Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Talk about what is being written in other magic publications.
Edward Pungot
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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Edward Pungot » January 1st, 2012, 1:22 pm

There seems to be a lot of grey areas here. Im not in the position to have any authoritative stance on this issue whatsoever. But I can comment on my own observations of my own actions and what I have done in the past and ways I have tried to correct my own mistakes and misuses/misunderstandings.

Last year (not too long ago), I posted an excerpt on another thread used to supplement and add on to what has already been posted by others in regards to magicians and the roles they have played on film. The works were cited in MLA format giving proper credit. I have no monetary interest nor gain in this action, my motives for doing so purely academic and common practice on a social forum where individuals collectively add to what has already been posted. Before posting I did not write and ask the distributors and directors and artists involved for permission to do so as my intentions again were purely non-commercial in nature. In the academic world this is common practice.

However, if a topic on say the billiard balls were to be brought up on the forum, I suppose basic techniques and ideas could be discussed, but I would find it very difficult to post and/or discuss anything of major importance unless the individual I was talking to also had the reference book/notes I was referring to. So when it comes to works such as these, I feel the only conversation or collaboration that can take place is in private, with those who also have acquired the rights via the actual purchase of the books/notes.

So what is the difference b/w the first example and the second example, and why the first is tolerated and the second not? I would have to say the nature of the information being discussed and/or disclosed and the context in which it is done. We are after all in a business of secrets. If someone were to do a dissertation on the mechanics of special effects in movies and cite Oh, God! as an example of video trickery, giving a shot by shot analysis of the excerpted scene, no angry parties would ensue. But take a highly personalized sequence of movements in the billiard balls and explain the intricacies of a published handling in detail and in the open for those who do not have the reference cited, and I think there is good reason for the author/creator and those who own the book to be justified in their objection.

I only have one final comment on this. Umpa does make a strong case in the community to which he is advocating. The public domain is after all the rich wealth of books that are all available to us for those who make the efforts to track and purchase the books both past and present. Everything we say and do, if properly analyzed, can most likely be traced back to an original source/inspiration/book/quote/line/performer/ad infinitum. We do stand on the shoulders of giants as Newton would say.

And I think it is here, in these closing comments as I try to make sense of my own actions and the comments of others, where I personally reach some sense to all the valid arguments from both sides. I am always open to revision and edification, but as of right now, there are different levels of the community in my mind. There in the larger community that encompasses all those interested in magicGenii Subscriber, non-Genii Subscriber, gad-flies, etc. And there are special nodes within this circle, which access granted only to those who know what we are talking about and who share a common and highly specialized knowledge where references used is assuming that one has the references sited. The Hermetic Press forum uses this format and is appropriately blocked to the general publics eyes. This is my interpretation of this observation and where I think some of the interested parties may want to look further into to cater both sides and vested interests.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Bill Mullins » January 1st, 2012, 1:48 pm

Tom Stone wrote:Today, however, it is reasonable for even the most skeptical person to change opinion from "no magic routine can be copyrighted" to "some magic routines might possibly be protected by copyright".


But, it is also reasonable to say "No sleight of hand routines have been demonstrated to be copyrighted by a court in the U.S., and until it is done so, one cannot say authoritatively that they are protected by copyright" as well "the costs of pursuing a copyright suit are so onerous, particularly compared to the possible benefits of doing so, that it is unlikely that sleight of hand will be shown to be copyrighted any time soon."

Several years ago, someone did a knock-off of Ricky Jay's "52 Assistants" show in NY. I remember reading coverage of the show (and unfortunately, haven't been able to find it again to link to) in which Jay saw the show, and said "I'd like my money and my act back." The plagiarism (?) was blatant even to the reporter. Note that Jay is a man of some means; is known to be protective of his work (as is appropriate); and has a business partner (Michael Weber) who is an Intellectual Property attorney. It would seem difficult to find a ituation more appropriate for showing that sleight of hand performances are indeed protectable in the courts. Yet he did not avail himself of the opportunity. Mr. Jay has not confided in me his reasons for not doing so, but a reasonable guess is "what's the point?" It would cost much more to proceed with the lawsuit (for it is a civil tort, not a criminal act, and the District Attorney won't do the legwork for you) than could be realized in damages.


As an aside, Tom, what did you do when you found copies of your "Warpsmith" book? Seize them? Berate those who possessed them? Talk to a lawyer? Let it go?

