Thursday, March 15, 2012
Discussing Brown’s perspectives on magic (see here, here and here) made me think about Slavoj Zizek’s reflections on Jesus, in The Monstrosity of Christ, where he links the sequence of a magic trick in Christopher Nolan’s (2006) movie The Prestige to the crucifixion.
In The Monstrosity of Christ, Zizek summarises a particular sequence from The Prestige:
…when a magician performs a trick with a small bird which disappears in a cage on the table, a little boy in the audience starts to cry, claiming that the bird was killed. The magician approaches him and finishes the trick, gently producing a living bird out of his hand - but the boy is not satisfied, insisting that this must be another bird, the dead one’s brother. After the show, we see the magician in the room behind the stage, bringing in a flattened cage and throwing a squashed bird into a trash bin - the boy was right.
Slavoj Zizek, The Monstrosity of Christ, p.286.
This squashed bird is part of the magic trick that the skilled magician doesn’t let us see, the step that we miss.
Derren Brown’s hermeneutic of suspicion enabled us to ask whether there are steps in the “false logic” of religion that we miss either because they seem unimportant or because, like the squashed bird, they are too traumatic to bring into consciousness.
Zizek writes of Jesus as the ‘supreme squashed bird’ (291), and perhaps the crucifixion is one of the traumatic steps in religion that we too often repress, preferring to focus on what Brown calls ‘the easier pattern’ of Jesus’ life and resurrection.