Magic

My old friend, Peter Warlock, having asked me to write something for his new paper, I agreed provided he suggested a topic. The responsibility for the following rests, therefore, entirely with the Editor!

" Is Magic an Art ? " The question has been asked before and answered in different ways. As Joad would say, " it depends upon what you mean by Magic." Dear old Charles Larson, who used to collect magical apparatus as others, myself included, collect postage stamps, would look lovingly at a good piece of magical equipment and say " That's a fine piece of magic ! " Definitions are usually unsatisfactory and inadequate but—" Magic is the performance of the incredible "—may be wide enough to embrace all forms of magical presentation. The point is that magic is not the making of apparatus, the invention of tricks, the devising of presentations, or the planning of acts, but the actual performance of apparent impossibilities, of the incredible.

Having decided what we mean by Magic we can return to our question, " Is Magic an Art ? " and, again as Joad would say, " it depends upon what you mean by Art." There are many people who appear to think that all forms of representation, and particularly pictorial representation, are Art, so that for them Art is all— embracing and covers every kind of drawing, painting, carving, and poker work, not to mention art-needlework and art-photography. If we accept any such catholic interpretation of the meaning of Art there is no need to carry our discussion a single step further; for then, of course, magic is an art, like golf, billiards, forgery, juggling and tiddli-winks. But Art is something more than that. If I were rash enough to attempt to define the meaning of Art I should say that it is any form of representation that stimulates the intellect and the emotions, that makes one both think and feel.

Now, if Magic is the performance of the incredible it is obvious that it is a kind of acting, and, if acting is an Art, then so is Magic. It has been maintained that, since the essence of art is that it is creative and the actor creates nothing but an impression, acting cannot be an Art. But does the painter or the architect create more than an impression ? We know that the picture or the

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