Lepselter’s text is a magisterial enactment of the thing that it is ultimately about: American weirdness.
Graham M. Jones is associate professor of anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Combining linguistic and cultural anthropology, he explores how people use language and other media to enact expertise in practice, performance, and interaction. His two monographs constitute a magical diptych: Trade of the Tricks: Inside the Magician’s Craft (California, 2011) describes day-to-day life and everyday talk within the insular subculture of contemporary French illusionists; Magic’s Reason: An Anthropology of Analogy (Chicago, 2017) examines the meaning of magic in Western modernity, shuttling between the intellectual history of anthropology and the cultural history of popular entertainment.
Read side by side, these two stunning commentaries on Magic’s Reason—for which I am immensely grateful—both seem to revolve around…