ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
Marty Demarest
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » September 12th, 2014, 2:09 pm

I wanted to follow up the recent discussion of the color change that is commonly called "The Erdnase Color Change." In addition to the (much older) sources cited above that attribute the move to Houdini, it is claimed outright by Houdini in his editing of Elliott's Last Legacy (1923) under the heading "Two Effective Moves by Houdini," pp. 133-134.

FWIW, in the new edition of The Expert at the Card Table that I edited, the move is directly indexed under "Houdini Color Change." The index listing for "Erdnase Color Change" says "See Houdini Color Change." I'll stand by that.

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AJM
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby AJM » September 13th, 2014, 2:46 am

Marty

Any plans for your book to be made available on Amazon.co.uk?

Andrew
Corner-boy Begrudger

Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » September 13th, 2014, 10:49 am

Also amazon.ca

Jake Spatz
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jake Spatz » September 13th, 2014, 2:43 pm

"INDEXED EXPERT" INT'L ORDERS

To purchase our new edition of the Expert from outside the US, please order directly from the listing at https://www.createspace.com/4585106. (There should be a few options for international shipping, so you can choose what you like.)

We hope to list the book on Amazon sites in Europe very soon. I'm awaiting a response about that now, and I'll try to post any news here. [EDIT: It's available as of 25 Sept. 2014. See the post below.]

We have no option to list the book on Amazon.ca right now (I'm told they don't carry any titles manufactured by CreateSpace), so customers in Canada must order via the link above. If Amazon.ca change their policy in the future, we'll update accordingly.

In the meantime, thanks for the kind words about the new edition! We hope you enjoy it :)
Last edited by Jake Spatz on September 25th, 2014, 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

billmccloskey
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby billmccloskey » September 13th, 2014, 10:49 pm

Here is my bit of Erdnase fame:

Back in the late 90's before the internet boom, I was working for an internet startup. The founder was friends with a young woman from the Wall Street Journal and we went out for lunch one day. I was fairly new into magic at the time and I told her the story about Erdnase and how no one knew who he was, but that it was this bible for magicians. She was intrigued and decided to write a story on it. She interviewed folks like Ricky Jay and about a week or so later, the Erdnase story ran on the front page of the WSJ.

Immediately after that, the book sold out.

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » September 17th, 2014, 2:21 pm

Hi All,

Regarding the origin of the color change . . .

The following post by Jeff Pierce quotes from an earlier post of Jeff's, which stemmed from a post by Richard Hatch on a different thread.

Richard had discussed an item by Victor Farelli in The Magic Wand -- in which Farelli discussed what Houdini told him about the sleight.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1240&p=186414#p186414

I don’t know whether the exact issue is mentioned, but from the listing of contents on the Lybrary website, it must be the June 1947 issue of The Magic Wand.

--Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » September 23rd, 2014, 10:38 pm

Hi All,

I’ve been thinking a little about the possible dates for the meeting between S.W. Erdnase and M.D. Smith. In his Genii article on Erdnase, David Alexander focused on December 14 or 15, 1901.

However, one assumption David made, which may not have been very solid, was that the hotel room was unheated because of an unexpected cold snap. Hurt McDermott showed pretty well in Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase that an unheated room likely would have been the norm.

According to the National Weather Service, here are the highs and lows for a string of dates in December 1901:

Dec. 13: 49 . . . 8
Dec. 14: 8 . . . minus 9
Dec. 15: minus 2 . . . minus 12
Dec. 16: 9 . . . minus 5
Dec. 17: 9 . . . 3
Dec. 18: 4 . . . minus 1
Dec. 19: 13 . . . minus 5
Dec. 20: 4 . . . minus 8
Dec. 21: 17 . . . minus 2
Dec. 22: 33 . . . minus 14

This link is of interest:

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/xmacis.php?wfo=lot

Apart from the lows stated above, in December 1901 there were 14 other lows that were below 30. So, there were a lot of extremely cold days to choose from, even if you limit yourself to December 1901. I do have problems with December 1901 in general, in part because it was so close to the completion of the manufacturing of the Erdnase book. (The Library of Congress received copies on March 8, 1902.) I realize that Selbit's The Magician's Handbook appeared in late 1901, and that complicates things a little.

--Tom Sawyer

Jake Spatz
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jake Spatz » September 25th, 2014, 12:48 pm

Jake Spatz wrote:"INDEXED EXPERT" INT'L ORDERS
[...] We hope to list the book on Amazon sites in Europe very soon


Update: The "Indexed Expert" is now available from EU Amazon sites, as well as the US site and our CreateSpace page. Take your pick---
Enjoy! :D
Last edited by Jake Spatz on September 25th, 2014, 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Leonard Hevia
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » September 25th, 2014, 1:48 pm

Tom--did you eventually follow up on the Victor Farelli article in the June 1947 issue of The Magic Wand? It's probably in Ask Alexander but I still haven't signed up for that. Farelli supposedly discusses what Houdini told him about the color change.

