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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » Protocols and the Ethics of Secrecy (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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0pus
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I don't think Max has that reputation anymore.
John LeBlanc
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Quote:
On 2005-12-04 15:32, 0pus wrote:
I don't think Max has that reputation anymore.


What makes you think that? And how would you prove that suggestion?

John
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Nick Pudar
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Full disclosure: I have a copy, and it will stay on my bookshelf.

The interesting thing for me about all of the "Protocols" debates/commentary is a hypothetical question. Assuming for a minute that it was not Maven and Minch who published this book, but rather some newcomers -- who marketed it in the same way. What would have happened? I believe the book would have been dead in the water. Very few would have pre-ordered it, and it would have received immediate disclosure and probably ridicule in the magic community.

The fact of the matter is that Maven/Minch have created an interesting experiment that is intruiging to observe.

Nick
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0pus
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Quote:
On 2005-12-04 22:26, John W. LeBlanc wrote:
Quote:
On 2005-12-04 15:32, 0pus wrote:
I don't think Max has that reputation anymore.


What makes you think that? And how would you prove that suggestion?

John



Well, I think that because of the content of Protocols. While a purchaser may not have expected tricks, I believe that it was reasonable to expect a discussion of the performance of magic or some other topic germane to magic as a performing art. I also believe that it was reasonable to expect Maven's original thinking to be contained in the book. I do not think that the product as delivered was reasonably forseeable. In fact, contrary to the advertising, I don't see that the book contained any secret at all.

I believe that that experience may well have altered perceptions that "anything by Maven is worth buying." Protocols was not worth buying.

With regard to proof, I offer none. The observation is my opinion. However, I would suggest that the dumping frenzy that purchasers are currently engaging in is not reflective of the actual value of the book, but rather fear that when the content of the book becomes widely known, the book will lose a significant portion of its value.
joeyjojo
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Great post, Opus. I agree with you on this (but am always happy to hear opposing views, of course!). Do you think Maven has ruined it for other 'names' who could've gotten away with selling a mystery-product? What about, say, John Carney (whose work is almost universally praised) - can he pull this sort of marketing stunt off or has Maven spoiled 'the fun' for others now?
John LeBlanc
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On 2005-12-05 08:55, 0pus wrote:
Quote:
Protocols was not worth buying.

With regard to proof, I offer none. The observation is my opinion. However, I would suggest that the dumping frenzy that purchasers are currently engaging in is not reflective of the actual value of the book, but rather fear that when the content of the book becomes widely known, the book will lose a significant portion of its value.


Well, I think you nailed it: it's your opinion. Will some people agree with it? No doubt about it.

I happen to have an opinion that varies from yours.

Both Maven and Minch have a long history of producing material that is quality and thought provoking. So, when something comes out with either man's name attached to it, my expectation is to have my brain challenged. As long as that happens, I am satisfied.

Protocols fit my expectation.

Now, clearly some people had other expectations, although I haven't clue on what they based their expectations. Did they think it was going to be Prism, Part II? A compilation of the MAGIC Magazine columns? What? The fact is, there was little to nothing to go on, so I find it interesting anyone would be disappointed.

For those who will judge any future Max Maven publication based on their disappointment (based on misplaced expectation), well, that makes me happy. That's one less person standing in my way when next Maven-branded publication is produced.

"Value" is something that comes down to individual opinion. To the extent an individual's opinion may be swayed by the "herd mentality" is unfortunate, but part and parcel of life. Those who got swept up in the herd without giving due consideration for what it is they were purchasing got value, nonetheless. They got experience.

I also suspect the sellers may one day regret their reselling. But that's just my opinion.

John
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Jonathan Townsend
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Book number 360 here.

As I see it, the book serves as a reminder.

I sent an explanation to someone has the book though says they did not "get" it.

I'll set it next to Neil Gaiman's The Books of Magic to keep my hopes for this community from going beyond its entrenched history of demeaning the art and diminishing the very thing it wishes to offer.

