Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Dark Side to Magic

Most of my posts will not be this tragic and disturbing, but I believe that this is a very important subject that needs to be addressed. 

Just recently Tanzania, Africa's government issued a choke hold on witchcraft and the amount of kidnappings and killings of albino people in Tanzania, that are believed to be ghosts. It has been known that "witch doctors" would abduct albino people, mostly during the night, and murder them, cutting off their arms, legs, and other body parts to be used in their potions. These potions were thought to bring good luck and were sometimes sold to businessmen and politicians to make them wealthy and successful.

Tanzania's government issued a task force that will explore the murders and scrutinize the people thought to be involved, sending them to court.

Another problem that has risen is the false accusation of witchcraft in Tanzania. Some people have been taking advantage of the "choke hold," accusing innocent people of delving in witchcraft and having them brutally hunted down and executed. These people would use any excuse to accuse a person of using witchcraft, for example:

 A little boy was killed by a hyena, but four elderly women were accused of using witchcraft on the animal to achieve the death. These women were gruesomely murdered with machetes and their bodies were burned.

People would also accuse another of practicing witchcraft for their own personal gain, for example:

If two siblings were given an inheritance from their family, one of the siblings could simply accuse the other of being a witch, therefore inheriting all of the sibling's money when that sibling was murdered under suspicion.

I think that the ban on witchcraft is necessary to move away from the horrible tragedies that have occurred, but also the ban itself is causing just as much calamity and mayhem. It's tricky to think of a solution to a problem like this when there are people out there that will take advantage of the situation as much as they can. Though this is true I believe that Tanzania will be able to find peace again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Grinch of Magic

The thing about magic is that it's supposed to be a mystery. The audience is supposed to feel like they are in the presence of a wizard, warlock; magician. That's the fun. That's the reason why people choose to watch magicians perform. They want to be mystified, they want to be blown away; they want to believe that the impossible is possible.
Subconsciously you know what's really going on. You know that the magician is an expert. You know that they've rehearsed. You know that they've spent thousands of hours practicing one single trick. You know this, but in that moment you allow yourself to be swept away, to believe that you are in the presence of a sorcerer or a necromancer, and are witnessing their strange and beautiful finesse bestowed upon them only by some sort of all powerful god.

Do you know what really rattles my fillings? When the scoundrels out there ruin the magic. The scoundrels that shatter the pensive of mystery and bestow the truth upon the audience. These are the grinches of the magical world.

grinch smileOf course these people are not actual grinches. They are not green, they do not have the urge to destroy Christmas, and they certainly do not break into peoples homes and steal the last can of Who Hash. Then again, there is no way for me to possibly be sure.

What I mean to say is that these scoundrels are just people. Now, I can understand to a certain degree why a person might reveal the secret behind a magic trick. They might be trying to subdue a crying child, they might have succumbed to peer pressure of some sort, or they might have just absentmindedly let it slip. These things are forgivable because you can understand the reasoning behind it. Nobody is perfect, and that is something that we can understand. What really creams my corn is when people reveal the magic trick because they are simply trying to spoil it for the audience. They are splintering the magic, the mystery, and above all else, the fun. What is magic without fun? A soggy pile of roast beast.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Oldest Tricks in the Book

The oldest fables of magic and illusions stemmed from the ancient Egyptian book called the Westcar Papyrus. This book housed many stories depicting wizards of ancient Egypt and the twisted magic that they would preform such as The Wax Crocodile, The Story of the Green Jewel, The Birth of the Royal children, and most famously, Djedi the Magician.

Djedi was legendarily known for decapitating the heads of animals and then reattaching them soon after. In the Westcar Papyrus he is summoned by King Cheops, the man known for building the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, and told to perform his trick. Djedi then takes a plump goose and severs its head, placing it far from its body. Then, using his magic, the goose was whole again. The king pressed Djedi to perform the trick again, and he did. He did it many times, and each time the king was amazed.

The oldest actual recorded magic trick is the "cups and balls" trick. It was originally thought to be a painting scrawled across the wall of an ancient Egyptian burial chamber, but later was debunked by magic historian Bill Palmer who believed that the painting was actually of bakers preparing bread. The cups and balls trick was recorded though by a Roman man from around 45 CE.

