Full Text of How to Magically Connect with Anyone by Brian Miller at TEDxManchesterHighSchool
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Brian Miller – Corporate & College Magician & Speaker
Well, thank you.
Our world is a shared experience, fractured by individual perspectives, yours and mine. Imagine if we could all understand each other.
When I first started my career in magic, I was doing a lot of performing in restaurants, table to table card tricks, coin tricks, sleight of hand and whoop! You got a good seat for this.
This one night, I was on fire. I remember I was fast and funny, my moves were perfect, I was unstoppable. And I sauntered up to this one table, an elderly man and his wife, and I said, “Folks, would you like to see some magic?”
And the man looked at me, and he said, “Sir, I would love to see some magic, but I can’t. Unfortunately, I am blind.”
I looked at him, really looked at him for the first time, and it was so clear he was blind. His eyes were glazy, he wasn’t really looking at me. Anybody would’ve known that, but I was so wrapped up in my evening, so lost in my world, I wasn’t looking at him. I just saw two generic people and launched into my show. And I stood there, embarrassed, and that word was ringing in my ears, “blind, blind, blind”, and I had no choice, and I said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I don’t have anything I can do for you, but if you come back again sometime, I promise I will have some sort of magic that I can share with you.”
He said, “I’ll hold you to that!”, and I went on with my night.
A few weeks later, they came back in. I recognized them immediately, and I panicked. I had completely forgotten about it. I raced back to the room where I kept my props, I was thinking about every trick I’d ever learned and every book I’d ever read, something, anything I could do for this man, and then I remembered reading an obscure idea somewhere I read a long time ago in an old manuscript, it was all I had.
So I composed myself, I walked back out, and said, “Hey folks, my name is Brian, would you like to see some magic?”
And he cut me off, he goes, “All right, we are back, what have you got for me?” with a big smile on his face.
So I asked his wife, “May I sit next to you?” and she said, “Sure.”
So I sat down, and I said “Ed,” – his name was Ed – I said, “Ed, do you trust your wife?” and he said, “Sometimes.”
I said, “Will you trust her now?” and he said, “Sure.”
So I took out a pack of plain cards, gave them to her, and said, “Mix the cards, make sure there’s no special markings on them,” and she said, “No, they’re fine.”
I took Ed’s hand and I said, “I’ll place a card in your hand, do you think this is a red card or a black card?”
Then he said red, and he was right. The next card, he said red, and he was right again. I put down the next one, and he said, “Hmm, black!” Again correct. His wife is getting skeptical at this point. And we keep going, red, red, black, black, red, and he’s getting all of them right. Red, black, red, faster, black, black, black, red, through the whole deck, black, black, red, every single one of them right, and at the end, Ed is laughing, he’s howling, the whole restaurant is staring at us, and I turn and his wife – his wife is weeping tears of joy. It was the most beautiful magic I had ever experienced.
A little bit later, I am going to tell you how we did it. But the real secret of the trick, the real secret of magic, is understanding and taking on different perspectives, different points of views.
So let’s try and experiment with perspective, would you like to see some magic? All right, let’s try a little experiment here. This is one of oldest illusions in magic, here we go. Check that out for me; yes please, here you go. That’s rope right there, you can check that out. And I’ve got some more over here, here you go, one for you yes, and one for you. Make sure that’s what it seems to be; is it what it seems to be? Are you what you seem to be? I don’t know what that means. That’s good, I’ll take that back, you look as confused as I do.
Here we go, I’ll take that, thank you, one, two, and three pieces of rope. Three pieces of rope, and they’re all the same length yes? It’s going to be a tough crowd, I can tell. You guys are going to have to believe me on this. So I’ll take the ends and I hold them up, now they look like they’re the same length. The ends do, I didn’t say it was a great illusion. It’s going to be a tough crowd, I think. Here we go, I’ll prove it to you.
Yeah, that’s all, thank you. That’s the big one right there, that’s the medium one right there, and that’s the small one right there. There’s too many things going on, so I’ll get rid of one of the pieces of rope, it’ll be easier to follow with only two, won’t it? I should just start over, it’ll be little bit simpler.
Yes, sometimes the ends come off, which is a little unusual, I’ll give you that but I will do that again just in case you missed it. There are people who think that this trick is all about the ends. That’s not true, the middles, those come off too. Place the middles right here, back on the rope, and we’re back in business. But you guys know this trick wasn’t done with one piece of rope, it wasn’t even done with two pieces. It was actually done with — two of us watched Sesame Street. That’s the big one right there, that’s the medium one right there, and that’s the small one right there; can you guys tell which one’s which? See this one right here? This is the big one, you see that’s the big one. That’s the medium one, and that’s the small one, a little illusion to get things started.
Well, thank you very much.
Now, what just happened there? Well it seems that you and I had a very different experience, doesn’t it? What did I see? I saw the moves, the sleight of hand, and the juggling. You probably saw the ends of a rope, jumping on and off, three different ropes, changing lengths impossibly, violating all the laws of physics.
That’s just what we saw, what did we feel? Well you may have felt, hopefully, wonder? Maybe amusement? Perhaps frustration? I felt focus; these are two very different perspectives of the same experience. You see, magicians have a unique dilemma. The magician is the only person who cannot see the magic because I know how the trick works, and that knowledge of the secret is a limiting perspective. So the magician must wholly and completely take on the point of view of the audience. We do this night after night, no matter who’s out there in order to create illusions. This is a technique called perspective taking.
Perspective taking is the ability to see the world from the point of view of another person. It sounds simple in theory, but in practice, it can be incredibly difficult to do. For instance, have you guys played around with one of these before? Aha, a few of you look excited, most of you look angry just because I’m holding one. I feel flashbacks to childhood, some of you started twitching when I took one out. I love the Rubik’s cube; they’re actually easier to solve than you think they are.
Take the stickers off, rearrange them, put them back in the right order? Break the pieces apart, put it back together? I actually learned how to do this, and then realized, if you spin it really fast, it looks like it solves itself.
So what just happened there? Oh, thank you. Kind of a delayed response, everybody was just –