The appeal of magic

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.
Jonathan Townsend
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Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY

The appeal of magic

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 22nd, 2014, 8:08 am

There's something about walking through a wall, vanishing a jet that appeals. The bigger the better it would seem. Unlike the stroke of a pen which made a planet vanish from our language, the wave of a cloth that makes a person disappear intrigues audiences.

Going back a ways there's an idea called "object permanence" which forms part of our early learning about the world. Things which are consistent with the idea become part of our expectations of the world. Studies are showing this idea forms early on and simulations of impossible events get a surprise reaction from youngsters less than a year old. Perhaps only a few cognitive steps away from "peek a boo".
Here's a glimpse into people's early world building competence. ... hers-study

It's looking like the basis needed by a child to be surprised by a magic trick is in place by only a few months old: ... SW1kQbBDkQ

As a corollary it's also not a great leap of reasoning to expect people to develop means of noticing and reconciling apparent violations to their perceptions of object permanence.

That puts us in an interesting place of asking audiences to go back to where/when they learned about these things as we entertain them. Peek a boo? No wonder more seek to proffer a smile and reassurance and few make more than one spider appear.

Peek a boo. They see you. And you can see you too.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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