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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Reply with quote  #1 
The secret ingredient in magic is never mentioned in any magic book. Apparently, you have to discover it for yourself. Well, I finally discovered what it is.

It's despair.

I have practiced and practiced the same things for months and I kept screwing up, and screwing up, and screwing up until I despaired that I would never get my tricks down. Once the despair had truly set in, I managed to do my entire opening portion (about 15-20 mins) flawlessly for the first time.

Despair. The secret ingredient.


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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #2 
Nah, I'm going with grit and tenacity, Sam. The despair you describe sounds more like a secondary or tertiary emotion to the drive that kept you pushing. Way to go! Here's an old favorite of mine about pushing through the despair. If you're a classic rock fan you may even know it.

Perhaps you're on to something though? Something similar to the Kubler-Ross Seven States of Grief model? The Seven Stages of Mastering Magic? Maybe despair is number five or six, with wonder being the first? What do you think?

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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson
Nah, I'm going with grit and tenacity, Sam. The despair you describe sounds more like a secondary or tertiary emotion to the drive that kept you pushing. Way to go! Here's an old favorite of mine about pushing through the despair. If you're a classic rock fan you may even know it.

Perhaps you're on to something though? Something similar to the Kubler-Ross Seven States of Grief model? The Seven Stages of Mastering Magic? Maybe despair is number five or six, with wonder being the first? What do you think?

Av


I cannot access Youtube at work, so I will have to wait until I get home, but I will watch it. Also, don't take my posts too seriously, I have an off-beat sense of humor.

In Ham radio circles, the joke runs that electronics run on smoke because if you let the smoke out (burn up) a component, your radio stops working.

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #4 
Oh, I understood that you were being humorous. It just seemed that you may have stumbled upon an interesting idea and I wanted to point that out. 

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #5 
Sam, I got the humor.  I can relate in other areas of life too.  Sometimes it is seemingly when you "throw in the towel" that things happen.  Ask a couple that have tried to get pregnant for years and years and give up, thinking it just isn't in the cards.  In many instances, it is when they give up or give in that the magic happens.  It happened to my cousin and her husband, after they adopted two beautiful Korean girls.  They had tried for 18 years.

So I'm glad your perseverance has borne fruit.

Failure is subjective.  So long as you learn by the process, the experience, it isn't failure in my book.
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Stevie Ray

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Reply with quote  #6 
Sometimes, magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.
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chris w

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Reply with quote  #7 
Excellent, Sam. Despair is one of those inner sanctum secrets usually only discovered after spending lots of time around too many grown men with playing card faces on their ties.
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Alan Smithee

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Reply with quote  #8 
The thing about Secret Ingredients is that, well, they're secret. 

So, interesting as all this is (as usual with the MF threads) nobody knows what the Secret Ingredient is. Except me.

After all, what's the Secret of (or to) Magic?
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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson
Nah, I'm going with grit and tenacity, Sam. The despair you describe sounds more like a secondary or tertiary emotion to the drive that kept you pushing. Way to go! Here's an old favorite of mine about pushing through the despair. If you're a classic rock fan you may even know it.

Perhaps you're on to something though? Something similar to the Kubler-Ross Seven States of Grief model? The Seven Stages of Mastering Magic? Maybe despair is number five or six, with wonder being the first? What do you think?

Av


Stage 1: Wonder 
Stage 2: Optimism
Stage 3: Annoyance (Everyone is annoyed by how many times you say, "Pick a card, any card."

All I got so far.

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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #10 
Disagree with everyone so far. The answer to THE secret ingredient is ... arh, watch 'Kungfu Panda' for yourself.
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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #11 
Sam, do you know the Zen story of The First Principle?

It's the third story in this collection of seven very short Zen stories: https://lifehacker.com/seven-zen-stories-that-could-open-your-mind-1767039967

I thought of it immediately when I read about your discovery. 
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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Dawes
Sam, do you know the Zen story of The First Principle?

It's the third story in this collection of seven very short Zen stories: https://lifehacker.com/seven-zen-stories-that-could-open-your-mind-1767039967

I thought of it immediately when I read about your discovery. 


I read that story and the others as well. I'd heard of a couple of them from my days in the martial arts, but not the one you indicated. I think I got a the point of the story, that is when you just do something, fully and without your mind distracting you, your task can be accomplished and even mastered.



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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #13 
“He who knows does not speak, and he who speaks does not know”. But to say that, you have to speak. What does that say about the speaker, and the truth of his/her proposition? I love a Zoan within a Zoan.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thinking of Zen reminds me of the importance of being "in the moment" when we perform. That idea as well as Eugene Burger's comment, "thinking destroys magic" imply that the best state of mind for performing magic is a "zen" state of mind i.e. one in which we're not feeling separate - all is one. There is no "I."




