BoM: The Books of Wonder

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Dustin Stinett
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BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Dustin Stinett » November 9th, 2006, 1:23 am

I suspect that I was not alone when I took the Books of Wonder off the shelf after the passing of Tommy Wonder. I also suspect that Im not alone in thinking that it should not have taken such a sad event to prompt me to reread what are perhaps among the most important books on magic published in the 20th century.

Written by Tommy Wonder with Stephen Minch and published in 1996 by Minchs Hermetic Press, this two volume opus is without any doubt Tommy Wonders legacy. Its a timeless gift to the art he represented so well, and he knew that when he and Mr. Minch were working on it. He poured everything he had into those books, said Minch in a recent telephone interview. He had no regrets; he knew the books would stand, continued Minch in regard to, in particular, the essays that punctuate the magical effects shared within the two volumes. Minch believes this work is so important that he considers it his legacy as a publisher as well: This coming from a man who has published many of the better works in magic (and with still more to come).

To suggest that the books were universally accepted would be an overstatement: They were not without a little controversy (no work on magic theory is). Wonder was aware of that; hence the no regrets comment he made to Minch. But what Wonder was also aware of was that his books exist not only to share his thoughts on the art of magic, but also to prod magicians who dont into thinking about their magic. He had no interest in creating any Wonder Clones. The theory Wonder shared was his theory; the concepts that worked for him and his magic. If other magicians could take away something from his thoughts, more the better; but as long as his words got them thinking, his job was done.

The books are written in such a way that the effects are often practical examples of a piece of theory just shared: Whether on construction, misdirection, or any of the many other aspects he analyzes. Some people simply disagree with some of his conclusions (for example, on the Too Perfect Theory). However, if comments made on Internet boards are a clue, there are also those who just dont get it. They wonder, are these books on magic, magic theory or art in magic? It is, perhaps, his combination of analysis and artistic sensibility that confuses the few who dont get it. After all, those with analytical minds rarely grasp purely artistic concepts, while those with an artistic mindset are often confused by analytics. Tommy Wonder was a rare breed: a pure artist who possessed an analytical mind, and he put both sides of his remarkable brain to work in these volumes.

As far as the effects offered in the books, Volume I, at 327 (plus xv) pages, concentrates primarily on close-up magic with cards and coins (though there are exceptions, including his famous performance piece, The Ring, The Watch and the Wallet). Volume II, at 342 (plus ix) pages, contains more close-up magic as well as stage and platform magic. The theoretical essaysof which there are more of than effectsare organized in such a way as to lend themselves more (but certainly not exclusively) to the effects they surround.

Examples of this abound, but perhaps one of the best appears early in Volume One in the chapter titled Travel Tales of Mr. Pip. The effect, The Magic Ranch, is an excellent version of Don Alans Card in the Egg (Close-up Time with Don Alan). The effect is a fantastic lesson in misdirection that can be practiced without fear since the move need not be invisible for the trick to have a successful ending. The student, then, can work on his timing and blocking that, when done correctly, will lead to a good first effect of the magical appearance of a plastic egg. If not done correctly, there is no harm done since the spectators are not aware that there was supposed to be an effect at that moment. They simply saw the performer place an egg on the table. The appearance of the miniature of the selected card in the egg is still a surprise, and the deck containing nothing but duplicates of a different card remains a strong blow-off. This effect immediately follows the chapter titled Attention Getting Devices, a 31-page, three essay study of attention direction that may be one of the best chapters in both volumes. Anyone reading the trick without reading the previous chapter might fail to recognize the value of the lesson this simple but effective trick provides for all of the magic the student performs.

Another of fine example is Wonders handling for the Cigarette Through Quarter. This well thought-out handling is a lesson in logical construction that also ties into a short essayone of my favorites in the volumetitled And Here I Have

In all, there are 28 tricks and 33 essays surrounding them in Volume I. Most of the essays are short; one to two pages in length. In the case of the Tamed Card, a Wild Card effect that is extremely complex in terms of props (but not in effect), ten essays join this single effect in the chapter of the same name, and virtually all of them can be tied into this one card trick, but again, are thought provoking for countless other pieces of magic readers may know.

