Paul was flabbergasted by his uncle’s glass through the table trick.
It’s true, many magicians have been dorks.
And Paul Harris thinks he knows why.
Mr. Harris is a magician who’s invented powerful effects for other magicians. In an essay in his trilogy of books, The Art of Astonishment, he encourages performing magicians to abandon their dorkiness and create a feeling of astonishment in their audiences.
Mr. Harris explains how he felt after he was amazed by the first trick he’d ever seen, when his uncle magically slammed a glass through a table.
"My first instinct was not to hear a joke or be entertained or to be told a story or to make small talk but to experience that moment again and again. And it’s natural to think if you could learn to do magic yourself, then… well, you could have this experience all the time. But then about three seconds later you realize that it’s fun to know secrets and to do things for people that they can’t figure out. And suddenly you’re out of the astonishment game and into the ego game…"
But eventually he realized that’s not what an audience wants. So what should a magician do?
"If you listen carefully you’ll also hear things like "that made me feel like a child again" or "you made me feel like a little kid at the circus." And if you think about this, you’ll see that what these astonished adults are really trying to say, even though they’re not consciously aware of it, is that for a brief moment they experienced a clear, primal state of mind that they associate with a child’s state of mind. Somehow the adult experience of astonishment triggered some feeling of what it felt like to be a child."
Mr. Harris believes magicians can and should do more than just fool people. He wants magicians to use their skills in deception to connect audiences to their childlike selves.
"This new model redefines the magician’s valuable role in our culture as an "astonishment guide" who can help others experience their natural state of mind. This is a galactic leap from the magician’s current role as novelty entertainer, or super con-man or Mr. Ego."
Unfortunately, knowing secrets and being able to deceive people makes most magicians forget they also have a deeper power – the ability to give others a feeling of astonishment.
The contents of Art of Astonishment, Volume 1, MagicPedia, Genii Magazine>>