Thursday, June 22, 2006
The wonder of the changing leaves in autumn. The grandeur of a towering spring rainbow. The mystery of the origin of wind. The magic of the human senses, starlight, clouds, daydreams, Santa Clause, goosebumps, laughter, love, hope, faith...
For most elements and phenomena, there is a definitive or conjectured physical explanation. But regardless of the human scientific explanation, there is and will always be a certain amount of glorious magic in the mystery.
Recently my son Leo and wife Di attended a magic performance by David Copperfield. My son is captivated by magic tricks and we thought it would be a nice treat to have him witness one of the very best illusionists of our time.
Upon returning from the performance, Leo and my wife had purchased a DVD, as a keepsake, of some of David Copperfield's greatest illusions over the years. One of them just happen to be one of his greatest illusions: making the Statue of Liberty disappear before a live audience at Ellis Island and a live televised audience. When you watch the performance, there is a chill that runs down your spine because physically you know it's not possible, but your visual senses tell you different. [ Do you want to know how the trick is accomplished by David Copperfield? Well, I'll let you find that out on your own.]
As I discussed the illusion and magic with Leo, I was surprised at Leo's thought into the performance. How did he make the Statue of Liberty disappear? Leo responded, "I don't know, but it's still there, somewhere. Maybe he has the audience looking in another direction..."
The beauty of Life is the "magic in the mystery;" that no matter how much we are able to dissect apart a phenomenon or process (natural or man-created), there will always remain a certain amount of mystery and wonder. My hypothesis? It is what I refer to as the "God element" found in all things and processes. Break any material matter down to its most fundamental composition, its smallest particle, and there still remains one element within that particle and composition: the God element.
What causes the original cells to explode and begin to divide into the beginning cells of human life? The God element. What causes our own galaxy to continue to rotate in the fashion it does so as to annually create the seasons? The God element. What causes the very origin of a small breeze that develops into a mighty gust of air? The God element. And what causes the light to bend through rain drops to produce such a uniform and magnificent rainbow? Yes, the God element.
It is the God element that forever allows the magic in the mystery to continue. And it is this mystery into which we are invited - to walk in a physical world in wonder and faith. To never be able to explain everything completely because of the ever-present and ever-unexplainable presence of God. It calls for a certain measure of accepting the unknown and uncertain and then mix it with an ability to take a leap of faith from time to time.
We are called to the very mystery of Life - not to completely explain it, but to also simply live it. We don't always need to know how the Grand Magician performs every feat and wonder - sometimes it's just enough to sit and enjoy it; to enjoy the magic in the mystery.
MAKING THE STATUE OF LIBERTY DISAPPEAR
Do you really want to know how David Copperfield makes the Statue disappear? If not, don't read any further. If so, the answer lies below...
Ever since he was a boy growing up in New Jersey, David Copperfield wanted to make the Statue of Liberty disappear and re-appear. The noted illusionist got his chance on a well-watched, televised magic special.
So television audiences could experience the disappearance as a live audience would, the film crew placed cameras on a boat that was filled with spectators and had a full view of the statue. Witnesses and timed cameras were placed around Liberty Island to take a series of still pictures before and after the statue's disappearance. In addition, a helicopter that was equipped with a television camera and spotlight soared above the statue.
During the illusion, a large curtain on the boat temporarily obscured the Statue of Liberty from the view of the audience and the main television camera.
When the curtain opened, the statue was gone. In addition, viewers were shown footage from the helicopter, which showed an empty pedestal on Liberty Island, as well as a sequence of still images that showed the disappearance of the statue from various angles. The effect was mind-blowing. So how was this done?
The Secret, Finally Exposed
A long kept secret, Copperfield owns a special machine that can stop time. Near the beginning of his career, he purchased the top secret device from an archeologist who discovered it at a dig in Peru. Seems some long-gone civilization had obtained the device from space aliens.
The archeologist was an amateur magician who, for years, used the time machine to switch a svengali deck for a one-way deck, greatly improving the climax of his svengali card routine.
The archeologist approached Copperfield with the machine and sold it for an undisclosed sum. We don’t know how much he got for it, but the archeologist is said to be living in the finest trailer park in Utah.
If you've seen Copperfield somehow vanish from one location and reappear in another, much of the time, he's using his time machine. (For the record, Copperfield can actually dematerialize and rematerialize his body. But the process is tiring and when he's doing lots of shows in a day, he relies on the time machine.)
When the curtain closed and obscured the statue from the audience, Copperfield simply pulled a switch, which stopped all time. With real time stopped and the audience and television cameras effectively frozen, a large barge with a giant crane was brought in.
The crane lifted the statue from its base and the barge moved out of sight. After 32 hours of relative time to move the statue, Copperfield pressed a button to resume real time, and the statue had seemingly disappeared. To bring the statue back, he simply reversed the process.
This information is provided by a credible source. Then again, we may never know... Sometimes it's enough just to enjoy the magic of the mystery.