Volume II starts with an introduction by Eugene Burger. Burgera performer well-known for his own forays into magical theorycompares the books to Maskelyne and Devants Our Magic.

Some of the essays in Volume II, of which there are 21, are geared toward the nuts and bolts of magic. This includes pieces on approaching the table; whether to sit or stand when performing at the table; and dealing with loud music. But there are many intellectually thought provoking pieces as well, including the aforementioned essay on Rick Johnssons Too Perfect Theory. Prior to this piece, Wonder also takes the reader through the evolution of his Watch in Nest of Boxes effect. He then uses this evolutionary process to illustrate his thoughts on the notion that an effect can beto its detrimenttoo perfect.

Besides tricks, Volume II also boasts even more gadgets than does the first volume (though it too has a helping of them). Tommy Wonder, besides being a great performance artist and thinker, was also a very skilled craftsman. He built most of his own props which range in size from card boxes that shrink (in Volume I) to stage-size props (including the Nest of Boxes; a vanishing birdcage; and his Zombie gimmick). There are about 26 effects and various implements throughout the volume. But none, of course, as famous as Tommy Wonders two-cup Cups and Balls routine.

It is likely that Wonders two-cup routine will be the one that he will long be remembered for by magicians. This is mostly due to the fact that he fooled so many of them with a trick about which they all thought they knew everything there is to know.

Its not the first time the routine has been explained in print. However, like all good magic, it evolved over the twenty years between which Wonder first conceived the piece and the publication of The Books of Wonder. So, in these pages, is the most up-to-date rendition described to the last detail. The routine is lessons in construction and attention management (to borrow Wonders preferred label for misdirection).

Besides the incredible content of these works, the physical books are also stunning. The printed endpapers feature a forever young Tommy Wonder creating magic with a breath from his lips. The light brown cloth boards, stamped with a gold TW monogram in Old English are covered by a two-color dust jacket featuring Wonder behind his table. (If we could have gotten the editors to correct the punctuationparticularly where periods and commas go in relation to quote marksthese books might have been perfect!)

The Books of Wonder will become must read magical literature for future generations; much like Our Magic was for past generations. Im not prepared to say that these books will replace Maskelyne and Devants work, but I do believe The Books of Wonder have earned a spot next to it. Modern magicians are lucky to have the work and spirit of Tommy Wonder captured within the pages of these two volumes.

Max Maven penned a short but well-done biography of Tommy Wonder that serves as the Introduction to Volume I. In the first paragraph, Maven says:

Under duress I could come up with a list of my ten favorite stage magicians, and another of my ten favorite close-up workers. Only one name would make both lists, and it belongs to the subject of this piece.

While Mr. Maven was speaking for himself, I suspect that many of us could say that his words sum up how we too feel about Tommy Wonder.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 9th, 2006, 2:23 am

Dustin,

In addition to the books being a 'must read', the three DVDs released by L&L are a 'must see'. The DVDs serve as worthwhile companions to the books.

When I first read 'The Tamed Card', I thought to myself 'what a clever idea'. When I saw Tommy Wonder's performance of 'The Tamed Card' on DVD, I thought to myself 'that's one of the best card effects I've ever seen'.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Dustin Stinett » November 9th, 2006, 5:57 pm

The DVDs are very good, and its great that we have Mr. Wonder on video (thanks L&L!). But, Im still a book guy!

That said, my favorite part of the DVDsthe one thing not in the bookis the chat between Max Maven and Tommy Wonder (its an Easter egg for those of you that have the discs; theres a section of the talk on all three discs).

Dustin

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 10th, 2006, 8:44 pm

I bought the set when it first came out.Three of

my favorites beside the essays,which I have read

more than once,are the card in the ring box. It's

on the 2005 L & L free DVD that came with Genii.

If you have that DVD get it out and look at it.

When he suggest the card could be in the box they

flip.I had the good foetune of seeing Tommy

lecture The deck that shrinks into a cardbox that

has just shrunk and his version of the

diminishing cards I like as well as the robery or

holdup. I think people will be recomending this

set ffor a long time........Mike Walsh

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Matthew Field
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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Matthew Field » November 11th, 2006, 2:42 am

The problem with 'Books of Wonder' as Book of the Month is that there's too much to say.

