Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Interest Lies at the Spectral Periphery

"What is interesting is not what is clarified and believable but whatever is obscure, uncertain, imperceptible but assumed, by whatever is only vaguely perceptible at the periphery of our vision, spectral and thus haunting."
Geof Huth

Monday, December 27, 2010

Which Comes First: The Vocabulary or the Insight?

"We are so used to behaving as if the definition of words is the same as the meaning of events that I am sure that many people—teachers included—can listen to this lesson objective and hear nothing odd in it: 'Students will learn new vocabulary word needed to understand Newton's Laws.' But I wonder what sort of magic word this is that enables insight into physical forces. How is it that learning the definition of a word gains for a student insight into the movements of objects? Is it not rather that we need to be able to understand the phenomena before we can truly understand the vocabulary?" —Robert Voostrom, "Why I am Not Wearing a Tie," Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Knowledge and Intent as Magical Qualities of Words

"The power of words lies not in their surface meaning but in qualities hidden from view. Every word, for example, enfolds both knowledge and intent. Both of these are magical qualities. The magic of knowledge is that many layers of experience—in fact, an entire history—can be packaged in a few syllables. . . . All the richest words in the language open hidden passages of meaning and knowledge. But the second quality of words, intention, is even more powerful." —Deepak Chopra, The Way of the Wizard

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hocus Pocus

We're honored to have our insights into "hocus pocus" referenced in Software Studies: A Lexicon. The chapter in question is Marco Deseriis' "Text Virus."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Visible Yet Unwritten Magic Password

We were tickled by this description of a silent yet visible magic word spelled not alphabetically but aesthetically, through the features of a stunning landscape:

"There is here a sort of magic password, as though all the powers of grace and splendour that nature holds concealed had united to give at the same moment, to a spectator unknown to men, one great, decisive proof of the blessings and the glories of the earth. There is here a sort of unparalleled expectation ...; an ecstatic silence which demands a supernatural presence." —Maurice Maeterlinck, Mountain Paths (1919)

Can you guess the landscape in question?

Answer: The "gardens and valleys of the Proven├žal coast during the six or seven weeks when departing spring still mingles its verdure with the first warmth of advancing summer. ... Here, amid this desert, this silence, this emptiness, from the vine-arbours to the terraces and from the terraces to the porches of a thousand abandoned villas, reigns a rivalry of beauty which reaches a poignant agony of intensity, exhausting every energy, form and colour." (The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Of Farsi origin, Agimagilataragi is equivalent to Abracadabra. It is used to indicate any sort of magical occurrence. Note the root "magi."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Magic / Trick

"Magic" and "trick" are not synonyms. Robert E. Neale explains: "There can be magic without tricks and, unfortunately, tricks without magic. If our tricks are to be magical, perhaps we ought to wonder first about what magic is. Decide for yourself. This is hard to do, but try to think about it. An easy way to begin is to ask yourself, 'What is magical to me?' After answering the question with several examples, think about why they are so magical for you. Only then can you consider whether or not any of your tricks are magical. ... So what if you are not fooled by your own magic? What has fooling got to do with magic anyway? Sure, it can help, but it can also hinder" (This is Not a Book, 2008).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

Here's a delightful essay about how Disneyland's Haunted Mansion is an elaborate performance of stage magic — how magic stagecraft is the very substance of the presentation. We especially like this part, concerning the relatively low-tech special effects at the Haunted Mansion: "With magic, there seems to be an inner bent that runs exactly opposite to our more overt bent toward technological progress. If you need lasers and computers to make the elephant vanish, that's good, but if you can do it using only smoke and mirrors, somehow that's better. And it's more delightful for both the magician and the audience."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Xor-thax Teray

"Alexei fastened his eyes to that rampart as he began to cast a spell. ‘Xor-thax, teray.’ In the blink of an eye, Alexei teleported to the center of the ramp, materializing in one place as he vanished from the other." —Douglas Niles, Black Wizards (2004)

Sunday, December 5, 2010


"The most magical word you can use, short of a person's name, is 'you.' The great Arthur Godfrey practiced this invariably. 'How are you?' he said, is all- important." —Dick Cavett, Talk Show (2010)

Friday, December 3, 2010


The magic word ostagazuzulum is from the BBC television series “Wizbit,” hosted by Paul Daniels. The title character is a giant magician’s hat.