Performing Dark Arts: A Cultural History of Conjuring by Michael Mangan

By Michael Mangan

From David Blaine’s death-defying feats of will to Harry Potter’s boarding-school victories opposed to evil forces, the darker aspect of magic and its functionality sincerely moves a cultural nerve. The conjuror’s act of bringing the most unlikely into being and summoning either the ugly and fantastic with a surprising gesture demanding situations spectators’ assumptions of truth and fable. Performing darkish Arts explores the ambiguity of the magican and the wider cultural implications of magic’s attack on human perception.
Michael Mangan illuminates the historical past of the conjuring arts and checks the bounds of theatrical scholarship through interpreting magic acts along extra traditional dramatic kinds. This bracingly unique quantity discusses the performances of person magicians and public reception in their acts and locates the mysterious cultural importance of the darkish arts and people who perform them. Shining a gentle at the gray sector among appearing and being, belief and fact, Performing darkish Arts is a e-book that would open your brain to the chances of magic. “If you must find out about the single trick that each one strong conjurers have up their sleeve, the oldest within the book—here it really is, rehearsed around the centuries. it really is to ensure that whichever cup the viewers seems under—mere chicanery or real sorcery—the ball isn't there.”—Mark Stafford, Times (UK) “Conjurors as performers have regularly had a unique area of interest in exploiting the awesome or the uncanny and buying and selling upon our desire or myth that a few actual magic should be at paintings. Mangan’s pleasant ebook indicates that they are going to consistently be ready to do so.”—Rob Hardy, Commercial Dispatch</I> “This is an erudite publication which wears its scholarship evenly and is a excitement to learn. complicated theoretical frameworks are brought in ways in which will cause them to obtainable to the overall reader, and the book's argument opens up new implications and functions for the learn of magic as functionality. . . . i used to be really shocked and extremely joyful with a lot of Mangan's observations.”—Roberta Mock, collage of Plymouth, United Kingdom    <I>    

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Extra resources for Performing Dark Arts: A Cultural History of Conjuring (Intellect Books - Theatre and Consciousness)

Example text

These modern forms of showbusiness, the clown shows, pantomime, the circus, popular music and street performances, are steeped in magical history. 70 Taylor is writing in the years before Cultural Studies had seriously problematized this rather romantic picture of a popular culture which offers a beneficial imaginative alternative to official culture. He also overstates his case: art fulfils various kinds of functions, not all of them derived from the shamanic healing journey to the Underworld, and some forms are more susceptible to this mode of analysis than others.

Objects appear, vanish, reappear in unexpected places; bodies are dismembered then miraculously restored to wholeness again; or else the conjuror himself ‘dies’ in a locked chest or coffin, only to return from the underworld unharmed. 80 The conjuror’s act, however, is more multi-layered than the shaman’s in this sense: that the latter depends on leading an audience/congregation into a secure belief (usually shared by the shaman him- or herself) in the performer’s ‘supernatural’ powers, in the certainty that the shaman stands on the threshold between two worlds: the natural world and the supernatural.

Magic tricks and illusions take place in the minds of spectators as much as they do in the hands of the prestidigitator – and this has several consequences. Spectators bring to performance a set of assumptions about how the world is, how it operates, the limits of possibility within that world, the place of performance within it, the limits of performance – and so on. An illusion such as the above performed within a culture which officially acknowledges the ability of humans to influence natural processes by means such as religious ritual will have a very different meaning from the same illusion performed in one which officially believes this to be impossible.

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