This set stands on my list of the ten most important magic books. The magic itself and Tommy's essays are indispensable to the thinking magician. Stephen Minch did an astoundingly good job.

Tommy first fried me at the 1987 New York Close-Up Magic Symposium. His Cup and Ball routine was as perfect a trick as I have ever seen. Tommy was very serious about magic, but he always had a smile and kind word. As I was planning on moving to England Tommy was one of the most supportive people in my life, and it is hard for me to separate the books from the man.

He leaves behind a great legacy. If you have not read "Books of Wonder" I highly recommend you do so. It will stimulate your thinking and, if you adopt what you read, make you a better magician.

Matt Field

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Tom Stone » November 11th, 2006, 4:26 am

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
The problem with 'Books of Wonder' as Book of the Month is that there's too much to say.
Yes and no. Ten years has passed, but have Tommy's books really had the impact that everyone predicted when they were published? Are those books really that important, if no one have been influenced by them?
Have those books not become the opposite of that Tommy intended when he wrote them? Instead of beeing an example of the merits of making your own deductions and showing the value in formulating your own art and thoughts - it has become the main building block in a personality cult to elevate Tommy's standards to a level which mere mortals can't go. People are so damned scared of the notion of thinking for themselves, that it becomes easier to attribute Tommy as beeing a supernatural genious. Pointing at his books as examples of how brilliant *he* was, while completely avoiding the fact that they really are examples on how brilliant *you* can be.

Tommy was a good friend, a great artist and creator - but he was human. Sometimes his ideas was just plain wrong, and some parts of his books are just crap and nonsense. I told him so, and he was delighted! He never wanted to be reveered in this fashion - he wanted people to find the flaws and improve them.

So, here's a few starting points:

- The third method of "Watch in nest of boxes": Tommy was wrong in his assessment of it. The problem has nothing to do with any "Too perfect theory" - he had just overlooked a small but important factor, and the fix is rather simple.
Now, when you know that a fix is possible, you should be able to figure out several solutions.

- I consider "Secondhand Drama" to be one of the most important essays ever written in magic. But I might be wrong. Pick it apart and find the flaws (if there are any) :-)

- On methodological thinking, "The Three Pillars" is a very important text. But are those thoughts really valid? Can we find examples that relies on just one or two "pillars", and see if we can re-work them to use three "pillars" instead - then analyze if they've improved or not.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 11th, 2006, 8:12 am

Actually, Tommy himself was not impressed with the books

I have a letter from Tommy to Peter Kane in which he describes the books as "quite lousy and not worth your money" - instead Tommy sent the books as a gift to Peter (I was lucky enough to buy the books from the Peter Kane library and the letter was left inside)

Bob

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 11th, 2006, 9:02 am

Bob, that was real assholish thing to write. And, quite frankly, it's also irrelevant.

Artists are almost always among the poorest judges of their work.
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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 11th, 2006, 9:20 am

Do you think, maybe, it was just possible that Tommy was making a self-deprecating joke? I do.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Tom Stone » November 11th, 2006, 11:03 am

Originally posted by Joe Pike:
Do you think, maybe, it was just possible that Tommy was making a self-deprecating joke? I do.
It sounds exactly like something Tommy would have said as a joke :-)
Had he not been proud of the books, he would never have given them as a gift, and it seems likely that the letter is either a quote or an inside joke between him and Peter Kane.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 11th, 2006, 11:03 am

It takes time to create anything. At the time Tommy Wonder wrote the books, he may have been thinking along certain lines. As time marched on, perhaps his thoughts about certain things changed. Anything created is locked into the time frame in which it was created. Things are not static. Change is always happening and we are always learning new things - and thus possibly modifying our thoughts about various topics. I know of no one who creates things who is completely happy with their creations. There are always ways to improve or modify what has been created. And the actual creator will be the first to see the potential for "improvements".

