Meet Newfoundland's first certified doctor of magic

It may not seem like a subject that has any place in academia -- outside of Hogwarts, of course — but one St. John's magician is now a certifiable doctor of magic.

Peter Duchemin just completed his indisciplinary studies PhD at Memorial University after defending his thesis, called "The Art of Hidden Causation: Magic as Deep Mediation."

The doctorate program itself is a kind of mish-mash of various subjects, Duchemin explains.

"I like to think of it as a full-spectrum ... exploration of themes like literature and history and linguistics and philosophy," he said.

Duchemin spent a decade researching and writing his final argument: that magic, in a philosophical sense, truly does exist.

"When I say mediation, I mean the creative capacity to change the world — to create a world out of language, out of thought, out of illusion," he said, explaining that "mediation" happens when you present an idea to someone, perhaps by telling a story or drawing a picture.

"There's something profoundly creative in the human ability to make and mediate worlds."


Magic itself is divided into two camps: the kind that embraces illusion, tricks and sleight of hand, and the kind that depends on superstition, Duchemin says.

His account of magic tries to explain how both camps make an impact in the world.

Heather Barrett

"Magic is the creating of an effect," he said, such as pulling a quarter out of someone's ear, "and the hiding of the cause of the effect."

All forms of magic are about releasing creativity, Duchemin said, adding that his research will help strengthen his own art, philosophy and prestidigitation, magic for entertainment purposes.

"Focusing it, and directing it and causing change in conformity with will is the famous formula, but that's what's here for and I've created a piece of work that operates for me almost like a battery I can use to help me enchant my own works," he said.

Now living in Hong Kong with his wife. Duchemin performs magic and is teaching a course on tarot.

He says they are also kept busy with learning the language and practicing kung fu.

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