The History of Magic with Professor Richard Wiseman
November 4th, 2021
audience, history, magic, performance, psychology, supernatural
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This week Jonah connects with professor Richard Wiseman to discuss co-authoring his book with David Copperfield, debunking supernatural claims, and the ethical responsibilities that magicians have with their audiences.
Go To The Library
Richard’s introduction to magic was through his grandfather who, after performing a coin trick for him, told Richard to go to the library and find the answer to the magic himself. When Richard found the trick and taught himself he learned that his grandfather had been using a different method and had sent his grandson to the library to learn how the trick was properly performed.
Richard has a lot to say on the topic of the supernatural and it’s overlaps with the magic community and he believes that magicians do have a responsibility to call out other magicians who are faking being psychics and mediums when they are not trained counselors or psychotherapists.
He shares an example of running a theatrical experience of a Victorian séance, and clearly stating the audience that this is a theatrical experience so as to leave no room for interpretation that this is not truly real. Because, as he states, people have their own beliefs about the after-life and a magician has no right to step on and exploit those beliefs.
Evolution of Magic
Richard shares his fascination with the evolution of magic. How there is no other artform that builds on itself and its history quite like magic does. In David Copperfield’s History of Magic, Richard worked to follow that thread from P.T. Selbit’s sawing a woman in half to David Copperfield’s Death Saw.
What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?
Richard does not like the fast-paced eye candy social media magic that is catching on. He finds it meaningless, without a narrative or a story.
Richard likes anyone who can surprise him. Anything new that combines magic with other performing arts but don’t show Richard something he has seen before.
Stay up to date with Richard on twitter at @RichardWiseman
David Copperfield’s History of Magic published by Simon & Schuster Canada, and co-authored by Richard, is now available wherever books are sold, and covers the history of twenty-eight of the world’s most groundbreaking magicians.