The Undergound?

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Joe Mckay » 10/25/10 11:36 AM

I just finished listening to an excellent interview with Peter Galinskas on Aaron Fisher's blog. You can find it HERE. He was one of the few students of the legendary Frank Thompson. Frank was a brilliant card guy but published very few items. In this day and age that makes him a figure of great interest...

Well - the interview got me thinking. I have very little contact with magicians and learn all my tricks from books. And I have a question for those who have managed to spend time with some of the legendary magicians. Do you think lot of great stuff stays unpublished - or does it all eventually see print? For instance - would there be some really cool Dai Vernon, Roger Klause, Bruce Cervon, Larry Jennings or Ed Marlo effect that they felt was too good to publish? Even - in Vernon's case - too good to publish in the CASTLE NOTEBOOKS? I have no idea how often this happens. Or if it happens at all. Like I say I don't know much other than what I read in books.

I really hope Richard Kaufman can chip in here. You have published hundreds of books, DVDs and magazines over the years. In your experience would you say there is alot of great stuff floating around which will never get published. Or do you feel most of it ends up - eventually - in print?

Sorry for such an amorphous question. It is just the sort of thought which kept popping up whilst I listened to the Aaron Fisher podcast...

Joe

PS On a sidenote - I wonder if the new 'undergound' is not about hidden secrets. But about being able to master the secrets that are 'hidden' in plain site. Maybe it is about slowing down and unplugging from the zeitgeist. Just putting aside time to really master the classics - with the occasional modern day classic thrown in as well. This is the impression I got from the Bob White DVD I watched recently...

PPS With today's avalanche of information perhpas the race today is not about being the fastest - but about being the slowest?
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Postby Robert Meisch » 10/25/10 01:24 PM

I'm interested in repsonses to your question because I'm like you. All my stuff is from books and a couple DVD's.

But I will add that I love reading older magic books and searching for methods that are out of favor or could be updated. It's like a treasure hunt.

You never know what could become the next amazing piece.

-robert
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Postby Muse M » 10/25/10 05:36 PM

Rudy Coby actually advocated forgetting about rushing to the Magic shops and buying each and every new trick. For him, it was a matter of knowing your character and - most importantly - playing to your own strengths.
That's actually a theory that's useful in lay life - the amount of times I've read business/management/psychology texts to find that it's old oil in new bottles...perhaps if we concentrate on finding the acts that can be special for us as performers, and reading the works that give us the most pleasure. It may necessitate going back over older literature...but isn't that just the thrill of the hunt?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/25/10 06:37 PM

A recent email exchange revealed that items developed and discussed about thirty years ago have stayed quietly away from DVD's ebooks.

You'd be amazed at what's already in print when read as if the writer were trying not to waste words or tell the reader how to suck eggs.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/25/10 07:37 PM

There is a lot of unpublished Vernon material and, at this point, it is likely to remain unpublished.

There is a LOT of unpublished Charlie Miller material and it, too, will likely remain unpublished.

Most of Dingle's material has been published. Certainly the best stuff.

There is a load of Jennings material not published yet, but I'll take care of that with the next two books of at least 500 pages each. Some material has been lost.

There is a load of unpublished Bruce Cervon material, all on video cassettes because that's how Bruce switched to keeping notes. I don't know of anyone who has the will to sift through it all, write it, and photograph or illustrate it when the book market is so poor.

Is there an underground? Yes. But the underground was in part created by these very people themselves, trading material privately. With their deaths, the underground has decreased.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/25/10 08:40 PM

Look at how long the Hofzinser material has stayed underground. His kicker endings with blank cards... (Charlie Kalish and his way of making gaffed cards...) And in a mild comparison with the Dingle routine - in the quick three way item - look at how long that turnover display of mine has stayed underground as well.

There's lots of goodies to be enjoyed - perhaps mostly by direct request than by open market distribution through.
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Postby Brian Marks » 10/26/10 12:02 AM

The Underground is in London and it is likely to stay there.

I have a ton of unpublished material. Its unpublished because it sucks and its not worth the embarrassment.
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Postby Joe Mckay » 10/26/10 06:24 AM

I know that David Ben is handling the Vernon Estate. And I think it was he who helped release the extra material which came out recently in REVELATION.

But - I am curious. As well as the biographies he is working on. Will he also - one day? - be in a position to publish more Vernon effects? I am guessing he has access to alot of papers - and I am sure there must be some unpublished card tricks mixed in there as well...

