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Profile of reese
Doc Shiels has a sense of humor about his activities. Just that little thing wins you much friendship. He's not dogmatic.
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Profile of CHRousseau
Because of this thread I tried ordering this on Amazon UK without success but made a confirmed order on Ebay the same day. The delivery of the book was about the fastest I have ever gotten from Royal Mail to the USA and as others have said, for me it was a hard book to put down once I started reading it.

If you are looking for a book comparable in scope or size to the Andruzzi biography Unspeakable Acts, you will likely be very disappointed. This is a much shorter text interlaced with many old photos you won't see anywhere else and several examples of Doc's evolving artwork over the years. I did finish it in one longer sitting by staying up far too late the day it arrived in my mailbox. But absorbing it all will take a lot longer--I will let it sit a while and then re-read some parts I flagged with post-it notes more slowly.

I will leave it to others more capable than myself to critique the narrative and style of the book; I would rather describe the very unanticipated reaction I had upon reading it as a continuous and concentrated experience. About half-way through I was initially disappointed that there was not more about his magic but by the time I had finished I realized that this was much more my problem than the author's or his subject matter. Doc Shiels the man is revealed, strengths and flaws, as far more multi-dimensional than an individual whose energy could be contained or satisfied by a single seamless discipline.

Reading this book has made me seriously reconsider how magic fits (or should fit) into the rest of my life--I conclude that I have tried too often to take isolated elements of my magical knowledge and experience and all too often artificially inject these illusionary fragments into the other roles I play (or have played) as nerdy introverted adolescent, smart-ass college kid, den parent in Scouts, grandpa, teacher of teenagers for forty years, or coach to serve illustrative or compensatory purposes as parables toward some other higher end.

I suppose because I have never quite viewed magic as a complete or valid end unto itself I have missed two valuable opportunities that Doc Shiels seemed to have achieved that I find admirable and worthy of emulation. First, he seemed to have so much respect for magic (as well as a personal intuition of a magical force in reality most of us choose to deny or ignore) that he dignified as a pure art of its own and insisted that it achieved its highest expression when linked to the most primal parts of human emotion and experience. Second, because of this equal footing with the other 'arts' in his life, he was able to blend them all so well as a master artist blends paint pigments on his palette to produce subtle shades and strokes that many of us fail to achieve much to our regret.

I re-read the last paragraph and I know became far more abstract than I intended--the best way I guess I can try to concretize what I am trying to say is to compare this short bio with other magical biographies I have read in the past year.

These books about Blackstone's road tours, Steinmeyer's Thurston and the e-book of Harry Kellars autobio all detail great showmen and entertainers with charismatic stage presence, competitive egos and tremendous mechanical and creative acumen. They performed for hundreds of thousands and traveled the globe for decades but I never got the sense that any of these three great men ever personally felt much of the magic they were trying to pass on to their audiences.

In contrast, the Doc Shiels I read about, the younger Doug Henning of Spellbound I grew up watching on television and the Tony Adruzzi who I used to know from the 60's only as Tom Palmer the drunken comedy magician with his foot in a spittoon all seemed to interiorize some alternate but common wavelengths of magic that they wanted to--and did--share with their audiences in uncompromising and unique ways. I will be a little more presumptuous and say I feel the same visceral vibe when I see Jeff McBride perform his water bowls but I don't sense it in the flawless precision of Lance Burton as he fills the stage with doves and very large candles.

I make no judgments about the superiority of either end of this rainbow spectrum but after finishing Monstermind I know I want my experience and practice of magic to move more in that direction. If you found Spellbound or Unspeakable Acts rewarding to read, you should try to obtain this book; when you do so I would look forward to your reactions.

Lakewood WA
Arthur C Clarke was mistaken--Magic has always been the most advanced form of technology.
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Profile of JAlenS
I love this book. I feel like doing a grindshow followed by some creepy mentalism followed by some light evening cloud busting.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Doc Shiels biography (13 Likes)
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