Interesting that you pointed out in your blog that Erdnase possibly met up with Gardner the winter before December 1901, since the publication date was cutting it close. Demarest points out that Sanders was not far from the area at this timeline. If one believes that Sanders is a viable candidate, then the December 1901 meeting holds.

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » September 25th, 2014, 3:21 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:. Demarest points out that Sanders was not far from the area at this timeline. If one believes that Sanders is a viable candidate, then the December 1901 meeting holds.


According to the Duluth News Tribune, Sanders was in Duluth on November 10 1901, to prepare his book on mine timbering (which wasn't published until 1907, in New York). He had had two technical articles on the subject published in mining journals in 1900 and 1901.

Google maps tells us that Duluth is 468 miles from Chicago by road (by comparison, Butte MT to Chicago is 1500 miles). A rail trip via the Wisconsin Central Railway in Dec 1901 would have departed Chicago at 6:15 p.m. and arrived at Duluth the next morning at 9:38 a.m. -- 15 hours. The Duluth Limited, on the Chicago and Northwestern (and the line that Edwin S. Andrews worked on), departed at 10:00 p.m. and arrived at 7:00 a.m., still an overnight journey but somewhat faster. (I can't find details of the Duluth to Chicago trip, but assume it would have taken about as long).

Demarest's article in Genii mentions that Sanders's parents were at the Windsor Clifton hotel in Chicago that winter, and he surmises that Sanders went from Duluth to Chicago to visit them, providing an opportunity to meet M. D. Smith.

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » September 26th, 2014, 8:37 pm

Leonard--

Well, after your post, I delved into the color change again. Based on a quotation of the pertinent part of the Victor Farelli article (on the Magic Cafe, in a discussion by Hideo Kato in 2007), it appears to me that Farelli’s understanding was that Houdini invented it. His article was based on that premise. Farelli indicates that in Houdini’s view Selbit’s description of the operation was not correct in all particulars. Farelli also says that Erdnase’s description was “better.” Of course, this is just a paraphrase, but it shows the general idea.

To me, this opens up a can of worms.

According to Farelli, Houdini’s problem with Selbit’s description was that the “wrong card” (that's me using Erdnase’s term) is slid forward “openly.” This problem, if it is one, does not necessarily exist in Erdnase’s account.

Again, the foregoing involves paraphrasing.

What does all the above mean? Well, although it isn’t totally clear, it looks to me as though Houdini invented the color change, but that Erdnase may well have picked it up from a source other than Selbit -- since the "sliding" of the "wrong card" in Erdnase's version is not handled in the same way that Selbit handled it. Erdnase's method seems more in keeping with Houdini's. (I'm not saying this is a new theory, but maybe the basis of the theory is.)

This is a rather abbreviated discussion!

--Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » October 17th, 2014, 4:16 am

Quiz Question

(No prizes. The answer is below.)

What is the title of a 1911 magic book that has about thirty references to The Expert at the Card Table?

Answer: Our Magic, by Maskelyne and Devant. The Erdnase book is referred to many times in Professor Hoffmann's "Bibliographical Index of Card Tricks," as found in that book.

--Tom Sawyer

Marty Demarest
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » October 20th, 2014, 6:33 pm

I just saw a Q&A that Jason England conducted on the Magic Café last month, and since some of it relates directly to Erdnase, I think it's worth linking to it. It's interesting material. I'm sorry I missed the discussion, as I would have responded there. But since I prefer this forum--and since I know Jason occasionally visits--I'll post my response and questions below.

I agree with much of Jason's profile of a credible candidate for Erdnase. In fact--name aside--Jason provides an excellent description of W.E. Sanders. (I'll omit profiling Sanders here, since I've written two substantial articles about the subject: Genii, September, 2011; and Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Winter, 2013.) Additionally, I don't think Jason's description fits any of the other proposed candidates.

However, in the discussion, Jason clearly states that he doesn't think that W.E. Sanders could have been Erdnase, but he doesn't give any of his reasoning behind that conclusion. So I'm curious: What evidence suggests that W.E. Sanders COULDN'T have been Erdnase?

I'm also curious about why Jason (as well as Richard Hatch, earlier in this thread) casts doubt upon Erdnase's status as a magician. What evidence suggests that Erdnase might NOT have been a magician?

