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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Online blog with quotes from the greatest (21 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Alex Capra
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Hi everyone,

I am currently doing a PhD research on magic history. I posted about it here http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?forum=134&topic=533267.

Since then I've been reading a lot. I thought that I might bring some value to the magic community and share some results. But I decided to postpone some too ambitious projects (like starting a blog on the history of magic) and start with something little. I also decided not to share my own thoughts and give the word to the greatest instead.

So here is the result - I launched a simple blog where I publish quotes from the books I am reading as I am proceeding with my research. The aim of the blog is to publish interesting quotes on magic theory and history. There will be no information about methods or secrets. The idea is to provoke more interest in magic theory and to inspire people to read.

Due to my love for procrastination I decided not to post any information about the blog unless I have at least 10 quotes published in a month. Well, I've done it:) Not that impressive, but I will try to arrive at a point when I publish one quote a day. At least I hope so:)

Here is a link
https://magicquotes.wordpress.com/

It is not an advertisement, as the project is non-commercial and has only educational aims.

I will be happy to hear your opinions and feedback.

Best regards,

Alex
Brad Burt
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Great quotes. The only one I stridently disagree with is the Henning Nelms quote about adding meaning. By his own illustration what he advocates is impossible. The worst thing I ever did magically was in reading Nelms and taking him seriously. It drove me mad (insane) for over a year. Why? I discovered that I could NOT do what he advocated. The fact that magic is trivial does not mean to me that it is useless. What it means is that although I can NOT cure a dying child of cancer, maybe I could make the child forget his/her situation for a moment in time. Maybe I could help them laugh, be engaged, etc.

Nelms literally made magic no fun for me anymore. I had taken on the burden of "having" to add meaning to presentations that I knew internally were not worthy of it. They were worthy of much! Just not that. In reviewing the magicians I had loved like Goshman, Ron Wilson, Billy McComb, etc. I gradually recovered from Nelms philosophy and was able to enjoy performing magic again without the guilt that came from the conviction that what I offered had no "special" meaning.

The meaning in magic is the magic itself. It's self supporting and sustaining. The multiplication of baby bunnies in a spectator's hand is NOT a call to have more children. It's just fun and amazing and that's all it ever needs to be.
Brad Burt
Alex Capra
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Brad, thanks for your comments, this is an interesting insight and an interesting problem for discussion.

But this is a good thing to disagree. It demonstrates that there are different opinions about magic and this is an essential thing for development of any art form. This is why I believe it is important to post quotes from a variety of sources, even if some of them may sound very strange.

I personally also believe that one can not and should not limit magic to presentations which are all centered around practical purposes. It would be the same as limiting painting to exact reproduction of the world or architecture to building apartment buildings with no elements of design. A lot of things in this world have no point, if the only point we are looking for is some particular practical value.

But at the same time we, as magicians, make choices about what we perform, what objects we use and what we do with them. I believe that one can also think of quote by Nelms as a motivation to choose more consciously and to always have an answer: "Why I perform this effect?". And if you know the answer, then you have the meaning, even if this meaning is the magic itself.
George Ledo
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Quote:
On May 30, 2016, Brad Burt wrote:
Nelms literally made magic no fun for me anymore. I had taken on the burden of "having" to add meaning to presentations that I knew internally were not worthy of it. They were worthy of much!

Not to pick on Nelms, but what I didn't care for in his book was that it felt like he was "pushing a formula" for performing magic. This approach may have been due to his day job as a theatre professor and director, but, in some cases, it contradicted what I was reading in books on showmanship by established professional magicians. So, after a while, I just put the book back on the shelf and moved on.

Interestingly (to me, anyway), I did get some useful ideas out of another of his books, Thinking With a Pencil. Smile
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Pop Haydn
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Nelms wrote a very interesting but flawed book. He like many others confuses magic with theater.

Maskelyne and Devant's book is much more informative.

When "Our Magic" is being performed for its own sake, theater and music must serve the interests of the Magic, and must never detract or overwhelm the effect.

When magic is used in service to theater (story and meaning), its own needs must be reduced as necessary to serve the story or to serve the message.

When Magic is used in the theater of story, it becomes a transitional device or special effect. It is not Magic for its own sake.

Magic is a special kind of theater, and its rules are different from those of the other kinds.

The message IS the Impossible.

I believe that Magic is a true artform, and exists for its own sake.

It is not just a theatrical technique or a message delivery assistant.

Magic used to promote religion, abstinence, science, anti-drug messages, or to tell a story is fine, but it is magic REDUCED as an art.

It is Magic prostituted for the sake of some other cause or other artform.

Magic may not be big in the great scheme of things, or as an artform.

But that doesn't make it less important.

Which can be the greatest art--the Sonnet, the Play or the Novel?

A critic wrote, "In his own peculiar little field, Nate Leipzig is a Horowitz or a Paderewski!"

I think of this "peculiar little field" in the same way. It is not by expanding the Sonnet to a Novel that we create great art. It is by making the perfect Sonnet or by making the perfect Novel.