A right not claimed may as well not exist . . .

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Chris Aguilar » January 1st, 2012, 2:12 pm

Hey Tom, a quick bit of advice.

That extensive "Point by (tedious) Point" "Wall O' words" type of response you gave to Umpa Duze?

I've had people tell me they hate that sh!t.
And it doesn't really make one's point any stronger(it just speaks toward one's inability to be concise.)

Said "Wall of words" also makes it easier for others to ignore one's post wholesale while simultaneously making one look like some anal retentive jerk trying to drown out someone else with a flood of words.

I know this, because I used to be the jerk who posted just like that all the time. People (even friends) gently (and sometimes not so gently) told me flat out that such behavior made me look like a schmuck. I airily, defensively (and wrongly) told them "It's my style, I'll post as I wish!".

Those people had a really good point about that manner of posting and I'm (belatedly alas) grateful to them for trying to set me straight even if I was an ass to ignore them at the time.

And, by the way, I never (as you, no surprise, misrepresent) said anywhere in this thread I agreed 100% with Umpa Duze. I posed a scenario and asked if that was the point he was making. That's all. You really need to stop pulling stuff out of your ass. If you've got a point, and you want people to read and understand it, why not try being a bit more concise and leave out the fiction/wishful thinking? No one can force you to do that of course (and I'd never try) so let's consider it a friendly piece of advice that you'll ignore (probably while going on about how you're essentially being a noble jerk for your views, no one understands the topic properly but you, blah, blah, blah as you did up thread).

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Tom Stone » January 1st, 2012, 2:36 pm

Re. sprongshift's post.

Part of the problem is that many in our "world" seem to have a problem to differentiate between analyzing the work of others and making use of the work of others in their own performances. Something that related fields are better at keeping apart.

For example, if I come up with something new and mindboggling, and make the choice of not publishing it.
Then it is likely that others will analyze it, and make their theories public on various forums, open or closed. No essential problems so far.
The theories might be significantly different ways to reach the same effect - which isn't inherently wrong.
Or, it might be spot on - and that's problematic, since then my work is made public without my permission.

If kept on a theoretical level, in discussions only, it might not cause any real problems - except perhaps making my work "old" and less interesting if I later decide to publish my work.

But what happens when someone takes it from a theoretical level to a practical level? If someone in an analytical discussion comes up with a way that exactly duplicates the effect and, while not knowing this for sure, also exactly duplicates my handling - and then decides to make use of "his" version in his own performances and in lecture dvds.
This is clearly wrong and far beyond what is permissable. From (subjective) experience, I know that it is not uncommon that something like that is defended as being "independent innovation".

So, if I don't publish, there is a risk that my work will be treated as public domain, under another person's name.
If I do publish, there is a risk that my work will be treated as public domain, but under my name.
None of those two alternatives are desireable, but the latter is slightly better.

Had we been equally good as the theater to differentiate between analyzing material and making actual use of material, then a lot of things would have been simpler.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jeffrey Korst » January 1st, 2012, 2:38 pm

Lost in the last 50 posts was this very nice question:

Ted M wrote:I think this topic got off track by loose usage of the term "public domain."

Umpa was trying to talk about magicians' general reluctance to "use published source material, properly cited, to make, build on or challenge ideas."

Umpa used the term "public domain" in this sentence: "To my knowledge, nowhere beyond the world of magic is it required to get someones permission to present work that is already in the public domain."

Jonathan Townsend and Tom Stone focused very narrowly on the specific term "public domain" as an assertion by Umpa that published magical writings could be freely republished by someone else, since "public domain" is a legal term in intellectual property law for material unprotected by copyright or patent.

This thread quickly devolved into various non-lawyers' views of copyright, which seems way off track.

Papers written by academics are protected by copyright, and yet others are nevertheless able to collectively analyze, publicly discuss, sift, winnow and build on the ideas expressed within them, resulting in faster progress and development in the field.

Umpa asks why this does not seem to be the case in magician culture.

Yes?


This is also the way I read the initial post.

What say you, Umpa?

Any comments on the topic from this standpoint?

Best wishes for the new year to all-

Jeffrey Korst

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Chris Aguilar » January 1st, 2012, 2:50 pm

Tom Stone wrote:Re. sprongshift's post.

