I had to drag out an already published book of mine tonight to make sure the measurements of my newest book were the same. And having it out, I read a little bit of it, which I now share with you. Looking back I see how much magic is a metaphor for writing to me. Seeing someone escape from a straight jacket on stage is not the most compelling thing for most people, but it is usually the most authentic. If a magician is just looking to impress, he will have compatriots strap him in so that the trick can go quickly. But an honest magician will pick strangers out of the audience in order to test his skill, even if most of the audience won't appreciate it. I think an artist, be it an escape artist or an author, feels compelled to include those parts that are truly authentic, even if they won't draw in the largest audiences. I think an artist wants to give his audience not only an experience but a genuine experience.
Eventually, Dave needed to drop to the ground in order to proceed further in his deliverance. To his knees, and then flat on the ground, like a Shaker in religious rhapsody. And for Dave, there was some element of the religious to it. He was fighting with his personal demon, fighting the very thing that had held him back. It was not merely a physical struggle, but an existential one. While his body was in a battle with canvas and leather, his mind was confronting the very limitations of his existence. It was a battle that, should he choose not to confront it, would limit his soul as well as his potentiality. He was acting out before an audience a personal struggle that defined him as a human being. All else was deception and deceit, but not this. Everything else was show business, no matter how much of himself he invested into it. Here was something raw and pure, and he would present this before an audience, even if they would prefer to see spectacle. Freed from his restraints, he could then feel justified in performing tricks, sleight of hand and misdirection. This, this made everything else real.
He had no time for fear, no worries about failure. He was fully involved in the escape, purely doing the task at hand. Even the audience was forgotten as he fought for liberation as if it were an affirmation of life. Each inch of movement was for him a marathon, each step closer was a foreshadowing of triumph.
Each success became easier the more it became obvious. The first quarter inch was easier than the sixteenth inch that had come before, which led to a half inch that was easier still. Struggle again peaked as he was required to get his hands, still bound behind him, to squeeze below his feet and so release the loop that constrained his movements. From there it was simple. A few more movements, and he was holding the straightjacket out before him like an ancient gladiator might have held out the severed head of his slain opponent for the spectacle of the crowd. This was the triumph of his existence, an affirmation of life that he played out again and again. With this feat accomplished, he felt worthy of playing before his audience. He felt like a man unconquered by the outside world, like a tree that would not permit the pruning of its branches to the shapes designed by others. And he dearly hoped that some of this might somehow be transferred onto the audience.