Magic and Illusion

The Conjurer by Hieronymus Bosch, between 1496 and 1520

There are a number of books that have been written over time which are used in modern day society where business is seen in terms of battles and battlefields. You can speak words from “Sun Tzu” or from Miyamoto Mishashi’s “Go Rin No Shu” (The Book of Five Rings”). People may argue over meanings, terms, and even application. But as these books span many generations their principles seem to remain strong.

There is one principle which provides that you have your opponent remain focused on a single point while you circumvent the opponents perceived goals. Your goals may be different than your opponents. Your end goal may be something altogether different than others might imagine. In each case you weigh your options. You make changes. You strategize.

You may believe you’re playing a game of checkers. Your opponent, however, might be playing chess. And may even be a master at the game of chess. But if the Master’s chosen game is Go, then the rules of chess, just as the rules of checkers, are lost to the man who has no frame of reference for the game that is being played.

Usually when I travel, I have between one and three effects in my pocket. “Effects” are what the magician calls “tricks.” They’re fun to entertain children and adults alike. They break up the monotony of waiting around. And in each case they entertain.

If you think as a magician, you’re always trying to figure out how things work. You try to think up new methods to enhance old ideas. And you work to re-create your effect in a manner that has never been seen before. Sometimes, you even get it right.

Magic to a child who has never seen magic before is more than a delight. We adults are no different when it comes to wanting to be fooled – if even for a moment. We like to think that there is such a thing as magic. And sometimes when we feel that prayer is failing us, we seek the impossible – once again, magic.

So what’s the difference between magic and illusion?

Some years ago I was asked to perform a magic show at a particular home. The house was prepared ahead of time so that I could stand across the room, point  and candles would come to life. I had a number of pocket tricks to present to those in attendance at the party. But the highlight of the evening was to be my stage routines which included something called “Pandora’s Box.”

This particular illusion called for the use of a trunk. In this case it was rather small for a trunk. It was old, with metal banded straps, leather in appropriate places, and a look that was rather ominous. The illusion called for me to create an air of magic throughout the audience. The effect calls for the use of minor hypnosis in the creation of the illusion.

So as I called forth dancing silks, that seemed to fly and float about at will, the air of mystery began to create the illusion of the effect. As the trunk shook, rattled, and seemed to lift itself up off the ground; the ground began to be covered with a light mist and fog. The lock on the trunk sprang off its hinges, clattering to the ground broken. The latch flung free of its locked state. And “things,” real and imagined started climbing out of the trunk. More dancing silks, more funny shapes, and images (almost terrifying) began appearing on the mist.

That was where things went wrong…

This particular effect had the use of a projector from within the trunk to assist me. And the projectors bulb went out. I continued as best I could with the seeming shapes. What I forgot to tell you is that I was performing this outside. And it was late in the evening when we finally had our performance. There was a small stage. But there were no sides, no ceiling, and nothing protecting us from the elements.

I was approaching the moment where the finale of the illusion would call for the trunk lid to fall slammed shut and the latch become re-secured. But without a projector, a great portion of my illusion could not be completed.

At that exact moment the entire sky lit up as if daytime. It was bright red and scared the hell out of everybody there including me as the trunk lid fell shut and all the dancing silks drop to the ground. The applause was amazing and I was scared to death because I had no idea what just happened.

Later I found out that Yuma Arizona was testing a new Atomic Cannon. We were in Tucson. And at the exact moment of my finale, fate played a stupendous part in making this performance one that was talked about for the next 20 years. Nobody knew how I lit up the sky. But everybody wanted to see it again. I couldn’t think of a single way in which to get Yuma Arizona to cooperate.

So if you’ve been reading my posts…

You find that I’ve been an actor, martial artist, worked in law and finance, and spent a good amount of time trying to help others less fortunate. I’m told, if I’m the scoundrel some say, that my detractors should be very afraid of pissing me off.  I’m also told that if I’m the good guy, and there are plenty of bad guys to go around, that my detractors should be ashamed of themselves.

It’s all magic. As in every situation, there is your truth, there is my truth, and then there’s… the truth.  You can’t make magic out of every situation, but you can decide on what’s important enough that you need to fight. You don’t have to hurt anyone, most of the time. And if he does get bruised, so be it.

Going back to Sun Tzu…

You need to know when to fight. You need to know when to take your time. You need to know where to put your resources. There is one thing all of this advice has in common; when it’s time to fight, you take no prisoners. You let those who contend against you know that they will never, ever hurt anyone again.

A friend of mine once said you’ve become the “meanest nice guy” anyone’s ever met. Or is it the “nicest mean guy”. I get these two confused sometimes.

It’s much more real, and a lot easier, if two opponents can meet on the mat. Sometimes only one walks away. Sometimes the both of you walk away shaking hands. And sometimes, neither party walks away. That’s usually when both parties have forgotten why they were there in the first place.

It’s been a while since I spoke about parables but I think there’s one here that’s appropriate.

Two women came before the king, each claiming to be the mother of a child. They wanted the King to settle the dispute. The King thought for a few moments and resolved that the child should be cut into. One of the women stated “this answer would be all right”. The other cried out, “No! It is her child. Let her take the child and go”.

At this the king had his answer. He knew which of the women was indeed the mother of the child. The child was then restored to the proper mother.

This parable deals with things that are important to some people, while not as important to others. Statements made and claims brought are often meant to injure another party. They may be brought because someone’s embarrassed over a situation that has occurred. Or maybe it’s just spite. Because the people who feel wronged have told so many stories about how they have been wronged that they must now put on a show. They must provide their own illusion. And the question will remain; when their projector breaks down, what will be the “miracle” that saves them from their own embarrassment?

There is a time to battle ~  There is a time to walk away ~  There is a time for magic and illusion

Leave the magic and illusion for children and entertainment.

When you battle make sure it’s for something important because there are always casualties.

When the truth comes out it’s better to be the person who wasn’t trying to deceive.

For me.. I think it’s time to fight… At least a fun battle.