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Magician Takes a Plunge

On May 1, stunt-meister David Blaine dove into an 8-foot-wide “human aquarium” on the plaza in front of New York’s Lincoln Center, where — connected to tubes supplying oxygen and nutrient-rich fluids — he plans to stay until May 8. In a Houdini-esque finale, Blaine plans to take off his oxygen mask, wrap himself in chains and stay under water for more than nine minutes, setting a new world record. Born in Brooklyn to a Jewish mother, Blaine has said that his death-defying feats — in years past he has been buried alive, frozen in ice and, most recently, suspended in a Plexiglas box above the Thames River without food for 44 days — are a sort of tribute to those who endured the privations of the Holocaust. (He has “Survival in Auschwitz” author Primo Levi’s prisoner number tattooed to his arm.) But it seems that Blaine’s inspiration may be part biblical, as well. “There is nothing the body suffers the soul may not prophet from,” Blaine wrote an online journal a few weeks ago. “A prophet,” he explained, “is someone who can state briefly what we already know.” That’s some pretty heady stuff coming from a latter-day magician. But perhaps his grandiosity can be excused: While training for his most recent stunt, his brain wasn’t getting much oxygen.

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