As a Houdini wannabe — there’s gotta be a term there somewhere — I often find myself scouring YouTube for explanations of how magic tricks are performed.
Some are genius. Some are painful. But all are, to some degree, a mirror.
After a random question from a friend (“How do they levitate on the street?”) and wanting to give an answer more elaborate than “harnesses and prosthetics,” I hopped on the worldwide inter tubes to give a more palatable answer.
Instead, I found David Blaine and Criss Angel explaining how religion is created.
It all surrounded Blaine’s pride, Angel’s covetousness, and the lust, anger and gluttony of both.You really couldn’t accuse either of sloth.
The dispute was over levitation, a trick as tried, true and familiar as a rabbit in a hat. More specifically, Blaine’s first of what seems countless specials on TV. Blaine — who never gets enough credit for being an impressive athlete — could not help but include video snippets of fan reaction to his miracles. In particular, his apparent ability to hover a full foot above the ground, with the backs of both feet clearly levitating.
It’s an impressive trick, and the audience reaction truly is entertaining.
Still, it’s a trick. One that generated much publicity, fan interest and, not accidentally, riches.
It was enough to send TV rival Angel over the top. He committed the Original Sin of Magic: revealing the secret. That’s followed by the other Commandment: “Never do a trick twice.”
Instead, Angel did it over infinitely. And in slow motion. And in freeze frame.
Angel cannot help but claim credibility as the true Jesus (or perhaps Mohammad as an alternative faith), offering “when I did this trick” with a clip of his own version. Even when you know the secret, it’s an impressive feat of balance and dexterity, as are all impressive public performances.
Watch the videos back-to-back, and you will see how belief is born.
Blaine even slightly resembles the Western version of how God’s tyke looks in the oil paintings.
Humbly in the video, he asks common folk to look at his feet. Suddenly, he floats above the earth, sending witnesses into awestruck wonder. Some scream. One woman nearly faints. Former NFL star Deion Sanders literally runs away, ducking into an alley as he covers his mouth.
The most telling moments, however, come after the trick, as spectators describe what they saw. One interviewee says simply that Blaine briefly flew like Superman. There were no wires, no tricks, no deceptions; there’s just something different about that man. Another witness tries to validate the miracle, saying she’s “read about this,” as if to provide guarantee. She explains that those who are spiritually gifted can harness the energy of the world to defy its physics.
So we have the miracle: the levitation. Or you can replace “levitation” with “rise.” Or replace “rise” with “resurrect.” Whatever your linguistic preference.
We have the witnesses; those who know what they saw.
We have the conversion, as those witnesses explain that what they beheld was not trickery, but something truly supernatural. I wonder if they ever saw Angel’s video. I wonder if they care. Especially Sanders, a veteran of video illusion, who sought out teammates to spread Blaine’s gospel.
Now imagine that none of this was captured on video. Instead, it was handed down for centuries by legend, song and dance by those who would have considered seeing a toaster as foreign and supernatural as a talking snake.
Over time, the dispute over the miracle would become, well, biblical.
The magician rivalry even gave birth to douchebags like this, who seek only to profit — in this case, in views and likes — by claiming clarity in the storm.
Those would be the evangelical proselytizers. The guy even resembles the Western version of those, too.
Now that’s revelation, homes.