The art of magic has enjoyed increasing visibility and a resurgence of interest, as demonstrated by the rising popularity of magicians, such as David Blaine, Hans Klok, Franz Harary, David Copperfield, and the production of two major motion pictures within a single year – The Prestige and The Illusionist. With his number one-rated cable television show and his recent ten-year contract for a major Vegas show with Cirque de Soleil at the Luxor, Criss Angel personifies the modern-day magician who is at the forefront of the magic renaissance. This paper attempts to examine the rhetorical potency of magic by analyzing the first season of Criss Angel’s award-winning television show, Mindfreak. By using Kenneth Burke’s concepts of symbolic action and identification, this paper explores the symbolic, albeit persuasive, dimension to magic as exemplified by Criss Angel.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries especially, narratives of human progress have been increasingly presented in terms of acceleration in a phenomenon testifying to what can be termed “the ecstasy of speed.” In considering, unpacking, and interrogating such ecstasy, we investigate the ways in which individuals and cultures seek to rush towards the beyond of present realities.