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Steve Malco
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I was taking a walk with my SO earlier this evening while having a conversation about Extraterrestrials (we had only finished watching 'Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers' documentary on Netflix) and the thought occurred - How would I explain magic/sleight of hand to an Alien from outer space? I began speaking out loud as if I really was trying to communicate it to beings not of our planet and the more I spoke the more ridiculous magic/sleight of hand seemed even to myself in a comical way.

Think about it.

Musicians, Athletes, Ballet dancers, Painters, etc; practice thousands of hours over the course of many years to hone their abilities to become world class at what they do.

They show off their hard work and bask in the accolades, praises. monetary gain and ATTENTION. All but one of these professions need to be seen to be appreciated and for their hard work to be worth the effort.

Magicians? We also practice thousands of hours over many years to hone our abilities so they will NEVER be seen!

If you didn't know anything about sleight of hand and had this conversation with someone:

Magician: "I've been working on my bottom deal."

You: "What's a bottom deal?"

Magician: "It's a technique in which the bottom card from a deck of playing cards is dealt instead of the top card and I've dedicated the last 2 and a half years and 3000 hours developing it."

You: "Why?"

Magician: "So nobody can see me do it."

You would look at them like they were a Psycho and that's just one example of many. LOL!

We're practicing a very beautiful and very strange art. No?
Happiness is having a rare steak, a bottle of whisky, and a dog to eat the rare steak. -Johnny Carson
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Profile of GlennLawrence
Magicians are weird for a lot more reasons than just that! That's OK, who wants to be "normal" and boring?
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Profile of WitchDocChris
Basketball players don't practice for thousands of hours to show you their form. They practice for thousands of hours to get the ball in the net.

Artists aren't showing you their brush technique - they're showing you the pictures they painted with those brush techniques.

Puppeteers work to minimize their visual/psychological presence when performing, because the desired end result is the puppets enacting a story.

Actors are not showing the process they use to inhabit a character, you're just seeing the character.

Focusing on the sleights is focusing on the tools, not the desired end result. No weirder than any other craftsman, I'd say.
Witch Doctor

Psycho Seance book:
Dick Oslund
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Profile of Dick Oslund
Very well said, Chris! Some of these "Johnny come latelys", put their mouth in gear, before engaging their brain.

I think Steve and Josh, are JCLs!
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Profile of AceOfShades
A lot of the practice is not just doing things invisibly though. It's stagecraft, performance, character, scripting, perhaps marketing, etc. And sure you spend a lot of hours practicing sleights and methods that will never be seen but, as others have said, that's not really the point. The practice is for the sake of the experience you can provide others using said sleights, in isolation they are not particularly interesting apart from perhaps an exercise in juggling.

That being said, I definitely spend many hours practicing things that I never really plan on using, and it is weird. If it is for personal satisfaction, keeping my hands busy, or building dexterity I do not know. And I certainly struggle to explain that to others.
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old things in new ways - new things in old ways
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Profile of funsway
To me it is natural and satisfying to spend hours creating new magic moves or effects in my head, role playing scenarios for different views and mentally using various sleights.
What is weird to me is folks chatting endlessly with strangers, playing video games during road trip or eating mac and cheese at a buffet.

I could not easily explain any of those activities to an alien. Magic would be easy, as any intelligence would enjoy astonishment.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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Al Schneider
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This reminds me of a guy that said money is stupid.
You can walk into a store, get a loaf of bread and a carton of milk, give someone a piece of paper that has a five on it; and walk out of the store with milk and bread. It just doesn't make sense.
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
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Profile of pabloinus
Well, the $5 is the closest to bartering that we can get, and it is also magical, the only reason that you can buy something with a paper is because of the trick that make us believe that paper is actually worth a loaf of bread and carton of milk. Smile

If you think an alien was able to get to Earth, it means that their technology and compression of the laws of mathematics and physics is well beyond our understanding. Maybe he will smile when you make a coin travel from hand to hand, understanding that it is impossible or he will think that you have a Star Trek teleport in your finger ring and he will be amazed. Who knows

BTW I think it was Michio Kaku who said that for an alien that could travel to Earth, the intellectual, technology and way of seeing things would be so different as an ant at the side of a road looking at how a human build a road. Who knows two ...

Personally I like magicians, they are kind of weird with their little things, finger here and not there, bend like this and not like that, but when you pass that, they are very entertaining folks. Go Magic
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Profile of william_oconnell
Penn and Teller were in a short film called "Invisible Thread" that was about trying to explain magic to aliens.

Then again, it's totally possible the aliens would have magic too. We don't really know how likely any given behavior/trait is to develop in a species as intelligent as humanity since so far we're the only example we've got.
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Profile of Hare
All artists practice behind the scenes for years, and it's only the result of their labors that are appreciated- the same as magic. All of the arts have "magic" that when created by an expert, seems simple, elegant, and mysteriously invisible in the labor involved. All are somehow magical It's in the way the lines appear on paper, the music wafts through the hall, the story the author tells comes alive, etc. Magician's are no different in this respect.

Magicians are rather original in other ways- in the amount of personal and immediate attention they receive, rather than focus on their art itself, for instance, and the solitary and egotistic nature of their work. Where actors and film makers "share the stage" and credit, and musicians, painters, and writers tend to have accolades laid upon their product, the magician sucks up the attention immediately themselves- rather than their paintings or novels representing their work and "taking the limelight", with magic, it's generally an individual, a sort of one man theatre of his or her own glammering across the stage or club or boardwalk.

In my opinion, that is where magic and magicians differ from a lot of the other arts.
"Better described in The Amateur Magician's Handbook"
Pop Haydn
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In "The Sociology of Knowledge" the authors point out that an anthropologist from a primitive Bantu tribe in Africa would ask very strange questions when studying American suburbia, i.e., "Where do the ghosts of your ancestors walk?"
Jonathan Townsend
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Eternal Order
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Almost asked if this set comes with a fifth ball so you can do the trick out of the box. Smile all the coins I've dropped here
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