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Bob G
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Oh! One more thing. Someone brought up the analogy of hitting golf balls on a driving range without ever playing a game. Well... if that's what someone likes, why shouldn't they do that? I love shooting baskets and hate playing basketball. Do I have a moral obligation to do something I hate? Of course not: I'll stick to basket-shooting, thank you very much. In the case of magic, I do want to perform, but I have anxiety about it as you do, TeddyBoy. With the help of some people on another thread, some of whom are also on this thread, I found a comfortable way to do a bit of performing. Ask me in July how it went. Smile



Ah.... Pardon my vehement tone, folks. We Americans are too intent on working hard, too hard, I'd say, and it's only getting worse. Mind you, all of my hobbies involve hard work, so feel free to ignore me. I just hate to see people feeling guilty about things that should be fun, possibly because I experience that myself. But in theory, if not necessarily in practice, I'm with Spike Lee, who said that work has no value in itself; work is valuable only to the extent that it accomplishes something valuable.


I'd better go to bed now. Good night, all.
Magical Moments
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Depends on the trick. If I enjoy the handling of the props, then yes. Otherwise, not so much.

Some tricks require more practice than others so the level of difficulty can play a role.
funsway
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Quote:
On Apr 28, 2019, Bob G wrote:
I'm with Spike Lee, who said that work has no value in itself; work is valuable only to the extent that it accomplishes something valuable.


Ah, but Thomas Merton noted, "Man has a natural communication with the earth. It is called work."

So, I guess it matters what one considers to be valuable. I might agree that Americans work hard if one considers collecting baubles to be of value,
but as a business consultant and contract recruiter, most Americans do not know how to work effectively or efficiently at all -
if they even show up at work on time.

So many things to practice in life: enunciation, accountability, kindness, integrity as examples.
Folks should have had those locked in before driving a car, but it is never too late.

Methinks performance magic has a unique way of allowing one to practice such things in a fun way -- theater, art and mirth,
regardless of the level of technical skill or comfortable audience engagement.

To even imagine a new effect in one's mind is a form of practice when compared to alternatives of mental sloth.
Yes, I support not performing publicly without a degree of mastery, but also know that any interpersonal communication
that inspires awe&wonder is a good activity. Exposure destroys the magic, so at least practice enough to avoid fumbled misery.

With my degree of hand disabilities a couple of ours each day squeezing a rubber ball is good practice.
Who knows, I may someday be able to perform multiplying golf balls again.

.....

But I do agree that many Americans do not balance work periods and relaxation well, if that is what you mean by "too hard."
Somehow, "entertain me" is in opposition to work rather than a complimentary activity, with "hobby" viewed as another form of work.

Practicing magic is real. Performing for another live is a real experience. Learning from either experience can be valuable.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Bob G
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Then again, Ken, remember the words above the gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp: "Work will set you free." Not only do we have to decide what is valuable, but also what we mean by "work." (For one take on that, see Philip Levine's poetry collection, What Work Is. Levine was a factory worker before he became known as a poet and got a job teaching poetry)



In an ideal world people would have jobs that they found fulfilling. (Perhaps out of date, but look at Studs Terkel's book, Working, a collection of interviews with people about their jobs. I came away from the book with the depressing feeling that most people are decidedly unfulfilled in their jobs.)


Lots more thoughts are bubbling up, but I think I've opened a can of worms. If you want to continue privately, feel free to PM or email me.



One last thought: computers, the internet, and "smart" phones together make it possible for us to do things that we would never have thought to do before. There are many advantages to that, but also many drawbacks. Among the latter: We're working harder than ever before (or so it seems to me). Not just in our paid work. It seems to me that we're serving computers, whereas they should be serving us.



Sounds like your arthritis is getting worse. I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you're able to surmount that obstacle, by squeezing a rubber ball, etc.



See you,


Bob
Bob G
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My purpose in quoting the chilling words at Auschwitz was to make the point that work needn't be rewarding (to say the least). It depends on many things, including one's working conditions. I could have made that point without going to such an extreme example. My apologies to anyone who found it jarring. The string of recent hateful events has kept such examples at the front of my mind.



Back to the business of the thread: Ted, I hope you feel that people have satisfactorily addressed your concern.



Bob
TeddyBoy
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I have just returned and have found the responses most thought-provoking. Bob, you are a lucky guy to be able to love something, let alone several things, AND, have the energy to pursue them. How I wish I was more like that but for some reason...and I'll admit it...I'm kind of lazy and have poor concentration. I was diagnosed with a borderline attention deficit problem in my mid forties when I was going back to law school.