Leaving aside the equivocating fact that we don't know much about Erdnase, and that he therefore could (or could not) be anyone or anything, I find it strange to give much credence to the notion that Erdnase wasn't a magician. I think that Erdnase MUST have at least been an amateur magician. As evidence, I'll first point to his creation of the Diagonal Palm-Shift. Who, but a magician, would devise that move? Moreover, the logic that Erdnase demonstrates in his discussion of how a selected card might best be returned to the deck and controlled (pp. 126-127), and the role that the Diagonal Palm-Shift can play in that procedure (pp. 127, 141) evince thinking that no one other than a magician--at least an enlightened amateur--would use. Finally, as I show in my article in Montana, Erdnase displays a familiarity with more general sleight-of-hand magic, and not just card manipulation. I can't imagine Erdnase NOT being a magician. Notably, evidence shows that W.E. Sanders was likely an amateur magician.

I'd also like to point out what I consider to be major flaws in Jason's profile. I think it is essential--primary, even--that a candidate for Erdnase be both a writer and a self-publisher. The text of The Expert is too polished and professional to be the work of anything other than a practiced writer. (I think anyone who asserts that a raw beginner can produce a work of the caliber of The Expert doesn't know much about writing. It would be like claiming that I can deal flawless seconds under fire without ever practicing. Statistically possible, perhaps--but so unlikely as to be absurd.) The evidence demonstrates that Erdnase was an educated, skilful writer.

Additionally, Erdnase refers to himself as the publisher of The Expert, and evidence suggests that is the case. (No credible evidence of a collaborator or ghost writer has emerged, and the only eyewitness account we have of Erdnase has him procuring the illustrations himself.) I would say that a candidate for Erdnase must show some skill as a publisher.

E.S. Andrews shows no capacity to write at anything other than an elementary level, and has no demonstrable publishing experience or knowledge. In contrast, W.E. Sanders was a highly educated, professional writer with great stylistic diversity and skill, and was a publisher with knowledge of Chicago printers, the process of obtaining illustrations, and the functional skills needed to create a book.

To my mind, even in light of Jason's profile, W.E. Sanders is the most credible candidate to be S.W. Erdnase.

Richard Hatch
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » October 20th, 2014, 10:18 pm

I don't think Erdnase was a magician in the sense of being a part of the magic community of his time. And although he was clearly interested in magic and likely performed tricks for his social circle, he doesn't seem to regard himself as a magician, based on his writing in the legerdemain section. He sounds more like an interested outsider looking in: "We are aware that all conjurers advise the shift or the pass, as the first accomplishment... But as far as we can learn from the exhibitions and literature of conjurers, not one of them knows of, or at least employs or writes of, a satisfactory substitute..." This doesn't sound to me like someone who regards himself as a conjurer, but rather an "enthusiast" who felt "acquiring the art is in itself a most fascinating pastime" and who did not rest until every "slight in the calendar" had been perfectly mastered (see pp. 125-7 of the Charles & Wonder and first, Drake, Frost and Powner editions).
While I agree with Jason in not thinking Erdnase was a professional card cheat, his attitude in the card table artifice section is different than in the legerdemain section. He professes no grievance against "the fraternity" (p. 10), nor sympathy with their victims, despite several references in the text to his having been such a victim himself. Most of the text references to "the expert" are references to gamblers, not magicians, and I suspect he identified more with the ideal of "the expert at the card table" than the conjurer of the legerdemain section. Had he been a magician in the sense of being active in the magic community, I think it unlikely that his identity would remain a secret to this day. Magicians are very poor at keeping such secrets!

Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » October 21st, 2014, 2:15 pm

I think Jason's post describing Erdnase is probably the best one I've read to date from anybody.

In his search for insight into the manipulation of playing cards, it makes sense that Erdnase would investigate any and all crafts of which such card manipulation was a major factor.
In this case the two most logical fields of investigation would be card cheating, and card magic.

Erdnase would however, have to be involved in at least one of these fields at some level in order to develop the interest in the first place.
Based on the tone of EATCT, it's far more likely he was interested in card cheating originally than it is he was interested in card magic, although this doesn't automatically imply that he was a professional card cheater.
That he would (as a person interested in card cheating) choose to delve further into card magic makes perfect sense.

I feel Jason gets the closest (in his Cafe description) so far in describing a personality that is, in many ways, similar (or very similar) to the kind of folks who post their thoughts in this very thread.
Few, if any, professional cheaters here in this thread, but lots of folks who have a working knowledge of card cheating and some others with an abiding interest in learning as much as they can about different elements of hustling with a deck of cards.

Further, although I wouldn't call Erdnase's interest in card cheating a "hobby", it certainly tends to reflect a man who had a compulsion to fully explore all that could be accomplished by the practiced card cheat ... and could in many ways also be similar to hobbyists of varying interests whose hobbies came to be a major element of their lives, some of whom even have experienced their chosen hobbies quite literally taking over their lives.

As I have noted previously, I see Sanders today in the same light as when David Alexander first presented him to us. A candidate, but no more a "done deal" now than he was when David first brought his name to light.

