The Case for Invisibility

By Daniel Prado - Thursday, June 13, 2019


A few years ago, I was sitting on my couch, reading the amazing book The Pig that Wants to be Eaten, by Julian Baginni, when I came across the tale that was about to become one of my favorites: "The Ring of Gyges."

The tale, originally published in Plato’s Republic, tells us about a ring of invisibility and the human ideal of becoming invisible so we can do anything we want without getting caught.

I Immediately had an insight!

It felt as if I had finally found the answer to one of my oldest questions: Why was I so fascinated by the figure of the cardsharp? Why criminals such as art forgers and other con men become such an attraction to us?

I started thinking about it, and I noticed that it probably has to do with the fact that these characters move invisibly, gaining money and power without being held accountable for their actions, and in some way, every single one of us would love to have the same ability.

It didn’t take much time until I started noticing the differences between a magician and a cardsharp views on invisibility.

While a magician uses his trade to entertain, a card mechanic uses it to bypass chance. Both rely on invisibility to make their craft possible, but only the latter could get into serious trouble if he fails.

Dai Vernon always pointed it, demonstrating his utmost respect for this type of con men, observing that magicians didn’t always make the necessary efforts to be really invisible.

I started noticing that this is nothing but the truth!

In our craft, we usually don’t treat invisibility with the importance that it demands. We tend to move and behave abnormally trying to create magic, when magic is only a result of bending the rules of normality.

So after reading The Magician and The Cardsharp, by Karl Johnson, that theory gained more strength to me. I finally started to understand my admiration for the figure of the card mechanic, despite his criminal nature. Invisibility is his master. Perfection is a necessity.

In addition, there is another level of invisibility that also makes me think: The ideal card mechanic can’t have his identity revealed or his trade will cease to exist. A world-class con man has to deal with the lack of applause and recognition for his work. The epitome of his success should be never being recognized by his masterful skills.

The truth is we will never know the identity of the best cardsharps in history.

Burn is a fragment of this research. I seek invisibility in the nanoscale every time I sit with my deck of cards to practice because I understand that invisibility is a structural part of my craft. As much as sound is to music.

I also wanted to approach a few parts of my theory of invisibility for the first time, so we can start discussing our craft in a more detailed way, considering a cardsharp mentality.

If we start looking at our trade with the same dedication, we might take the power of our magic to another level.


Watch Daniel Prado's Burn routine in our Art of Magic section.


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