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Topic: Two more words
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Mar 6, 2004 04:19PM)
What is the purpose of a mystery?
What is the purpose of a secret?

What is the difference between a secret and a mystery?
Message: Posted by: kerpa (Mar 6, 2004 05:52PM)
A secret should be shop talk for discussing the mechanics, which is as important (but I do not think more important) than presentation. Speaking as a pediatrician, I love it when we can all reconnect with ourselves as children, and relish the mysteries of life. To do that, we should not, of course, shatter the mystery by sharing the secret. We should instead share the mystery....

Now, an important message for everybody! Start to acquaint yourselves with the fine folk singer David Wilcox. (not the Canadian blues rocker of the same name, but rather the American folkie). I had enjoyed his music for years and had the pleasure of seeing and hearing David recently at the Old Town School of Folk Music. His current CD is entitled "Into the Mystery." Check it out! (you can get it from his website)

Secrets in the conventional (non-magic) sense poison relationships, as David makes clear in a song about secrets (I can't recall if it's on the CD; it was in his set). On the other hand, mystery is what we strive to relish - David Wilcox has a phenomenal song called "Out of the Question" in which he relates his growth from his early youth's self righteous "scientific" assuredness in which the unexplained was "out of the question" into the eventual appreciation of mystery - and so the refrain goes "Out of the question and into ... the mystery"

We should all strive to take our audiences away from their doubting "out of the question" conclusions/views of the world, and ... into the mystery.


a/k/a Mike Miller
Chicago area
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Mar 27, 2004 05:22PM)
Folks seem to be having trouble with these words and ideas. Perhaps if we start with the basic definitions things will be easier?

A mystery is a process or experience where some aspect is unexplained. Whether the aspect is a how or why, its presence is known, yet its exact nature is unknown.

Secret is the name of a hole in our knowledge. We may not even know the hole exists. Once we become aware of such a hole, its contents become a mystery.

I'm writing this less than a day after one of my secrets was made public on the café. I happened to discover that the look/handling of the standard wildcard allows one to change both the faces and backs of the cards if one makes a few changes to the cards used. When I made the discovery, I felt like Winston Smith finding a second book inside his dictionary of Newspeak. The idea was so elegant I had several sets of cards made to effect different kinds of changes. From red backed kings to blue backed aces, from antique cards to modern cards, from advertising cards to duplicates of a card from a deck, and from double blank cards to duplicates. At the time this effect where cards are almost handled like coins was something novel. It has stayed a secret I share sometimes with those whose interests in card magic align with my own. A truly underground routine.

This brings us to the question at the top of this thread: What is the purpose of a secret?

Here is my answer: To permit a surprise for the audience. If they knew what is about to happen, they would be watching the 'how', and I would like for them to enjoy the 'what' .

What are your thoughts?
Message: Posted by: Stuart Hooper (Mar 27, 2004 05:35PM)
Will someone please tell me why the most generous people in this world seem to get treated the worst? Who's idea was this?

Does no one hold themselves accountable to their own conscience these days?
Message: Posted by: Liam Jones (Mar 28, 2004 06:38AM)
A mystery is somthing that now one has worked out like the pyramids or stonge henge and a secret is something that only people who know, know
Message: Posted by: Jack (Mar 29, 2004 12:25AM)
I'm not sure if there is a purpose of a mystery. I think mysteries naturally occur. I think mysteries are things one experiences and have probably not experienced before, and usually haven't solved and are therefore fearful of, or amazed by. It's the unknowing and unknown. A mystery.
I think the purpose of a secret is to continually develop from. Secrets are discovered naturally, due to our ability to realize them and test them, like when Franklin got zapped, or the cave man rolled the rock down tha hit and said "GROGG! ROUND IS GOOOOD!!!!" Secrets unlock mysteries and impossibilities and make them doable and sometimes into physical forms. The great Jerry Andrus mentions how the old-time greats would have been floored by many of our modern creations. Magic is evolving and becoming greater constantly like many other things.
There also lies their differences.
Magically, Jack
Message: Posted by: Mike Wild (Apr 1, 2004 11:50AM)
A secret is something kept from others... A mystery is something shared with others.

During a performance an audience / performer bond is formed, and it is formed by a combination of trust and mystery all at once. If the audience feels like part of the mystery, the trust builds, and the relationship is strengthened. Secrets only serve to alienate - the performer from the audience, the audience members from each other, and magicians from other magicians. Stealing someone's secrets has the same negative vibe as hoarding little secrets of your own has.

Mystery has a positive ring to it, as in "the mysteries of the world around us", where as secret sounds dark and negative, as in, "I'll never reveal my secrets..."

In my opinion, there are no secrets in mystery, only awe. Just as there is nothing mysterious about someone with a secret, just another person with something to hide.

All the Best,

Message: Posted by: matthewjohnson (Apr 1, 2004 03:35PM)
My thoughts on Secrets and Mystery In relation to the last post.
On 2004-04-01 12:50, WildStone wrote:
Secrets only serve to alienate - the performer from the audience, the audience members from each other, and magicians from other magicians. Stealing someone's secrets has the same negative vibe as hoarding little secrets of your own has.