Jason England
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » October 22nd, 2014, 6:52 am

Marty,

I should’ve probably clarified some of my comments at the Café, but they lock the doors on you after a week!

When I say Erdnase probably wasn’t a cheater – I mean a professional cheater making his living from gambling on a daily basis. We know from his book that he gambled at faro and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume he gambled at other games as well. I also don’t put up much of a fuss when someone says that he must have cheated in at least some of his games on occasion at some point during his lifetime. I’m fine with all of that, although I always point out that we’re purely speculating whether he cheated (ever) or not. He never once claims to have done so.

I feel the same way about him as a magician. Did he read magic books? Undoubtedly. Did he play around with card tricks and even offer improvements when he thought he could? Yes. But was he a working, professional magician? I seriously doubt it. So, an “interested amateur” might be the best way to describe him.

More speculation: A strange thing about Erdnase though is that to me, reading the book 100 years later, I get the distinct feeling that performing magic wasn’t really his thing. I think he was more akin to a tinkerer with a strong fascination for sleight of hand. That’s why I made the comparison to Ernest Earick on the Café. Ernest loved card sleights and invented several of his own while improving others. But not only did he not perform any actual card magic – he was borderline incapable of it! I met him in Colorado Springs in 1999 and when I asked him to do some magic he told me flat out that he didn’t really do any magic. He did show me about 6 hours worth of fantastic sleights though. That’s what he loved. I’m convinced Erdnase was very similar; the only difference being Erdnase appears a bit more interested in complete effects than Ernest was.

Another thing that I don’t agree with is the assertion that Erdnase must be a practiced writer and self-publisher. The fact that he wrote and self-published Expert isn’t really in contention, but what on Earth makes you think he has to have done that before? Since the writing part is clearly the most difficult part, let’s focus just on that. What you seem to be saying is that an author can’t produce a great first book. But we know that’s not true. To Kill a Mockingbird, Invisible Man, and Gone With the Wind were not only first books, but also they were the only books written by Lee, Ellision, and Mitchell. Clearly it can be done. For whatever reason, sometimes an author writes a great first book and then never writes another one. Other times, you write a great first book and then go on to write many other great (or not so great) books. The point is, arguing against Erdnase writing a great book without any other serious writing under his belt is arguing against any great book coming from a first-time author.

Second to that point – I’m not convinced Erdnase is all that well written. It’s a very clear magic book to be sure and it’s much better than other magic books published before it. But I don’t know if it’s great literature, nor should it be. That type of writing isn’t nearly as difficult to do as great fiction. I’ve never written much of anything before apart from some Internet posts and a few sets of lecture notes. But if you told me to write a book on how to rebuild an automobile engine (assuming I knew how) I think I could handle it. Instructional text with accompanying illustrations for 200 pages isn’t the same thing as writing a 400-page novel. I couldn’t do that if my life depended on it.

My take is that Erdnase having previous professional or semi-professional writing is a complete toss up. Maybe he had tons; maybe he had none and this was a great first book (for the genre).

As for W. E. Sanders – I think you’ve done a fantastic job of following up on David Alexander’s original theory. I’ve really enjoyed meeting you and reading your continuing research into Sanders. I bought 4 copies of the Montana magazine article that you wrote because I liked it so much. I’m impressed with your passion for the search for the author and I think you’re a great guy.

But….

You have a huge hurdle that I don’t think you’ve overcome yet. One that prevents me from thinking that Sanders is a serious candidate in any way. It’s the same hurdle that Alexander had – in fact, he created the hurdle in the first place.

First a story: You’ve heard of the old farmer that shot bullet holes into the side of his barn and then painted targets around the holes to make himself look like a crack shot? We’ll come back to that.

Now, let me give you an analogy. Imagine we were looking for who killed J.F.K. We open the Dallas phone book and throw a dart that lands on a man’s name. What are the odds that we’ve landed on the right guy? Astronomical, right? So we do some digging.

Turns out the guy was in Dallas on November 22!

And he owns a rifle!

And he works 3 blocks from Dealey Plaza!

And he’s a Republican!

Got to be our guy right? Well…no. Throwing a dart was a massive step backwards. Just because we’ve made a few steps forward doesn’t overcome in any significant way the fact that you started with such a long shot (pardon the pun).

I think rearranging the letters in S.W. Erdnase is the equivalent to throwing a dart at the phone book. Sure it brought up the name W.E. Sanders, but it’s such a preposterous initial condition that it overshadows any small steps forward you might make with Sanders after that.

David Alexander’s decision to rearrange the letters in S.W. Erdnase was not an evidence-based decision. He didn’t find an old document in Drake’s archives (if they existed) that said Andrews wasn’t the right name. He simply made the assertion that E.S Andrews wasn’t the right name and ran with that. He then started painting targets all around his dart.

