Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft Winter 2008 Mangan's text is more than a historical overview of magic, and it is also more than a performance-theory analysis of entertainment conjuring. It offers insight into the way that religious and spiritual thought and practice have transformed throughout the ages, and how the ``skeptical'' and ``paranormal'' interpretations of magic tricks--performed by either entertainment magicians or efficacious magicians--can offer insight into how magic serves both secular and spiritual purposes in the present era (pp. 19495). Mangan fights the Western bias that assumes that ``magical thinking'' is something that is associated primarily with so-called ``primitive'' or ``pre-literate'' peoples (p. 195), and he argues that magical thinking is ``by no means incompatible with an informal understanding of modern technology'' (p. 195). By making these arguments, Mangan offers some fairly concrete examples of how performance practices have helped to shape new tributaries in the larger current of the Western religious performance tradition--and he has done this in a book that is written in an elegant style that is clear, humorous, and intellectually stimulating. This book will likely be of interest to a wide readership, including generally interested readers and scholars of theater studies, performance studies, popular
Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Oct 25, 2008
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