However, I still think the age issue is quite real. It seems like such an uphill climb when I read the depth of knowledge that people here have about magic. Of course, many of the members here had started when they were in their second trimester. For example, have you ever done or seen Ed Marlo's "quadruple inverted palm"? Yes, but I much prefer Morty Bronstein's original version published between the wars in the French Magic Journal. Yes, it is good, but, in fact he really took it from Mycroft Dillinger when he performed it at the Star Delicatessen at Cranky Oldguy's birthday in 1926....etc, etc. For heaven's sake, I'm still in Card College.

I am only now acknowledging to myself that I can only learn so much of this art given my age. So I might as well stop kvetching and get on with it. But, I still say, if you actually enjoy doing the same trick 20 times in a row, you are not rowing with both oars! Smile
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
Bob G
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Ha, that's funny, Teddy. I guess I *am* lucky. It's good to be reminded of that, because I, like probably everybody else in the world, have plenty of things I can legitimately complain about.



Am I remembering right that you were a college teacher, as I am? If so, then we can just as easily say that anyone who actually enjoys giving teaching the same course year after year is also rowing with x oars, where here x is less than 2. (Math Prof -- sorry.)


I know what you mean about Mycroft and Cranky Smile . The way I see it is this: how many beginning students want to know the history of their subject? In math, at least, my friends and I just wanted to get on with it! Much more recently, as I near retirement, I've found myself wanting the broader perspective that comes from knowing the history. (Mind you, we like to give credit where it's due, but historians of math often prove us wrong. I've often suspected that if a mathematical method has someone's name attached to it, that's nearly rock-solid proof that they didn't invent it.)



I don't think anyone ever leaves Card College, not even Roberto Giobbi. (On a recent DVD he talked about a false cut he taught in Vol. 1, and explained why it wasn't so good after all; here's a better way.) The book is just too big, too rich, ever to leave.


I understand what you're saying -- magic is *work* -- no doubt about it. Well, we all have our own stories. Personally, I have long-delayed interests that are welling up now, to the point where sometimes it's almost unbearable to do my *real* job. But hopefully that's the great thing about retirement, isn't it? As long as you stay healthy, you can do what you truly want to do. And if what you want to do is go to the beach, read, nap, play with grandchildren, hike, or whatever it might be, I hereby give you permission to do it! (Big of me, no?)


Best of luck,


Bob
funsway
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Shifting to allegory ...
I have this farmer friend down the road named Ferkie. He is stoved-up from a tractor accident and I’ve been teaching him a bit of magic – a new hobby.

I gave him a copy of Amateur Handbook and now he has an inkling of Mentalism. Ho-boy!

Well, yesterday he chatted about a problem with his brother-in-law. Seems Andy wants to grow a garden rather than continuously poaching from Ferkie, saying “That way I can get the vegetables I want.” Ferkie’s problem is that he now doesn’t know what Andy likes after years of seeing all kinds of vegetables go over the hill.

Ferkie says to me, “He should start off with what is easy to grow but will argue with anything I suggest. He won’t out and tell me what he wants either.” I was hoping he didn’t want to get me involved in some scheme to find the truth of it. Nope, Ferkie had another plan.

“I’ve been thinking on this “one ahead” approach. He likes Liily’s cooking and she is always taking some new dish over to Andy’s house. So, I’ll have her cook up something with celery in it and tell him it is spinach. The, depending on his appreciation of the dish or not, we will fix one with spinach and tell him it is turnip greens. Then we can use that in a dish and tell him it is Swiss chard.”

I don’t say anything.

“Long about Spring I should know what he likes and doesn’t without his ever having to fess up. If I wanted to be real sneaky I can switch seeds in the packages.”

I have doubts about this working. Andy isn’t that gullible is he?

Then again, maybe he wants Ferkie to know and will play along, even subconsciously.

He expects Ferkie to help him plant the right things, and expectations are essential to mentalism, right? Pine apples are berries and garbonzo beans are peas. Andy thinks Monday is the first day of the week.

Magic everywhere.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Bob G
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You lost me there, Ken... Care to clarify?


See you,


Bob
funsway
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The OP is about whether people practice, enjoy it, etc within the framework of performing magic.
This got expanded a bit into perceptions of work, and work vs enjoyment or entertainment.

I wished to introduce the notion that everything you do in life can be practice for kindling awe&wonder in another person.
You are in "work mode" when you analyze experiences as to how to improve your future interactions including performances.
But, one can shift to "entertainment mode" by simply enjoying amusing events and possible appraising them later, if at all.

With Ferkie I got to practice restraint, be amused and then later evaluate what my audience perceives of tricks, inexplicable events and hidden agenda.

At least, when I now decide whether to present an effect as conjuring, mentalism or mental magic, I can focus my physical practice on what the audience will perceive.

