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 –
So what just happened there? Well, I know that if I come out, mix up a Rubik’s cube, toss it in the air, and it comes down solved, you’re all going to think I’m a jerk. Or at the very least, a show off, and I don’t want you to feel like that. I want you to enjoy the experience of magic so I make a few jokes. Take the stickers off, rearrange them, break the pieces apart, and then you go, “Oh I did that! My friends, we smashed it with a hammer, we threw it at a wall!” When that happens, you feel like I understand you. When you feel understood, we make a connection, and then I can do the trick, and we can all enjoy the magic in that shared space.
So now you know what perspective taking is. It’s the ability to see the world from the point of view of another person. And you know why magicians do it — to create illusions and connect with the audience.
But why should you care? Well, it turns out this technique has drastically improved my life off stage, outside of magic, in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I’ll explain.
I never had trouble meeting new people, making friends, getting into relationships. But I always struggled to maintain them. Eventually, the communication would break down, people would leave, and I would be alone. And it took a long time to admit it, but it was my fault, or at least mostly my fault. The people in my life didn’t feel like I was invested in them. Now that wasn’t true, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not enough to care about somebody; it’s not enough to understand them. They have to feel understood, they have to feel cared about, and I wasn’t doing that.