Just wanted to throw the question out in case it has being addressed before.

Joe
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Postby Steve Bryant » 10/26/10 07:02 AM

Also unpublished, of course, are the biggies, such as the Hooker rising cards and the Eddie Fields mind reading code. And the work of guys who probably won't reveal their own stuff, such as Persi Diaconis and Ricky Jay.
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Postby erdnasephile » 10/26/10 09:01 AM

I admit, I'm as fascinated by the lure of unobtainable information and the next guy (The Csuri Notes, Hooker's Card Rise, Malone's Scarne's Aces, etc.).

However, I have to constantly remind myself not to give in to what Mr. Burger calls "The Tyranny of the New" and to not waste time coveting legends.

To me, the underground I should be concerned with is the one I'm surrounded by as I type this.

To wit: there is so much amazing, audience-slaying material in print now, so much of which was the formerly unavailable; yet, it remains underground (and therefore useless) to me because I am too busy chasing the next shiny bauble instead of mastering what is on my shelves.

Time for me to stop wishing and start digging!
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Postby Stan Willis » 10/26/10 09:23 AM

The underground is alive and well and flourishing(pun intended) in you local neighborhood. I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to Peter Galinskas on a Sunday morning several months ago at Denny & Lee's Magic Shop. Aaron Fisher had just done a lecture/workshop the night before and was dropping off additional printed material at Denny's. I remember our conversation concerning the right way to perform card magic and mentors yelling and screaming(at least in my case) until you got it right and only then did you receive the OK to go out and perform it for the general public. Regretfully those days have come and gone. Long live the underground!
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Postby Joe Mckay » 10/26/10 09:24 AM

Darwin Ortiz wrote about this in a brilliant essay. I just posted it up on a friend's blog that I am helping out on. Click HERE.

It is true that everything in print was once very rare and semi-underground. By virtue of the fact that it hadn't being printed yet. But - it is easy to be distracted by the lure of the rare and unpublished. So - a little game I play is to imagine that for each trick I read, I am the only person in the world who has being taught it. I imagine nobody knows of the trick except myself and the inventor. And that I have being sworn to absolute secrecy. It is a small thing but it helps form an appreciation for some of the special items that are already in print. It helps give them the respect they deserve.

I'll give a quick example. Dai Vernon's TRIUMPH is a great trick and a classic. But - it is easy to take it for granted these days. Imagine how excited you would be if you were the only person in the world who had being taught it? You would look at the trick from a whole new point of view and treasure it in the way it deserves to be treasured.

This 'game' I play may seem silly. But consider this. Imagine HOOKER'S CARD RISE - and the complete unpublished notes of Charlie Miller, Henry Christ, Frank Thompson, Steve Freeman, Persi Diaconis and Ricky Jay were published? Well - that would be amazing. And for a while you would really treasure the information. But the sad fact is - as sure as night follows day - you would overtime start to take it for granted. Until one day you would feel no more excited about the ideas than you do today about Vernon's TRIUMPH effect. To give another example - imagine Norman Gilbreath taught you his wonderful riffle shuffle principle, and you were the only person who knew about it in the world? The excitement (at least to a geek like me) would drive you mad...

So - in a way - I feel my 'game' is the only way to stop the madness and really appreciate what we have at our fingertips...

Sorry for the ramble!

Joe
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 10/26/10 09:35 AM

Posted on the blog:

Anyway via the magic of cut and paste I thought I would share it here.
-----------------------------------

Darwin gave you permission to post up his whole essay?

It was published originally (I believe) for Stephen Youell's former Cogitations project. Someone also told me it saw subsequent publication at least one other place, perhaps Magic Magazine.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/26/10 09:57 AM

Hoooker's card rise? Yeah right, perferct for the table worker - and no reset can be done from a shuffled deck in use, no stooges, no stage set, no lighting and all the props are borrowed. No? meh

maybe the first secret that needs to be uncovered is this bizarre alluer about other people's tricks. 51 faces north is a pretty good example. Reading the threads it seems like it was performed only twice and then only under less than realword working conditions. But so much fussing over the thing in the community.

As to whether or not folks assign delegates for some of their material - not the way Karl Germain did - is a personal matter.
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Postby Joe Mckay » 10/26/10 12:06 PM

Sorry about that Chris.

A friend sent it to me in an email. I could see that the essay wasn't from any of Ortiz's books (since I have them all) and thought I could try and post it up. I thought it may have being a piece that had bring published on a magic forum somewhere (maybe 'The Magic Cafe'?).