Part of the problem is that many in our "world" seem to have a problem to differentiate between analyzing the work of others and making use of the work of others in their own performances.


Stereotype much Tom?

Without knowing what you consider "many" or how you define "world" that's seems a mighty broad brush you're choosing to wield yet again.

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Tom Stone
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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Tom Stone » January 1st, 2012, 3:00 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:But, it is also reasonable to say "No sleight of hand routines have been demonstrated to be copyrighted by a court in the U.S., and until it is done so, one cannot say authoritatively that they are protected by copyright"


Yes, for the U.S. that is true. But one can also not say authoritatively that they aren't protected by copyright. But one can authoritatively say that the framework for such protection is in place - and that was not the case just 10-15 years ago.

As an aside, Tom, what did you do when you found copies of your "Warpsmith" book? Seize them? Berate those who possessed them? Talk to a lawyer? Let it go?

Oh, this was long before I had enough confidence. I said nothing, and silently excluded them from the people I wanted to spend time with.
The choice to speak up came far later, after seing the same thing over and over again. I think I began to look into the details around 1999, and became vocal about two years later.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jeff Eline » January 1st, 2012, 3:06 pm

Chris Aguilar wrote:
Tom Stone wrote:Re. sprongshift's post.

Part of the problem is that many in our "world" seem to have a problem to differentiate between analyzing the work of others and making use of the work of others in their own performances.


Stereotype much Tom?

Without knowing what you consider "many" or how you define "world" that's seems a mighty broad brush you're choosing to wield yet again.


OK. OK. We get it! Sheesh...

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Chris Aguilar » January 1st, 2012, 3:09 pm

Jeff Eline wrote:
OK. OK. We get it! Sheesh...

I'd respect your opinion on such matters a whole lot more if you applied the same standard to Tom's posts. ;)

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Tom Stone » January 1st, 2012, 3:16 pm

Chris Aguilar wrote:Without knowing what you consider "many" or how you define "world" that's seems a mighty broad brush you're choosing to wield yet again.

Is it fair to assume that you have an opposing impression regarding this? If so, you are most welcome to elaborate on this point, because if I am severely mistaken, I do want to be corrected. Can you do that, please?

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Chris Aguilar » January 1st, 2012, 3:32 pm

Is it fair to assume that you have an opposing impression regarding this? If so, you are most welcome to elaborate on this point, because if I am severely mistaken, I do want to be corrected. Can you do that, please?

You are severely mistaken.

I was just noting that your penchant for basing whole arguments on unpersuasive stereotypical underpinnings remains undiminished.

I think that anyone (myself included) who speaks authoritatively about legal matters based on such lazy stereotyping should be apprised of such.

You're welcome. :)

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Tom Stone » January 1st, 2012, 3:50 pm

Chris Aguilar wrote:
Is it fair to assume that you have an opposing impression regarding this? If so, you are most welcome to elaborate on this point, because if I am severely mistaken, I do want to be corrected. Can you do that, please?

You are severely mistaken.

Can I by that assume that your opinion is that magicians in general are good at differentiating between analyzing the work of others and making actual use of the work of others?

If so, please elaborate on this, since that would ease my understanding of your point of view.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 1st, 2012, 4:17 pm

I'm sorry, Tom, but I have seen no evidence whatsoever that there is any chance any magic could be protected by copyright or any other right in the United States--this is not changing, or in flux, and this lack of protection has remained static forever.

I understand that the laws have evolved in Europe, however those laws do not apply here and I have not seen any legal movement that will allow those laws to apply here in the foreseeable future.

Do I think the laws here are fair to creators? No.
Do I think they should be changed? Yes.

You know how much I value you as both a friend and as a genius (yes!) in our field. But your point of view on this issue simply isn't applicable here in the US.
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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Chris Aguilar » January 1st, 2012, 4:29 pm

Tom Stone wrote:Can I by that assume....


Nope. I know you love to assume (and assume and assume) but I'd prefer that you not insist on trying to pigeonhole me or my views that manner.


