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Brad Burt
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Howdy again all!

One of the things that you always hope when you write anything that is theoretical in nature is that you will have questions. Many of the questions you get will be clarification questions and many times the answers will in fact give an opportunity to further the initial ideas put forth.

One Café member wrote:

Hi Brad,

I was just reading your essay.... but I am not clear on what you mean with density of manipulation?

(refer to: There ARE wonderful and magical routines that you just love to watch. Most of the Torn and Restored Card routines are fine things. They ARE magical, but I don’t think that most laypersons accept them as ‘magic’. They look wonderful, but the very density of manipulationthat it takes to produce the effect works against many otherwise great routines and gives the audience an out. )


My answer:

Dear Edith:

It's my way of saying, "the great amount of manipulation" involved. It is my contention that the smaller the number of manipulations in a routine ... generally the stronger the routine. By the nature of the beast if you have a card torn into four pieces it will take four times the manipulation to put it all back together than if you just instantly restored it. The above is a fairly vast generalization and breaks down when you watch Daniel Garcia's TORN. But, it is meant to focus attention on the fact that generally speaking the 'little' classics of close-up magic are almost all fairly short in execution.

When I talk about classics I am talking as a dealer of 33+ years. Certain tricks just always sell. Look at a short list and note that they are very short in actual execution: Peter Rabbit; TT Vanish of a Silk; Crazy Cube; Scotch and Soda, and so forth.

Daniel Garcia's magic is an excellent example of an application of what I am talking about to longer routines. Examine TORN and GREED and you will note that each thing that happens magically happens without much extraneous mucking about. Each restoration and each change happen almost as separate routines in themselves. (I almost said separate 'effects' here, but of course they ARE separate effects!) In both routines you could almost stop at the first effect and take a bow and that would be it.

I guess it's the cleanness of routining that I am looking for and that's one reason why I am attempting to make these Essays a sort of ongoing process of examination. Questions from folks like yourself are an integral part of the process forcing me to look at what I have written, etc.

Thank you for your note and best regards,

Brad Burt

See, what I have found fascinating about magic for years is the power that certain ‘tricks’ have and the simplicity and directness of the effect and method. Let me cite a favorite example: Pushing a dime thru a rubber dental dam. For those not familiar here’s a brief description: Fastened to the top of a small 12 oz juice glass is small sheet of grayish rubber sheet. On top of the rubber sheet one sees a dime and a penny. Magician asks a spectator to select copper or silver. Copper is selected and the penny removed. The magician now asks the spectator to place their first finger on the dime and to push. BANG the dime instantly, visually and tactilely penetrates the rubber sheet and ends up in the glass. The rubber sheet can be thoroughly examined by spectator.

Yep, this is a classic. But, look at the simplicity! Look at the elegance of the method! The directness of the presentation! I remember vividly the first time this trick was performed with myself as the spectator. I remember the coin vanishing from beneath my finger and I remember saying something like, “Ahhhhhhhhh! Argggg! Yikes!” Which is to say that the thing made me literally jump when the magic happened.

Think of Peter Rabbit for a moment and wonder at the beauty of the conception. Two big bunnies, one placed in the magicians hand and one in the spectator’s suddenly both end up in the spectator’s! Then one moment later the spectator’s hand is full of tiny baby bunnies. Does it get ANY better than that magically?

Maybe what I am arguing for is that we look at each thing we do and see how CLEAR it is in effect and how direct the method. Heck, maybe I am just channeling Anneman!

Thanks and take care,
Brad Burt
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