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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
Thinking of Zen reminds me of the importance of being "in the moment" when we perform. That idea as well as Eugene Burger's comment, "thinking destroys magic" imply that the best state of mind for performing magic is a "zen" state of mind i.e. one in which we're not feeling separate - all is one. There is no "I."






This is particularly important when performing on stage. It is often tough for magicians, any performer really, to forge a relationship with an audience when set apart upon a stage. Add in a spotlight, to where you cannot even see the crowd, and it is doubly difficult. In those instances it stretches your acting and imagination. You must imagine you are performing to someone, perhaps someone you are intimate with, in order to display any semblance of connection. Working for a TV camera can be equally hard, assuming there is no live audience.
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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


This is particularly important when performing on stage. It is often tough for magicians, any performer really, to forge a relationship with an audience when set apart upon a stage. Add in a spotlight, to where you cannot even see the crowd, and it is doubly difficult. In those instances it stretches your acting and imagination. You must imagine you are performing to someone, perhaps someone you are intimate with, in order to display any semblance of connection. Working for a TV camera can be equally hard, assuming there is no live audience.


Yeah, I think the reasons you give are why I am more drawn to close up magic and, less so, parlor magic. It would be tough to stand in isolation and pretend to be connected to the audience. I remember a comedy club experience where the local opening comic obviously did not have her chops down yet, she kept shading her eyes to look at the audience, which was a bit awkward, while the second opener and the headliner were obviously more comfortable in the spotlight, literally.

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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #17 
I can support the "despair theory":

When I was a child I used to perform some card magic for my cousins (the same age as me). They felt just astonished and applauded me. I was very happy, until they started to talk about it to adult people: my uncles and aunts and their friends.
So, when I first started to perform card magic for my adult relatives, far from feel amazed, they only asked me for repeating it. I didn't get any applause from them but only the request to do it again. I asked once: "why do you want me to repeat it again?" And they replied: "because we want to know how you do that."
So, my 3 years elder brother was right when he advised me not to repeat a trick for adults, since they surely just wanted to catch me. So, I just refused to repeat a trick until I finally stop performing card magic for adults.
My desperation was the famous request of:
"Do it again!"
That request makes me stop performing card magic for adult, upset.

However, when I performed card magic for my cousins they didn't ask me for repeating it again, but asked me directly:
"How did you do that?"
And I simple used to answer:
"Magic"
They used to smile and forget about it, until they begun imitating the adult people and asking me for repeating it too!
So, I couldn't keep doing card magic to anyone without asking me for repeating it or how was it done!

I was so desperate that I left my card magic hobby for a while.

However that made me philosophise about the concept of magic when I was still a boy, and I started to develop some witty answers for that. Thanks to that desperation I could understand that magic is desperation by itself!
Because nobody believes in magic they feel desperate for not knowing how it is done! But that desperation was the illusion of magic!

So I had to keep the "illusion of desperation" by answering things like:
"I don't know how I did it, I'm desperated for that!"
So that the magician is desperated as well for not knowing how does it works!

So, yes, the the secret ingredient of magic is desperation, but not for fiascos, but for not knowing how it is done (since it is supposed to be magic!).





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Tom G

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Reply with quote  #18 
Although I notice it more with guitar, you make some breakthroughs and then plateau.  The idea is to keep pushing on until you cross the plateau and start climbing again.  
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamtheNotsoMagnificent


Yeah, I think the reasons you give are why I am more drawn to close up magic and, less so, parlor magic. It would be tough to stand in isolation and pretend to be connected to the audience. I remember a comedy club experience where the local opening comic obviously did not have her chops down yet, she kept shading her eyes to look at the audience, which was a bit awkward, while the second opener and the headliner were obviously more comfortable in the spotlight, literally.


Good that you noticed that.  We all can learn a lot by observing other performers.  Study them, adopt something they do if you think it "fits" and pay attention to the negatives so that you don't fall victim yourself.  
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #20 
Paco's experiences as a child doing magic raise an interesting point regarding how a performer is perceived by the audience. A child performing for adults often isn't taken seriously. The magic is a puzzle to be figured out. I think the explanation has to do with "power." Someone who can do impossible things has special power. Adults don't want to grant power to children so they blow off the magic as "tricks," something to be figured out. I suspect that women magicians have some problems overcoming this as well in a culture where they still suffer from power issues. Powerful women can be scary to men - even in 2020. 

