Monday, November 19, 2012
I was recently informed that David Blaine's minimalistic patter style comes from his belief that "if someone was to do magic, like really do magic, I don't think they'd have a big presentation. They would just do it. Like I would just pick up a rock and crush it into sand. No fancy presentation" I don't actually care too much for Blaine's performances especially since he moved to a more stunt focused character but it got me thinking about what real magic would look like.
I came to the conclusion that the idea that if one could do magic they would just do it doesn't really fit into what I'm gonna call the cultural subconscious. I'm not really an expert but it seems to me for the most part going back in time both in real life and stories magic men, wizards, witches, shamans, witch doctors, etc required items and rituals and what have you. The beings who could just change reality with little more than a thought generally were gods and demons and other supernatural beasts, and in some mythologies the gods still needed items and all that to make the changes. But when a supernatural being does that, it's not magic, it's no longer the impossible its just that being doing its thing.
What I see as support of the idea of an underlying cultural understanding of magic is that anytime a writer deviates from this traditional thinking of how magic works they have devote time in story to exposition on the way magic works. Like in Harry Potter no explanation is given for how magic works you just read them doing magic. But for the Sword of Truth series (the only deviation I could think of at the moment) theres a page or two where one character sets another down and explains how magic works just before that knowledge becomes relevant to the story and that pretty much happens every time a new understanding is needed by the reader.
While I don't see myself joining the minimal patter bandwagon, I suppose if one explained in a reasonable fashion their Djinn like nature they could perform feats with no build. Although I fail to see a way to make it entertaining. Beside it makes the whole thing a little questionable, if you could just change reality why do you need me to pay you to perform card tricks. What I'm trying to say is that whether or not they know it people expects a little something to make magic, they expects odd words and gestures cause growing up that is what caused magic in the tales they were told. And because of this you can't do something magical with no build and expect it to be anything other than a surprise, magic needs a build up or its just tricks (which I'm not against just tricks cause those are still fun just not really all that magical).