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Socrates

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"In the Beginning, there was magic in the world. There was the magic of day and night, of wind and clouds and of the tides, which were alive and moved at the thunderbidding of unknown gods. And there was the magic of birth and of life and the disturbing, impenetrable magic of death. And to the first people, who had come down out of primeval trees to crouch in caves against long nights of fear, everything was magic. Some of it was white magic and good, but mostly it was black magic and bad. And so they called upon their priests and wizards, who wrought magic charms and incantations against the terrors of death and darkness, thunder and lightning, blood and destruction, and fabricated rude talismans and amulets to placate the unknown gods... That was in the Beginning" - JOHN NORTHERN HILLIARD
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RayJ

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He was there?
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Alan Smithee

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
He was there?


Must have been, otherwise, why would he write it.

I wonder if he was crouching in a cave at the time.

I'm probably wrong and I don't have the book anymore, but isn't this in "Greater Magic?"
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Socrates

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It captured my interest for a couple of reasons. The first being, how does he know this is true? And secondly it illustrates how easily mislead we are, even as magicians. I've often wondered why those who perform tricks are so quick to believe that magic was used in a negative manner by earlier cultures, this seems so strange to my way of thinking, and probably explains why there are such a high percentage of skeptics within this artform.
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TheAmazingStanley

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
It captured my interest for a couple of reasons. The first being, how does he know this is true? And secondly it illustrates how easily mislead we are, even as magicians. I've often wondered why those who perform tricks are so quick to believe that magic was used in a negative manner by earlier cultures, this seems so strange to my way of thinking, and probably explains why there are such a high percentage of skeptics within this artform.


A topic I have long pondered but didn’t bring it up because I didn’t want to get into religion. But there do seem to be a lot of skeptics/atheists/rationalists/scientific naturalists in magic. (Those are not all the same thing by the way). Why?

Penn and Teller or Martin Gardner are eminent outspoken examples. I have thought about it in psychological or philosophical terms. Magic is a world where the impossible does not exist. Not because it is a wondrous land of miracles, but rather because it is a wondrous land where the miracles have mundane solutions. That’s pretty much the skeptical mindset.

So could you clarify or expand a bit on that? Are you pointing to cultural or maybe historical reasons for the presence of skepticism in magic?

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Socrates

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The following excerpt from Net of Magic by Lee Seigel is quite fitting:

"I'm writing a book on magic", I explain, and I'm asked, "Real magic?" By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers. "No", I answer: "Conjuring tricks, not real magic". Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.
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John Cowne

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAmazingStanley


A topic I have long pondered but didn’t bring it up because I didn’t want to get into religion. But there do seem to be a lot of skeptics/atheists/rationalists/scientific naturalists in magic. (Those are not all the same thing by the way). Why? <


I wonder if before asking ‘Why?’, if it’s worthwhile checking out the first premise? Stanley, I did notice that you put that assumption based on your observations tentatively, so no holding you to it. Does anyone know if there been any research that might support that there is a higher ‘‘scepticism, etc’ rate in magicians compared to the general population? I don’t really understand stats so I don’t know how it would be standardised. It might also be interesting to compare those results with amateur versus professional (who are more high-profile, and their voices heard more in media) magicians. I have no idea.

However, if Stanley’s first premise is proven, I would be in the minority group and would be genuinely fascinated to know ‘Why?’ . If the topic is sailing too close to dangerous waters in our forum, I’m always happy to have friendly PM’s.
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RayJ

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I think John's suggestion that some of these things might best be handled on a PM is a good one.  There are times when someone has a legitimate, thoughtful question that demands an answer, but answering it publicly might cause us to wade into the "dangerous waters" of which John speaks.

I will say that the mere fact that we know there are some magicians that have spoken out against religion is simply because they have gone public with their views.  Most just remain silent.  Personally, I think magicians probably reflect society as a whole when it comes to what they believe. 