What it boils down to is that we only have two options. Either Sanders is not Erdnase or David Alexander’s complex anagram theory (and subsequent location of Sanders) is the single greatest piece of insight and amateur detective work in the history of mankind. I’m voting for the former.

Chris Aguilar
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Chris Aguilar » October 22nd, 2014, 10:54 am

Jason England wrote:Marty,
...

First a story: You’ve heard of the old farmer that shot bullet holes into the side of his barn and then painted targets around the holes to make himself look like a crack shot? We’ll come back to that.

Yep, Confirmation bias.

Larry Horowitz
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Larry Horowitz » October 22nd, 2014, 2:57 pm

Jason,

I agree with most of your thoughts. However, I am firmly in the camp that believes this was a very experienced writer.

In point of fact, both Harper Lee and Ralph Ellison were published writers prior to their breakout books. Ellison had numerous short story and book reviews published in magazines. Lee had also been a literary critic and assistant to Truman Capote during the writing of In Cold Blood. There has always been speculation that Capote had a hand in To Kill a Mockingbird.

While you could definitely write a fine technical treatise on the first try; i.e. how to do these moves. The flow of nuances described by Erdnase with regards to mannerisms, the telling of stories, the very turning of a phrase, "In offering this book to the public the writer uses no sophistry as an excuse for its existence...." suggests a skilled, competent and confident writer.

Larry

Jason England
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » October 22nd, 2014, 4:27 pm

Larry,

I freely admit that the author may have been an experienced writer. I'm just saying that good/great first works do come along from time to time (especially in a genre where instruction instead of narrative is the goal).

But I think it's dangerous to assume a priori that the author "had to be" an experienced writer.

As for the Preface to Erndase (where the "sophistry" line comes from), take a look at this:

"The main object of this book is to let the public into the secrets of professional gamblers, and it may as well be stated here, that the revelations in the following pages are all founded on professional experience. Attempts have been repeatedly made to take the tyro behind the scenes, and induct him into the arts and mysteries of card-sharping; but hitherto these attempts have all been more or less failures. The explanations have been confusing rather than enlightening, and it is questionable if any of them have answered their ostensible purpose - that of protecting the honest card-player against the dexterity of the practiced advantage player. The author of the following work, who is of the opinion that he knows everything that can be known about he manipulation of cards, has endeavored, and the thinks successfully, to make the whole theory and practice of the "advantage player" so clear and intelligible that "he who runs may read," and reading, comprehend."

And also look at Erdnase's "In offering this book to the public the writer uses no sophistry as an excuse for its existence. The hypocritical cant of reformed (?) gamblers, or whining, mealy-mouthed pretensions of piety, are not foisted as a justification for imparting the knowledge it contains."

Compare that to: "In writing this book, we intend to come out flat-footed. Hypocritical cant we despise."

Does this language sound familiar to you? There are several more examples. These other quotes come from How Gamblers Win which was published in 1865/1868.

I'm convinced that Erdnase read this and other books on gambling. In fact, he practically tells us as much in his introduction.

It's not hard to sound like a good writer when you're copying from someone else (at the worst) or simply aping another writer's style (at best).

Jason

Ian Kendall
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Ian Kendall » October 22nd, 2014, 4:52 pm

It does suggest that Erdnase was probably Jon Racherbaumer...

I would say that writing technical prose well is harder than fiction. It is something that does get easier with time, however. The verbosity could be anything from a quirk of the period, to a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the plagiarism.

I don't have a horse in this race, but I think that the authour had more than a little writing experience in one form or another.

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » October 22nd, 2014, 6:00 pm

Larry Horowitz wrote:The flow of nuances described by Erdnase with regards to mannerisms, the telling of stories, the very turning of a phrase, "In offering this book to the public the writer uses no sophistry as an excuse for its existence...." suggests a skilled, competent and confident writer.


Skilled, competent, confident -- yes. Experienced, not necessarily.

Just because we perceive EATCT to be well-written does not necessarily prove that Erdnase had been writing before that (every good writer has a first book), or that there are other examples from his pen waiting to be found (see Gone with the Wind, as Jason pointed out, or Wuthering Heights). It may be that Erdnase was naturally good at expressing himself by writing, and had only one thing that was important enough to him to make the effort to write and publish a book.

Ian Kendall wrote: I would say that writing technical prose well is harder than fiction.


I would say that it depends on the writer, on the subject, and on how much interest the writer has in the subject.

I write technical stuff at work all the time, and I think I'm pretty good at it. The few times I've tried to write fiction, I end up abandoning it. (Ian's a pretty good writer, from the articles I've read -- does he think himself to be a better fiction writer?)

