New Yorker article

Addresses new and interesting links to other sites (not listed on the Genii website) that merit attention.

Postby Scott M. » 03/13/08 12:54 AM

Hi everyone,

Just joined the forum. I've been a longtime Genii reader -- used to buy it as a teenager in the '70s and then took a two-and-half-decade break from magic. Into magic again, I buy it once more every month and try to reinvigorate my now-atrophied skills.

As a first post, I thought I'd note Adam Gopnik's excellent must-read on contemporary magic in this week's New Yorker. Jamy Ian Swiss is present throughout the piece, forming a kind of throughline, and also featured are Teller, Blaine, and a lot of magic history. Gopnik gives a kind of audio preview of the piece here.
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Postby jerry lazar » 03/13/08 02:07 AM

Welcome Scott... You beat me to it... I just got home , was listening to NPR "Talk of the Town" terrific interview with Gopnik and Swiss... Here's a link to an NPR blog entry about magic (including Cups & Balls, Al Cohen, and more).

Here's a link to a synopsis of Gopnik's New Yorker piece. And as noted above, the New Yorker's audio of Gopnik discussing his reportage.


All excellent, all highly recommended... Go listen, go read...
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Postby David Linsell » 03/13/08 09:33 AM

Thanks Jerry for all the links. I happened to be listening to NPR while driving from Chicago to Madison, WI yesterday when the topic of magic was announced for the next segment. That's my voice you hear as the first caller describing the Sneaky Pete Magic Set that got me going in Magic over 45 years ago. About five years ago I found the red and yellow mirror box from that set at a garage sale.
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Postby NCMarsh » 03/16/08 06:07 PM

I was very impressed with the article. First, it treated magic like a worthwhile creative pursuit for adults, and then it clearly articulated what I think is a real divide in contemporary magic.

I was also very, very impressed by the insider/outsider balance that Gopnik was able to strike. He knows enough not to sound like an ass to those who are in magic, but is also far enough away from it to see it clearly.

Some of my favorite passages:

Just as chefs know that recipes are of little value in themselves, magicians know that learning the method is only the beginning of doing the trick. What they call 'the real work' isn't the method, which anyone can learn from a book (and, anyway, all decent magicians know roughly how most tricks are done), but the whole of the handling and timing and theatrics of the effect, which are passed along from magician to magician and from generation to generation. The real work is the complete activity, the accumulated practice, the total summing up of tradition and ideas. The real work is what makes a magic effect magical


Talking about the Joshua Tree after MNM:

The few civilians who do come around as often as not have no idea of the quality of what they're seeing--the magician's eternal plight being that of a Yo-Yo Ma who, after he plays, has people come up onstage and tell him that they know how he does it, he scrapes that bow thing across the strings, and, anyway, they have an uncle who used to play the cello a little, has he ever met him? Most cellists, in those circumstances, would do what most magicians do--nod politely and say yes, I bet your uncle was a real music lover, and retreat into beer and diffidence. Perhaps one cellist in a generation would say say no, scraping a bow against a string has nothing to do with making music, you don't know how it's done, and your uncle was no more a cellist than a man with a stereo is a conductor.
Jamy Ian Swiss is that cellist


On the story of Vernon seeking out Kennedy and the center deal:

The deeper meaning of the myth, though, is that the magician is one of the few true artists left on earth, for whom the mastery of technique means more than anything that might be gained by it. He center-deals but makes no money -- doesn't even win prestige points -- because nobody knows he's doing it


quoting Teller on the Germain Vase:

You know the funny thing about that? A friend and I did the Germain flowers last year. We put the music on, the right music at the right time, slightly off speed, and we prepped the illusion properly, you know, had the buds set right so that they would open when you fanned them -- the fanning is part of the piece -- and we watched it emerge. This lovely music was playing and we just wept at the beauty of it -- tears streamed down our cheeks at the lovely apparition of it. That was magic.


