The Creativity in Magic
November 14, 2023
At Mount Marty University, creativity thrives. This is important because it brings out the magical components within us. Recently, in Professor Reese’s writing classes we have been emphasizing the topic. And with this, we had the privilege of guest speaker, Dr. Bill Miller, discussing his beliefs. To him, creativity is expressed through magic.
About Bill Miller
As most of us know, Miller is Executive Vice President and Provost at Mount Marty University. But many are unaware that he has a hidden talent for being a magician, too. His interest in magic first began in 1982, at the age of 15. He says, “There was no cable TV or internet, so basically, I had three TV stations to choose from. Between the three stations, they featured TV specials of two magicians. The magician’s names were Doug Henning and David Copperfield. I always looked forward to watching these specials and never tried to miss one. Eventually, VCRs were invented, and I would record the specials to learn how different illusions worked. Finally, it led me to a local magic store, managed by an elderly magician. The owner taught me tricks, introduced me to other magicians, and brought me to some local magic clubs and magic shows. I also received my first magic books from him – all of which I still own! He was a great mentor to me, and he instilled a curiosity and love for magic in me that I have never lost!”
Miller learned magic by reading books, practicing, and simply messing around rather than watching videos. Apparently, videos had a negative effect on magic. He says, “When people learn from a video, they tend to copy what they see, exactly how they see it. While videos are useful for learning a skill, there is really nothing creative about copying something from someone else. But when you learn from books, you first must interpret what the author is explaining because everyone interprets things differently based on perceptions, preferences, and abilities. This means that you make the tricks work for you. Videos, in contrast, encourage reproduction because everyone learns everything the exact same way. On the other hand, books lead people to develop their own style and techniques to help produce and advance creativity in magic.”
Miller left magic for the next 25 years. He stated, “Magic requires a lot of time and practice. When I entered graduate school, I no longer had that available time. Then my wife and I had two daughters, so I was busy with my career and raising our family.” But eventually he decided to get back into magic once he began his job at Mount Marty during the COVID pandemic. He says, “Due to COVID, this was the perfect time to rediscover my magic books, my passion for magic and tons of time to practice.”
When Miller attended our writing class he performed several magic tricks. The tricks that he performed for us were mentalism (predicting or reading someone’s mind), vanishing (cup/red ball and coin trick), penetration (separate rubber bands), and restoration (rope and card tricks).
He states, “I can’t say that I have a favorite trick. But I do fundamentally enjoy making things disappear and then reappear because of how the audience reacts. I also like making magic happen in the hands of others too; it’s very gratifying. Next, Bill has experienced some failures in magic. Throughout his magic career, he has spent more times doing card tricks than anything else over the years. He says, “Most of my failures have been with card tricks.”
As the audience watches we were all mesmerized and in complete awe. We all wanted to figure out how each trick was done. Tianna Bumbaca-Kuehl states, “Experiencing magic is something you can’t fully grasp because it keeps you on the edge of your seat; you are trying to watch every move and motion so that you can spot the trick.”
WATCH A MAGIC TRICK
During his act, I was an assistant to one of his coin tricks. I was literally standing right next to him, yet I was still unable to recognize or distinguish the trick because it happened so fast. It’s seriously so hard to describe the feeling I had because in a sense it felt unreal. But in that moment, my only thoughts were, Wow I’m impressed!
After his magic show, Miller immediately said, “I will never see magic the way others do.” The reason he said this is because once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it. That’s why he suggests that the first time that we watch a magic trick, just sit back, and enjoy it. We can figure it out another time.
What is creativity in magic?
Creativity in magic cannot be described with one explanation. The creativeness that is in magic has no boundaries. Joon Dunsmore states, “The best part about magic is that there is so many different ways you can do a trick.” A magic trick is not limited to only have one specific way of doing it. As magicians, creativity in magic is learned when using techniques that work best for them. For Miller, he practices techniques that he is comfortable with. He has the ability to give magic a special effect that way. The secret behind a trick could simply be the size of your hand and the windows in your fingers. This is a way that gives magicians an advantage to making it a lot easier to hide items.
Do you believe?
Magic is something that everyone has heard of, yet not everyone believes it exists. According to Kendra Horsley, “Magic is about perspective. It’s intriguing to watch the audience because some people want answers, others want to keep the wonder.”
As future writers, being creative is an important part, especially when we want to become successful. Kendra also mentions, “The process of creating magic is a lot like living life.” In my opinion, if we believe in creativity then our quality of life is enhanced with happiness.
When we have creativity and magic, it affects our life just like it greatly impacted Bill Miller. He continues performing and sharing his thoughts on being creative in magic. He simply could be the next David Copperfield.
about jordyn fischer
Jordyn Fischer is a junior at Mount Marty University. Jordyn is a distance runner on the cross-country and track team. She is currently an Elementary Education major with a minor in English writing. In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball with her twin sister and spending time with family and friends.