New books of interest to some

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 08:53 AM

I've preordered this first book on It's due out August 30, and looks, to me anyway, like an interesting premise:

PERFORMING DARK ARTS: A Cultural History of Conjuring (Intellect Books - Theatre and Consciousness, publisher) (Paperback)
by Michael Mangan (Author)

Book Description:

From David Blaines death-defying feats of will to Harry Potters boarding-school victories against evil forces, the darker side of magic and its performance clearly strikes a cultural nerve. The conjurors act of bringing the impossible into being and summoning both the grotesque and marvelous with a sudden gesture challenges spectators assumptions of reality and fantasy. Performing Dark Arts explores the paradox of the conjuror and the broader cultural implications of magics assault on human perception.

Michael Mangan illuminates the history of the conjuring arts and tests the boundaries of theatrical scholarship by analyzing magic acts alongside more conventional dramatic forms. This bracingly original volume discusses the performances of individual magicians and public reception of their acts and locates the mysterious cultural significance of the dark arts and those who practice them. Shining a light on the grey area between acting and being, perception and reality, Performing Dark Arts is a book that will open your mind to the possibilities of magic.

About the Author:

Michael Mangan holds the chair in drama at Exeter University, United Kingdom. He has also worked as a playwright, director, literary manager, dramaturge, and actor.


I've recently read William J. Broad's THE ORACLE, as well (Penguin Press, 2006). The latter will be of interest to those seeking information on the ancient Oracle of Delphi (this is, I believe, the most comprehensive work on the subject to date). Magic historians will recall that the earliest written accounts of billet reading were associated with similar Oracles. The book also covers interesting ground on the scientific plausibility of paranormal abilities.

Author Broad is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and a senior writer for the New York Times, specializing in scientific topics.

Greg Edmonds

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 09:16 AM


Great that this stuff is being explored.

Surprised to find it explored outside of magicdom and by muggles though.

Just how did they get their hands on our methods?

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 10:38 AM


I think the reason is that there is no they, and there is no us. There is a great continuum of people, from those with no interest whatsoever in magic to those who are consumed by it. Every point in between is filled with people.

This simple and, I believe, unassailable fact explains most questions about exposure, and invalidates most of the complaints people have about it.

The idea of "muggles" only makes sense in a fictional world where people either go to Hogwart's or not. In the real world there is no dividing line.

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 10:50 AM

Actually I'm addressing an issue our society has lost, that of a rite of passage and the maintanance of social boundries.

Without that, we are fussing over secrets we only keep from ourselves. Hence it makes no sense to have rules about discussing the mechanics of items in our craft, now does it?

If you want to get adult about it.

Or do we need boundries? And perhaps rites of passage?

Or do we need secrets at all?

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 10:55 AM

There is ALWAYS a dividing line- it just depends on where you want to draw it.

You could draw it in regards to sexual orientation, academic achievements, financial wealth, shoe size, etc.

In this case JT seems to have divided people into two groups- those who are "in the know" (to turn a phrase) and those who are not. Clearly you could make sub-classes as well:

I know more then a layperson, but less then Mike Webber.
1) Layperson
2) Ben Train
3) Mike Webber

So, but that logic, there is a "they" and "us".

(In case you're wondering, which I doubt, I have a bout of the stomach flu- feel free to send me condolence cash- and I'm really bored...)

Ben Train

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 11:33 AM

I've mentioned a strange circumstance where something critical to our craft is being explored from outside our craft.

As to where or how I suggest the existence of a line... kindly ask.

I'd like to believe that you know what color shirt you are wearing and that at this moment Michael Weber does not know. Same for your SOC, driver's license number etc. But as stated, I'd like to believe that. Whether or not it's true is something I'd have to ask.

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 03:58 PM

Thought this was an interesting line of inquiry, so I called Mr. Webber myself.

He told me that Jonathan was wearing a white t-shirt under a navy blue knit sweater (he guessed cotton/poly blend of 80-20)

He also said that Ben was wearing a bathrobe because of his illness, but that it was just a mild bug, worsened by Ben overworking himself of late.

Mike was quick to add that anyone with skiptrace software and internet access could find anyone's Social Security numbers (US or Canadian) or driver's license numbers in a matter of moments, so it was not as impressive a feat as it used to be.

Finally, Webber told me that I was, in fact, shirtless and decorated with body paint for the begining of the Stanley Cup Game Two.

As impressive as suggested by Mr. Train!

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 04:16 PM

I expected nothing less of Mr. Webber.

I was privileged to see him at Mike Segal's Magic Camp last summer, and if his card work is any indication of his skill (which, obviously, it is!) then, as I said, I expect nothing less then real mind reading from him as well!

With all seriousness though- please send me lots of money.


Postby Guest » 05/30/07 05:07 PM

It's 'Weber', not 'Webber'.

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 05:17 PM

Apparently they know a mind-reader named Webber... whose remote viewing may be a bit off today. It was a blue/white cotton dress shirt from Land's End. Too hot for pullovers and we still have to dress sharp at the office. ;)

And my best to Mr. Weber. I saw him perform around 1978 in NY and was also impressed.

Getting back on topic proper, the book looks very interesting as do the author's other works.

Postby Guest » 05/30/07 05:38 PM

we must be talking about a different Weber... or I've shown my ignorance.



Back on topic we go!

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