Grist to the Mill

24 October, 2004


Saw a programme about magic last night. The Indian Rope Trick is apparently common to all cultures. This classic feat of magic has somebody throwing one end of a thick, coiled rope skywards. A young, nimble person then shins up the rope (the 'skywards' end is not attached to anything, and the other end is merely lying on the floor). When the person reaches the top they disappear from view - where the person goes and how the disappearing takes place is a mystery. I'd never seen this before, but the TV programme showed lots of old footage of various companies/magicians performing the trick. It was amazing. In our culture we have Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack climbs a vine or creeper that is able to support his weight when it should plausibly fall to the ground. And Jack climbs so high that he disappears from view.

What is the secret of the Indian Rope Trick though? I realise that a proper, sturdy, substantial pole is somehow hidden behind the rope, which allows the climber to ascend. But how is the pole put in place when somebody is seen to casually throw the rope only moments before? And where does the climber disappear to?

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