Anyway - I just read up on COGITATIONS. Things seemed to get a bit messy there towards the end. I seem to remember reading about it at the time - and even that Steven eventually opened up the site for free to everyone (for a few days) before shutting it down...

Be that as it may. I have emailed Darwin Ortiz at darwinortiz@darwinortiz.com to see if he is okay with it being up on the blog. If he isn't - or if he doesn't get back in touch in the next day or so - I will take down the post from the blog. I really don't want to step on any toes here...

Also - please send me a PM if anyone has Darwin's personal email address. I feel the one above (from his website) may be one he doesn't check often.

Joe
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/26/10 01:58 PM

If anyone adopted Ortiz's attitude, the publishing of magic books would cease, and the books he thinks you should be reading instead of buying new ones would never have been published.

It's the attitude of the pseudo-intellectual. And of course it's rife with hypocrisy because if he genuinely believed what he was writing, he wouldn't have written a single book.

Publishing magic books is a business, and a business like this only functions if people purchase the product. Some folks just collect books; some folks collect and read books but don't do a lot of tricks; some folks collect, read, and perform magic--but aren't doing the tricks from the new books they're buying; some folks do mostly magic they're learning from new books they're buying.

I welcome all of them, except dunces who tell you that you shouldn't be buying new books, but only learning the tricks in the books you already own.

Please don't buy my new books on David Berglas, Larry Jennings, Tenkai when they come out. Instead, read my books on Hamman, Jennings, and Dingle that you already own ... oh, wait, those books wouldn't exist in Ortiz's world because you shouldn't have bought them when they came out. You should have been reading the books by Lorayne, Garcia, and J.K. Harman ... no, wait, those wouldn't exist either, because you should be reading nothing other than Stars of Magic and Expert Card Technique. Maybe if Hugard and Braue thought like Ortiz, they wouldn't have published Expert Card Technique, or Royal Road.

It's not that I don't think there's an incredible amount of great material already in magic books that have been published, obviously that's true. But if people don't support the publication of new magic books, then there simply won't be any more.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/26/10 02:19 PM

Richard, as our literature evolves, I'd like to see more discussion that distinguished base methodology and what specific character-based (or moment based) factors need to be in play which made the material work for the inventor - and what others exploring the material might need to be aware of in terms of options and limitations found by the inventor. Say for example, learning that using Deep Back Clip is great for a small group standing close yet limited when some folks nearby are sitting.
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Postby Philippe Billot » 10/26/10 02:22 PM

quote=Chris Aguilar

"It was published originally (I believe) for Stephen Youell's former Cogitations project. "

Exactly! In 2005, the 12rh of March under the title :

Newt-Book Syndrome The Addiction
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Postby James Cotton » 10/26/10 02:45 PM

Since Darwin Ortiz hasn't been consulted on the re-publication of this copyrighted material here, what are the chances that he might be given an opportunity to respond to this discussion?
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Postby Joe Mckay » 10/26/10 03:30 PM

I want to try and respond to Richard here. I think you are being a bit harsh on Darwin. He is commenting on the amount of hype that surrounds the 'next big thing' when a new book is launched.

More specifically he is commenting on the internet culture which jumps on such bandwagons - generating lots of wasted time getting excited about books which haven't even being printed yet (and which often get delayed for months/years - thus cranking up the anticipation machine even more). Alot of this can be directed to what happens over at The Big Green Monster. But like I say - all magic consumers have being guilty of this from time to time. Adn I should point out that Darwin is commenting on the 'magic fans' more than the 'magic producers'.

I don't think Darwin is saying not to buy new books. Simply - he is saying to try and get the 'hype' into perspective. At the end of a day - a book is just a book.

And at the same time try and study the books you already own - whilst waiting for the 'next big shiny toy'.

That is surely a better attitude than to spend your time getting excited about what is coming next without spending time learning from what you already own. I am sure this isn't a pattern of behaviour that many people here fall into - but I agree with Darwin - that it is a pattern that seems to be prevalent among younger magicians. Or should I say magic fans? Or should that be magic consumers? Endless cycles of hype-buying-hype-buying without really absorbing what is on offer.

Anyway - that is my interpretation of what Darwin wrote. I hope I haven't built too many 'straw men' in order to defend my point...