You see, I'm not seeking consensus here and I suspect that you you are. It's not important to me if you agree with my views or not. I suspect (and once again, could be wrong) that being "right" in such matters is very important to you. (e.g. that whole rant about how you have to be a private jerk, a professional jerk and so on in various instances)

I think it's important (and potentially helpful in having more honest discourse) to bluntly point out when one harms their credibility by depending on stereotype, questionable assumptions, made up statistics, logical fallacy and sometimes just plain wishful thinking in an attempt to lend their personal views authority. I realize that such bluntness annoys some (Sorry Jeff E., I'll try to be a little less repetitive about it.) but I nonetheless find it hard to understand how such behavior can be guarded against if it is not prominently noted.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jeff Eline » January 1st, 2012, 5:25 pm

Chris Aguilar wrote:Sorry Jeff E., I'll try to be a little less repetitive about it.


Boy, while that would be nice, all evidence based on past performance indicates that's not likely.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Tom Stone » January 1st, 2012, 5:29 pm

Chris Aguilar wrote:
Tom Stone wrote:Can I by that assume....


Nope. I know you love to assume (and assume and assume) but I'd prefer that you not insist on trying to pigeonhole me or my views that manner.


Strange. Just some hours ago you pointed out that I had a deploreable penchant for authoritative sounding baseless claims and fabricated observations, and that I was keen on misrepresenting, stereotyping, obfuscating, misinterpreting etc.
Now I suddenly have a "love" for the approach of carefully check whether an assumption is fair or not - and that seem to be regarded as equally bad.

You are aware that there are other argumentative techniques than Double Bind?

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Tom Stone » January 1st, 2012, 5:38 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:But your point of view on this issue simply isn't applicable here in the US.

Fair enough. Time will tell. At some point in the future, there might arise an occasion where I can try all this out for real.

At an earlier occasion you mentioned something that I know nothing about, and might be an even bigger problem. That the courts in the US are overworked, and regardless of whether magic tricks can be copyrighted or not, it might be problematic to actually come as far as a court without getting the case thrown out and dismissed.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Dustin Stinett » January 1st, 2012, 5:49 pm

Tom Stone wrote:...the courts in the US are overworked, and regardless of whether magic tricks can be copyrighted or not, it might be problematic to actually come as far as a court without getting the case thrown out and dismissed.

If someone has a prima fascia case, a judge will not toss it because his docket is full. But the problem of our courts being busy is a very real one. It can take years before a civil (non-criminal) case sees the inside of a courtroom. And for every one that makes it in front of a jury, there are countless others that are settled or arbitrated.

Dustin

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Chris Aguilar » January 1st, 2012, 5:51 pm

Jeff Eline wrote:
Chris Aguilar wrote:Sorry Jeff E., I'll try to be a little less repetitive about it.


Boy, while that would be nice, all evidence based on past performance indicates that's not likely.

I'm a sinner, sure, but at least I will (unlike some) cop to that and at least try to improve. I think you'll find that I haven't (current digression aside) backslid in that manner here on Genii for quite some time now. So I hope you'll also give me some credit for my more recent (and admittedly not always successful) efforts at avoiding that sort of thing.

Mea Culpa.


@ Tom, That last post didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

I'm guessing that this type of constant back and forth might be a bit fatiguing for you as it is for me. I really cringe looking at how incoherent some of my old "heat of the moment" posts from years back look today. I guess it happens to all of us at some point.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Tom Stone » January 1st, 2012, 6:20 pm

Chris Aguilar wrote:@ Tom, That last post didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Seems reasonable.

Happy new year, Chris! :)

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Chris Aguilar » January 1st, 2012, 6:29 pm

Tom Stone wrote:
Chris Aguilar wrote:@ Tom, That last post didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Seems reasonable.

Happy new year, Chris! :)

Absolutely.

I'll also wish for a New Year filled with greater online civility and fewer tedious copyright topics. (Not that I think Umpa Duze actually meant it to devolve into that)

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jeffrey Korst » January 1st, 2012, 8:18 pm

Jeffrey Korst wrote:Lost in the last 50 posts was this very nice question:

Ted M wrote:I think this topic got off track by loose usage of the term "public domain."

Umpa was trying to talk about magicians' general reluctance to "use published source material, properly cited, to make, build on or challenge ideas."

Umpa used the term "public domain" in this sentence: "To my knowledge, nowhere beyond the world of magic is it required to get someones permission to present work that is already in the public domain."

Jonathan Townsend and Tom Stone focused very narrowly on the specific term "public domain" as an assertion by Umpa that published magical writings could be freely republished by someone else, since "public domain" is a legal term in intellectual property law for material unprotected by copyright or patent.

