Since there doesn't seem to be an infallible way to stop people from lying, or from guessing methods, either correctly or mistakenly, the question must be posed, can we solve these problems, and if we can't, does it really matter?
In cases of telegraphing and sloppy technique, the illusion of magic is ruined before it can be born. Here things are fully in our control, and we must see to it that these faults are corrected and never happen again. However, in the case of guessing or lying, people arrive at a solution after the effect has occurred. Such behavior as this isn't under our control.
Does it matter, then, if people come up with solutions after the magic has hit them? Does it matter if we cannot fully avoid it? As I see it, my job is to provide the experience of magic to people. The moment the magic has been felt by them, I've done essentially what I've been hired for, and what I set out to do.
Further, I don't feel threatened by solutions that occur after the effect has hit home, not just because I can't stop them from happening, but also because people will never know for sure how the trick was done—whether their solution is correct. If I've done my job properly, they have no way to know for certain. And anything they imagine after the magic has happened does not and cannot alter the experience of magic they felt at the moment.
I don't think our primary job is to prevent people from knowing how our tricks are done. Instead, our job is to provide the audience with a magical experience! It is best, of course, if the audience accepts the magic and doesn't feel the need to start searching for methods. Such searches can ruin the desired atmosphere, and if discussions of method start among your spectators, it will make them concentrate only on those elements of your work. But your work contains other, more interesting elements, doesn't it? Consequently, it's important to construct your magic in a way that makes it extremely difficult for people to start considering how the effects might be done.
There is yet another problem, though; one that has nothing to do with the audience, but everything to do with us. Let me explain it with an example:
Imagine that you're performing a Coins Across routine like the one just taught, when a spectator suddenly suggests that you are using trained fleas to carry the coins up your sleeve, across your back and down to the opposite hand. On hearing someone propose such a method, I would smile invisibly in my mind, suspect the person is temporarily insane and dismiss his ridiculous remark without a qualm. On the other hand, suppose someone suggests that perhaps you are hiding an extra coin in your hands. This guess hits on part of the real method. Do I now smile within myself or am I shocked?
I hope my point is clear. A large part of the problem lies within us. Assuming that your technique is good, your presentation is solid and you haven't telegraphed the method in some way, why should you be shocked in one instance and not in the other? If people are only guessing at your method, what difference does it make what they guess, as long as their guessing occurs after they have experienced the magic of the effect? Again, keep in mind that there is no way for the spectators to be sure what method you have used; they are only suggesting a theory after the fact. Therefore, it doesn't matter if their theory matches the real method or is far removed from it. Such guesses shouldn't affect you at all, since guesses aren't correct solutions, even when they are right—they are simply guesses. You will probably say that maintaining this attitude in performance is easier said than done, that it is impossible not to be affected when someone suggests the correct method. Still, the mere fact that this can shock you can also betray to the audience that their guess is correct. They will sense your shock, and that is all the confirmation they need!
But how can we avoid feeling such shocks? In "Reset" (p. 225) I stressed the importance of your complete belief in your magic. This concept is the key to protection against potential shocks. Such belief comes from total mastery of both the technical and psychological sides of the trick. Once these aspects are automatic you should be able to think the thoughts a real magician would think when performing the effect. Not pretend to think, or know the thoughts you should be thinking, but actually to think the thoughts of a real magician. You must be able to visualize what happens when the magic takes place, to see and feel the coins as they fly invisibly from hand to hand. Do they travel slowly or instantaneously? Do they melt away, then pop into existence in the other hand, or do they become invisible and float gently across space? It doesn't really matter what you visualize, but you must know how the magic (not the method) works when you do it. Only then, after much work, can the magic become a pure reality for you. Only after you can submerge the technique in your subconscious mind and concentrate on the magic of the effect will such belief be possible. I suppose this mental state could be viewed as schizophrenic, but it is incredibly productive. It certainly isn't easy to attain, but it can be done. It's only fair to tell you that I seldom achieve this ultimate state of mind. So many factors must be in place for it to happen, including feeling healthy, happy, fit and in good rapport with your audience. If you don't feel your best, it is hard to concentrate fully, and any distraction can keep you from reaching this ultimate mental state.
However, you work hard. You've reached the point where you believe totally in your role as magician. With this strong belief, you will finally understand that no solution offered by your audience should shake you. All solutions have become trivial! Since, in your altered state of belief, there is only one real solution to your work and that is that what you do is genuine magic; you aren't hiding anything! Suddenly there are no secrets anymore.
Total mastery opens the door to total belief. Total belief eliminates all secrets—and only magic remains!
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