Saturday, May 06, 2017

Brute force and sleight of hand

Excerpt from journal, February 21, 2014

Ten minute free write and must keep the pen moving. Thinking about Harry Houdini, the Hungarian proud son of Appleton, Wisconsin. Handlebar mustache, wearing an early 1900s bathing suit, thin shoulder straps that made grown men look like walruses.

Harry Houdini, magician, strong man, believer in the occult and beam strong. BEAM STRONG. A mixture of the strong man and the magician. The graceful sleight of hand and the brute. But it was the brute in him, his pushing of physical limits, that did him in. One too many cannon balls to the belly, a burst appendix, poisoned from within.

How many have died attempting to recreate Houdini's stunts? What would old Harry have said was his greatest feat? The straightjacket escape? Buried alive? The underwater locked box? And what kind of traditional tricks did he do?

Harry Houdini, a product of the Jazz Age, the Galloping Ghost, Red Grange, the Dempsey/Tunney bout, the original age of the mass spectacle.

What was the secret code Houdini had with his wife, Bess, to let her know, definitively, no hoax, no subterfuge, that it was him communicating from the dead? She lived another ten years, but never heard that code, and never revealed it either. She never felt his supernatural presence.

And yet the smoke and mirrors phantasmagoria of the seance, the mystic claims of spiritualism, live on today in the modern day ghost hunters, who divine spirits via technology such as night vision  and infrared cameras and other other sensors. [look up the tools of the ghost hunting trade, for they are essential, or at least mentioned in my novel] [Brackets are used as commands to self, if ever I get back to reading this rambling tripe]

Which I did, randomly turning to this page on a Saturday night in May 2017.

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