Joe

PS I am trying to contact Darwin about getting permission to use his essay. If I hear from him I will mention this discussion...
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Postby Gordolini » 10/26/10 06:10 PM

I hope to read Darwin's essay, but need to finish reading this entire forum and then all the back issues of Genii first... ;)
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Postby James Cotton » 10/27/10 12:34 AM

Since Darwin continues to self-publish a range of highly successful (and popular) books, and has a new one on the way (and several more in the pipeline) interpreting that essay as saying he is anti-publishing is incorrect. Joe has the correct interpretation, above.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/27/10 01:28 AM

Sorry, all his publishing activity reveals is the hypocrisy of position. You, Mr. Cotton, are incorrect. Not all of his books are "highly successful" or "popular." How would you know unless you are Darwin Ortiz and possibly prone to prevarication. As I pointed out, Cardshark sold poorly. Unless you can produce legal documents from the publisher of Scams and Fantasies stating how many thousands it has sold, you're talking out of your hat. Ditto for Designing Miracles, which was designed to make Mr. Ortiz money. Period. But don't read those books, Mr. Cotton, because surely you already have many books on your shelves that deserve your attention more.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/27/10 02:26 AM

My issue with Mr. Ortizs essay is his sweeping generalities. (This, of course, is not the first time hes published something filled with sweeping generalities.)

For example when writing on waiting for the next new book: awaiting the next great magic book that would transform them into great magicians.

This sentence sets the tone of the entire piece. He completely ignoresfor reasons passing understandingthe diversity of the magic market in which he deals. Its difficult to believe that Mr. Ortiz is ignorant of that fact (its diversity), so I can only speculate as to why he would write this narrow-minded essay at all.

Not everyone who buys magic books wants to be the next great magician. I gave up on that illusion decades ago and still buy magic books. My reasons are as different as the next persons as theirs are different from the next, and so on.

Furthermore, while I have certainly been disappointed by books I have purchasedincluding a couple by Mr. Ortizit has not been because I thought a magic book might change my life as he believes. Frankly, I find that sentiment to be disturbingly arrogant on his part. In a single, broad stroke he sweeps average magicians (and consumers of magic booksand I suspect videos, etc.) into a single group and belittles them at the same time. Richard is correct: Its the height of hypocrisy.

I own every book Darwin Ortiz ever authored. Though Ive never found all of them to be smashing, life changing, great magician making wonders of the world, I probably would have purchased a new title from him. But now, I might just take his adviceas far as his new work(s) are concerned.

Dustin

PS: Jonathan,

The Hooker Rising Cards was performed many times by Hooker himself, Mulholland, and then at three more engagements by John Gaughan (with multiple performances per engagement): Twice at the LA History Conference and a preview before the second LAHC. No argument about its practicality, cost effectiveness, and such. However, in a small parlor theater where it could be permanently installed, its real worldliness in regard to performance could certainly be possible; just highly unlikely because of the other considerations.
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Postby Joe Mckay » 10/27/10 08:06 AM

I think you made some good points, Dustin. Not everyone wants to be a great magician. I too gave up on that a long time ago as well. I still have definite goals in magic - but they are more opaque and complex...

Anyway - I just wanted to pass along the following link. It is a link a thread about TRUE ASTONISHMENTS. This was a thread set up on THE MAGIC CAFE just before the DVD box-set was released (back in 2008). It is a perfect example of what Darwin talks about - the thread had 2,050 posts before the DVD's were even released. The thread then continued elsewhere with about another 1400 posts after they were released. Here is the LINK.

I think it is this side of the internet/magic culture which Darwin is aiming his essay at. And as I said before - I don't think intelligent chaps like Kaufman and Stinett are the type of people that Darwin is writing for...

[Full Disclosure - I took part in that Paul Harris thread above. So I have being guilty of this in the past as well!]

All the best,

Joe

PS For the record - I enjoyed the TURE ASTONISHMENTS DVD's.

PPS I just heard back from Darwin. He would prefer it if I took down the essay. I will do so, and I apologise for not checking with him earlier. He says he may reprint it in a book someday - which I personally think would be useful...
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Postby RogueMD » 10/27/10 09:02 AM

Interesting discussion.
I read somewhere the recommendation that for every "new" book you buy, go back and re-read (or read!) TWO "old" books you already have. I'm sorry I don't recall who wrote that (I "thought" it was Darwin Ortiz, but in light of the present discussion, I'm not sure)
I think that seems to be a fair middle ground stance.