On a conversation between JIS and David Blaine:

...Swiss mentioned a young student of his who had been hanging around with Blaine as well.
'I'm trying to get him to see some of the--some of the deeper psychological things, not just tricks," Blaine said, in his Brando mumble.
'I don't think I'm showing him tricks,' Swiss said.
'Not tricks, man. I mean--you know, techniques. Showing him something deeper than techniques.'
'I'm not showing him tricks,' Swiss repeated, quietly.
Blaine changed the subject
...David Blaine is absolutely sincere in his belief that the way forward for a young magician lies not in mastering the tricks but in mastering the mind of the modern age, with its relentless appetite for speed and for the sensational-dressed-as-the-real. And I thought I sensed in Swiss the urge to say what all of us would like to say--that traditions are not just encumbrances, that a novel is not news, that an essay is different from an Internet rant, that techniques are the probity and ethics of magic, the real work. The crafts that we have mastered are, in part, the tricks that we have learned, and though we know how much knowledge the tricks enfold, still, tricks is what they are. If felt for Jamy, and for us, and for the boy caught between.



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Postby Joe Naud » 03/16/08 09:05 PM

My first thought was "this is in the New Yorker?" Not only was the quality of the writing excellent as is seen in the above post, but this was an article I would expect to see in Genii. Presenting magic as an art form is something that I wish more people would aspire to. Yes we need to entertain, but at the same time we have an obligation to those that have come before us like Vernon, Kaps, and the other greats,to move beyond the "pick a card and card" and astound.
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Postby Matt Schick » 03/17/08 10:16 AM

Is there anyway that I could just purchase this particular issue without subscribing for the whole year? How would I go about doing so?

Thanks,
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Postby NCMarsh » 03/17/08 10:18 AM

Matt,

You should be able to pick up a copy at your local bookstore. It's the March 17 issue, with Hillary and Barack on the cover (in bed together reaching for a ringing red phone on the nightstand)

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Postby Matt Schick » 03/17/08 10:20 AM

NCMarsh, thanks for your reply. How long until they place the next issue on the shelves? (AKA, how long do I have to get it?)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/17/08 11:36 AM

I have been told that my original post (which occupied this space until I just deleted it) is incorrect. The New Yorker dated the 17th is available in many parts of the country for another week (until the 17th). So you may still have a good chance to find it.
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Postby Gord » 03/24/08 07:57 PM

For some stupid reason this The New Yorker is a week behind in my area, but worth the wait.
A remarkable article. A serious look at the art (yes, the art) of magic and it's practitioners (through the character of Jamy Ian Swiss).
I'm thinking of photocopying it and giving it to my family, maybe then they would understand.

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Postby Michael Kamen » 03/24/08 08:24 PM

It seems to have helped my wife understand, and she has photo-copied it and passed it out to the fam, for the exact same reason.
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Postby DrDanny » 03/25/08 10:40 AM

I wonder if someone could ethically/legally OCR it and make it available electronically? It's quite long -- I estimate 15pp or so. Isn't the New Yorker a weekly? I was unable to find it on newstands around here, but that may be because the celebrity rags and softcore pr0n0 seems to have taken over all the shelf space. Luckily, a subscriber loaned me a copy.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/25/08 10:48 AM

This would be covered by copyright. Scanning it and making it publicly available is a no-no. The New Yorker has lots of stuff on its websitehave you checked there?
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Postby Jim Maloney » 03/25/08 10:57 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:This would be covered by copyright. Scanning it and making it publicly available is a no-no. The New Yorker has lots of stuff on its websitehave you checked there?
Aside from the synopsis and audio clip of the author, there is nothing on their site about this. They don't appear to sell back issues -- only prints of the art that has appeared in the magazine.

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Postby DrDanny » 03/25/08 12:32 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:This would be covered by copyright. Scanning it and making it publicly available is a no-no.


Well, there are no-nos (jaywalking) and then there are no-nos (using taxpayer money to pay for "escorts"). I'm fairly certain my karma can take the hit. Besides, I don't have access to taxpayer money, and my scanner's on the fritz.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/25/08 04:29 PM

I just got the article myself. In the magazine it says "For permissions and reprint requests, please call (212) 630-5656 or fax requests to (212) 630-5883. Maybe someone can call and get permission to reprint it here.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/25/08 04:32 PM

Permission doesn't come cheap!
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