Tom Stone has hit the nail on the head when he reminds people that the books were to be seen as inspiration to get magicians thinking for themselves not as blueprints nor the final word on methods for effects. The creative types will appreciate the way in which Tommy described his thought processes. This is more important than any individual effect or method described in the books. There is much more to these books than meets the eye of the magician seeking new effects or methods. In the right hands these books can serve as a sort of key to the development of new and original creations. To me these books are about thought processes and how Tommy felt about certain things at the time the words were put to paper. I have always felt that it is OK to disagree with what Tommy wrote. We all have different experiences which affect how we perceive things. Such personal experiences will not allow us to agree with everything Tommy wrote. These experiences should be seen in our creations in one form or another. I for one am grateful that Tommy put his thoughts to paper. The DVDs then illustrate his ideas in action - a wonderful example of how original thinking can work for the performer.
Jim

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 11th, 2006, 11:45 pm

None of you has seen the letter so do not know the overall tone and spirit (actually it was two letters) - it was no joke. I am happy to fax it to Richard.

The books were given as a gift in exchange for Peter allowing Tommy to use his three load system. Tommy obviously knew Peter would buy the books and made the comment that "apart from your load system" the rest was lousy. The letter was sent before publication and thus was not written with the benefit of hindsight or reflection. He was simply not happy with the work.

And WHY exactly was it an "assholish" thing to write Richard - and how can you expect better of the other posters if Chief Genii goes round calling people [censored] for no reason?

I didn't post it to be an a s s h o l e - I actually like the books and agree with Dustin's BOM status. I posted it because I thought it made an interesting anecdote and presented a different point of view which certainly no one here OTHER than the author would have dared present for fear of being called heretic.

You are right, of course, authors are often the worst judge of their own work, but that does not mean you can simply dismiss that post out of hand because "you know better". There is too much of that goes on here!

Bob

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 11th, 2006, 11:57 pm

In conversations we had, Tommy talked a lot about creating. Probably one of his highest goals, he said that creating things (and not only in magic)really was what kept him going. He talked about the creative proces which takes place "inside the head". The conceptual thinking. And of course the physical creative process.
When he became ill, he somehow developed a sense to be perfectly satisfied with the "mental creative process" alone. Being able to create a new effect, method and presentation in his head kept him busy with the things he loved most, while at the same time still being restricted by his illness.
He told me about photography (another of his creative loves). That there was a time he was constantly looking for this perfect picture, a perfect composition. When the time came he was able to find that perfect picture, he admitted he lost interest in actually photographing it!!
He said that merely seeing it and making a mental snapshot, took away the urge to actually make the photo.
It seemed to be a little the same with magic. Once he found out the "ideal" concept, he let it go. No use in actually making it with his hands.

When I asked him if his book was the creation he cared about most he said something like yes and no. The book was not a creative process. It was hard work, and labour. The thinking that came before writing the book, was the creating.
I do think that of all things he has presented to the magic community, his books made him most proud.

During the last days of his life, he would talk a lot about some things he would have loved to see "at work". But once he created everything in his mind, he seemed satisfied enough to let it go. That was a most inspiring thing to witness.

Tom Stone's arguing about what lesson there is really to learn from the Books would have made him smile!

As for the Three Pillars, I can vividly recall one routine (a piece of art!) that comes to mind which "misses" one pillar. I know Tommy was very enthousiastic about it.
And of course this routine also prooves a deep philosophical understanding of the Art.
I think it is irrelevant what routine this is, but it prooves Tom Stone's point.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Tom Stone » November 12th, 2006, 1:41 am

Originally posted by Dan LeFay:
As for the Three Pillars, I can vividly recall one routine (a piece of art!) that comes to mind which "misses" one pillar. I know Tommy was very enthousiastic about it.
And of course this routine also prooves a deep philosophical understanding of the Art.
Please elaborate, Dan. I'm curious :-)

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 12th, 2006, 3:00 am

I remember Peter receiving the books & the letter
he took it as a joke & was very pleased to
receive them, some people would'nt have bothered.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 12th, 2006, 3:12 am

I dare say that if he was that proud of his books it could well have been a lighthearted comment, since the letter was sent in advance of publication and Tommy was trying to stop Peter from buying the books so he could send a complimentary set to him.

I REALLY wasn't trying to say the books were bad at all - I don't think they are (I paid a lot for them, and I love them) - I was merely relating what I thought to be an interesting story from a unique viewpoint. I thought it was great that the letters had been kept in the books all these years.