The place of Magic in Art may be small but we don't serve our cause by trying to move up the seating at the table.
Brad Burt
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Bravo!
Brad Burt
Pop Haydn
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"It is necessary to remember that an audience is not amenable to compulsion, and cannot be relied upon to make any serious mental effort. Spectators attending a magical performance have no idea of exerting themselves, either mentally or physically, for the performer’s benefit. Why should they? They are there to be amused, and for no other purpose. The exertion of following and remembering details which involve any element of complexity, or of trying to understand any matter which exhibits a mere trace of obscurity, is a thing which no magician has a right to demand of his audience. His spectators, very justly, expect that everything connected with the entertainment shall be so presented as to be readily understood. Hence, it is important that, as a matter of ordinary practice, each presentation should consist in an unbroken sequence of events”

Maskelyne, Devant “Our Magic”, 1911, p.22

So much great stuff to be unpacked in this tight little statement. All 22 of the rules of magic in "Our Magic" should be read and studied again and again. Johnny Thompson likes to read this book once every year.
Ray Pierce
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Although I have taken a few nuggets from Nelms, I agree that Maskelyne and Devant have a better grasp on what resonates with me. When I was holding our Magic Camp intensive for all the "Wizard" magic performers at Caesars Magical Empire, I used a lot of Our Magic as a basic outline for understanding their role in the theatrical context of what we were doing. Although I found 24 rules that I used by so maybe there were a few I added? lol... it sure seems like their writing!

These rules have all been very valuable and it could easily be argued as to the value of each concept but the one that I think is so valuable to performers today is "Always endeavor to form an accurate conception of the point of view most likely to be adopted by a disinterested spectator."
Ray Pierce
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JNeal
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It's been many years since I studied Our Magic ( I am somewhat embarrassed to admit). I used to study those rules religiously... until I got Nelms' book.
My saga with that, is a story for another time, and involves an admission of error in the book on Nelms' part as well.

Anyway, I digress... my question for those who have read Maskelyne and Devant's book more recently, is about this quote:; "it is better to do an imperfect thing well, than to attempt perfection and fail in the endeavor." Does anyone else recall reading that in Our Magic?
visit me @ JNealShow.com
Pop Haydn
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"As a practical illustration, we shall suppose a performer intends to present a magical item for which the best mode of introduction would be a serious, well written, and impressive address. The points the performer then has to consider are these. Can he be effectively serious and impressive, and can he write well enough to compose the requisite address? If these achievements are well within his power, he need have no hesitation in going ahead. But if, in either respect, his personal limitations stand in the way of successful achievement, he should sacrifice something in mode of procedure, in order to bring the presentation within the scope of his ability. It is always better to do an imperfect thing well than to attempt to attain perfection and fail in the endeavor. The transition from art to balderdash may be made in a single step. The performer who, understanding his art but not realizing his own limitations, undertakes more than he can perform, is almost certain to take that step from the sublime to the ridiculous every time."

Caveat: The incompetent are usually the last to recognize their own limitations.

It could also be seen as an admonition to the perfectionist--the best is often the enemy of the good.
JNeal
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Thanks so much!
I have carried that quote in my head for years and I never was absolutely certain that it was Our Magic.
How nice to have that facility ,to recall at will.
(I used to.....!)
I took it as a comment on perfectionism AND as a warning to recognize one's limitations.
visit me @ JNealShow.com
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On May 31, 2016, Pop Haydn wrote:
"The performer who, understanding his art but not realizing his own limitations, undertakes more than he can perform, is almost certain to take that step from the sublime to the ridiculous every time."


Yet those taking that step from the sublime to the ridiculous provided prodigious entertainment on certain Monday nights in the past.

(Also, thank goodness for PDF's of these classic works that allow for searching!)
Ray Pierce
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Pop Haydn
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Shut up, Ray! You are blowing my super-mentality feat!

...Jonathan, anyone can be a genius on the internet. Smile
Gerald Deutsch
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"I have long maintained that presentation is the most important aspect of a performance. There is no magic without an audience and an audience is there to be entertained and a good presentation is essential for entertainment."

Gerald Deutsch
Perverse Magic thread of Genii Forum
May 1, 2008
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On May 31, 2016, Pop Haydn wrote:
Shut up, Ray! You are blowing my super-mentality feat!

...Jonathan, anyone can be a genius on the internet. Smile


lol... that reminds me about a story JNeal had about keeping resource books by the phone back in the day, but I'll have to let him tip that one!
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
Pop Haydn
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I never realized what a spoiler you were, Ray... Smile
JNeal
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Yees, Ray... that was pre- internet... now it wouldn't be nearly as much fun! But I think I'll save THAT story for when I get around to writing my book.....
visit me @ JNealShow.com
Ray Pierce
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Then it will be well worth buying!
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
JNeal
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Free copy for you Ray!
visit me @ JNealShow.com
Connerz88
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I really love this Alex!! A lot of great thoughts and inspiration in that blog.

I use a chrome add on called 'Momentum' which I guess is best described as a motivational dashboard? One of its features is a daily quote. I'd much rather see these quotes on it!

Thanks for taking the time in creating and sharing the blog with us. Please keep it going! Smile
"Vincit qui se vincit" - Publilius Syrus
www.chrisconwaymagic.com
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