When I was a young kid, I was very eager to learn magic. I remember I even did a magic show in school sometime in my 5th or 6th standard.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many magic shows around these days. Which is a pity because I find magic shows to be superior to theater, cinema and live music as a form of entertainment. There is something a lot more intimate about magic, and it appeals to the imagination: it gives you the momentary feeling that anything is possible if you only know the trick.
My favorite form of magic is mentalism. This is a form of magic where the magician is able to ‘manipulate your mind’. This includes things like guessing a card that you select from a deck, and so-called ‘hypnotism’.
I mention this because I went for a magic show today by the 7th and 8th generation of magicians from the Sorcar family, PC Sorcar Young and PC Sorcar Master respectively. (Old magicians never die, they just bequeath their names to their successors. Example: P James.) There were several impressive acts that they performed, but the most impressive, in my opinion, was called ‘X-ray vision’. I’ve seen this once in IIT before and this time, one of my friends was called up to the board. The way the trick works is that the magician puts a layer of dough over his eyes, which he covers with a handkerchief, and also wears a black cloth sack on top of his head. He then asks his volunteers to write something on the board – for example, numbers or English sentences – and he successfully replicates them. It’s very impressive. There’s also this variant of it where he asks a volunteer to make a mark on the board, and, blindfold, he draws an entire picture around it. He’s a fantastic artist; his artwork is impressive in itself, but to do it blindfold is mind-boggling.
Much as I liked Sorcar’s show, I prefer close-up magic. This is where the magician is standing just a few feet away, and in a gathering where there are no props or stage, and does his stuff. For example, table magicians in restaurants (who go from table to table performing their tricks) and street magicians.
And of all of these people, the one I am most fascinated by is David Berglas. Berglas has a trick called ACAAN. This is the Holy Grail of mind magic and no one knows how to do it. It’s also called the “Berglas effect”. The way it works, Berglas asks a member of the audience to name a card. For example, 6 of hearts. And then he asks someone else to name a number. For example, 24.
Then he points to a deck of cards on a table (which are face down) and calls for another member of the audience to come up and count out cards. The audience joins in as the volunteer counts out 23 cards from the top of the pile, one by one.
And then the volunteer turns over the 24th card.
And it’s the 6 of hearts.
“Any card at any number” – it apparently takes several years to even *understand* how it works. And magicians who are in the know say that even if you understand it, there’s only one man who can actually *perform* it. And that’s David Berglas.
If there’s anyone who wants to make me really, really happy, the gift they need to get for me is David Britland’s book, “The Mind and Magic of David Berglas”. It doesn’t explain how ACAAN is done, but it’s got detailed explanations of a whole bunch of his other incredible magic.