Bits of wisdom…

Yesterday on Facebook, I mentioned that I really love this insightful quote by Alan Cohen:

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

I shared this brilliant piece of wisdom online and almost instantly, many different people from all walks of life came forward to “like” it and most subsequently shared it with their friends on Facebook too, because they also loved it and found it extremely meaningful.

This clever quote completely stood out for me because it was simply genius that may be relevantly  applied to many, many things.

For yourself. In life. In work. In magic.

As you’re aware, J C & I have always been advocates of originality – and it’s not just talk, we do walk the talk.

Through the years, we’ve done unique mega illusions like teleporting 3 people across the Singapore River in 2.5 seconds, teleporting a Volkswagen car cross country, teleporting up a skyscraper in mere seconds, breaking world records, successfully predicting the local lottery, and this 12th December will see us elevating 5 people and making them vanish.

Classics are brilliant when done well and enhanced, but when a performer approaches it as a craft, doing it exactly how it’s been done originally from decades ago… nothing is actually done to elevate magic as an art.

So depending on your target audience: i.e. industry insiders/ peers OR real life audience who pay the moolah, you really need to clarify your objectives and goals. Peer recognition/ adulation for specific things they prefer and hold dear (like technical handling of difficult sleights, etc) OR completely blowing the minds of your captive audience (not with a gun literally, but, were they totally entertained).

Vibrant creative scenes see constant injections of revitalizing change and new modifications to make things fresh.  This is both important and vital, for obvious reasons. So why are most magicians still adopting the laid-back, old-fashioned “why fix  it if it isn’t broken” approach? People still peg us to the cheesy outfits like top hats and tailcoats because there are magicians out there who still wear them and want to be taken seriously (not talking about kid’s entertainers here) though it’s the year 2010.

Experts on creativity commonly conclude that it is more often than not, always about the catalytic fusion of ideas to make something new, a clever incorporation or improvement of existing concepts, plus the obvious daring to stick your neck out to be different from the norm.

Music: Would industry successes like Lady Gaga be as wildly popular if she wasn’t as wacky and attention seeking with her antics? How many professional singers today simply only sing? Talent and techniques are a given, but in today’s current standards of showbiz, a pro has to really stand out and be noticed. It’s no good simply being able to sing and dance well anymore. You need to get with it. The times have changed.

Dance: There’s so much more variety than just ballet – there’s modern dance, which is artistically expressive. And I know several classically trained ballet dancers who prefer to dance Modern. In fact, at the recent gala premiere of Riverdance at Marina Bay Sands which I was invited to, I noticed that the popular show has also evolved since it last came to Singapore. It’s more contemporary, yet still retains its “classical” Riverdance roots. But the audience also went wild with the funky New York tap dancing numbers and the sizzling Flamenco acts, that the show producers cleverly weaved in.

Art: There are so many different types of styles and the scene is kept vibrant because successful artists dare to re-invent and change to suit the modern day context of life. As students, apprentice artists may make copies of works done by their teachers. But when they are ready to be their own persons, they show their own unique creations to the world. Also, there’s so many different mediums too – it’s this constant evolution and richness in originality that keeps it all alive!

Fashion: Yes, there are the cult classics like LBDs (little black dresses – an important piece of any modern day woman’s basic essentials) but this multi-billion dollar industry is constantly evolving and the best fashion designers and brands in the fast-paced industry are the ones who dare dream the wildest and put action to thought. Folks who’ve seen or read ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ would understand how this industry is far more powerful than most people understand or give it credit for.

Magic: …Ah, before I start on this topic that’s very close to my heart, let me again share Alan Cohen’s quote…

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

I look towards the great success stories in magic for inspiration and at times, clarity when I am feeling down. Contemporary successful magicians like David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, Cyril Takayama, Lu Chen… they all have something in common.

They embrace the new. They perform current magic that are meaningful to today’s savvy audience who are a lot wiser now, in this Internet age. Their brand of magic is very well-received because it is refreshingly different. These guys are at the forefront of where they are in their solid careers. They are confident about themselves and simply strive for the best.

In other words, they’ve all followed Cohen’s advice and it’s worked exceedingly well for them.

They do not stick to the “same ole” classic routines or acts that everyone else does (since like from a long time ago when things weren’t cliche yet, or obvious, or over-done), that glaringly no longer resonate with the jaded audience of 2010. They are not stagnant in their growth, and they are absolutely not afraid to change because they acknowledge the fact that intelligent improvements only serve as positive updates. They are also not insecure and small minded.

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

So chew on it…  Be you a young magician or aspiring magic star. Or simply just someone who desires a better future… How can these wise, poignant words help you improve aspects you want to better, or to overcome?

When you decide you’re ready for positive change, push on and don’t look back. Ignore detractors who will try to pull you down because of personal/ professional jealousy. Tall poppy syndrome AKA crab mentality exist when the mediocre are insecure, and don’t have the guts or capability to do what you have taken up.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your journey ahead 😉 Carpe diem, my friend…



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5 responses to “Bits of wisdom…

  1. Pam

    it’s a lovely quote and I’m glad it has inspired you to re-invent, to be different and original in magic. that’s so important!

    when I read this quote, it means something very different. it tells me to take courage and let go of all that is familiar, to throw wide open the doors & windows of my life and let fresh air in to ventilate & transform. it’s a great when you’re in the brink of big changes abs exciting adventures!

    • ning

      Yes… I think what’s special about it really is that it will make sense to people and it’d also mean different things to different people going through different periods in their lives.

  2. Nat

    Thank you for sharing this very inspiring entry.
    I just so wanna hug you right now! I will do it later! Hahaah :))

  3. sherany

    sometimes you have to take a risk and don´t follow others you have to be different

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