This thread quickly devolved into various non-lawyers' views of copyright, which seems way off track.

Papers written by academics are protected by copyright, and yet others are nevertheless able to collectively analyze, publicly discuss, sift, winnow and build on the ideas expressed within them, resulting in faster progress and development in the field.

Umpa asks why this does not seem to be the case in magician culture.

Yes?


This is also the way I read the initial post.

What say you, Umpa?

Any comments on the topic from this standpoint?

Best wishes for the new year to all-

Jeffrey Korst


Apparently not. Too bad, it would be more interesting than the current sniping.

I guess that's just me.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 1st, 2012, 9:29 pm

? it does and it's in our journals. the man is straw.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 2nd, 2012, 11:08 am

:) The brain comes for free, the mind takes lots of work and many will settle for buying a wand.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Umpa Duze » January 3rd, 2012, 1:44 am

Hi Jeffrey,
You nailed my question. Jonathan has a different sense of the magic literature. I am not sure that this is a straw man. However, as I said before it may be. What is your impression?
Cheers,
Umpa Duze

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 3rd, 2012, 12:39 pm

If you want a counterexample - check out the muddled history of the "utility switch" sleight in our literature.

Perhaps it would be more efficient to choose an anthropological perspective of a culture shifting from oral tradition shifting to a written culture with an emphasis on citing and being concise about what's novel.

IMHO it's the market for single item routine/props when the focus is on "conditions/puzzle" that's got interests antithetical to what Umpa's been describing.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby mrgoat » January 3rd, 2012, 12:43 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote: shifting from oral


That's what she said.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 3rd, 2012, 5:08 pm

Even grade school students are taught to cite references and link sources mrgoat - so your implied accusation that our community if not just our literature has schoolyard mentality may well be justified.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby mrgoat » January 3rd, 2012, 6:22 pm

No, I'm just a purile wanker.

:)

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Bill Mullins » January 4th, 2012, 11:41 am

A Chinese perspective

In China, holders of magic patents enjoy the exclusive rights of prop production, sale and performance. However, patents must be obtained by disclosure. Cheng Yi said: Keeping secrets is the supreme law governing the magic community, since disclosure means death. Very few magicians will publicize their tricks.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 4th, 2012, 11:47 am

Is there a "latest magical patents" website yet?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby magicam » January 8th, 2012, 2:03 pm

Umpa, its a pity that we couldnt take your gracious cues for serious, on-point dialog on this topic. My thoughts are as follows:

In many respects, magic has a unique culture. As I noted when interviewing a scientist/magician, magic seeks to mystify, while the sciences seek to demystify. If we use the broad concept of academia as a proxy for science in the context of your original post (and I think its a fair substitution in light of Umpas notion of progress as an accretive process fostered by the free exchange of information and ideas), then I think the proposed analogy between academia and magic begins to fall apart fairly quickly at even the more abstract levels. Why? Well, among other things because, right or wrong, many magicians tend to equate progress in magic with the development of new (secret) methodologies and effects, and by such thinking, if the same are openly traded, then there is no progress. I do not agree with this thinking, largely because I believe that those magicians who have distinguished themselves the most throughout the history of magic have done so more on account of their presentation and style (i.e., showmanship) than by performing new tricks. Nonetheless, the fact remains that secrets are paramount vis--vis the lay spectator without the mystery of how any given effect is achieved, there is no raison dtre for even the finest magicians.

Umpa Duze wrote:If we stopped acting from a place of scarcity and started creating abundance by openly trading in ideas rather than worrying so much about exclusive ownership we could grow so much faster.

As I understand it, then, Umpas underlying premise seems to be that if the magic community openly discussed, shared, cited, challenged, etc., its members secrets and ideas, then magic would grow faster. The obvious (to me at least) inference is that faster growth equates with the betterment of magic. But is that really the case? To see if openly trading in ideas would improve magic, shouldnt we have some idea of magics current ills and then try to assess the curative effects that such open trading might have on those ills? Opinions will doubtless vary among us, but in my view two of the biggest ills are the lack of practice and the lack of original showmanship. We all know the telltale signs of under-practiced magic, so it doesnt seem necessary to elaborate on this shortcoming, except to note that its been considered a blight upon magic for well over 300 years (see, for example, the delightful Prologue in Sports and Pastimes (London, 1676)). And with the phrase lack of original showmanship, Im referring to magicians who have failed to develop their own individual styles and tailor their repertoires to their personalities and audiences. This too is an age-old problem, but may have become more acute in this audiovisual age. When discussing the pros and cons of DVDs in his Genii magazine interview (March, 2011), Dr. Edwin Dawes observes, in a DVD youve got the nuances of the movements and so forth, so I can appreciate that. But the overall picture, as I see it, is we are producing too many who do much the same thing in the same way, and it may well be that there is too little innovation these days because too many people are relying on DVDs. (Eddie would be the first to concede that the foregoing is merely one mans opinion, but there are literally only a few people in the world who can match his combined knowledge of magic history and performance experience.)

