Understanding Magic with Garrett Thomas
November 16th, 2017
art, garrett thomas, magic, performance, philosophy, theory of magic
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Garrett Thomas is an incredible magician, an opinion that was confirmed recently when Jonah saw him perform at the Buffalo 52 magic convention. Garrett first fell in love with magic because of his father. His dad was a huge fan of magic and was friends with the bar magician Eddie Fechter. Who had a brilliant way of teaching people. Fechter taught Garret’s dad a few tricks which were then passed on to young Garrett. That instilled an obsession in him at a very young age. His family has a history of addiction and Garrett feels that he funneled that addictive personality into magic.
Garrett believes magic is the act of shifting a paradigm. The magic marker got its name because it allowed people to apply ink to materials like glass and metal that wasn’t possible before. It was like magic. There is a famous Asimov line that any science sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic. Garrett thinks that’s backwards. Magic is any advanced skill. We are all magicians today with our ability to read and write along with a million other modern advancements. But because those skills are so common place they have lost their magic.
Anything that isn’t done for survival or procreation is an act of art, according to Garrett. Using that definition reveals that magic is obviously an art. The real question is whether art is an art worth promoting. Garrett doesn’t have an answer for that. Because there is a big overlap between magicians and charlatans and common. These are people that take from society rather than give back. When you use magic as an abstract performance art it’s wonderful. But when you use it to deceive people that’s no longer the case.
Magic is not the act of fooling someone. It’s the art of astonishment. Those are two different things, Garrett says. And he argues that as show like Penn and Teller’s Fool Us puts the focus on the wrong thing. It’s not about fooling someone. It’s about allowing people to enjoy something that isn’t real. Garrett calls it abstract performance art. He thinks magic is advanced empathy. A magician understands that the whole performance takes place on the audience’s mind. You have to appreciate the entire canvas.
Garrett believes that the future of magical performance is all about being yourself. Copperfield and Chris Angel are playing characters. David Blaine is the first major performer to be himself. In an age where fake realties are everywhere because of technology, authentic reality is going to be increasingly in demand.
What did you like about the episode?
Jonah really likes Garrett’s emphasis on magic as the central part of any performance before adding things like comedy or music.
Tyler liked Garrett sharing that his dyslexia being a central part of his creative life.
Garrett says that combining art forms can be tricky. But people don’t usually have ability to multitask. You have to have a cadence to switch between magic and comedy.
What do you want to tell our audience?
Own it. Whatever your definition of magic is you have to own it.
What do you want to ask our audience?
What is your definition of magic?
Who should we invite on to the show?
Garrett is a columnist at Real Magic Magazine.
Much of his products are produced by Cosmo Magic