The spectacular showing: Houdini and the wonder of ethnomethodology
This essay is about Houdini’s escapes and ethnomethodology’s studies.1 By accomplishing what appears to be impossible, Houdini leaves his audience considering not only how did he manage to do that, but also just what is it that we consider to be possible. Magicians and escapologists warn us off an interest in the mechanics of their tricks that might spoil the thrill of what they dramatically present to us: a sense of the limits to whatwe can apprehend as an audience. While marking out the differences in their projects, this essay brings out the sharedurge of escapologists and ethnomethodologists to question our senses, openmembers to particular phenomena, and awaken us tothe wonder of the world.In reflecting on what happens when magicians reveal the devices that constitute their tricks, I ask whether the purpose of studying methodologies canonlyreside in revealing how they are practically produced as intelligibleactions. What more might ethnomethodology’s invitation be?