There was a (somewhat) recent event here that created division and resulted in someone leaving the forum entirely.  Out of respect for Rudy and the forum as a whole, let's not let that happen again.
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TheAmazingStanley

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
I think John's suggestion that some of these things might best be handled on a PM is a good one.  There are times when someone has a legitimate, thoughtful question that demands an answer, but answering it publicly might cause us to wade into the "dangerous waters" of which John speaks.

I will say that the mere fact that we know there are some magicians that have spoken out against religion is simply because they have gone public with their views.  Most just remain silent.  Personally, I think magicians probably reflect society as a whole when it comes to what they believe. 

There was a (somewhat) recent event here that created division and resulted in someone leaving the forum entirely.  Out of respect for Rudy and the forum as a whole, let's not let that happen again.


Agreed. I will just confirm that my hypothesis is indeed tentative and leave it at that. I’m happy to PM if anyone wants to discuss this further (although don’t ask me for help with the statistics 😉)

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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
I think John's suggestion that some of these things might best be handled on a PM is a good one.  There are times when someone has a legitimate, thoughtful question that demands an answer, but answering it publicly might cause us to wade into the "dangerous waters" of which John speaks.

I will say that the mere fact that we know there are some magicians that have spoken out against religion is simply because they have gone public with their views.  Most just remain silent.  Personally, I think magicians probably reflect society as a whole when it comes to what they believe. 

There was a (somewhat) recent event here that created division and resulted in someone leaving the forum entirely.  Out of respect for Rudy and the forum as a whole, let's not let that happen again.


I think that magicians reflect society at large is accurate, based on those I've talked to or have come into my sphere of knowledge through videos, etc.

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TheAmazingStanley

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamtheNotasBadasIWas


I think that magicians reflect society at large is accurate, based on those I've talked to or have come into my sphere of knowledge through videos, etc.


One of my worst habits is that I always generalize.

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Alan Smithee

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The simple answer is that he doesn’t “know this is true”. And whether he does or not, as far as Hilliard is concerned, knowing or not knowing is neither here nor there. Hilliard was merely writing a soundbyte paragraph or two for the book. Nothing deep and heavy. And certainly not intended for analysis.

How do I know this? I don’t. In the same way that I know plenty about history because I’ve read (some of ) the books and I don’t know plenty about history because all the books are all written by people who don’t know.

Meanwhile, nothing would have been lost if Hilliard had omitted the “Beginning” beginning and instead written:

“Long, long ago, before time began, there was magic in the world”….etcetera.

Or:
“Once upon a time before time itself began, there was magic in the world”…etcetera.

“Once upon a time before time itself began, there was magic in the world”…..etcetera.

Or:
“Once upon a time in the land where the bong tree grows, before even time itself began, there was magic in the world”…..etcetera.

Then simply omitted the final sentence, concluding with “placate the unknown gods.”

Pause for effect and then say “Meanwhile who’d like to see a card trick?”

As far as I’m concerned it’s a lightweight piece of fluff that would serve as an introduction to any show or routine.

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #13 
It certainly is interesting to hear what others think when reading the words of John Northern Hilliard - to an imaginative magician, or one interested in the history of the art and craft of magic his words are golden.

And Alan, you made me smile with your words 😀 a lightweight piece of fluff indeed 🧙‍♂️
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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAmazingStanley


One of my worst habits is that I always generalize.
Y

A good generalization is a very useful thing! I live in the "Bible Belt", I would expect that someone living in NY, London, etc might have a different experience, although I was including YouTube channels in my thinking that deal with "Gospel Magic". No data, just impressions on my part.

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Alan Smithee

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
It certainly is interesting to hear what others think when reading the words of John Northern Hilliard - to an imaginative magician, or one interested in the history of the art and craft of magic his words are golden.

And Alan, you made me smile with your words 😀 a lightweight piece of fluff indeed 🧙‍♂️


Thanks Socrates!. A compliment (I think) neatly routined with a smack in the mouth put-down. 

Oh well. [smile]


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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #16 
It made me chuckle as I envisioned how it would look and sound, thought it'd be great to utilise in a routine... the juxtaposition of his words and yours, I'd definitely use it👍
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