Beyond the 9 to 5: metaphors and magic

Savannah Wesley, Features Editor

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Esteban Ponce/the Prairie
Dr. Eric Meljac brings a whole new perspective to “finding the hidden meaning” as an illusionist and magician.

Students may find literature confusing enough, but Dr. Eric Meljac brings a whole new perspective to “finding the hidden meaning” as an illusionist and magician.

“[Meljac] has an amazing energy and talent that he brings to his position as Director of Creative Writing,” said Dr. Jeanetta Bennett, associate professor of English. “Whether that is bringing a renowned author to speak to our campus, organizing a fantastic poetry reading to showcase our students’ talent, or editing our journal The Legacy, [Meljac] makes sure that all he does is for the benefit of others. He is truly an inspiration.”

Dr. Eric Meljac is an assistant professor of English at WTAMU since 2014. He started as an English instructor and after three years was promoted to tenure assistant professor. Meljac hopes to continue working here “for forever” and looks forward to the opportunities.

“To me [Meljac’s] important contribution is that he helps new and diverse voices get heard,” said  Dr. Ryan Brooks, associate professor of English. “He is a tireless promoter of creative writing, bringing in nationally recognized writers and helping to give local writers an outlet for their work, and he has helped make WT’s English course offerings much more diverse, developing courses in African and African-American literature.”

Meljac teaches courses in diversity and developed an African-American Literature course which was previously not an option. He designed and teaches African-American Literature as a special topic on a rotating basis with World Literature. He also teaches a course called “Experimental Literature” where much of the books read are post-modern and some “don’t look like books.” While reading may be a comfort to some, magic fills that role for Meljac.

“We all have anxieties we all have certain things that bother us and when things start to bother me I turn to magic as a way of distracting myself,” said Meljac. “…I’m interested in theory and I’m interested in philosophy and things like that and magic is basically a logic problem like magic defies logic.”

For Meljac, illusion-work is a background hobby. He likes to collect effects and learn how to do them and figure out the logic behind the effects. Meljac said illusion-work is a “kind of therapy” for him. He likes to watch magicians and illusionist perform effects and then figure out how they did those effects and learn how to do them himself.

“My family my grandparents would have these kind of large family Christmas parties and every year I would put together like a 15-minute magic show for the family members,” said Meljac. “I would do tricks every year and so it became a tradition that every year they would they would see me do a show.”

Meljac received his first magic kit when he was five years old and said it was “really cheesy”. He started to really get into magic when he was “about 10 or 12” years old. His grandmother used to take Meljac to this magic shop in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and ask for a trick to be performed by the magician who ran the shop. Meljac said the magician who really got him interested in illusion-work was Doug Henning who had a television show called “The Wonderful World of Magic” in the late 1970s.

“I remember the cheesy opening to those shows,” said Meljac. “But I remember knowing that I was interested in magic because I saw him do a trick…When I was old enough to learn to do it and started getting that stuff I always recall that first trick I saw by Doug Henning.”

Henning took a little golden box that was lined with velvet and he took a playing card and he ripped it into four pieces. He gave one of the corners to the current guest star at the time and he took the other three pieces and set it in this little box. Meljac said Henning closed the box and did a “little bit of hocus pocus magicy stuff” and when Henning opened up the box, the three pieces had assembled themselves back together. To prove the piece was the same card, Henning took the corner from the guest star and it matched up.

“This job takes up so much of my life and I’m so dedicated to what I do here that magic has to

take a backseat to that,” said Meljac.

Meljac is in the International Brotherhood of Magicians but does not attend the conferences due to his dedication to the English Department. However, Meljac does teach a two-card magic class out of Lifelong Learning. He teaches this class every semester and shows people eight different card tricks to learn and practice. He also posts tricks and effects on YouTube or on Facebook but does not do anything performance-wise.

 

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