Magic, by Sushil Kedia

January 3, 2007 |

When magic of the markets is felt every moment, why is there no organized market for magic?

For New Years Eve, one chose to be at the Mela restaurant, (Mela a word from the Indian vernacular means the village fair). Among a host of activities from a village fair, the restaurant specializes in bringing a personal magic show to your table for a small fee, and the question arose right there at the dinner table as to why is there no organized market, not even a national or trans-national company that specializes in retail or wholesale magic?

There are several national and international companies with listed stock in the arena of restaurants, hotels, movie making, movie screening, bowling alleys, vacation organizing, vacation sharing, culture companies, etc., but there is not a single listed stock or organized magic company. Why?

Here are some possible explanations:

Many more ideas come to mind, but then the thoughts have stayed lingering around this one point about being personal. All other human endeavours in the arena of entertainment and services that have been able to overcome the personal factor and lend themselves to being productized, standardized, predictable, mass-emulated, mass-transported, mass-communicated etc. have come to evolve into giga-corporations. Individualistic personal pursuits of acting, dramatizing and magic have failed to turn the magic of the markets to their advantage.

So, is the magic really in the crowds rather than in the magic itself. What important lessons could one derive from the failure of magic to draw the magic of the markets to its advantages?

Easan Katir adds:

This weekend I had a front-row center seat amidst a sold-out house at the Geffen Theater in L.A., to view up close a talented sleight-of-hand master, Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants, directed by David Mamet. Consequently, I have been contemplating similar corollaries between the conjuror’s art and the trader’s art. Certainly there is plenty of misdirection and deception in both arenas. There is also plenty of explanation to convince one that the impossible is normal. Mr Jay produced winning poker hands, and explained that a card cheat must not only give himself a good hand, but give the suckers good enough hands to inspire them to stay in the game.

Steve Ellison offers:

An important parallel between magic and the markets is the role of patter in distracting customers’ attention from the sleight of hand. A thing to which a magician is drawing the audience’s attention is almost certainly not the main event. The weekly enumeration of reasons to be bearish is an example of market patter.

Laurence Glazier comments:

Magic is also a matter of political or sociological point of view. Is our very existence magic, or the random walk of chemicals? If I construct a chord progression which moves the e-motions, is it science or something more? The magician who bends forks and keys - the process often continuing after after he has ceased touching them - wil never convince the “component parts” of science, and likewise neither would those who have vibhuti.

I am not sure that music works well in the market - where it is there the market - a la Adorno - may affect it adversely, and similar considerations may apply to real magic. If life is to be magical, it must have magical qualities. It is easier for children to see them, though, so let’s stay young.

Andres Vincent counters:

Forgive me for disagreeing, but DNA strands, crystal organization, life itself, a snow flake, clouds, animal life, glass, light, rainbows, electromagnetism, classical mechanics, relativity, etc., etc.. The whole universe is magical, so to see magic there is no need to hallucinate. Just read the book of nature. But to appreciate this beauty its complexity must be (at least a bit) understood, i.e. we have to observe, to work, to learn — in other words, try to become adults.

If adults stay young, and that’s unfortunately the case of the majority, the only magic provided today is overconsumption and/or religion, i.e. deceptions.

Bruno Ombreux mentions:

I would add geology and botany to your list. I got undergraduate classes in both of those, an it is incredible what learning about these subjects does for you.

After studying geology, for instance, one sees the world in a different way. Walking in the countryside — you don’t see the normal countryside any more. You can see how landscapes came to be, you can see millions of years of evolution, movement, shocks, erosion, chemical reactions. And you don’t see rocks anymore, you see names.

You can call a stone by its true name, that is magic. It actually kills all the poetry of a walk in the countryside though, so I am glad I forgot my geology classes.





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