Some people may be better at fiction than prose. Some folks can't write their way out of a paper bag, and some folks write both fiction and nonfiction well.

I don't necessarily buy that the existence of the self-published EATCT indicates that he had experience in publishing. McKinney would have been able to hold his hand (or any other paying customer's) through that process.

It has also been said that the style of writing of EATCT indicates that Erdnase was well-educated. I don't think it proves anything about him having been to college, though; there are numerous examples in the 19th century of people who wrote well without higher levels of education -- consider Abraham Lincoln, for example.

Writing well may correlate more with how much you read, rather than how much school you've had.

Ian Kendall
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Ian Kendall » October 22nd, 2014, 6:26 pm

Perhaps I should expand; writing technical prose and writing fiction are very different beasts. However, I think it is easier to be good at fiction out of the gate than it is to be good at prose. For the most part, writers will have written before; if they are educated then there is a good chance that they have written essays or stories in school. Jo Rowling had been writing short stories since she was a child, but her first novel turned out quite well.

I was lucky in that my English teacher at school made us write instructions for tying a tie and shoe laces; that taught me at an early age the importance of clarity in writing. When I worked in IT in the banks I wrote a ton of documentation on systems, and I have several teaching qualifications. This meant that when I started writing for magazines, I had a head start. If you have a look at some of the ebooks that have been released by first timers, you will see how bad it can be.

Now, it could be argued that Erdnase hadn't written anything substantial since school, but given the period, I find this unlikely. Also, it's unlikely that he would have written anything similar in school - there are few opportunities to practice that style. I believe that painting a target around a few outstanding first novels is a bad move.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » October 22nd, 2014, 6:53 pm

Ian,

I'm not painting any targets! I don't have a claim one way or another here. I'm perfectly willing to admit that Erdnase may have written before and on a serious level. I just don't see hard evidence for it, so I'm willing to allow for the possibility that he didn't. I merely argue for the "maybe he didn't" side because so few others seem to be willing to do so.

Since his previous writing is only a supposition on our part, I think it's a big mistake to build into your "profile" of the author that he MUST have been a writer/publisher ala David Alexander.

That type of dogmatic thinking might cause you to discard the right guy someday because he didn't fit your profile.

Jason

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 22nd, 2014, 7:39 pm

Jason, what do you think about the way that W.E. Sanders' name is spelled out vertically by shifting one of the lines in the triangular block of text on the title page?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby MManchester » October 22nd, 2014, 8:14 pm

I wasn't aware that authorship was still being debated. This is starting to feel like the magic equivalent of denying climate change or claiming that the moon landing was fake. I'm certainly not an expert, but with an abundance of remarkable research as detailed in the Genii articles, if that's not sufficient evidence then what will be? Ignoring all that, how can the title page be ignored. As Richard so succinctly stated earlier in this thread:

what are the odds that the letters WESANDERS would appear in perfect order from top to bottom merely by shifting some of the lines from side to side? It would seem that the odds are very great AGAINST it happening, which makes it much more likely to have been done purposefully.


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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » October 22nd, 2014, 8:56 pm

Richard,

I think it's an absolutely fascinating coincidence. The problem with it and all of the other "Bible code-type" discoveries lying latent in any body of text, is that you decide their relevance after you find them.

You might've also accepted "Sanders" (minus the W. E.), or "W. Sanders." or "srednas e w" running up from the bottom, or "Montana", or "Senators son" or "Wilber" or any of a hundred other pseudo-interesting combinations. The right question isn't "What are the odds we'll find W.E. Sanders running vertically in a given body of text, the proper question is "What are the odds we'll find something eerily coincidental in a given body of text?" The answer to the second question is "highly likely." That's why it appears significant in a spooky sort of way, but isn't really all that impressive. The odds that we'll find something "Sanders-ish" may be as high as 1 in 10 or 1 in 8. Nothing to get too excited over in my opinion.

These things are only interesting when you predict them ahead of time and then find them exactly as you predict them.

With regard to the specifics of W.E. Sanders, I'd also like to point out that we as a community might've accepted any of a dozen different "line shifts" to arrive at that particular spelling. Apart from the W, all of the other letters are pretty much in the top 10 most frequently used letters in the English language. So what you're really asking is, what are the odds that there is a W in the first line, an E in the second line, an S in the third line, and so on.

I think you'll find that if you crunch those numbers only the W is a "tough" letter to get to. Everything else would be there no matter what you were writing about. After that W falls by pure luck, the rest of the letters are damn near a shoe-in.

Jason
Last edited by Jason England on October 22nd, 2014, 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 22nd, 2014, 9:17 pm

I don't know. Finding the guy's name perfectly spelled out seems to be possibly more than a coincidence. Has anyone played around with moving the lines and trying to find any of the other "Sanders-ish" things Jason has cited as possible points of false interest?