I just hate it when people jump down your throat on here for daring to disagree even when you're not, really

Bob

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 12th, 2006, 3:35 am

Originally posted by Bob Walder:
..... I was merely relating what I thought to be an interesting story from a unique viewpoint.
That's how I'd read your post. (Just goes to show, yet again, that e-communication extremely is prone to being misunderstood.)

Originally posted by Bob Walder:
I just hate it when people jump down your throat on here for daring to disagree even when you're not, really
Quite so. I sympathise.

In the light of Tom Stone's comment about "Secondhand Drama", I reread that essay. And I agree with Tom's comment - that essay makes a most important point, and one that's easy to overlook.

Dave

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Tom Stone » November 12th, 2006, 4:51 am

that essay makes a most important point, and one that's easy to overlook.
Yep! A point that can be used both when creating and planning an act - but also as a diagnostic tool to analyze effects already in the repertoire.

For example, if you want to include a story trick in your work, you soon find that most of them doesn't work in performance. At best, you get a good trick and a good story, but you gain no extra crossbreeding points from the combination - the trick would still be as good without the story, and the story would still be as good without the trick. Instead, by combining them, you might even unintentionally diffuse the impact of both, rather than amplify them.
Then you come across an item like Bob Neale's "Sole Survivor", which actually *do* work well in a performance situation. But why does that effect work, when other - seemingly equal storytricks - doesn't work? Tommy's "Secondhand Drama" explain a big part of the reason.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 17th, 2006, 2:12 am

Thanks for a most inspiring thread. I have Mr. Wonders DVD's and since I wathched them the first time,2nd, 3rd and 20th time I have to say they are my favourites together with the Dai Vernon's Revelation DVD/Video series. In my time Tommy Wonder is up there with the professor.

I constantly make use of his ambitous card routine - it's my favourite card performing piece of magic.

I'm working to construct the "Ring, watch and wallet" effect - which is super astonishing and funny opener/effect.

The Tamed Card is one of the strongest card presentations I've ever seen. It goes to show that "acting" is a great part of magic - and Mr. Wonder derserves his Oscar for that effect.

I can see why his two cups and balls routine florred the magic community who thought they got it made. However, I do find other two cups and balls routines to be more direct and stronger towards a lay-audience. But thats is probably because I can't "act" Tommys routine as well as he did.

I never got to buy the books of Wonder, because I was looking for new routines. But now I understand I must buy them for the filosofi and theory in the Essays. When it comes to filosofi of magic, I have always appreciated Dai Vernons thinking in general and Mr. Richard Osterlinds writing on "Making magic real" etc., I think now I will complement these writings by the books of wonder.

Thanks once again for a fine thread.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 17th, 2006, 6:00 am

Originally posted by Vraagaard:
Thanks for a most inspiring thread.
I completely agree this has been an excellent thread...perhaps my favorite since joining the forum years ago.
So much has been said that I agree with but much more has been said or implied to cause me pause and question my understanding of Mr Wonder's magnificent work as I orignially read it years ago.
Tssk, tssk,... now I must re-read something I've already learned so much from. Woe is me...
Thank you all for your inspirational comments and contributions...I for one would like to see this thread continue for a LONG time.
Sincerely,
Michael

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Tom Stone » November 17th, 2006, 8:53 am

That goes for me too. Although, I'm still waiting for Dan to elaborate on his comment:
Originally posted by Dan LeFay:
As for the Three Pillars, I can vividly recall one routine (a piece of art!) that comes to mind which "misses" one pillar.
Dan, if this refers to something that belonged to Tommy, maybe you could devise a made-up theoretical example instead? I'm very curious. :-)

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 17th, 2006, 3:25 pm

I agree with Tom Stone. I don't think Tommy was telling us WHAT to think, but simply that we MUST THINK at all, for our magic to rise above the mediocre. Magic needs to be interpreted and artfully expressed.

Too often, magicians paint their heros as some sort of god, that is blessed with all the answers. Sure, he can do it, he's a god!.......But how can we be inspired by this? We are not gods, so why try at all?

Gandhi said that one of the reasons the world is in such sorry shape is because so many people claim enlightenment without having gone through any sort of discipline.