What happens when there is more magic outside the magic shop than there is offered within?
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John LeBlanc
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Quote:
On 2005-12-05 20:32, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
What happens when there is more magic outside the magic shop than there is offered within?


Oh, that's easy: people will actually start doing magic and others will experience it. And some will enjoy both sides of the coin at the same time.

At some point, a magician has to stop the aquisition, start the serious study, and then do something. Unless you are a collector, collecting magic isn't the same as doing magic -- although it's a popular excuse to not do magic.

John
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joeyjojo
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Quote:

On 2005-12-05 20:10, John LeBlanc wrote:
I happen to have an opinion that varies from yours.

Both Maven and Minch have a long history of producing material that is quality and thought provoking. So, when something comes out with either man's name attached to it, my expectation is to have my brain challenged. As long as that happens, I am satisfied.



This is an interesting post - thank you for writing it. I'm surprised that what you expect from a book by a magician/mentalist published by a magic/mentalism publishing company is to "have my brain challenged". Presumably, the 'challenge' you expect concerns 'Magic' (otherwise you'd buy crossword-puzzles, brainteasers, and the like for less money). My understanding (and this is based on ignorance - nobody in Uruguay has a copy of this book to the best of my knowledge) is that what 'Protocols' is about is completely unlike anything previously offered by either Mavenstein or Minch; as such, whatever expectations anyone would reasonably have had (reasonable based on previous experience of these two people's products) would have been disappointed. I don't think this is because expectations were 'misguided' - they were *guided* by what Hermetic Press and Mavenstein usually publish (routines, tricks, presentational ideas, biographies/history, etc.). What if the book was a translation of the New Testament into Swahili: would it not be reasonable for people to be slightly disappointed considering that the previous publishing records of both Mavenstein and Minch?

I realise that you and many others are pleased with your purchase, but is there really no room for disappointment amongst those who are *not* pleased (without saying that they don't "get it" or are "misguided" and so forth)?

Can David Roth sell a mystery book now or has this project or experiment made such a thing impossible (as people will be wary). Were Roth to publish a mystery book (let's say that Richard Kauffman published it), what would it be 'reasonable' to expect the book to deal with? I would say that the smart money is on 'Coin Magic' - be it routines, sleights, or even theory. A compendium of stories of Roth's heroes of coin-magic would also fit the bill, I suppose. But a list of his favorite movies and songs would probably disappoint.

Or am I wide of the mark yet again?

adios,
joey
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Quote:
On 2005-12-06 06:01, joeyjojo wrote:...Can David Roth sell a mystery book now or has this project or experiment made such a thing impossible (as people will be wary). Were Roth to publish a mystery book (let's say that Richard Kauffman published it), what would it be 'reasonable' to expect the book to deal with? I would say that the smart money is on 'Coin Magic' - be it routines, sleights, or even theory. A compendium of stories of Roth's heroes of coin-magic would also fit the bill, I suppose. But a list of his favorite movies and songs would probably disappoint.

Or am I wide of the mark yet again?


David Roth has a wide background in stories about the characters in magic and the amazing things people have done. More than just coin magic. He told us twenty years ago that for paying shows he does magic with other props too. Perhaps someday he will publish some notes on how to manage the traffic for prop based routines and maybe even his methods for vanishing all the props off the table.

And Max... someday it would be very nice to have a chance to learn some of your "thought thief" cold reading skills.

But that little book... it has a purpose and reason for being. The "experiment" is just beginning.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
joeyjojo
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On 2005-12-06 08:38, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
But that little book... it has a purpose and reason for being. The "experiment" is just beginning.


Sounds interesting. But does the "purpose" or the "reason for being" serve the interests of the readers or the writers/publishers? (or both?)
0pus
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Jonathan Townsend and John LeBlanc --

You both seem to have gotten something from the Maven book. Do you think you could share your interpretation of the whole affair?

