The Friday Fillip

Twice this morning I saw a parent telling a child that saying the right word would make the traffic light turn green, and twice I saw the look of wonder and delight in the child’s eyes as the spell worked. That double sighting was a sign, I think, that this fillip should be about magic, which, after all, is not that different from some law: the words must be exactly the right words, and must be written not spoken, sometimes to the accompaniement of flames and hot red wax, whereupon things (often invisible) are ipso facto! changed. And we who toil in the ambit of IT know that magic and technology are basically indistinguishable one from the other; Arthur C. Clarke’s third law of prediction indeed states “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

angel_levitation.pngMagic, then. On the internet, magic is easy to find, starting with YouTube. Take a look at the really impressive feats of illusion by Chris Angel, the two most impressive perhaps being his Ultimate Levitation and his Walking on Water. But because the internet is what it is, nothing is left well enough alone, and there are plenty of videos that are keen to puncture the illusion and show you just how such feats are done. Take a look, for instance, at this amateur but effective effort, “How to levitate,” or Chris Angel’s own demonstration of how his rival, David Blaine, performs his levitation.

If this sort of thing intrigues you, you might like to visit the LearnMagicTricks.org, where there’s a new trick explanation given on video practically every day.

This business of revealing how tricks are done — demystifying the magic — when it’s done a fellow magician is a breach of the magician’s code, a proprietary legal system that has been in place for as long as there have been magicians. You can hear a professional magician interviewed about this code and the impact of YouTube spoilers on a recent CBC SearchEngine radio show segment, “YouTube Kills the Magic [MP3].”

And finally, because this is the internet, after all, there’s a blog on law and magic, which worries such things as the application of IP to magician’s secrets and the impact of criminal laws on fortune tellers.

Now, because it’s Friday afternoon, I’m going to make myself disappear…

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Comments

  1. Twice this morning I saw a parent telling a child that saying the right word would make the traffic light turn green, and twice I saw the look of wonder and delight in the child’s eyes as the spell worked.

    You were in court listening to a judge trying to explain some principle of law to a jury, without using the words or phrases “trust me”, “it’s magic”, “think of it like religion, you don’t have to understand, just accept and believe” or “abracadbra”?