Tommy wasn't just "blessed" with skill and brilliant thinking through devine inspiration. Through reading the Books of Wonder, you see that he was always working his ass off, looking for answers. Some things he continued to modify over many years....... Experimenting, searching, being frustrated, succeeding, failing......behind all the work was the motivating power.........his deep love of magic.......what it could be. Tommy set high ideals and then just kept climbing, one step at a time.

.......good magic requires thought and work. Not just the right prop or having all the right books on your shelf. But if you can take them down from the shelf and absorb the message, if you can magage to be inspired by these books, to work and explore, then you will discover their true value, and I believe, Tommy's message to you.

Tommy's theories are the result of his years of experience in retrospect, trying to figure out why some things worked and others didn't........as opposed to the pipe wielding armchair theorists that form high-falutin' concepts with no experience to back them up.

Tommy was a true artist........I'm very proud to have met him and experienced his magic.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Tom Stone » November 17th, 2006, 4:57 pm

Originally posted by John Carney:
Through reading the Books of Wonder, you see that he was always working his ass off, looking for answers.
Exactly. However, and this is so fundamental to creative work that it's easy to overlook; the main work is not looking for answers, but looking for questions.
Never stop asking: - What if..? But why not..? Maybe I can..? What happens if I...? Can I do this faster..more streamlined..slower.. or backwards? Do I really need..? If I reduce the number of moves..? Or split one move into three layered moves..? Do I need to prove that..? Perhaps I can skip the move and just lie? Is this necessary..? Why are they laughing here..? What is the effect *really* about? Do I even know what the plot is myself?... the questions never stops...

The reason most people don't find the answers is that they have forgotten to ask the questions. The latter is where it all begins.

..trying to figure out why some things worked and others didn't........as opposed to the pipe wielding armchair theorists that form high-falutin' concepts with no experience to back them up.
Impractical pipe-dreams have its place too. As long as it is presented as such, and not misrepresented as being finished work. I enjoyed the older magazines where all kinds of weird crap were published. I miss that somewhat.

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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Tom Stone » November 17th, 2006, 5:38 pm

Some of Tommy's essays are rather theoretical, but most of them have a practical slant. Several essays present you with techniques that you immediately can plug into your existing work. Like the "Grasping at a Straw"-technique (vol.1, p.26) which doesn't even require understanding - just do it as described, and your palming will instantly become invisible.
The same with the "Ricochet" (Vol.1, p. 40) which enables you to succeed with standard misdirection techniques even when someone is burning your hands - a wonderful understanding of group dynamics.

This maybe is a bit of a detour, but over at Lance Pierce's forum, someone asked about a theory I published some years ago - a theory that is somewhat standing on the shoulders of "Ricochet". I'll copypaste it here. Let me know if it is out of place, and I'll remove it:
..Okey then :-)
I described it in an article in the swedish journal Trollkarlen some years ago, under the title "The Resonance Theory".

Some years ago, a friend brought to my attention that a few of the standard effects that I performed seemed to get better reactions than what seemed possible and I, always keen on figuring things out, wanted to isolate the reason. I soon found out that those effects had one thing in common - they all contained a tactic that I had evolved to ensure that the spectator would not refuse to name his card when asked.

Because, I had grew tired of the situation when I had a single card in my hand, asked the spectator to name his card - and the spectator ruins the timing and setup by saying -"Aren't you supposed to tell me what card I'm thinking of?".
I found out that I could remove that annoying moment by showing the face of the card to someone else, before asking the spectator to name his card - By doing so, I apparantly "commited" myself enough, so that the spectator trusted me enough to not question me at the end, so I have never had that problem after making that tactic a habit.

But in addition, if my friend was correct in his assessment, those effects where that tactic was used also got a much stronger reaction than usual. But why? After some pondering, I put together a theory, which in fancy words goes:

A staggered revelation will cause a pinball-like reaction of suspence and anticipiation, where the observers during a few seconds will experience and re-experience the effect several times.

Imagine the usual, amphitheater-esque half circle of spectators in an informal performance. People at extreme right, straight ahead and extreme left. A spectator straight ahead has chosen and signed a card. It has been lost, and it has been found somehow, and you are about to reveal it.

As you make a short recap of the plot, flash the face of the card to 2-3 people on extreme right. They will react somehow at the sight, and the rest of the audience will wonder why, as well as starting to anticipate that they themselves will react in the same way when they see the face of the card.