So if we stopped acting from a place of scarcity and started creating abundance by openly trading in ideas , would this result in more polished and/or more original magic performances? In my opinion, the answer is a decided no to both questions. Indeed, in the transition now taking place where DVDs are increasingly replacing books as instructional materials, one could argue that DVDs satisfy at least one important element of Umpas ideal: with an audiovisual demonstration and explanation of a trick, it would seem much more difficult to publish an effect that simply does not work as explained. But as Eddie Dawes notes, while audiovisual materials unlike books can convey the little things, little touches, that you can [only] gain from personal [instruction], the downside is that this enables magicians to mindlessly copy every little nuance of anothers performance the danger of producing clones as Eddie puts it.

Heres my main point: Whatever you think about my opinion of magics ills and Eddies opinions about DVDs and their ilk, think of your own pet peeves about what impedes the progress of magic and see if Umpas advocacy of a more open trading in ideas might alleviate those pet peeves in some meaningful way. IMHO, such analysis is the litmus test for the efficacy of Umpas ideas, and it would be interesting to hear what improvements Umpa would expect to see in magic if its literature and ideas were vetted in a manner more akin to traditional academic literature.

Given that Umpa is an academic, I can understand the attempt to analogize the general nature of academic literature to our literature. But I think such an analogy is flawed, not only because of the unique (secretive) culture of magic which to a large degree is the antithesis of openly trading in ideas but also because magic is not a discipline (as I believe Umpa suggests), at least certainly not in the same sense as nearly all academia, which falls under the umbrella of the social and physical sciences. Magic, in its highest form, is an art. The artistic element of magic explains why an audience can see two technically perfect executions of a trick, and be deeply moved and entertained by one but not the other. It also explains why a 21st century magician can still entertain with a trick thats been performed for the past 2,000 years.

The entertainment potential of ancient tricks, even those of which lay audiences know the secrets, speaks to the theory that the trick itself is seldom of primary importance to the magician its the magicians presentation of the trick that creates, or fails to create, entertainment. It also speaks to the notion that new and/or improved arent necessarily more entertaining or better for magic.

Umpa Duze wrote:To my knowledge, nowhere beyond the world of magic is it required to get someones permission to present work that is already in the public domain. No other discipline frowns on analysis of work presented publicly or claims that a particular flourish or idea belongs to its inventor at the exclusion of others. And, nowhere in academia could erroneous published work go uncorrected for generations when the leaders in the field know better.
Ted M. in paraphrasing Umpa wrote:Umpa was trying to talk about magicians' general reluctance to "use published source material, properly cited, to make, build on or challenge ideas." Papers written by academics are protected by copyright, and yet others are nevertheless able to collectively analyze, publicly discuss, sift, winnow and build on the ideas expressed within them, resulting in faster progress and development in the field. Umpa asks why this does not seem to be the case in magician culture.

Notwithstanding the (arguably inapt) use of the term public domain, I did not read Umpas original post the same way that Ted M. did, but since Umpa blessed Teds paraphrasing, Ill work off of the latters wording. I do not keep current on the flood of trick books and periodicals, so perhaps there is some merit to the argument that magicians exhibit a general reluctance to use published source material, properly cited, to make, build on or challenge ideas. But it seems to me that the better writing in magic does indeed cite, discuss and critically address previous literature and the work of predecessor inventors and innovators. Consider, for example, some of Victor Farellis works published in the mid-20th century, and more recently, Roberto Giobbis Card College series.

Umpa Duze wrote: And, for god sakes, if you know of an effect that is being published that simply does not work as explained, write about it and lets help the next generation find the best ideas to build on.

