Corners not spirals

At the risk of offending fellow magicians, I bloody hate card flourishes.

(Sorry to all you flourishers of cards out there; please allow me to explain.)

For the non cardy folks who are bewildered as to what the hell I’m on about, flourishes are the fancy cuts, dribbles, fans, digital gymnastics and skillful moves with playing cards. aka “just showing off”. This kind of thing…

You’re probably wondering what my grudge is? Jealousy that I can’t do it myself (I can’t). Bitterness about being assaulted by a card flourisher? (No. I got over that). Bad memories of a really painful paper cut following a badly orchestrated flourish? (Again no. Mental and physical scars have now healed)

I don’t like them because for me they take away the beauty of what card magic is all about. It’s all about magic. It’s all about astonishment. It’s about being transported to a childlike state of awe and disbelief. It’s not meant to be be about being impressed by a skillful display. (Quick aside – skillful displays are all well and good. Jugglers perform skillful displays. As do trapeze artists. For that matter, so do plasterers and landscape gardeners. I’ve got nothing against displays of skill. It’s just they are not as good as magic.)

A good piece of magic makes you disbelieve your eyes and gasp audibly. A skillful flourish just makes you realise that the card magician in front of you doesn’t get out much. Worse, it can make one believe that instead of witnessing something miraculous, they have just been watching something very skillful and clever. Skillful and clever, but ultimately not magical.

“Its not ROIDE Sally ROIDE, it’s ROIDE Sally ROIDE

The Commitments is a great film. I particularly like the line above. But there’s a scene in it that goes along the lines I’m whinging about here. When the sax player gets into Jazz, he gets berated by the trumpet player for distracting from the songs.

“Jazz spirals”, he is told. “Soul has corners. What you’re doing is musical masturbation. Stop it”. (Or something like that anyway. It was probably a bit swearier in the film. “Stop it you big bollix”, or “Feckin’ stop it you big gobshite” for example.)

That’s how I feel about flourishes. They spiral. They take away the point. They take away the soul. Magical masturbation if you will. Consequently, my magic will be high on magic, low on flourishes.

And also, I’m not very good at them.