“Pick a Card, Any Card”: Learning to Deceive and Conceal – with Care

Because of the asymmetries in knowledge regarding the underlying hidden mechanisms as well as because of the importance of intentional deception, entertainment magic is often presented as an exercise in power, manipulation, and control. This article challenges such portrayals and through doing so common presumptions about how secrets are kept. It does so through recounting the experiences of the author as a beginner learning a craft. Regard for the choices and tensions associated with the accomplishment of mutually recognized deception in entertainment magic are marshalled to consider how it involves ‘reciprocal action’ between the audience and the performer. Attending to forms of inter-relation and coordination been all those present will be used to appreciate how intentional concealment and deception can be situationally and jointly accomplished. The stakes and possibilities of that accomplishment will be explored by re-imagining magic as a practice of care.

Cite as: Rappert B. (2021) “Pick a Card, Any Card”: Learning to Deceive and Conceal – with Care. Secrecy and Society, 2(2). doi:10.1177/1468794120965367