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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #51 
My take-away lessons from Nelms' emphasis on trying to sell our magic as real phenomena or powers are two-fold:

1.  Magic is by definition a violation of the laws of nature.  When performing, we should at least internally be aware of what law we are supposedly breaking.  Whether we have to explicitly state it to the audience is another matter - I think that unless our audience consists of imbeciles we probably don't need to. 

2.  Conviction is important in acting, and performing magic is a specialized form of acting.  There are lots of different opinions on this, but I think that magicians undercut the effectiveness of their performances if they perform with a visible "this is all just a trick" attitude.  (Obviously some famous and successful performers do exactly this, so I guess I am wrong!)  But in my philosophy of magic performance, there has to be a moment - even just the briefest flicker of a moment - where you are selling the idea that something truly impossible is happening.  Again, I don't advocate hitting the audience over the head with it - but internally, it should be there. 
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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #52 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Dawes
My take-away lessons from Nelms' emphasis on trying to sell our magic as real phenomena or powers are two-fold:

1.  Magic is by definition a violation of the laws of nature.  When performing, we should at least internally be aware of what law we are supposedly breaking.  Whether we have to explicitly state it to the audience is another matter - I think that unless our audience consists of imbeciles we probably don't need to. 

2.  Conviction is important in acting, and performing magic is a specialized form of acting.  There are lots of different opinions on this, but I think that magicians undercut the effectiveness of their performances if they perform with a visible "this is all just a trick" attitude.  (Obviously some famous and successful performers do exactly this, so I guess I am wrong!)  But in my philosophy of magic performance, there has to be a moment - even just the briefest flicker of a moment - where you are selling the idea that something truly impossible is happening.  Again, I don't advocate hitting the audience over the head with it - but internally, it should be there. 


Thanks, Robin. I was pretty sure that I was over reading the book because it seems to be recommended by many magicians who are more versed than I am. I appreciate your clarifications and insight. Though I still feel that Nelms pushes it further than this, the take aways that you got from the book are indeed valuable.
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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #53 
OK, now I have officially finished reading Nelms' book. And, I want to reverse my former opinion. Although I still have a bit of trouble with his distinction between trick and illusion, there is a lot more in the book than that. For me, the good stuff in the book really began after around page 100, and there were lots and lots of good things to think about that could improve one's magic after that. I should learn the lesson of never reviewing a book without reading the whole thing in the future.
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #54 
This is the single best book on magic theory that I know of. Just finished it and am blown away. Will definitely be rereading soon. The author, a magician and a scientists, explains the neuroscience and psychology that allows us to perform magic. Fascinating, engaging, and insightful. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.

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MagicTK

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Reply with quote  #55 
Bill, that's good to know.  So, "never judge a book by it's cover (or first 100 pages)".  I'll have to check exactly what page I last read and finish it.

Anthony, thanks for the update on "Experiencing the Impossible".  I already had it in my cart, I just had not clicked proceed to checkout yet because I was looking at other stuff.  

Tom
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #56 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicTK
An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavsky
To quote my friend Antony Gerard, "It has nothing to do with magic, but it has everything to do with magic."


I also have liked Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms


Haven't read much of my Fitzkee trilogy yet, but I've heard at least one of them is good.


All of Fitzkee's books are worth reading.  They were highly recommended when I first started in magic and was fortunate to have classes with Harry Monti who later became president of SAM.
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Clemens Ilgner

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Reply with quote  #57 
Hi folks,

how about ˋConjuror's Psychological Secretsˋ by S.H. Sharpe? Unfortunately I don‘t own it and did not read it yet but german quite famous Magician Alexander DeCova always recommend it as a true gem in that field.

Also the late Auke van Dokkum told me that the Books by Peter Lamont (Lamont, P. & Wiseman, R. (1999). Magic in Theory: An Introduction to the Theoretical and Psychological Elements of Conjuring (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press) are the best in that field.

Since I have not read both of them I would really like to get some informations. Nevertheless I will try to get some copies and just read them 😉

Clemens
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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #58 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mind Phantom
I have three that I like and they are;

Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz~
Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber~
Mind, Myth & Magick by T.A Waters~

What are yours?

T.A Waters essays are worth the price of his book. Even though he really wasn't a performer, there is lots of wisdom in his book. Anybody that does close-up magic should have Strong Magic in there library.

Logan,


My two cents about Mind Myth & Magic.   If you are thinking about purchasing the book for the effects, don't bother.  Make a four foot demon appear sounds wonderful. Trust me, you won't do it.  Nor did T.A. Waters.  I think the majority of the effects are untried and are pipe dreams, but they are food for thought. 

The above said. 