Move the card over and flash its face to 2-3 people at extreme left. Those people will react slightly stronger, because they have anticipated their own reactions based on observing the first group. The first group will see the second group react and recognize it; "Yeah, that is how I felt, just a second ago!", and relive it again.
The spectator who chose the card will see this, as those two groups are in his line of vision, and start to anticipate that he himself will react according to the pattern that is emerging. At this point, the groups at the sides will not look at you anymore. They already *know* and will look at the first spectator in suspence; "will he react like we did?"

So, at the point when the spectator names his card and the face is revealed to him, he will react even stronger - because of suspence and anticipation. Since he sense that his friends are observing him, he is also likely to make a bigger display of his reaction - causing the sides to remember and relive it yet one more time.... amplified group dynamics, so to speak.

...slightly exaggerated, but that's the theory
...I think you all can see how this relates to "Ricochet".

Guest

Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 18th, 2006, 4:15 am

A great BOM selection Dustin, if anything a bit overdue.

These are my favorite magic books. I recommend them to everone. My first esposure to Tommy's magic was the video from the British symposium several years ago. (Anyone know if it's made it to DVD?) I became a Tommy Wonder addict and often refer to them when I have a problem, asking WWTWD? His approach to the ambitous card is probably the best I've ever seen. I incorporate lot of his work in my own routine, including a move by Max Maven that always elicits gaps from the audience.

When I heard of his illness, I emailed him, just to say how much I enjoyed his work. To my surprise, he quickly responded, saying how he hoped we would get to meet one day. One week later, he was gone.

I had been working on his 2 second card fold for a few months and after his passing, finally had the box built. It's in my show almost every night as a testament to one of the greatest ARTISTS magic has ever known.

Guest

Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » November 19th, 2006, 12:03 pm

Originally posted by Tom Stone:

..Okey then :-)
I described it in an article in the swedish journal Trollkarlen some years ago, under the title "The Resonance Theory".

Some years ago, a friend brought to my attention that a few of the standard effects that I performed seemed to get better reactions than what seemed possible and I, always keen on figuring things out, wanted to isolate the reason. I soon found out that those effects had one thing in common - they all contained a tactic that I had evolved to ensure that the spectator would not refuse to name his card when asked.

Because, I had grew tired of the situation when I had a single card in my hand, asked the spectator to name his card - and the spectator ruins the timing and setup by saying -"Aren't you supposed to tell me what card I'm thinking of?".
I found out that I could remove that annoying moment by showing the face of the card to someone else, before asking the spectator to name his card - By doing so, I apparantly "commited" myself enough, so that the spectator trusted me enough to not question me at the end, so I have never had that problem after making that tactic a habit.

But in addition, if my friend was correct in his assessment, those effects where that tactic was used also got a much stronger reaction than usual. But why? After some pondering, I put together a theory, which in fancy words goes:

A staggered revelation will cause a pinball-like reaction of suspence and anticipiation, where the observers during a few seconds will experience and re-experience the effect several times.

Imagine the usual, amphitheater-esque half circle of spectators in an informal performance. People at extreme right, straight ahead and extreme left. A spectator straight ahead has chosen and signed a card. It has been lost, and it has been found somehow, and you are about to reveal it.

As you make a short recap of the plot, flash the face of the card to 2-3 people on extreme right. They will react somehow at the sight, and the rest of the audience will wonder why, as well as starting to anticipate that they themselves will react in the same way when they see the face of the card.

Move the card over and flash its face to 2-3 people at extreme left. Those people will react slightly stronger, because they have anticipated their own reactions based on observing the first group. The first group will see the second group react and recognize it; "Yeah, that is how I felt, just a second ago!", and relive it again.
The spectator who chose the card will see this, as those two groups are in his line of vision, and start to anticipate that he himself will react according to the pattern that is emerging. At this point, the groups at the sides will not look at you anymore. They already *know* and will look at the first spectator in suspence; "will he react like we did?"

So, at the point when the spectator names his card and the face is revealed to him, he will react even stronger - because of suspence and anticipation. Since he sense that his friends are observing him, he is also likely to make a bigger display of his reaction - causing the sides to remember and relive it yet one more time.... amplified group dynamics, so to speak.