Cups And Ballshttp://www.magicworld.co.uk/cups-and-balls/

The cups and balls trick is performed with cups and balls, as you'd probably think. The cups would be placed upside down on a table and little balls would be placed on top of each one. Then the magician would make the balls disappear, appear under the cups, and hop back and forth between the cups.

Another magic trick similar to this is known as Thimblerig, or the shell game. This is the game where you need to keep your eye on the one object, traditionally it is a pea, and keep track of where it goes as the magician covers it with one of three shells and quickly mixes them all up together. This is commonly known to be executed by street performers.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Three Maniacal Websites about the History of Magic

The article History of Magicians Timeline is a recorded time line of magic going back all the way to 1700 BC in Ancient Egypt, written by Julio Sevilla. The website is set up where the meat is placed in the middle in very short paragraph for and there is a list to click on on the left to direct you to other categories such as Magicians, Cardicians, Mentalists, etc. The purpose of the article is to trace the time line of magic by year and give a brief interesting fact on certain years. The main audience are students who are researching magic for a school project and other magicians who are interested in learning about where magic came from.

The article Magic and Superstition in ancient Egypt describes the connection between priest and magician during Ancient Egypt, written by  Rand and Rose Flem-Ath. The website is set up where there is a string of categories at the top and a string of sub-categories underneath to click on. Also on the left side there is a list of active forum topics and underneath that there are a few suggested books about Ancient Egypt. The purpose of the article is to compare the similarities between an ancient Egyptian priest and and ancient Egyptian magician. The target audience is anyone interested in the history of magic.

The article Archeologist Find Ancient Greeks Practiced That Old--Very Old--Black Magic describes how some Ancient Greeks would practice black magic and perform "hexes" and "curses" on the dead and on their enemies, written by Lisa Orkin. The website is set up on one of the pages of the Los Angeles Times where there are other genres not associated with magic at the top like Sports, Entertainment, Business, etc, that you can click on. The purpose of the article is to report resent research about Ancient Greek black magic and the 55 Katares, ancient inscriptions, or curses, used by some Ancient Greek magicians. The main audience are fans of black magic, possibly members of Wicca, and anyone interested in Ancient Greece or Greek magic.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Magic and Me

Every interest that has ever really swayed my attention has almost always had something to do with entertaining other people. For instance in college I plan to study film, theater, and creative writing. These things, for some reason, capture my attention. Possibly I crave some sort of appreciation from an audience, a kind of psychological need that has festered for years inside my stomach like an ulcer. More likely though, in my opinion, I think I just like to make people smile. I could be, on the other hand remarkably insane, there for, this psychological ulcer that is festering most disturbingly on the inside of my stomach will drive me over the edge until I am nothing more than a wallowing mass of slobbering bile. I do of course like to make people smile, so the final verdict on my true intentions will probably be confirmed by a string of expensive therapists with spindly mustaches and sweaty hands.

Magic has always been a mystery to me, like how it is for most people. I've seen dozens of videos of people performing illusions, whether its from America's Got Talent, Youtube, or movies like Now You See Me. I feel like magicians have this secret bond with one another, like the members of a cult. It's the secret that really intrigues me. When you know something that someone else doesn't, and no matter how hard they try to wrap their minds around it they just can't figure it out, it makes you feel special, I guess. The person's face when they are trying to figure it out is one of the main reasons why I love the idea of magic and illusions. Because to them it really is magic!

To be honest I don't really know all that much about magic. I do know that a lot of preparation goes into each illusion. I think that that is something that most people never really think about when a magician is performing. Also I know that misdirection is key. That really is just about half of the illusion; directing your attention over there so you don't see what I'm doing right here. Magician's are very clever, they know how to manipulate people like puppets on strings.

Going into this project I hope to delve deep into the history of magic and where it all started. I also want to look into famous magicians and their tricks that made them so famous in the first place. I want to look into mysteries and unexplained deaths because I think that that is where a lot of the excitement about magic comes from.