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Topic: Magic Books and other thoughts
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Aug 20, 2004 12:55PM)
Many of the older magicians and performers of magic really do not need to hear this - so please forgive the way I am going to write this because it may come off a little preachy.

I am writing this for the younger magicians that may be starting out in magic. And perhaps they will pick up an idea or two. So if you have been into magic for a long time or you love the magic books please forgive this post.

To start off with I started reading and learning magic at 8 years old. My Dad was a well known magician (Billy Bishop) who was a Chicago Legend in magic. But having an older brother that he tried to teach magic and he ended up being not a very good student. He decided not to teach me. But he got out three books and said, “You want to learn magic this is where to start”… The three books were “Expert at the card table, The stars of magic, and Harry Loryane’s Close up card magic”…

You might say my attack on magic started at the same time I attacked the printed world.

I see a lot of postings in the café about DVD’s and which DVD is the best. And not wanting to make a big thing out of it… As I see the DVD market growing in magic as did the video market. I see a lot of very talented magicians doing things that are very slick at a very young age.

What I want to say to this younger group of magicians is that the DVD’s and the Video’s are a great learning tool. But don’t forget to read magic books.

When I started in magic there was only magic books and other magicians to learn from. I remember years ago talking to a younger magician about the book Expert at the card table by Erdnase. And he remarked that he liked the videos and had a hard time reading and learning from books.

Well we all have hard time reading and learning from books. Some of us have a harder time than other’s. I looked into his eyes and told him to watch my right eye… He said, “wow“- it moved back and forth.

I have a traveling right eye and I have what is commonly known as dyslexia - the impairment of the ability to read. There is nothing wrong with my eyes but it is the way my brain is wired to pick up graphic symbols.

Years ago I was trying to tell a fellow Chicago magician what it was like. And I said, “try to imagine every book including magic books and they are all in code.”

Spelling and grammar are a problem but it is a problem that I battle with every day. The letter “b” can look like a letter “d” and vice a versa. “Wow” can look like “Mom” or something else.

More than once I have been told by many people in fun and insult to get a dictionary (I wish I had a dollar every time in school I heard that one. And the funny thing is everyone that has said it thinks that they are the first one who thought of it).

To me the dictionary is just another code book. Imagine an eight year old kid taking on Erdnase with dyslexia? And as they get older - writing books or HTML for web sites? (I thank God for people like M. D. Smith for he was an important part of the classic book Expert at the card table).

One of the interesting threads in the café is the battle or duel of card men. My battle has been with the printed world and it continues every day.

And this is my point to the younger members of the café. If I can read Erdnase at eight years old with my reading problem so can you. And that goes with any other magic book or classic that I feel you should be reading.

Books like Erdnase, Expert Card Technique, The card Magic Of Lepaul, Close up card magic, Card Mastery, The Dai Vernon Book of magic, The stars of magic, Dai Vernon’s tribute to Nate Leipzig, Greater magic, and the Tarbell Course In Magic, The Bobo coin book. And a whole lot more.

Because in the books you will read and can learn the magic effects AND all sorts of interesting bits of business, history, ideas of the greats in magic that are often not covered in today’s DVD’s and video’s.

I feel that one of the best investments is your magic library. (And others I think in magic feel the same way). And yes it is harder to learn from a book. But I feel it is worth it and it is a valuable part of a full magic education. I do feel that reading magic is important. And had I not gotten into magic - through books - most likely I would have never graduated from high school.

Magic and magic books have been - and continue to be - a very important part of my life.

Thanks for reading this and forgive me for being a little preachy.
Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Aug 20, 2004 01:29PM)
Great post. I am a book lover and only have a small amount of DVDs (Roth's). I second your post by recommending the study of books.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 20, 2004 01:32PM)
Please allow me to second Glenn's post. I grew up, also in Illinois, only I was further into the cornfields. I started at age 7. I had one book on magic, 141 Professional Tricks You Can Do, by Sherman Ripley (I still have it). It taught the basics. In the 40+ years since that time, I have personally owned more than a thousand volumes on magic, have read many more, and most of these were before I ever saw a magic video tape.

It is almost impossible to impart the insight that you will gain from reading books, as opposed to watching a tape or DVD. No offense, young guys, but learning from a video is often reduced to, monkey see, monkey do. Books almost always go into much more detail with the information and in most cases, force the reader to think about what is being learned, and not simply mimicking what is viewed on the screen.

I agree with Glenn 100%.
Message: Posted by: jcards01 (Aug 23, 2004 06:39AM)
To me DVD's/Videos is to books is like TV was to radio. With radio your imagination did everything as it interpreted what was happening in adventures or stories or whatever. Then along came TV and no more imagination, everything was right in front of you and you got what "they" (directors, producers, actors) wanted you to see and understand!
Message: Posted by: Aurelius (Aug 23, 2004 01:39PM)
I agree that the reading of magic books is the best form of learning the basics of this craft, however, not everyone has the imagination to add the "bits" that are not included within the pages of the book. Often, the misdirection, patter and body language of the magician are not discribed(able) within the book. Unfortunately, many new magicians want to learn an easy trick, quickly, without spending the time and effort to learn all of the requirements of "presentation". They get a quick "feel" for this through watching the video, but unless they reproduce this look "exactly as seen", they are not developping their own style or persona. Too bad!!!
Message: Posted by: hukka (Aug 23, 2004 08:24PM)
A lot of hail for the books. I second that they are a great learning tool (not only in magic). But the thing I've been fascinated about is the NET. It weaves the text, audio and video.

My magic started with guy performing a trick that he had learned from Penguin Magic video. I saw it too, but later I have been going more to the multimedia approach on my magic.