The literature of magic is vast and quite fragmented amongst the books, monographs, monthlies, quarterlies, annuals, and audiovisual materials. It seems unlikely that anyone has ever really given much detailed thought to a particular trick published in a book or magazine, so the prospects of writing a correction, improvement, or criticism thereof are slim to none. One ironic consequence of this reality is that, for the obsessed amateurs who are constantly on the hunt for new material, all they have to do is actually read a 20, 50 or 70 year-old issue of Genii.

One final irony/disconnect which (I believe) demonstrates another failure in the analogy between magic literature and traditional academic literature is this: those who take the greatest interest, participate the most, and are published in the latter are almost always professional academics. In contrast, Id venture to say that bonafide magic pros probably wouldnt care a whit if magic literature was similar to traditional academic literature. The vast majority of our literature is for amateurs, and the pros operate in an entirely different world.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 9th, 2012, 5:55 pm

With magicam on this:

1) Working pros not likely to care about larger craft issues as the shift in focus from their career interests to those who don't contribute to their livelihoods is not cost/benefit justified. Writing, manufacture and selling takes time and energy - as does performing for paying audiences.

2) Implied market drives for apparent novelty within the magic market are antithetical to vetted publications of justified novel claims. Selling secrets from underground and "intrigue tricks" is easier than selling textbooks.

3) Presence if not overwhelming influence of meta-market for items not designed or even fully realized for performance. This includes incomplete scripts, unsuitable props etc.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Umpa Duze » January 10th, 2012, 2:18 am

Magicam and Jonathan,
Thank you both for your analysis and thought provoking comments. I hope you have a wonderful new year.
Umpa
Cheers,

Umpa Duze

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Corneilius Jay » January 30th, 2012, 1:01 pm

To address Umpa Duze's original post.
When it comes to magic as an art and the people who perform it, I think that there is a huge dilemma. Whether or not to keep an effect secret by not performing it as opposed to performing said effect and exposing it (possibly to someone of the magical fraternity who may or may not unethically credit himself with its creation)

I believe the "magic community" to be unique in this respect.
To keep ones effects secret an not perform them defeats the whole point so one has only one option left to him, to perform his art.

The main problem is ethical

The magician can be ethical, master his art, give credit where credit is due and in good graces pass his acquired knowledge on to a successor and/or publish it in a book for the "magic community" to grow and develop as they individually see fit or. . .

They can be unethical, Blatantly steal ideas, effects, whole acts, market these whole effects shamelessly, learn to live with the knowledge that they never mastered their art and the derision that came with it all.

I realise nothing is black and white and there exists a huge grey area between these two hypothetical magicians but the slights that we're passed down from said great masters of their art where passed down with humility and good grace and should be used with respect deference and with the art of magic, it's development and prosperity foremost in ones mind.

Only my opinion and I'm pretty sure it's relevant to this post.
Regards
Neil.
Regards.
Neil.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Corneilius Jay » January 31st, 2012, 12:59 pm

I feel that perhaps my previous post didnt convey excactly the meaning i wished to convey. perhaps i should let someone like Nevil Maskelyne who is a far better authority on the subject than me say a few words.

