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Meeting the legends at FISM 2009 (Part I) – Lennart Green

August 6, 2009

If I were a character in a Wuxia novel, where the fictionalised universe is based on skills in magic rather than Kung Fu (wait, isn’t this the premise of English fantasy novels? Potter of the Rings kind of thing?), my trip to FISM World Championship of Magic is analogous to 上山學藝 (or 上京學藝) and I feel as if I am coming back with an extra two to three years of 武功. But never in a Wuxia novel does the protagonist come down a mountain with an extra ten-year worth of skills without having met a legendary figure. This summer, I met two: Lennart Green and Juan Tamariz.

Lennart Green’s story is almost as fantastic as it can get. In his early years, he was trainned as a doctor in Sweden, his home country. It was when he was on night shifts at a hospital he developed a lot of his own techniques. In 1988, he entered FISM in the card magic category, gave a mesmorising and highly original performance, but did not even get a place in the top three. Why? Because the routine was so good the jury thought that he employed a secret acquaintance that only pretended to shuffle but in fact kept the cards in a pre-arranged order. After that, his name, style and techniques started to be known in the magic community. Three years later (FISM happens once every three years), he returned to FISM to win the card magic prize.

In an age where youngsters are ever so keen on “flourishes” (stylised display of skills in card manipulation), Lennart Green firmly holds a place at the other end of the spectrum. His performance is a visual contradiction, we see the cards messily slipping off his hands, landing onto and off the table as he sloppily shuffles, yet he is able to retrieve any card requested by the audience. I feel extremely privileged to be able to attend his lecture titled “From Chaos to Order” (isn’t that splendid?) and bought a copy of his lecture notes, in which each and single feat is based purely on mathematical ideas and no finger skills. I do not believe it is socially acceptable to type a paragraph on the internet on Lennart Green without embedding the 32-minute video of his TED talk (personally, that is one of my three favourite magic-related videos on the net. iPhone people can download the .mp4. Also remind me to tell you about the other two). In the talk, you will see everything I have mentioned plus his quirky sense of humour and his perfect comic+magic timing (Watch out for “the Queen with misdirection”, that’s my friend Philipp’s favourite).

(Let me try to find the clip… Ya, I think I have it.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. denisesiu permalink*
    August 7, 2009 9:39 am

    dear miah,

    although I never really understood the fascination in magic (probably coz’ I’m not really a big fan of fascination or just coz’ I don’t know how to be fascinated), I love to see you so passionate, excited and serious about something and I thank magic and the great magicians you admire for this. I wonder when I will find my passion in something as strong as magic is to you.

    love, siuto

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