Practice before a mirror will always be 'work' if not matched with real-life audience engagement. That engagement makes the process fun.

The live performing experience is also practice in a way for dealing with tomorrow's real-life problem with a neighbor.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Bob G
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Thanks, Ken. I see what you're saying now. That sounds like a healthy attitude toward work. I agree with you that in our society we tend to think of "work" as the stuff that's "no fun" or that we don't really want to have to do. I choose not to analyze Smile the factors that underly that phenomenon.


Years ago I read a really interesting book (title and author are long gone from my memory) that defined "play" (for all animals, not just humans) as the activities that animals engaged in, and which used their signature abilities, when they had time left over from the necessities of survival (eating, sleeping, reproducing, etc.). By this definition, solving crossword puzzles, playing ping pong, heck, even whitewashing a fence can be play because they use the same abilities that we need in order to survive (hand-eye coordination, analysis of complicated situations, negotiating our relationships with others...) but aren't necessary for our survival. I always liked that definition; not sure if it fits with your thoughts about work.



I just thought, said Pooh humbly.
funsway
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Maybe "endeavor" would be better than "work" that is considered a four letter word.

We say things like, "Working towards a goal," that has the right flavor.

I am reminded of the many "games" played by Native American children considered a gambling or silly or even 'fortune telling' by European invaders.
These appear simple with stones, sticks and guessing the outcomes of tosses or hidden hands. (Like some magic/mental effects)
Yet, these kids had excellent math skills and could tell when a white man was lying -- and were very observant of small changes in their surroundings.
They played physical games to develop strength and agility - and mental games to train other skills. They worked several hours each day to practice these skills.

Our more intelligent selves sit a kid at a desk and make learning a dreary task. Young kids never get any chance to learn functionally.

I have always thought of performance magic as a way of making learning fun - to make painful thinking less threatening.
Not that I am truing to teach anything - just open minds to "the other right answer" or that life is not a true false exam.

I laugh a lot and whistle and find awe in many things. I would not call living these days "fun" - but joy comes from within, even when doing unpleasant or painful task.

Thanks for the comments and questions. I am going to review some of my writing as to the use of the word "work."

Methinks."appreciation" can be practiced too. Magic is part of that. I find great pleasure is seeing a strange object and asking, "What magic effect could I use that for?"
or "What sleight or acquitment could make that trick more powerful magic for the observer?" There is not a day where I do not practice my magic skills.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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TeddyBoy
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As the OP, I fiercely object to not knowing what anyone is talking about! Smile
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
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Being something of a "retread" magician after beginning as a youngster, subsequently shelving the cards & cups and coins for several decades, and then trying to pick them up again in my senior years, I find that the perspective of advanced age has given me the insight to capitalize on my natural talents while avoiding battles that I can likely never win. I could never do a decent Charlier pass when I was a teen and my fingers were at their most nimble, so I conclude that difficult card sleights would probably be a frustrating avenue for me to explore today. Instead I am now seeking to build upon my language skills (I was a textbook editor for many years) and a lifelong love of puzzles of all types and am looking hard at some branches of Mentalism as areas to focus on. Bottom line: Follow your natural talents and inclinations and watch your enthusiasm grow until practicing ceases to be work turns into play. --Just my 2 cents' worth.
TeddyBoy
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That's worth far more than two cents. Maybe I just lack the natural talent or the patience to develop whatever I do have.
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
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TeddyBoy: You say, "Maybe I just lack the natural talent or the patience to develop whatever I do have."

Do you have a good memory? Do people constantly praise you for being witty? Can you frequently guess what someone is going to say before he/she says it? Are you brimming with self-confidence? Do you interact well with kids? Do others find you naturally likeable? -- Any of the aforementioned gifts/talents would make you the envy of others in the magic arena who have had to work long and hard to develop them. Take a personal inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, perhaps seeking input from those who know you best. Then look for ways to build on your natural abilities and watch your need for 'patience' melt away and be replaced by a lack of time to polish those tricks you love to do!
Bob G
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Hi Ted,


Just to echo Deckstacker, I find some of your posts quite funny. A sense of humor is something to prize, and if you want it to, it might lead to something else. Here's another thought along similar lines that might help (or might not -- what do I know?): before you retired what kinds of things did you enjoy doing when you had a chance? Maybe the answer will help direct you toward activities that you'll truly enjoy in retirement.


Deckstacker, I like your emphasis on talents that often aren't recognized as such. An inclination to be kind to people is another one.



And Ted, sorry to hijack your thread! Ken, you thanked me so I'll say "you're welcome," and perhaps we can continue our conversation about work and play privately.


Bob
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