Are there any other names that are spelled out by sliding a line in the triangle right or left?

Are there any other proper nouns or geographical locations that are spelled out by sliding a line in the triangle to the right or left?

If the answer is no to all of these questions, then I would say that we have to consider the fact that "W E Sanders" is spelled out properly to be of great significance.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » October 22nd, 2014, 11:24 pm

Jason England wrote:Marty,
What it boils down to is that we only have two options. Either Sanders is not Erdnase or David Alexander’s complex anagram theory (and subsequent location of Sanders) is the single greatest piece of insight and amateur detective work in the history of mankind. I’m voting for the former.


David Alexander was a Renaissance man. He was a professional magician, silhouette artist, author, and a private detective. Alexander's research on the identity of Erdnase was approached from the perspective of a professional detective. Alexander's work was not armchair study by an amateur. Also, there is no need to speak in absolutes here about Alexander's work being possibly "the single greatest piece of insight and amateur detective work in the history of mankind." But it is well thought out and the anagram theory is not really complex.

W.E. Sanders is an anagram for S.W. Erdnase. Alexander discovered that Sanders liked to write anagrams of his name in his school notebooks. It is therefore not unreasonable to believe that Sanders created the name S.W. Erdnase as an anagram of his own. Alexander also reasoned that S.W. Erdnase spelled backwards--E.S. Andrews--was just too easy a trail to follow.

The backward spelling of your true name is just too obvious if you were trying to hide under a pseudonym. If you don't believe this, write down your own name backwards on a piece of paper and ask a ten year old child that is acquainted with you to guess the identity of that strange name. The name E.S. Andrews is a red herring to throw would be sleuths off the trail. I wholeheartedly believe that anyone tracking down the true identity of Erdnase with E. S. Andrews as their compass is wasting their time.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » October 22nd, 2014, 11:53 pm

Leonard,

I didn't mean Alexander's theory was complex (preposterous is the word I'd use). What I meant was that W.E. Sanders is a "complex anagram" as opposed to a simple anagram (backwards).

You don't just get to make that leap without evidence. Remind me again what David Alexander's evidence was that E.S. Andrews was the wrong anagram? From what I can tell David just leapt to that conclusion after striking out on finding anyone named E.S. Andrews. If that supposition is wrong, then EVERYTHING that comes after it is wrong too, no matter how many small pieces of seemingly corroborating evidence turn up in the mean time.

Because it's not an evidence-based claim, I feel it's too much of a shot in the dark. If something drove David Alexander to that conclusion (like finding an old document that cast doubt on Andrews being the right name) then I'd like the theory a lot more.

And I don't doubt David Alexander's skill as a detective. I think finding Sanders was great detective work - but great detective work proceeding from a false premise. (That Andrews isn't the correct name.)

On anonymity: I'm not sure why everyone thinks that Erdnase wanted strong anonymity. If you want strong anonymity you use a completely fake name or publish anonymously just like many of the others that published gambling expose works in those days. I think Erdnase was looking for weak anonymity and spelled his name backwards. That would throw off the idly curious (as it did everyone in magic for a few decades) but would allow him to "claim" the book at any point if he wished.

Now if only we could find an E.S. Andrews that was definitely living in Chicago at the end of 1901 - beginning of 1902 that was approximately the right age. Oh wait....

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » October 23rd, 2014, 12:00 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:I don't know. Finding the guy's name perfectly spelled out seems to be possibly more than a coincidence. Has anyone played around with moving the lines and trying to find any of the other "Sanders-ish" things Jason has cited as possible points of false interest?

Are there any other names that are spelled out by sliding a line in the triangle right or left?

Are there any other proper nouns or geographical locations that are spelled out by sliding a line in the triangle to the right or left?

If the answer is no to all of these questions, then I would say that we have to consider the fact that "W E Sanders" is spelled out properly to be of great significance.



But Richard, it ISN'T perfectly spelled out. You have to slide the lines around! I'm assuming that if the first letter of every word had spelled out some pseudo-significant word we would all be fawning over that "discovery" as well. What about an obvious extended letter sequence? Every third letter spells out "Wilbur wrote it!" or some such nonsense. The point is, once you start allowing for ANY manipulation of the letters the branching possibilities become very big very quickly. What might've been a 100,000:1 shot if stated ahead of time and then located suddenly becomes a 10:1 shot when you allow for manipulation and don't state the target word(s) ahead of time.

It's the Bible-code meets Dr. Matrix once you start allowing for manipulation of the letters/lines/words.

And it's mathematically quite boring.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » October 23rd, 2014, 12:32 am

Although I can't be bothered to format it so that you can read it, taking one letter from each line of the introduction you can find: "The name is ES Andrews. It has been staring us in the face. Sanders is not the authors name on the title page. Why are they not able to see this RK?"

