Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 10/17/2022
I love “magic.” I’ve seen people create outstanding effects from three feet away or in a variety of small rooms (The Magic Castle in LA is fabulous, though it used to be tougher to get in and now has crowds that are far too large).
I’ve hired magicians for my events, have figured out some of their tricks, but am stupefied by others. I spied the doves hidden in one guy’s vest, but was gobsmacked by part of a torn playing card being found inside an intact, uncut orange. (I’m not interested in technology-aided stunts like making the Statue of Liberty disappear, though I might enjoy that if it were Congress.)
What I’ve learned is that most magic relies on sleight-of-hand. This is a form of deception in which the perpetrator prompts you to look at a distraction while the actual replacement or trick takes place. You think you’re following the action, but you’re watching something that doesn’t really matter.
Unfortunately, our politicians have turned into magicians, distracting us from the real issues. We’re urged to focus on huge conceptual issues (such as “climate change”) rather than the very real urgency (and pain and taxes) to improve our local educational systems to give kids a chance at success in life. We’re threatened with, vaguely, “the loss of social security” instead of the need to improve an aging, inadequate infrastructure for water, gas, and electricity.
When you ask a politician about immigration reform that person is likely to say, “I feel as strong about it as I do about preserving Medicare, and let me tell you my position on that.” We’re now asked to watch the wrong hand, to watch the deception, not the real issue.
Magic is enticing because it’s a conjuration of novel powers. But the sleight-of-hand becomes mephitic when it’s used to avoid, conceal, and fool about important issues.
Diogenes wasn’t looking for a magician. He was looking for an honest man.
A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. —Colin Powell
One man’s ‘magic’ is another man’s engineering. “Supernatural” is a null word. —Robert A. Heinlein
Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace. —Eugene O’Neill