...slightly exaggerated, but that's the theory
...I think you all can see how this relates to "Ricochet". [/QB]
This was very insightful Mr.Stone...thank you for sharing!
I have also very much enjoyed the e-books I have purchased from you... per chance, a collected "hard copy" book in the works?

Thanks again.
Michael

Jim Maloney_dup1
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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » November 19th, 2006, 1:36 pm

Originally posted by Sterling52:
This was very insightful Mr.Stone...thank you for sharing!
I have also very much enjoyed the e-books I have purchased from you... per chance, a collected "hard copy" book in the works?
I seem to recall that he's working on a book with Stephen Minch, so with the combo of the two of them, it should be a really good book.

Back to the subject, I have to admit that I was worried when I first picked up the books. When someone comes as highly recommended as Tommy, you're either going to be incredibly pleased or horribly disappointed. Usually, the product becomes so overhyped that it doesn't live up to everything that's been said about it. I was happy to learn that this was not the case here -- the books are wonderful, even if I don't use any of the material contained in them. Tommy makes you realize that you don't need to settle for just good enough, that there is always room for improvement. The books provide much food for thought and even if you don't agree with everything he says, you can't help but think about things and form your own opinions.

-Jim

Leonard Hevia
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Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 21st, 2006, 4:01 pm

The Books of Wonder are texts I pull off the shelf periodically just for the inspiration. The one essay that has stayed with me, that gnaws at me constantly is The Three Pillars. Through this essay I learned from Tommy that a magician can fool with only psychology, but without this, magic is dead in the water. Sleights and gimmicks can't save you without understanding the psychological aspects of performing an effect.

His last essay in the second volume is also a killer. Never before in my life had I read a magic book where the author meditates on stategies to increase the conviction of his magic. The higher the conviction, the more powerful your magic can be...but one must be careful not to overdo it...maybe if........

Guest

Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » December 5th, 2006, 3:41 am

So, I finally got the hard copy's and went into "Three Pillars" - indeed great insights - and the best of it to me using a lot of pschycologi and sleight of hand today, this essay actually made me start thinking about my reluctance of using mechanics - Tommy is/was right on this, all three pillars will enhance the effect and the audience's experience of magic. And we are here to perform magic with the audience in the focus so it will be a terrible mistake to leave one pillar out, if it can help you enhance the experience/astonishment for your audience.

But what I really want to point out in this post is the following. As a huge fan of Tommy Wonders "Tamed card" effect, there is a very important chapter on "faillure effects" in vol 1. In this chapter Mr. Wonder descibes the pscychology of faillure effects and why he feels that in the "Tamed card" effect it is a better option to blame the audience member for the "mistake" than taking the blame himself. To get away with that takes a different kind of level as a magician, just to come to that conclussion is a paradigme change that only a few people can "invent".

This is very interesting dynamics - and they certainly has to be adapted to the character you are (and play) as a magician. For my personality, and my development as a magician at this stage, I think the effect will work better if I make it a dual-blame situation, putting the "mistake" on both myself and the said spectator. Maybe I will move one level up one day - I will certainly send Mr. Wonder some kind thoughts if that happens.

This is very interesting reading - Tommy might not be right in everything (as he is pointing out many places), but he is certainly spot on in most areas, and his books does make you review everything you do in magic from a different angle. In that sense, the book has so much more to offer than his DVD's - but his DVD's does show a lot of the methods/effects/psychology in action so I think they are a perfect companion.

Guest

Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » February 20th, 2007, 6:46 am

Just practising magic for a few years.
The main idea of these books of wonder is fantastic. A thinking (man ) has doubts and might find something he wrote a while ago not keeping up with the thoughts (he ) has at the moment.
So no wonder there about the mail. His fairness in it all is a compliment to the person. where have the good times gone..
As long it is a rarity that magic is considerd an artform or worth the more in depth thought I think that these books are a blessing.
I'm - in this context - proud to be Dutch.
Take care
Ramon.

Guest

Re: BoM: The Books of Wonder

Postby Guest » December 16th, 2007, 9:55 pm

When The Books Of Wonder came out in the late 90's, I felt there wasn't another word needed to be written in the magic world. Many times since then I still feel that way.

Tommy was a genius. He just "knew".


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