Catching Up on Ramsay's State of Magic in 2022

In August, Chris Ramsay uploaded a video to YouTube, The State of Magic in 2022. I opened it one day at lunch planning to watch it and then got sidetracked. A month and a half later, I finally got a chance to switch back to that tab and viewed the whole thing.

Coming in at a little over 18 minutes, there's a lot jam-packed in this video. He went to FISM and was pleasantly fooled. He's going to start posting magic tutorials on YouTube again (which he already did in the time between posting the video and me finally watching it). And, a lot of ranting. It was positive ranting though; like, constructive criticism towards specific personalities and opinions.

Honestly, Chris, you should have been in a nice armchair with a fire next to you because this was a perfect "fireside chat" type of video. Next time, make it so ;)

If you haven't seen it yet, check out the video and get the words from the man himself:

One quote I would like to highlight from this fireside chat is:

The audience isn't supposed to think you can do magic. The audience is supposed to think that they can feel magic. They're there to be taken out for a spin and it's your job to do that. It's not your job to be smarter than them, to belittle them, or even to fool them. It's your job to create that astonishment. That wonder.
Chris Ramsay - The State of Magic in 2022

I've heard this sentiment a lot more in recent years, especially on YouTube. I don't pick up on it too much in books and other video lectures, but YouTube and any time Penn & Teller talk about Mentalism, this comes up a lot.

The sentiment of all of it, at least, the way I interpret it is that "you can't do actual magic, so don't tell people you can. Lie, but only in the performance of the trick. The audience knows it's a trick, don't try making them believe you're channeling powers from another dimension to magically transform a Seven of Clubs into a Queen of Hearts, or a red sponge ball into 20 tiny sponge rabbits. Instead, entertain them and make them question 'how is it possible' while knowing full well that you, the magician, had to have done something." Or, something like that at least.

Magicians are entertainers. They're artists. And like most art, it's meant to be shared. People go to see a comedian because they want to laugh. People go to see a magician to be amazed.

The quote above from Chris resonated with me because of something that happened when I was a teenager, though not magic related. Where I grew up, the local firehouse held a "haunted forest" every year during the last 2 weeks of October. A bunch of us were volunteers, maybe 40 people in total, and we would build mini haunted shacks throughout the woods along a path and we'd each run one with a few friends. We'd see hundreds of people a night come through, it was really fun.

But then one night, someone from the crew came through and gave us a heads up that the last group of the night waited specifically for midnight and wanted to really be scared. Not like they wanted their socks knocked off, but they were saying that they couldn't be scared and wanted us to prove them wrong.

They were the hecklers of the "haunted forest" world.

It made me really question their purpose of attending a haunted forest to be scared if the only thing they were after was to call out how fake it all was. I extend the same line of questioning to the idea of someone attending a magic show if they completely believe it's all fake. Heckler, or magician, or even a regular lay person who just doesn't think they would be fooled -- why attend?

My reasoning is that, if you made the effort to show up, part of you wants to believe. Rather, part of you wants to be entertained and amazed. Just as I successfully got a jump scream out of that group in the haunted forest, I've impressed people who I can only call hecklers with card tricks. Why bother? Because they showed up, and it was my job to do just that.

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