If you want a great book on magic theories, thoughts, etc then this book is well worth the price. His essays are brilliant.  Will I say it is a must?  no, but then I go against the grain and will say there is no book that is a 'must'. 

And yes I love books. 

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #59 
Quote:
This is the single best book on magic theory that I know of. Just finished it and am blown away. Will definitely be rereading soon. The author, a magician and a scientists, explains the neuroscience and psychology that allows us to perform magic. Fascinating, engaging, and insightful. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.

Av   


I picked this up on Anthony's recommendation. I second the recommendation. Very valuable insights inside.

Mike
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #60 
Whew! Glad I didn't let you down, Mike. It really is a fascinating read, and any thinking magician would do well to get ahold of a copy. 

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #61 
I purchased the eBook because I can highlight passages in color for the purpose of running through the stuff that jumped out at me at a later date. It's a quick way to review the book and solidify important ideas from the book. I do still love to hold a "real" magic book, though.

Mike
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Barry Allen

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Reply with quote  #62 
Personally, whilst I adore the written word, I have never read a book about 'magical theory'.

My own advice is just get out there in the real world and perform.

You take the knocks; you take the flak.....but I truly believe it's the best way of learning how to become an entertainer.

I've died on my arse (more than once) in the early days. When this happens (and it will), you'll either just give up OR work at becoming better.

That's about the only psychology I have ever lived by.

That.....and just be yourself.

Oh, and if you can perform entertaining magic with borrowed cards/items, or articles readily to hand, you'll impress. Carrying a TT often helps!
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #63 
Started out with Fitzkee and Nelms, their books on magic, showmanship and misdirection helped me understand the main concepts underlying this art of twisting perception - after absorbing their lessons I came across 'Leading with Your Head' by Gary Kurtz, and this small booklet is full of great psychology and its application to magic.

Along the way I have also enjoyed, and learned much from repeated readings of works by people such as Eugene Burger, Juan Tamariz, Kenton Knepper, David Abram, Henry Hay, Garrett Thomas, Brother John Hamman and Paul Harris amongst others. 

And finally there is much to learn from reading outside the field of magic - Card College Volume 2 has some great suggestions for such books, and as Chi mentioned it also has a great section on theory itself, plus some excellent moves and effects.

One of my favourite reads is the 'Art of War' by Sun Tzu as it contains many great concepts which can be applied to the art of magic, and life:

“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.”   
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magicfish

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Reply with quote  #64 
The Magic Rainbow by Jaun Tamariz
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #65 
Huh? This is a thread about books on magic theory...

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JWSM

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Reply with quote  #66 
What was meant by the post is that all of his knowledge equates to what is found in books on theory.. I'll remove the post if it doesn't seem to be related
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #67 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JWSM
What was meant by the post is that all of his knowledge equates to what is found in books on theory.. I'll remove the post if it doesn't seem to be related


No, it's fine. I figured that's the point you were making, but since it wasn't entirely clear, at least to me, I was hoping you would clarify.

Thanks,

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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #68 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Allen
Personally, whilst I adore the written word, I have never read a book about 'magical theory'.

My own advice is just get out there in the real world and perform.

You take the knocks; you take the flak.....but I truly believe it's the best way of learning how to become an entertainer.

I've died on my arse (more than once) in the early days. When this happens (and it will), you'll either just give up OR work at becoming better.

That's about the only psychology I have ever lived by.

That.....and just be yourself.

Oh, and if you can perform entertaining magic with borrowed cards/items, or articles readily to hand, you'll impress. Carrying a TT often helps!