It seems to me that it is not enough to look at the book alone. One must also look at the manner in which it was offered to the public. Any insights?

0pus
John LeBlanc
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Quote:
On 2005-12-06 06:01, joeyjojo wrote:
This is an interesting post - thank you for writing it. I'm surprised that what you expect from a book by a magician/mentalist published by a magic/mentalism publishing company is to "have my brain challenged". Presumably, the 'challenge' you expect concerns 'Magic' (otherwise you'd buy crossword-puzzles, brainteasers, and the like for less money).


That's not what I wrote.

I specifically singled out Max and Stephen in this case, and for the reason I gave: my experience with their work has brought me to this point.

Does anyone else fit that description? Sure. Eugene Burger. Richard Osterlind certainly does. His business partner and my friend Jim Sisti, too. The late, great Gene Poinc. Those are four right off the top of my head (there are more), and all for the same reason. While they all produce tricks, they also present the thinking behind the tricks.

In all four cases, they've also written on the philosophy of magic, which is of greater interest to me these days than any trick. I enjoy reading intelligently written things that pose questions, as well as opinions. I especially enjoy reading a paragraph that contains a phrase that makes me stop reading and think for an hour before continuing.

"Pablum" is a word often used in conjunction with much of magic writing. And I think that's a great word. It suggests "baby food" -- which is where the word originally came from. If I want beginner "baby food" I'll read a beginner magic book, like one of the Bob Longe magic books you find at Barnes & Noble -- they don't pretend to be anything more than what they are.

Ever read Howard Lyons' Ibidem? That's definitely the anti-pablum of magic!

Quote:
I don't think this is because expectations were 'misguided' - they were *guided* by what Hermetic Press and Mavenstein usually publish (routines, tricks, presentational ideas, biographies/history, etc.). What if the book was a translation of the New Testament into Swahili: would it not be reasonable for people to be slightly disappointed considering that the previous publishing records of both Mavenstein and Minch?


But it wasn't a translation of the New Testament. It was a magic book.

Back to expectations, let's please not get too far from what was and was not said about the book on the web site. There was no indication whatsoever that it was anything but a small book, 214 pages long, no tricks, written and autographed by Max Maven.

Are there people disappointed in the book? Yes. And that's not either Maven's or Minch's fault in this case.


Quote:
I realise that you and many others are pleased with your purchase, but is there really no room for disappointment amongst those who are *not* pleased (without saying that they don't "get it" or are "misguided" and so forth)?


Come on now, I never stated people should not be disappointed. I have pointed out that their disappointment is of their own making and cannot be blamed on anyone else. They were not assured they were getting anything more than what was on the web site. Do I wish there was more, or it was something different? Sure I do. But I'm satisfied with my purchase nonetheless.

Quote:
Can David Roth sell a mystery book now or has this project or experiment made such a thing impossible (as people will be wary). Were Roth to publish a mystery book (let's say that Richard Kauffman published it), what would it be 'reasonable' to expect the book to deal with? I would say that the smart money is on 'Coin Magic' - be it routines, sleights, or even theory. A compendium of stories of Roth's heroes of coin-magic would also fit the bill, I suppose. But a list of his favorite movies and songs would probably disappoint.


I suspect future publishers of "mystery books" -- if there ever will be one again, and I suspect there will not be to the extent this one was -- will be more forthcoming about the contents. But that suggests there will be another book like this one, and I don't think there will be.

Quote:
Or am I wide of the mark yet again?


It's an opinion. And you've taken the time to back it up with a thoughtful reply. I hope I've done the same. No one can expect more than that.

John

Posted: Dec 6, 2005 9:08am
Quote:

On 2005-12-06 08:45, 0pus wrote:
Jonathan Townsend and John LeBlanc --

You both seem to have gotten something from the Maven book. Do you think you could share your interpretation of the whole affair?