A good text tells you more than can be said in audio track, but a good video shows you more than an illustration can say.
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Aug 24, 2004 06:52AM)
On 2004-08-23 21:24, hukka wrote:

A good text tells you more than can be said in audio track, but a good video shows you more than an illustration can say.

But the problem with the video is that the student will most likely perform the routine like a carbon copy of the original performer.

And being just a copy they are no where near as great as the original.
Message: Posted by: hukka (Aug 24, 2004 08:56AM)

To make a correction I was mainly referring to videos as a reference to a method. On video you can see the hand position usually from more directions and the move (ie. one-handed shuffle) in motion. That helps me.

But as in a complete trick routine you are correct: a copy is a copy. It is something you really can't be too proud of.
Message: Posted by: The Magician (Sep 15, 2004 01:38PM)
With being a newbie myself I prefer books to video / dvds
Message: Posted by: Mitchum (Sep 15, 2004 06:59PM)
On my quest to learn more about card magic, I started with Royal Road to Card Magic. This book is great, but it doesn't provide me with all that I needed to learn card magic. It's difficult to understand the effect of a trick unless you see it performed (or have had a lot of exposure to magic). It's also hard to visualize what a sleight should look like unless you've seen it performed. In my experience, videos/DVDs have been a good supplement (not replacement) to my study of RR.
Message: Posted by: Erion (Sep 16, 2004 01:17PM)
I have to second Mitchum, and I would also say that seing a DVD has an added benefit, I can just watch it and dream away..and hopefully start to answer questions like "how would I do/present that?".

I should probably say that I'm a reader and I do truly love to read books, but that doesn't mean that DVD:s don't have anything to add...I believe that a combination of the two is the best way to learn.
Message: Posted by: Darren Roberts (Sep 16, 2004 03:16PM)
I am more of a book guy than a DVD guy. I agree that DVD's are only a good supplement to books. I do enjoy seeing some of the greats on DVD. It's nice to see a true polished presentation sometimes. Having said that...

Michael Close's new e-book "Closely Guarded Secrets" is a nice marriage of teaching techniques. It is basically a book with a few sporadic "videos" to show you how certain moves are supposed to look. You still have to dig the presentation, thoughts, theories, etc. out of the writing, but you're able to see how some of the selected moves look as Michael does them.

His e-book is probably the future of magic learning. I enjoy it and encourage you to give it or other e-books a look.
Message: Posted by: edh (Sep 16, 2004 06:07PM)
I would agree w/Darren. I like books to describe the technique but DVD's are great for showing exactly how the move is supposed to look. Also DVD's will show if you have been practicing correctly. Sometimes the books explain a slieght but I will interpret it wrongly and proceed to practice the slieght incorrectly. DVD's help to make that I'm not wasting time practicing incorrectly and developing bad habits that will take time to correct.

This is just my humble opinion.

Message: Posted by: Corey Harris (Sep 16, 2004 06:55PM)
I suggest if you need a visual, get card college volume 1 on ebook, its more expensive, but well worth it. It contains tons of dimonstrations in it.
Message: Posted by: Clifford the Red (Sep 24, 2004 01:35PM)
There have been some great distinctions here. I do agree that video has some great advantages. If you are learning sleights and especially if you are learning outside of a group, a great video gives quick and fantastic results. That said, sleights are only a minor part of the art of magic. Presentation, bearing and scripting is much more critical in my opinion. Those things are derived from books and magical thought. When I view video, I look for the techniques of presentation, the layers of communication and connection with the audience, and the effectiveness of the scripting - so video is also valuable for me. My magic library consists of mostly books and some targeted video. I rarely buy tricks at all.

Seems like there are two orders of learning - learn sleights/tricks and create a presentation or develop a presentation and learn or create sleights/tricks that support it. In my experience, I have found the latter to be much more effective and much more conducive to creation. I do use both orders, but I always focus most heavily on presentation.
Message: Posted by: Piper1973 (Sep 25, 2004 02:13PM)
I am a book kinda guy too, but I also realize the powerful impact of images. If you consider that a lot of magic is highly visual, it makes sense that to teach it visually. That being said, the more you see and read about the more likely you are to synthesize information and create you own performance.
Message: Posted by: Tennessee Chip (Sep 25, 2004 05:44PM)
I like both books and DVD's, but have found that the visual aspect of being able to see a routine done, and the ability to look at it over and over has really helped me to learn. When I've just read about it, I just don't feel as confident with the learning process by just reading alone.
Message: Posted by: calexa (Jan 21, 2005 02:26PM)
I can only agree: books are the Alpha and Omega for Magicians.....

I have nothing agains DVD, I have Oz Pearlmans "Born to Perform Card Magic" and Micheal Close´ "Workers 1-3". But I come back to BOOKS all the time, not back to the DVDs all the time. In my eyes, books are better value for money. I can see, that it looks sometimes easier to lern from DVDs. But I think that with a book, you just go back a few pages if you have missed something in the trick. With a DVD, it´s not the same....

Message: Posted by: jskalon (Jan 22, 2005 12:25AM)
I like both (but have more books than DVD/Videos). Sometimes I'll get hung up on a move that I'm learning from a book and seeing it actually performed nails it down for me.
On the other hand, I can take a book with me just about anywhere and study when time allows.
Message: Posted by: migwar (Jan 22, 2005 05:31AM)
Even as a beginner I can understand the that books seem impart the thought process behind a principle much better than a DVD, Im currently re rereading Derren Browns pure effect for the 3rd time and keep picking up gems of knowledge,
Message: Posted by: dave_matkin (Feb 15, 2007 12:57PM)
INterseting topic. I am currently working on a seminar about using magic in teaching literacy. If any one out there is dyslexic and would like to talk regarding thier journey in magic with dyslexia and how it has motivated them to cope with their literacy problems, please get in touch! I would really appreciate it.

All the best on and all. Dave