All Magic Tricks Have an Ending

February 03 2013

I’m fas­ci­nated with illu­sions, espe­cially close-up magic like card tricks. Being a will­ing par­tic­i­pant in a brain-hack­ing, to wit­ness some­thing impos­si­ble, is incred­i­bly excit­ing and attrac­tive.

During the mag­i­cal moments of a trick, logic and reason is pushed out of our minds. We strad­dle the line between the fan­tasy world of mind-read­ers and the unevent­ful day-to-day real­ity of life. We know this expe­ri­ence isn’t actu­ally hap­pen­ing, but for the trick to work, we must sus­pend dis­be­lief and allow our­selves to be fooled. 

Our real­ity becomes a bell-shaped curve while we wait for the punch­line. Our sus­pense builds and builds, until the plot twist is revealed, where we see card you signed at the begin­ning of the trick is now in your wallet.

As we come off the high point, hours later after the trick is fin­ished, we tell our friends and family about it. We con­vince them it was impos­si­ble, yet it hap­pened, and we use phrases like you just had to be there,” or you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Our retelling of the story skews logic even more, and the story becomes an illu­sion in itself, trick­ing the lis­tener to sus­pend their belief of your immense gulli­bil­ity.

When it comes to devel­op­ing new ideas, we become the magi­cians. With simple sleight of hand and pre­sen­ta­tion, we con­vince our audi­ence this is the pin­na­cle of real­ity. This is it; this is what you’ve been wait­ing for! The audi­ence allow them­selves to be over­taken by this new app, device, or prod­uct, and they’ll spread the word near and far about its amaz­ing abil­i­ties and addi­tions to the world. Pre­vi­ously it didn’t exist, but by a stroke of genius and some coin­ci­dence, it now exists in this world. Together we’ve crossed over and brought some­thing into this world that didn’t exist before. Couldn’t exist. It’s like bring­ing in a three-dimen­sional object into a two-dimen­sional world, or sud­denly being able to see other parts of the elec­tro­mag­netic spec­trum, like radio and ultra­vi­o­let waves, rather than only the vis­i­ble spec­trum.

For all magic tricks to have their desired effect, they must end. Life must return to before the trick hap­pened, because if real­ity doesn’t snap back, it’s no longer a tem­po­rary illu­sion but rather, it’s a par­a­digm shift. If David Cop­per­field never made the Statue of Lib­erty reap­pear, we would be living in a world with­out this great Amer­i­can symbol. It would simply be gone. The US would be dif­fer­ent, and we’d prob­a­bly ban all magi­cians.

Our prod­ucts, new ideas, and even artis­tic tal­ents aren’t magic tricks. They are no less amaz­ing, or more believ­able at first expo­sure, but where magic tricks send us whirling back to real­ity when they end, our ground­break­ing inven­tions don’t. They con­tinue on and affect our real­ity in more ways than a ten minute adren­a­line rush, and that’s more amaz­ing than making the Statue of Lib­erty vanish into thin air and bring­ing it back.