shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass

2.14.2005

real magic

Teller has an illuminating review on a new book called The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick in the NYTBR:

When you're certain you cannot be fooled, you become easy to fool. Indian street magicians have a repertory of earthy, violent tricks designed for performance outdoors -- very different from polite Victorian parlor and stage magic. So when well-fed British conquerors saw a starving fakir do a trick they couldn't fathom, they reasoned thus: We know the natives are too primitive to fool us; therefore, what we are witnessing must be genuine magic.

This idea of genuine magic in a far-off place filled a void in the West. Physics, biology, geology and archaeology were challenging traditional beliefs, especially religion. Hungering for the unexplainable, but eager to consider themselves enlightened, Americans and Englishmen were turning to spiritualism, which promises ''scientific'' evidence of immortality, while providing satisfying shivers in a darkened seance room. Other new religions, like theosophy, proved their truth by citing the miracles that were supposedly commonplace in India. ''It was from this imagined India, rather than India itself,'' Lamont writes, ''that the legend of the rope trick would emerge.''


Any day with a little Teller in it is a good day. You can read the first chapter of the book being reviewed at the BR site.

(Via David, the Brooklyn correspondent for Black Market Kidneys. Thanks, Tito!)

1 Comments:

  • At 2:52 PM , Blogger Tito said...

    Thanks for the link-love on this valentine's day, but all credit for this entry to David, the Brooklyn correspondent* for Black Market Kidneys.

    * Thanks to m-w.com for learning me that "corespondent" (one r) means: a person named as guilty of adultery with the defendant in a divorce suit.

    I'm off to save the world now.

     

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