We're going to go out on a limb here and guess that, unless you’re reading one of the Harry Potter books, you haven’t given much thought to magic lately. Dr. Jason Leddington wants to change that. "One of the most interesting things about magic is that despite the fact that it's one of the most popular performing arts in the last 200 years in the west, art historians, art critics and philosophers of art have basically ignored it completely."
Jason Leddington is a Professor in the Philosophy Department at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He’ll be the first speaker in the 2016-17 Experience UWF Downtown Lecture Series. He says the lack of interest in studying magic is puzzling given its popularity over the years. "One of the things I want to try and understand is, first of all, why has it been ignored; but also, and more importantly, why are we fascinated by it? Though we know it's a trick, we're still interested in what goes on. And what goes on may indeed be deeply, deeply memorable." He says that even though people know it's a trick, they can't see how it could be.
Leddington has written about magic for a few years now, calling it the art of the impossible. He said he was attracted to the topic because he loves the experience. "I loved watching good magic. And through most of my life I had never really seen good magic. And I don't think most people really have. But it turned out that one of my mentors in graduate school was an excellent magician and I had no idea until one night he did a card trick from me that completely blew my mind! And it stuck with me to this day. I had another formative experience witnessing someone who turned out to be one of the great sleight of hand artists in the world performing on the streets of Paris. Just sitting behind a table doing amazing card and coin tricks that left my stomach turning over on itself." He said those experiences led him to try and understand why he was enjoying the experience so much. When he looked he found that very little had been written on the topic. "Magicians had written about it for (other) magicians. But philosophers of art, art critics and art historians haven't touched it at all. And psychologists have barely touched it. Even though people have become interested in the neuroscience of magic and how we get fooled, very little work has been done on why we actually enjoy it."
Leddington’s lecture is called Magic: Enjoying the Impossible and it’s more than just a talk about magic. "There will be no hats and rabbits but there will be demonstrations."
Dr. Jason Leddington’s lecture is the first offering in the 2016-17 Experience UWF Downtown Lecture Series. It will be at the Museum of Commerce in downtown Pensacola Thursday evening at 6, with a reception beginning at 5:30. Seating is limited and open to all.