Nature of Magic
by Doug Henning
( May 3. 1947 - February 7, 2000)
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Note: The following is in Magician Doug Henning’s own words
. It is taken from an interview for Magic Magazine.
What caused you to become "Dr. Henning?"
I was getting a little bit of a reputation, and I was invited
by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to perform on Christmas
shows for the troops. At one point on the tour, they asked if
I would like to do a show for a group of Inuits [Eskimos]. We
were on the edge of this little town in the wilderness, 400 miles
from the North Pole, and about 60 below zero. I set up my show
in a little building, and the Inuits came in to watch. They sat
on the floor in their parkas, and I did what I thought was some
pretty good stuff. They just sat there, didn't smile, didn't say
a word and, at the end, nobody applauded. But they were completely
focused on me, like I was some sort of phenomenon. Only one of
them spoke English, so I asked him
you like the show?"
we like show," he said.
I asked, "Did everybody like the magic?"
said, "The magic?"
that I was trying to entertain people.
said, "Entertainment is good, but why are you doing magic?
The whole world is magical." We sat down on the floor and
he told me, "It's magic that snow falls, all those little
crystals are completely different that's magic."
" But what about when I made the rabbit and doves appear?"
do you do those things?" he said. "It's magic when the
walrus appears each spring, he comes from nowhere that's magic."
I was grasping, trying to explain magic to him. I thought of my
Zombie, which I thought was my best thing. I said, "I made
that beautiful silver ball float in the air that's magic."
there's a ball of fire floating through the sky every day. It
keeps us warm, gives us light; that's magic."
the Inuits started talking among themselves. The man came to me
with a big smile on his face, and said, "Now, we know why
you are doing that. It’s because your people have forgotten
the magic. You're doing it to remind them of the magic. Well done!"
right then. I've never told anyone this story. I said, "Thank
you for teaching me about the magic. I didn't know. "That
was really the first time I knew what wonder was. It was the most
memorable thing that has ever happened to me. I never forgot that,
why I became a magician.
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