Nautilus

This Man Wants Magic to Be a Branch of Psychology

In his rather untidy office at Goldsmiths, University of London, the cheerful and vaguely rumpled Gustav Kuhn grabs what looks like a wire-frame pyramid off of an otherwise empty shelf. Holding it gently, his Swiss-English accent crackling over our transatlantic Skype connection, he says, “I tried to investigate pyramid power—the idea was that you could put a razor blade or food under the pyramid and the blade would sharpen or the food would stay preserved.” In San Francisco, I raise an eyebrow. Kuhn grins in response, pauses, and baits my question in a way only a professor can. But before I can ask, he places the pyramid back on the shelf, chuckles to himself, and says, “It doesn’t work, of course. Real magic doesn’t exist.”

Kuhn should know. Born in Aarau, Switzerland in 1974, he became seriously interested in magic at a young age. He

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