BEYOND doubt, the attractiveness of magic is largely due to its secrets. Not only to the general public, but also to the professional magician, the secrets of magic represent the most fascinating branch of the subject. They are, among all classes of society, a popular topic for conversation. They have given birth to whole libraries of literature and are responsible for a mass of chuckle headed opinions-greater in
number and variety, perhaps, than have ever resulted from the discussion of any other subject under the sun.Unfortunately, however, notwithstanding the constant attention de voted to this
theme, the real secrets of the magic art have received but scant consideration. Their true nature-indeed, their very existence may be said to have been almost entirely disregarded by the public, and too frequently overlooked by professional magicians.
The prevalent idea is that the secrets of magic consist in tricks and dodges, connected with the manipulations and the apparatus employed in the art. To most people, the "secret" of any magical presentation means simply "how it is done."
It is assumed that, when once the devices used in producing a magical effort have been discovered, the secret of that effect is revealed. The trick has been found out, and therefore
nothing remains to be learned. A more erroneous view has never been conceived.
Tricks and dodges are of comparatively small importance in the art of magic. At the utmost,
they display inventive ability, but nothing more. The effect-and the effect alone produced by the use of such inventions, is the consideration of real importance. For proof of this, we need only point out one well known fact, viz:-that the very best
audience a skilled magician can have is one composed entirely of magicians.
The reason for this should be self-evident. An audience of magical experts is bound to see the performer's feats in a proper light. Such an audience will very seldom be perplexed by what is exhibited, and will never attach great importance to "how it is done." Every member of such an audience will have his mind engrossed almost exclusively in noting the art with which the performer uses devices, known or unknown, to produce an intended effect. If his art is meritorious, the expert spectators will appreciate the performance highly, no matter how old, how new, how ingenious, or how simple may be the technical devices employed.
It will be difficult, we fear, to bring the general public to that standpoint. The average man is so firmly impressed with the notion that magic consists merely in puzzles offered for solution, challenges to the spectator's acuteness, that many years must elapse before that erroneous idea can be dispelled. Some day, however, we hope that even the man in the street will have learned the fact that so-called "secrets" are to the magician little more than are, to the actor, the wigs, grease-paints and other "make-up" with which he prepares himself for appearance before the public. The art of the magician, like that of the actor, depends upon matters far higher than mere
appliances and processes. just as the actor, in the exercise of his art, employs certain means for making himself resemble the character he represents, so the magician employs devices essential to the guise in which he appears. As it happens, the
magician's aids in this respect are necessarily more recondite than those of the actor.
Owing to this fact, there has arisen the mistaken impression that the magician's art begins and ends in the devices he employs-whereas, in fact, those devices are merely his working tools. His art does not consist in the things he uses, nor in the trade secrets and technical processes he has at command, but in the employment of those facilities with adequate efficiency. It consists in what he does with the things he uses, not in those things themselves. In the hands of a skilled magician, a magical experiment becomes something vastly different from what it would be if conducted by a novice. That needs no argument whatsoever. And it is just in that very difference that the art of magic is comprised. Those who hold the view that the tools of magic are synonymous with the art of magic do great injustice to the magician and to his art alike. -Nevil Maskelyne, Our magic.-

Sorry about the word wall but i think it was worth it.
Neil.
Regards.

Neil.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 1st, 2012, 9:33 am

C* - IMHO the magic market protects itself from academic leveling and product vetting by insisting its members operate and propagate Laing type knots including:
The secret is the product
The trick is knowing how to present it
If you found a new way to do a trick it's a new item


Such convoluted thinking and conflated values pretty much precludes the "where does this item fit into existing published knowledge", "what specifically is novel here" and "how would this work for anyone else in their environment" type discussion. Games People Play indeed.

There's room for research on the thinking of magicians - what thinking leads to what behavior - though it won't likely offer much facile appeal as the perception/cognition self amusement items that seem to be fashionable at the moment.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby El Harvey Oswald » February 1st, 2012, 6:03 pm

An aside inspired by but diferent from the thread's content: I work in a field that pompously calls itself a "learned profession." The discussion in this thread is far more vibrant and substantial than the typical quality of conversation in my work. However, I think magic has consistently underachieved in conveying its intellectual depth.

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Re: Something troubling in Steinmeyer's new book

Postby El Harvey Oswald » February 1st, 2012, 6:15 pm

"If someone has a prima fascia case, a judge will not toss it because his docket is full. But the problem of our courts being busy is a very real one. It can take years before a civil (non-criminal) case sees the inside of a courtroom. And for every one that makes it in front of a jury, there are countless others that are settled or arbitrated."

That few cases make it to trial isn't really an important measure of anything. Settlements aren't inferior outcomes, and the bulk of the common law is made in cases that eventually settle or are resolved by dispositive motions. Every case, in federal and state civil courts, in fact "sees the inside of a courtroom" relatively soon after being filed and thereafter, regularly, in connection with status conferences, discovery disputes, substantive and procedural motions. By design, litigation proceeds and progresses without the necessity of gathering in court. And by one well-reasoned view, a case that does go to trial represents an organizational failure, not the rare realization of a uniquely legitimate procedure. Finally, while there is no doctrinal basis for a case being "thrown out" because a judge is busy, as a practical matter it happens all the time. Courts are busy in the way of most things. Again, though, the US civil litigation system is designed so that, say, a doubling of the number of cases filed will not result in a proportional increase in the duration from filing to resolution.

Separately, Richard's assessment of the state of US copyright law is utterly accurate, notwithstanding desires that it might be otherwise.


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