Most of David Blaine's "stunts" are actually elaborate attempts to escape humanity's dark fate.
This week, magician and death-defying early-2000s icon David Blaine failed to escape our planet's inexorable hold.
Many are reporting Blaine's Ascension—dangling from helium balloons that pulled him nearly 25,000 feet above the earth's surface—as just another "stunt," like the time he held his breath for 17 minutes, or the time he encased himself in ice for 63 hours. But in truth, Blaine's latest spectacle reveals the uncomfortable reality that these supposed stunts always contained: David Blaine is trying desperately to escape humanity's inevitable collective doom.
In April of 1999, Blaine performed his first public feat of endurance along riverside drive in New York City, being buried alive in a see-through coffin beneath a three-ton tank of water. On the surface it was like a flashy publicity stunt to get his name out, but it seems Blaine's true intention was to amplify the latent mystical abilities he had previously displayed by performing card tricks for stranger on the street.
After seven days shut off from the world—subsisting on a liquid diet, with no means to communicate and barely enough room to scratch his nose, he emerged from his coffin and announced to the world that he had succeeded. He had induced in himself a prophetic insight.
David Blaine Buried Alive www.youtube.com
According to Blaine, he had "a vision of every race, every religion, every age group banding together." But he has since made it clear that this statement was either pure fabrication or a lie of overwhelming omission—he saw what was coming, and has been trying to get away.
Two decades later, our society is more divided than ever, and tearing itself apart along the very lines Blaine noted. If there is a ray of hope for the survival of our species, it remains a faint pinprick at the end of a long, dark tunnel, and David Blaine is doing his best to find himself a shortcut—or perhaps just to give up on humanity altogether.
Frozen in Time (2000)
In November of 2000—the year following his epiphanic dream—Blaine attempted to freeze himself alive in a block of ice in Times Square in a "stunt" called Frozen in Time. Perhaps inspired by the show Futurama—wherein the main character is frozen in the year 2000, and revived 1,000 years in the future—Blaine remained encased in ice for two-and-a-half days.
If he hadn't been extracted to avoid the risk of shock and death, perhaps he could have survived in cryogenic stasis while the world crumbled around him. Maybe he would have lived to see that harmonious distant future of his vision.
Drowned Alive (2006)
In may of 2006, Blaine may have taken notes from Kevin Kostner's ability to survive as a fish-man in the climate collapse of 1995's Waterworld and focused on escaping the apocalyptic fate on the surface by developing his ability to live beneath the ocean. In Drowned Alive, Blaine spent a full week living a bubble of salt water in the middle of Lincoln Square.
Afterwards, researchers at Yale studied him to assess the physiological effects of living underwater. He did not develop gills.
In November of that year, Blaine may have seen a DVD copy of 1997's Contact, in which Jodie Foster is teleported through space and time after being suspended from a crane and dropped into a mysterious device comprised of concentric spinning rings.
In Revolution, David Blaine returned to the Times Square area, where he was suspended from a crane within a device comprised of concentric spinning rings. He remained suspended for more than two days, but failed to teleport through time and space.
The Oprah Winfrey Show (2008)
Having failed to open a portal to a better world, David Blaine returned to his oceanic ambitions. On an April 2008 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, he broke a world record by holding his breath for more than 17 minutes.
It was an impressive achievement, but still a good deal shy of his ultimate goal of living underwater permanently.
Dive of Death (2008)
In September of 2008, in a last ditch effort to warn humanity of the darkness that was coming, Blaine collaborated with Donald Trump on a "stunt" tellingly given the dual name The Upside Down Man and Dive of Death. It involved Blaine hanging upside down for 60 hours over Central Park's Wollman Rink.
As with everything that Donald Trump touches, the whole thing turned out to be largely a sham—with Blaine taking a break every hour. Unfortunately, America failed to take the clear message from this and went on to elect a president for whom up is down—a man who is currently propelling our nation's full-speed dive of death.
Electrified: One Million Volts Always On (2012)
In October of 2012—after Donald Trump had achieved political prominence through the "birtherism" movement questioning Barack Obama's origins—it was clear that the path forward was unavoidable. David Blaine turned once again to movies from the previous decade, and was inspired by Christopher Nolan's 2006 film The Prestige, in which Nikola Tesla (played by David Bowie) invents a method for cloning/teleporting a human being by placing them in the middle of a powerful electrical field.
So Blaine took another shot at teleportation, with Electrified: One Million Volts Always On, surrounding himself with high-voltage Tesla coils for three straight days. He even had musicians like Pharrell Williams, Reggie Watts, and Andrew W.K. play with the coils in an effort to find the right resonant frequency to warp the fabric of space. It may turn out that there is a storage unit packed full of drowned Blaine-clones, but it seems he did not succeed in teleporting anywhere.
Which brings us to September of 2020. With the disastrous end times unfolding all around us, David Blaine is becoming truly desperate to escape. No longer drawing inspiration from his collection of sci-fi DVDs, he seems to be turning to Pixar—with 2009's Up! seemingly providing the seed for Ascension. Hanging on to a colorful bouquet of enormous helium balloons, Blaine lifted off from the surface of the earth, floating toward space.
Helium is famously so lightweight that, when released, it escapes the Earth's atmosphere entirely and floats into the void. As a result, the planet's supply of the gas—vital for various medical purposes—is quickly running out. From that perspective, it might seem like a waste to use an enormous volume of Helium just to float above an Arizona desert. But not if Blaine was trying to join the helium in its aimless journey.
Was he hoping to float in isolation through the galaxy like Le Petit Prince? With an estimated net worth of $40 million, could David Blaine not afford a SpaceX trip to the moon? What did he witness in his prophecy back in 1999 that would drive him to such lengths to escape? How much worse are things going to get?
Whatever the case may be, Blaine once again failed to escape humanity's doom. At 24,900 feet—in the troposphere, far short of the edge of space—Earth's surly bonds reasserted themselves, and he would go no higher. Blaine was left with no choice but to release the balloons and skydive back down to our increasingly hellish planet.
Maybe, at long last, Blaine has given up on escaping. Maybe he has resigned himself to watching his dark, secret prophecy come true. And maybe, if we're all very lucky, we will manage to survive 2020 and live to see the Utopian vision he claims to have seen in that coffin back in 1999. Fingers crossed...