of these states that reality is a construct that can be disarticulated if the correct techniques are known. It is probably not possible to make an elephant disappear from a stage, but it is possible to unsettle the audience’s perception of that elephant. Now you see it; now you don’t.
According to modern physics, objects that have a mass disappear when their speed leans towards the speed of light. Reaching a mere ninth of this speed would result in the object shrinking; if, hypothetically, we could make an object move at the speed of light, it would vanish, or more to the point, it would become energy. Despite the fact that this is not part of our quotidian life, we are still enchanted by observing a magician disappear “magically” a coin in his mouth, to later make it reappear from an unsuspecting child’s ear.
Somewhere between the world of the unknown and of the quotidian, magicians cross over, leaving the divide between these two frontiers untouched. When we see how a magician begins to levitate, or that he guesses the number on our card, we are seeing something we are not supposed to see according to the rational agreement we have with reality; by breaking this agreement, the magician takes us to another state of perception: one of openness and childlike awe, regardless if we are adults. Rationally, we know there is a trick, but the magician’s magic consists of astonishing us and in making the trick effective.
Magic then, in reality, is nothing other than one of the many possible names we give astonishment.
Are these acts lies? Lying is produced when we deliberately want to convince someone of a false reality; but there is no falsehood in the technique or its application. Additionally, as an ancient magician used to say, a magic trick will never deceive anyone who didn’t previously want to be deceived.
Magic is there, everywhere, waiting for someone to discover it.
Painting by Király András
When ancient rituals became religion
The emergence of religions irreversibly changed the history of humanity. It’s therefore essential to ask when and how did ancient peoples’ rituals become organized systems of thought, each with their
Seven ancient maps of the Americas
A map is not the territory. —Alfred Korzybski Maps are never merely maps. They’re human projections, metaphors in which we find both the geographical and the imaginary. The cases of ghost islands
An artist crochets a perfect skeleton and internal organs
Shanell Papp is a skilled textile and crochet artist. She spent four long months crocheting a life-size skeleton in wool. She then filled it in with the organs of the human body in an act as patient
A musical tribute to maps
A sequence of sounds, rhythms, melodies and silences: music is a most primitive art, the most essential, and the most powerful of all languages. Its capacity is not limited to the (hardly trivial)
The enchantment of 17th-century optics
The sense of sight is perhaps one the imagination’s most prolific masters. That is why humankind has been fascinated and bewitched by optics and their possibilities for centuries. Like the heart, the
Would you found your own micro-nation? These eccentric examples show how easy it can be
Founding a country is, in some ways, a simple task. It is enough to manifest its existence and the motives for creating a new political entity. At least that is what has been demonstrated by the
Wondrous crossings: the galaxy caves of New Zealand
Often, the most extraordinary phenomena are “jealous of themselves” ––and they happen where the human eye cannot enjoy them. However, they can be discovered, and when we do find them we experience a
Think you have strange reading habits? Wait until you've seen how Mcluhan reads
We often forget or neglect to think about the infinite circumstances that are condensed in the acts that we consider habitual. Using a fork to eat, for example, or walking down the street and being
The sky is calling us, a love letter to the cosmos (video)
We once dreamt of open sails and Open seas We once dreamt of new frontiers and New lands Are we still a brave people? We must not forget that the very stars we see nowadays are the same stars and
The sister you always wanted (but made into a crystal chandelier)
Lucas Maassen always wanted to have a sister. And after 36 years he finally procured one, except, as strange as it may sound, in the shape of a chandelier. Maassen, a Dutch designer, asked the