Is this significant? Absolutely not.

Would it be significant if I had claimed it would be there before I went looking for it? You bet it would!

The chances of finding that exact set of phrases after predicting them ahead of time are staggeringly small. The chances of manipulating the lines of the introduction to "spell" out something that seems significant is not only easy, but it's practically guaranteed if you work at it long enough.

Took me less than an hour and it's completely meaningless. As is every other "coincidence" unless you specify them ahead of time.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » October 23rd, 2014, 1:20 am

For the "W E Sanders in the pyramid anagram theory" to make sense, you've got to believe that the author hired Smith not because of his artistic skill, but because he had "S" in his name.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Dustin Stinett » October 23rd, 2014, 1:37 am

That statement presumes that the "pyramid anagram" was conceived before and not after the fact that it could be created (an act of opportunism on behalf of its creator).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » October 23rd, 2014, 2:11 am

Here's another way of finding the same phrase. Somehow this isn't quite as impressive. But it HAS to be meaningful right?! I mean what are the odds that there would be two ways to spell the same name? Is it possible there's a third way?!


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxEmbracing the whole calender of slights that
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxare employed by the gambler and con-
xxxxxxxxxxjurer, describing with detail and illus-
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxtration every known expedient,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxmanoeuvre and strategem of
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe expert card handler,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxwith over one hundred
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxdrawings from life
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxby M. D. Smith


Jason

PS: It looks like there's about 200 different ways to slide those lines around and still spell WESANDERS in a vertical column. I bet it took forever for Wilbur to work that out. You guys have convinced me - it's him.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » October 23rd, 2014, 2:22 am

Dustin Stinett wrote:That statement presumes that the "pyramid anagram" was conceived before and not after the fact that it could be created (an act of opportunism on behalf of its creator).

Dustin
(just a lowly member of the jury)


But if it was created after, then it is as Jason says -- post-hoc Bible Code manipulation, and is meaningless. The only way it can be considered a "clue" of some sort is if it was planned.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Dustin Stinett » October 23rd, 2014, 3:11 am

Bill Mullins wrote:The only way it can be considered a "clue" of some sort is if it was planned.

The ONLY way? You are saying that it is absolutely impossible that once he was done with the manuscript of his book, that some guy named Sanders—who liked creating word puzzles with his name—could not possibly see an opportunity for creating this one before the layout was done? That he could only have come up with the idea beforehand so he had to pick an illustrator with the name Smith to create such a puzzle?

That makes less sense to me than the whole pyramid anagram deal.

You need to do better than that to convince this jurist to completely dismiss the anagram.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 23rd, 2014, 8:20 am

? some time ago I sent our host an image of the shifted lines where it spelled out "ed marlo".

it keeps folks amused - carry on. :)
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » October 23rd, 2014, 10:06 am

Getting wedded to a single candidate and not letting him go despite there being not a shred of hard evidence to support him is somewhat counterproductive.

It stalled the Gardner/Whalley/Busby crew far too early, ending a search for a team that definitely had the skill set to do a lot more than they did.

Because this thread is getting so long, we often tend to gloss over major discoveries past.
It's important to remember that there are some very credible folks involved in this search who have put forth some very convincing evidence for E.S. Andrews, and who don't for a second believe that W.E. Sanders is in the running.

These counterpoints are important to remember in all Erdnase related discussion, as they offer perspective that is all to easily lost when one weds themselves to a specific candidate too early in the search.

Having learned that making definitive statements regarding the search for Erdnase is never a great idea sans hard evidence makes it far easier to see that W.E. Sanders is actually no further along as a candidate than he was when David first noted him years ago.
Sanders has become part of the story now, but that doesn't make him Erdnase.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Dustin Stinett » October 23rd, 2014, 10:41 am

Uh oh ... there's something weird happening ... I agree with Roger!

Bill Kalush once told me that he believes that one day a letter will come to light that finally settles this whole thing. That it will have one simple, innocent sentence in it that talks about [insert name here] and the book he did as "Erdnase."

I'm beginning to wish that day would hurry up and get here.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » October 23rd, 2014, 3:12 pm

Geez Dustin, now you've got me worried, are you feeling light headed or dizzy at all? :)

Seriously though, I do think circumstantial evidence and hard evidence need to have the space between them maintained throughout our ongoing discussion.
One is most definitely not like the other, and being open to new evidence is probably more important than buying into any one candidate such that one is ready to make a definitive pronouncement as to who Mr. Erdnase actually was.

Things like the "sliding sentence" excercise are definitely interesting (perhaps even enthralling, it certainly caught my attention) ... but it may be a stretch to call a sliding sentence anagram even circumstantial evidence, let alone hard evidence.


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