It seems to me that it is not enough to look at the book alone. One must also look at the manner in which it was offered to the public. Any insights?

Okay, here's my Reader's Digest version of things:

1. The suggestion that Minch intended to sell out the book before it actually shipped suggests a level of dishonesty, that he knew once word of the contents leaked out sales would dry up. This suggests Minch would sell a book he didn't believe in. That's both unfair and untrue.

2. The contents were made secret for the same reason television ads for motion pictures don't give away the ending. If you read the book, page by page, it unfolded. If you scanned the book without reading it each page carefully, you absolutely robbed yourself of the impact it could have had on you.

3. The book teaches a lesson as profound as you think it is (or is not.) And that's down to reading each page and considering the content, the source, and the context, and then considering the entire book as a whole. You know, this just isn't for some people and that's fine. It's not a religious artifact, or a book pretending deep philosophical meaning only available to those with the ability to divine its secret. It is what it is and I'm not belittling anyone for not liking it, or suggesting anyone is better than anyone else for finding enjoyment from the book.

John
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joeyjojo
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Thanks for your reply, John. I am wary of stating my 'opinion' (and am worry that I'm "wide of the mark") since it stems from ignorance: I don't have the book nor does anyone from my local magic circle so I can only discuss this topic with this huge disclaimer in mind.

By the way, it has been pointed out to me that 'Mavenstein' may be deemed derogatory or offensive to Maven/Goldstein. I certainly did not intend to offend anyone in using that term ('Mavenstein' is my shorthand for 'Maven/Goldstein', which I was too lazy to type each time).

I respect Stephen Minch and am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt concerning the decision to use pre-sale techniques to sell the book, but I wonder how many people who bought the book would've done so had they known what they would be getting. It is, of course, impossible to know but my suspicion is that by surrounding the contents with mystery and using pre-sale techniques Minch/Mave sold more copies than they would have otherwise. Previews for motion-pictures don't give away the ending, but they certainly allow you to make an educated decision as to whether or not you want to see the movie. I think a more accurate comparison would be a movie-ad that said: "Directed by Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks, (or whomever), 100 minutes" without saying anything about the genre or general plot.
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In this case, it helps to have the thing in hand when discussing it.

Or at least an accurate report of what the thing is.

Till then... ?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
joeyjojo
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Quote:
On 2005-12-06 10:02, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
In this case, it helps to have the thing in hand when discussing it.

Or at least an accurate report of what the thing is.



"The thing", Jonathan? "The thing"? Come on: at least we KNOW that it's a book! Unless that's part of the secret too... Smile
Jonathan Townsend
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Really? How do you know?

Just cause the ads show photos of a book does not mean it is a book.

Could be a box of chocolates.

Did yours have the pralines and cream gimmicks?
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Scott Fridinger
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Mr. Townsend, earlier you mentioned that you had an item stolen. I have heard this before but don't know the details. Could you PM me and let me know details. Of course you don't have too. I just like to know when this type of thing happens, so I can avoid the products. Thanks.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Dinger, since you asked the question in public as opposed to PM, I will have to ask you to use the search function on the Café and look up "three fly" and we can go from there after you do some reading.

And yes, a secret of mine was taken public by some folks whose sense of self entitlement was (at the time) greater than their respect for secrets in magic.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
joeyjojo
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Quote:
On 2005-12-27 03:38, Lee Darrow wrote:
The ads stated, if I recall correctly, that the Protocols would only have a limited print run and that it would "never" be printed again.

I seem to recall Max saying the SAME THING about the Color Series on Mentalism - that there would NEVER be a re-print. Ever. In fact, he said that to my fact at one of the Chicago lectures in response to a direct question about them.

My response to that is PRISM.

As J. Jonah Jameson's creator/publisher Stan Lee would say:

'Nuff Said!

Lee Darrow, C.H.


Yes, it's amazing how low some people will go for a quick buck (even after having developed and cultivated a serious reputation in their chosen field).
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