With the preceding blogs I attempted to put one real thing in perspective, and that is that we can change our own lives and the lives of others by controlling our own beliefs. I can say today that anything is possible, and it is possible through our action, choices, and the passion that hold up those choices.
I have talked about my long 13 and a half year stay in prison. What was more difficult to convey were the feelings that I had, and the challenges that were imposed in that state, and still perpetuate throughout my life labeled as an "ex-felon." Imagine a world in which you were not only legally, factually, and systematically judged by those around you and the greater population. That was the real taking away of freedom, because when I was a 15 year old boy ages ago, I made a bad decision to follow a crowd. (I followed that crowd because I believed in them.) Every Correctional Officer, Teacher, and Counselor I had did not see me as Vouthynar Sovann. They saw me as an inmate - a convicted felon. I was not a person; I was a number, a stain, and ultimately, something that had an eventual negative fate.
What they believed about me was something I did not, and at this moment at April 19th 2010, do not feel and think about myself. What I learned through this struggle was that I had to change people's minds. I had to change the world about me. The performance of this magic effect was not a lie, it was real life. In my time in prison, I took over 3 accounting jobs in the Dietary department at age 17 when I scored a 304 on my GED. A position that was filled by three adults were held and worked by one sole teenager. I then made a choice never to join a prison gang or religion as that same Asian American Teen. I then was a part of a team the tutored GED students that were struggling and helped 5 people gain their diploma. I then moved on to changing College Survival Team and created fundraisers within the prison that benefited the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship fund by 10k dollars. I was the first of 20 chosen inmates to gain an Associate’s Degree in that prison. I then moved on to be the College tutor, and taught myself how to network computers to save the college program. A year after that I helped create two college courses under the American Council of Education to continue the college program within for less of a cost. The college program went from 20 students to 275 students all together. While doing all that, I became a member of Reasoned Straight which counseled troubled teens and children throughout the state in halfway houses, foster homes, group homes, in jail, and juvenile programs for police departments throughout Maryland.
After all that, it took 13 years for the people who had power over me to realize that the part I had in my crime was the most minimal out the bunch, and from that, that God...I received a 5 year reduction from my sentence.
The point here is to have you guys realize that anything is possible. Even when those around you will attempt to limit you, you can outshine those limits throughout your own view about yourself and beyond. It was not easy, and essentially, I made many sacrifices and went through a lot of heartache, but I did it.
It was through the art of Magic which I learned more about impressions, suggestions and performance. Be sure to know that it has nothing to do with reputation, because a reputation for a convict is just of that. The best advice that I read coming from a paper magic pamphlet was that as a performer, you play a character. The best character would be just a small exaggerated version of you. What I got from that paraphrase was that being yourself is the best performance you can give to the people around you. In essence, this idea spread to all the points of my life. If magic is the ability to will the world around you, then the best way to do it is to give all of yourself to others as best you can at any moment.
What I learned from philosophy is this. We can believe an anything, and that we can make life, its purpose, and the direction you take - in anyway also. This belief allows me my own belief, while at the same time, recognized the beliefs of others. What I choose to live by are Truth, Freedom, and then Love. Those are my fundamentals because I questioned who I was because people already had an opinion of me; no one else was going to do it. Throughout time, people had basic ways of seeing life. These ways of seeing life shaped their lives and those around them. If we looked at all the practical views, we see there is nothing but views, actions, and the consequences that flow from them. If I chose years ago, that I was a mere convict, which many inmates do and accept, I would have never come to write this blog, be amongst the public, or going the direction I am going.
My Life Now
People told me that I wasn't going to survive prison. I did. People told me getting my GED at 17 and a score over 300 was shooting too high. I did that too. People told me that getting into Maryland
University as a felon, who just got out, and with limited means would be next to impossible. Obviously, that is not so. The sole reason I would hope to convey to you is that life is both a performance and a competition within yourself. Both take a degree of engagement, work, and inner war that is never ending.
Believe in Yourself. Once you see the world as you have come to fight to make it, you will see what true magic is all about. To me it's about changing your own world view and the view of how the world is to others.
Most magicians worry about what their first effect is going to be when they perform. After that, they go through a very polished set of tricks that they know very well. The problem for me is that the more polished it looks, the more fake the illusion becomes. I don't want that for my audience, so it takes much more pre-thought and general rules for myself to accomplish impromtu magic. You are dealing with the problem of "if." If spectator does this, then I as the performer will do that. It becomes jazz, improvisation, and the possibilities become virtually limitless. Magic becomes stronger when you can take a venue which is uncontrollable, and make it tame without your audience knowing. This blog will explain what I think pre-work is, and how this preparation manipulates the very fabric of reality of the audience by splitting things up into two. This is a magician’s view of first impressions, the approach not only sets the tone, it’s a set-up of the set-up of the tone, but if you define the tone in two views, you can control it.
