When looking around in magic, I see a lot of interesting folks. One thing that stands out is the need of many to “improve” on certain things: sleights, routines, technique or new gimmicks. We have tons of “improved” methods, “re-designed” or “better” handling, and so on. Young kids try to outdo each other in the difficulty level of moves or techniques. Why is this?
I think there is a motivation and/or a desire that drives them. Behind the desire to achieve more or do things in a “better” way could be the need to fulfil their wants and needs. But also, there can be a desire to be acknowledged by others. Often in the magic society, I see the tendency for the latter.
Maybe this is enhanced because the magic community is a small island, and we meet the same people again and again. Therefore, familiarity (magic “friends, a magic “family”) makes it go much more unnoticed as we let our magical life be defined by others, their opinions, techniques, approaches.
No one lives on an island, and everything we do is inspired, influenced, or helped by other people. No one can invent everything alone, and no one has. There were always others on whose shoulders we could stand. The risk is getting disconnected from one’s true self and put the focus onto what the others are/were saying and doing.
With some magicians, this is the case, and they customise every action to show the others how “superior” they are. Sometimes with bizarre results (think of some “creations” where you don’t know what to say). An abundance of “improvements”. Techniques and routines that have been perfectly fine so far are slaughtered and deformed, just to show how brilliant the “creator” is.
No matter what one owns or how successful they are, they will never be better than anyone else. Each one of us has the same value. As human beings, we are equal to the worth. Some people may have accumulated more stuff or have achieved more or did things differently, but these are all external occurrences. We are of the same value.
When one strives to be better than others, there is the chance that they will be unaware of the fact that being better or worse is nothing more than an illusion (no pun intended). In fact, there is no “better” or “worse”. Just different ways of doing things. Different personalities, needs, and desires. There may be different talent, opportunities, luck, and all that. But no better or worse.
Magic has developed into a competitive field. The notion to “outdo” the others, or to shine brighter, has a real impact, on the younger ones and the beginners. The younger male portion is more testosterone-driven by nature to fight, compete, find and establish their ranking in society—I am no exception to this.
In magic, they see the chance to prove themselves by doing “the better” or “more difficult” stuff—in a less saturated field. Competition is not that fierce as in other parts of life. We don’t have millions of magicians out there. And this makes it even more attractive for the young lads to enter this field because being a part of a minority field makes them shine and appear attractive even more in normal society. Or at least, they think.
That is where I came to my conclusion:
Competitions Are Bullshit
A competition in magic is useless and even harmful. It encourages this nasty attitude of being “better” or “worse”, and it cooks up the competition between the younger ones. There is nothing to be gained being “better” than the others in magic. I am not going into the discussion of what people sometimes comprise the jury. That is another topic.
As Juan Tamariz once pointed out, if we can’t get rid of competitions, then we should see them as a “playful game amongst friends”. Otherwise, they are harmful to friendships I agree.
If I were to rule the magic planet, I would abandon competitions once and forever. And show the magicians important knowledge instead, at least that I know of. I would teach them how to interact in a friendly way, exchange knowledge, and insights. I would encourage them to help each other, and esteem high regard towards others, and respect.
But I would never send them, or encourage them to enter competitions. And would not encourage them to be “better”. They should be made aware of the feel, the joy, and fulfilment, they can have with their individual way of doing magic.
But I don’t rule the magic planet.