     I am afraid that I have a very different perspective on magic than Barry does, especially when he says "just get out there and perform (emphasis mine)." For me, a pure trial and error approach to magic is, in fact, the slowest way that I can improve. My growth in magic seems to be based on a cyclical iteration between practicing, performing, analyzing and adjusting, practicing...  
     And, this is where theory comes in. Theory shows me how great minds in magic have gone about analyzing and adjusting their material. I find it absolutely valuable to "stand on the shoulders of giants" and learn from them. Just hoping that I will eventually bounce off of the best possible performance, for me, is a very slow process. 
     It would be like a chemist who randomly put chemicals together hoping to achieve an effect. How much better it would be for him to understand the principles of chemistry before trying to apply them in the lab.
     Which brings me to another issue. I am always amazed by how many topics we, as magicians, seem to consider theoretical. Basically, we relegate to the category of theory anything other than specific instructions about how to do a trick (and perhaps particular "patter" that we can memorize). Everything else, ideas about what makes effective magic, conceptions of the nature of an effect, ideas about how to practice, presentation concepts, and so forth, we call theory. And it is astonishing how few books we have on "theory." The vast majority of our books are cookbooks of particular tricks. This despite the fact that they are far less useful. Let's be honest, if we took one really good book of tricks (or a great one like Lorayne's Close Up Card Magic) and really plumbed it for effects, we would have enough for a career. And yet, it is amazing how few books we end up talking about in this theory discussion - there just aren't all that many devoted to everything else.
     So, to extend my analogy, if a chemist were simply to have the instructions for how to mix certain chemicals to get a particular combination, without understanding any of the real chemistry of what he was doing, he would be like a magician who simply read the instructions and then performed the trick.  Of course, this would be somewhat better than simply randomly mixing chemicals. He could achieve a particular effect but would be incapable of achieving new ones or being creative.
     Of course, the good news is that many of the great magical authors surreptitiously sneak some theory into their books of tricks. They often will tell us why they decided to do things a particular way or how the misdirection works instead of simply presenting the magical cookbook.
     So, for me, theoretical books are often the most valuable of all. They help me see my magic from a different perspective, and I find that that helps me improve much more quickly. I am not in any way denying that performance (and lots of it) is essential to improvement, but I would suggest to Barry that since he claims to have never read a theoretical book, he should try it before condemning it in favor of just getting out there.  And it may be that it is a waste of time for you, that leaning some theory won't help you at all, but you will have made the experiment. At the very least, I would suggest that you might find it interesting.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #69 
Bill makes some great points and I'm sure that if Barry were to think about it, he must have read plenty of theory sprinkled among the tricks that he's learned.  I look at it this way.  The perfect situation is a combination of theory and field trial.

Some magicians never perform for the public but are content to sit and study magic for studies sake.  Perhaps they have paralysis induced by analysis.  Nothing wrong with that.  If it is enjoyable, go for it.  I have no desire to study the permutations of perfect faro shuffles as it pertains to a (fill in the blank).

On the other hand, a magician that relies solely on the school of hard knocks only is destined to have a rough road.  So a blending of the two has to be a good thing.  Theory, tested through field trials will either support the theory or contradict it.  It might even spawn new theories.  That is progress.  At least to me.
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #70 
Methinks a definition of theory may be in order. Theory is the study of the why behind the how.

An example: Take John Bannon's Discrepancy City Count, a face-up Elmsley during which one of the cards is shown twice. The how is easy enough to explain, the why not so much. At least not without studying the neurological, psychological, and biological mechanisms that make the move work.

Another example: Retention of vision coin vanishes. An understanding of the theory behind the why helps make the how more deceptive.

Theory isn't for everyone. That's cool. Some of us love it. That's cool, too. Either way, it's all about the magic, right?

Av 
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #71 
Thanks for that AV. I think I've mixed structure and theory together and they are separate factors. I appreciate the distinction better.

So in your example of ROV, knowing WHY the vanish differs from a regular false transfer allows us to explore how best to take advantage of the principle. Shiny coins, more surface area, etc. all take advantage of the underlying theory or property. Then we might explore whether that same principle can be used to strengthen other illusions.
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Chi Han

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Reply with quote  #72 
Theory can also encompass techniques. Tamariz's principle of the wrong question in the magic way, or his explanation on how to distort a spectators memory to make what you've done seem more impossible are stuff you'd be hard pressed to discover on your own. I remember when Dani came to lecture and revealed how he tricks the audience into asking for an encore using a very concrete technique.

Heck I would say that Strong Magic is about 90% filled with practical techniques for applying the theory. A performer could stumble upon them, but it could take years. Far better I think to pillage the trove of ideas being offered so cheaply. Why look on my tiptoes when I can stand on the shoulders of giants?
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #73 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chi Han
Theory can also encompass techniques. Tamariz's principle of the wrong question in the magic way, or his explanation on how to distort a spectators memory to make what you've done seem more impossible are stuff you'd be hard pressed to discover on your own. I remember when Dani came to lecture and revealed how he tricks the audience into asking for an encore using a very concrete technique.


I agree, Chi Han. Technique is tempered and strengthened through the use of theory, and those are excellent examples. In my quest to "keep it simple", I was forced to imply, but I still think my definition suits the purposes of this discussion.

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Intensely Magic

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Reply with quote  #74 
The air here is getting so rarefied, I’m getting a headache from lack of oxygen.

You guys left me behind long ago.

As Racherbaumer would say.......

Onward

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Bladen

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Reply with quote  #75 
Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz is good in my opinion. Absolute Magic by Darren Brown also.
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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #76 
I like "Magic and Meaning" by Bob Neale and Eugene Burger. It got me to really think about my magic.
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Robert McGee

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Reply with quote  #77 
John Mendoza`s " Close-up Presentations" Good advice from one of the best performers of the 70`s and 80's .

Van
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