Magic is about seeing something that is unexpected, but for me, it’s about giving what is unexpected before the magic begins. From here, we move vast questions into basic if/or problems. When you take things into “this or that,” you can organize things in a prepared and impromptu nature in both performance and in your personal life. Impromtu answers become simple as having a simplified answer for two different conditions.
So how do I work this? I try to routine things in such a way that the choices become more limited while the spectator believes them to be more vast. I don’t want people to believe that trickery isn’t real; no, in fact, I want them to believe that there is a distinct difference between what I am doing, and a basic trick. I begin brainstorming circumstances in which in extreme cases, I would have to handle magic, and do it in a serious way. Usually, I can classify things in groups of two’s. Simply, with my dealings with people, I have learned that the obvious division is between people who know I am a magician, and those who don’t know. Yup, that pretty much sums up everyone around me.
Now, this is where I diverge from most magicians. I take a passive role with people who don’t know I am a magician. I have nothing to prove. An aggressive state becomes more needed when people who are on guard about magic in my opinion. They are looking to catch a trick, not be entertained. I also begin playing chess when a friend brings their friend over and says “V, show my buddy a trick!”
• If I don’t know the person, I usually strike up a conversation. I place personality before my magic. To them, I am a stranger. Pulling out a deck of cards would only freak them out more, so usually go for effects that are mental. I choose coincidence over straight up attacking them. They happen to think of the number 17, the same number I wrote down. This effect allows me to read their body language and how they take magic. I am asking myself, in what state of reality is this person in, and then willing to go to. The person they were just getting to know better has become a stranger yet again. Then I talk about how people are relatively easy to know. I do a cold reading about who they are, by certain characteristics. Now we have coincidence and maybe a little pop psychology. At this point, I amp it up. I put a piece of paper in their hand and ask them to think of a color. Before they open their hand, I ask them how many colors are there in a big box of crayons. I ask them why they chose the color in their hand. I walk away and leave them with that paper in their hand. What do you think happens when they find that the paper in their hand has the color that they chose? What do you think happens about the definitions of the effects they saw as coincidence prior?
• When someone knows you are a magician, you must take control. Polished magicians go through their motions, because they are happy for the limelight and are comfortable as being defined as a performer. My magic is not who I am, it is just a party of me. To them, I am just another guy tricking people. Right then and there, I am choosing which effect would rip both the notion of myself being a clown with cards, and the sense of reality that they already have. In this instance, I can pull out my deck of cards and place it in their hand. I can ask them to think of a card, and they will find the card that they were thinking of turned being the only one over in the deck. The rubber bands that was holding the flap of the deck closed will evaporate through the deck, and then finally through each other in front of their very eyes. They get no break from me. I evade their personal space, I involve their friend, they don’t have a say in what is to come, and in the end, they saw something unique.
So why does my approach work for my personality? The definition of impromptu is the ability to adapt to any situation. I have over 100 stock effects, but all of them can be classified to normal effects or spectacular effects. Being a blog about magic and reality, why in the world did I make such simple things so ever important? What I have learned is that almost everything can be divided by two. If you can divide by two, you can also multiply by two. In any situation, that person that I just met might become an aggressive spectator who all of the sudden a person who questions every effect you do. I have now the ability to switch gears when needed. I have my answer to an aggressive audience member already.
The point is that you can adapt to any situation if you have an answer for either/or questions. The unexpected becomes expected, and execution of what seems to be spontaneous, is just a fork in the road. If you can limit your audience to just two sides, it’s easier to chop down a whole branch than to pick at the many leaves. Any conceptual problem can be answered practically by limiting the problem into two limits. Instead of asking what would make a person believe in magic, why not just limit it. Just ask, does this person believe in magic already? The answer is yes or no, and in either way, you eliminated half your problem.
This was just an introduction to the conceptual part of magic. As I have learned, it’s all persuasion and rhetoric. I am attempting to influence you to believe. I can succeed or fail. I chose to hold back more detailed information because you can think freely on how this can affect how persuasive you are. I again, could have influenced you correctly, or not influenced you at all. If you don't read into this deep enough, you wont get the point. (Have you ever noticed how things are divided into two anyways? [Democrat/Republicans, Citizens/Aliens, Pro-Life/Pro-Choice?] I won't give you the methods, because I do follow the code of a magician, but I will point you to the right way...Law 31 of the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. If you control both the horns of the bull that you maul your audience with, then you can control that outcome. The ending point is to move to controlling reality of others is the work of controlling your own reality. If you noticed, we began with ourselves and how it changes the landscape of things outside of us. Limiting vast questions into one simple two-answer question is managing your own reality, and thus the one around you.