One way that pros use to get people to grant them power is to have someone list their accomplishments. I was present when Darwin Ortiz was introduced to a lay audience. When the intro was over, you'd think that Darwin could walk on water. The audience knew that Darwin had power. He had performed for presidents. He was hired all over the world as an expert in gambling. He was the author of several books etc. This is a man with power. No question about it. They didn't have to grant him power. It was clear that he was loaded with it.

It's tough being taken seriously when you're the "guy next door." What's the old maxim? "Known everywhere in the world except his home town." I think this is actually a biblical reference. 


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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
Paco's experiences as a child doing magic raise an interesting point regarding how a performer is perceived by the audience. A child performing for adults often isn't taken seriously. The magic is a puzzle to be figured out. I think the explanation has to do with "power." Someone who can do impossible things has special power. Adults don't want to grant power to children so they blow off the magic as "tricks," something to be figured out. I suspect that women magicians have some problems overcoming this as well in a culture where they still suffer from power issues. Powerful women can be scary to men - even in 2020. 

One way that pros use to get people to grant them power is to have someone list their accomplishments. I was present when Darwin Ortiz was introduced to a lay audience. When the intro was over, you'd think that Darwin could walk on water. The audience knew that Darwin had power. He had performed for presidents. He was hired all over the world as an expert in gambling. He was the author of several books etc. This is a man with power. No question about it. They didn't have to grant him power. It was clear that he was loaded with it.

It's tough being taken seriously when you're the "guy next door." What's the old maxim? "Known everywhere in the world except his home town." I think this is actually a biblical reference. 




For those interested the passage is Luke 4:24
Translations vary on the wording.  This is from the Aramaic Translation in plain English...

But he said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is not a Prophet who is received in his town.”
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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
Paco's experiences as a child doing magic raise an interesting point regarding how a performer is perceived by the audience. A child performing for adults often isn't taken seriously (...)

Thank you very much for your feedback about this, Mike!
I wrote a lot and down to the last detail about that concept in chapter 5 of my amateur book.
I suffered a lot about not being taken seriously as a (card) magician up to the point of dropping out card magic as a hobby several times for periods of time of months. Fortunately it never happened again when I got some reputation as a card magician around my 15/16.

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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


For those interested the passage is Luke 4:24
Translations vary on the wording.  This is from the Aramaic Translation in plain English...

But he said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is not a Prophet who is received in his town.”

"Nadie es profeta en su tierra"
"Nobody is a Prophet in his town"
Is a very well known and common used sentence in Spain.
I hear it often.
Good quote, RayJ!

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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #24 
Some may be more familiar with the wording in KJV John 4:44  "a prophet hath no honour in his own country".  That was certainly the version I heard most often when growing up.

Regardless of the wording, I think the maxim does not actually apply to Paco's childhood experience.  He had honour in his own country (ie among the other children) - it was when he entered a foreign country (performing for adults) that he had no honour.

Mike's comments about how people are unwilling to acknowledge power or authority in those they feel are inferior are spot on.  It's certainly true in academia.  One of my female colleagues describes being asked "Whose research lab do you work in?"  When she replies "Mine", people ask "Oh, but who is the Principle Investigator?"  She is.  She has trouble convincing them that she is a tenured professor, she has her own lab, and people work for her instead of the other way around.  It's sad that we are still stuck so deeply in the past.

Focusing on magic (since this is The Magician's Forum), what are some ways that we can move towards improving things for magicians who - due to age, gender, or other characteristic - do not receive the respect they deserve?
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #25 
Robin, your example is a good one. I can relate to it. BTW, I think it is appropriate to bring in "real world" experiences. There's a big world outside of magic and it often repays us to connect to it.
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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Reply with quote  #26 
It is sort of fun to see where these threads go. What started out as a bit of humor from me ended up with people quoting scripture and the discussion of the challenges people face in presenting their magic. This is not a complaint, not at all, I find it fascinating to see how these things develop. It is almost like a stream of consciousness thread for a group. Again, very interesting.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #27 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamtheNotsoMagnificent
It is sort of fun to see where these threads go. What started out as a bit of humor from me ended up with people quoting scripture and the discussion of the challenges people face in presenting their magic. This is not a complaint, not at all, I find it fascinating to see how these things develop. It is almost like a stream of consciousness thread for a group. Again, very interesting.


Sam, to me one of the takeaways is that your "despair" was simply from loving magic so much and being frustrated when things weren't going your way.  Your commitment to keep practicing and your perseverance paid off in the end.  

We tend to value the things we work hard for.  Keep working, you'll reap what you sow!
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