Although I understand your sentiment I don't believe that secrets alienate a performer from his spectators, secrets may alienate audience members from each other....this is true, however we have to remember that the audience has no reason to keep secrets from each other....that's just mean! Secrets in the real world...real life are not the best thing and can be avoided by simply telling the truth! However as magicians if we are open about our methods and tell the truth then we fail as magicians. By it's very essence our profession demands we keep our secrets, if we don't we have no profession or hobby. I don't believe magicians have to keep secrets from each other but if the inventor of a secret does not want to reveal it to other magicians they should not have to. These are not life threatening things or hurtful things these are simply the tools of our trade. A car does not work without an engine and in turn magicians cannot succeed without secrets. I think audience members understand this concept...they don't feel alienated they enjoy the MYSTERY that SECRETS create. They would like to know How it's done? but enjoy the mystery more because they don't!
Stealing someones secrets is not the same as hoarding your own! If you steal something that is not yours (secrets or a loaf of bread) then you are in the wrong....If you hoard a secret that is your own (a magical method) then you are quite within your rights to do so. People hoard lots of things that belong to them, money, food, I am not saying it is the best thing to do necessarily but it is not wrong if it belongs to you.
Remember as far as magic is concerned the mystery would not exist without the magicians secrets.....awe would not exist in mystery without the secrets....if you tell them how it's done there is no awe.

As magicians we are not hiding our secrets to cheat people or do them wrong we are hiding our secrets because they want us to...that's the whole point. Mix that with great presentation and a great character and you have magic...the way it's supposed to be.

In my opinion Mystery is created by Secrets and without the secrets....no mystery. I think we should put magic secrets and real life secrets into different cages as they are not the same animal!

Just my opinion :-)


Message: Posted by: Mike Wild (Apr 1, 2004 03:51PM)
Good points. I guess I was thinking more in terms of the audience getting the feeling from the magician that he's keeping them out of the loop, knowing something that they don't, in order to perhaps make them look foolish, or at the very least, to appear not as inteligent as the magician him or herself. I always try to include my spectators in as much as possible, it would work against my personality to be any other way. I wouild come off like a used car salesman in other words. But that's all in the individual. There is no hard and fast rules there.

All the Best,

Message: Posted by: Stuart Hooper (Apr 1, 2004 04:14PM)
I guess I'm going to have to repeat my question.

Can someone tell me why the most generous people in this world seem to get the least gratidude, time and time again?

Does no one hold themselves accountable to anyone, or anything, anymore?

I see this in my generation, more, and more...it's ME, ME, ME, MY time, MY space, what's good for ME, those telivision ads that say, take care of ME first...my friends...this scares ME.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Apr 1, 2004 04:59PM)
Don't forget mith... if you do the trick with a different colored deck of cards... it's a variation you can publish. And folks will not only buy it, but defend your right to sell it.
Message: Posted by: matthewjohnson (Apr 2, 2004 01:53PM)

Thanks for answering. I agree with you that the spectator should not be kept out of the loop or belittled. They are in no way less equal than us as performers and should be treated with respect. We have a responsibility as performers to treat our spectators with respect, that is not to say we should not joke around with them....but treat them as we would like to be treated ourselves!

I would also not like the spectator to feel less inteligent than me, however they understand (I am sure) that they are watching me do what I do best, which is something they have no knowledge about, just as I might like to watch a lion tamer but would never dream of getting in the cage myself.....you know what I mean. I don't think I am any less inteligent than the lion tamer but I know that he has more knowledge in his line of work.

I also agree with you, the whole used card salesman approach to magic is so cheesy. I think so many magicians use the used car salesman approach in place of finding their own character.....and the audience can tell!


Jonathan in your answer to Mith I agree with you. As a publisher of magic effects myself I understand the work and effort that goes into creating an effect. Most of my ideas are based on old ideas, I don't believe they are rip off's as I always give credit where credit is due and always change the plot of the effect. My mission in releasing magic is not to develop a trick that I can sell and make money with, after all when you start out on the road to publishing effects their is not much money to be made. I publish effects because they have been in my working repertoire for long periods of time and I feel they are of valuable use to other individuals in my field and are enough of a variation from their inspiration.


Mith I hold myself 100 percent accountable for ALL my actions. If someone purchases one of my effects or watches one of my lectures and thinks I am in the wrong for doing what I am doing or saying what I am saying then I hold myself accountable. If one of my effects (that someone purchases or reads) does not work then I follow through. I don't believe that Jonathan is saying me, me, me, I believe he has come up with something that he feels strongly about and probably feels is an improvement on the original......is this the point you were getting at?

In answer to your question Myth " Can someone tell me why the most generous people in this world seem to get the least gratidude, time and time again?"

I think the most generous people in the world are always giving...when you always give the very best you can get is someones gratitude. Ungiving people do not always see the necessity in giving or serving up gratitude....does that make sense? Sometimes I think that people look at a very generous person and think "they are doing this because they want to", usually the case...right!

Anyway I think I have started to ramble. May be I am being too generous and giving too much....I would not want anyone to be ungrateful.

Message: Posted by: Stuart Hooper (Apr 2, 2004 07:57PM)
You have the right sentiments sir, but completely mis-understand. I am defending Mr. Townsend in my posts, asking why the most generous people, (such as him) get stomped on.
Message: Posted by: matthewjohnson (Apr 3, 2004 02:44AM)

I see. Sorry for the mis-understanding. I did not realise you were defending Jonathan. Your right, I was a little sketchy on your question and it's direction.
Sorry again although I do (as you agree) have the right sentiment and I think it describes what you are trying to convey?

Interesting subject!

Message: Posted by: Stuart Hooper (Apr 3, 2004 07:18AM)
Yes, no problem. You just don't quite understand the situation, and I'm not at liberty to discuss it.

However, my question is rather generalized, I think.
Message: Posted by: matthewjohnson (Apr 4, 2004 10:44PM)
Your not at liberty to discuss it?

Why don't you enlighten me on the situation and I will offer you my....humble opinion. Is that not why you asked the question in the first place?