2 cents...

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/27/10 10:40 AM

Yeah--he's going to reprint the essay in a book he expects you to buy! Ha!
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/27/10 10:59 AM

You want to see "next item syndrome" in full glory - check out the threads on Micky Silver teaching his retention pass.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 10/27/10 11:19 AM

Hasn't Eugene Burger made the exact same arguments -- in books that you published, Richard? Where's the outrage there?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/27/10 12:24 PM

Even simpler: it takes a society to raise a magician ... kind of. link for root cause discussion.

Knowing/doing tricks is not the same as socializing.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 10/27/10 01:09 PM

erdnasephile wrote: "However, I have to constantly remind myself not to give in to what Mr. Burger calls "The Tyranny of the New" and to not waste time coveting legends."

Where is this printed? I'd be interested to read it. Thanks.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 10/27/10 01:22 PM

Jef: That's in "The Experience of Magic". That's one example of what I was referring to, though I'm certain he's discussed it in other places as well.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/27/10 01:25 PM

Try Swift - Battle of the Books - link though the theme has been revisited by others - and even Swift added a caution by way of his immortals in Gulliver's Travels. One might expect something like "a tale of YouTube" to parellel the Tale of the Tub as influencers move from paper to clickable content.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/27/10 05:21 PM

Whats the old saying about diplomacy: A good diplomat can tell you to go to hell and make you want to make the trip (or something like that)?

The difference between Burger and Ortiz is enormous: One has a scholarly and mentor-like tone while the other has a level of smugness: these attitudes come through in their writing.

Additionally, Burger makes it very clear that he is speaking to one segment of magicians while acknowledging that everyone is different. He does not make the mistake of lumping everyone together as Ortiz does (and if he didnt mean it that way, he should have made that clear; he doesnt while having many opportunities to do so throughout the piece). Burger writes and speaks about the many rooms in the house of magic while Ortiz just says average magicians in a rather pejorative manner. Thats not just a gap, its a gulf.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/27/10 05:40 PM

More gaffe than gap and more gulp than gulf to my sensibilities. To each their own - not going to dispute tastes.
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Postby Terry » 10/27/10 05:49 PM

There are some mighty thin skins around here.

I read the Ortiz article and what I got out of it was not an attack on publishers, but addresses the individual who thinks the next book/trick/DVD will be the one thing that will take them to the next level.

Dustin - you're not wanting to be the next big thing is honest of you, but you are not able to speak for everyone as you accuse Mr. Ortiz of doing.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 10/27/10 05:59 PM

Please excuse me if I throw a curve ball in right here. When I started in magic - there were "less" books and no video. Even when I built my first magic show - from what I read in books. There were still secrets yet to learn.

As I got older - there were magicians that seemed to be "in the know" or part of an inner circle. If I wanted to learn from these in-magicians that took giving them something called respect.

However today it is a new age - it seems at times that respect has been replaced by an attitude of the pseudo-intellectual. It seems to be at times because there is a lot of what was called underground or inner-circle material that has now been published. And back before video - the only way to learn this kind of inner-work was to know someone who was "in on it" and learn from them.

Speaking as a very small time self publisher and self producer my only interest in self publishing and producing was to copyright my own work.

The way that I look at magic is from the point of view of a performer - and I work on things only if I think I can use them in some way for my act or show. If I buy a book, a DVD, or a prop it is because I think it may work in my show. To my way of thinking a book is an investment in the same way a prop is.

Having said that - magic has in my opinion been split for a long time. Between magic for shows for the lay audience (good performance material) and what could be called (what I call) magicians magic - or magic that perks my interest as magic as a hobby. Although they can cross over - like a magicians magic trick can entertain the lay audience - often the lines between the two don't because magicians magic at times, can be more complicated.

As I read this thread I was reminded something that Jack Pyle said to me at a lecture. And that was that he knew enough tricks and had an act or acts that were making him money. The reason he still went to lectures and read books was because he was looking for little things to make his magic (the magic he did do for money) look more magical.

Personally that is one of the things that I love about magic. Is that there are "new" and sometimes different things (ideas - moves - variations of moves) published all the time.

Just a few thoughts.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/27/10 07:16 PM

Terry,

You've missed the point: I write, My reasons [for buying books] are as different as the next person's as theirs are different from the next, and so on.

That should make it rather clear that I am not, in fact, speaking for everyone. He is pigeonholing everyone, not me. And hes not speaking for everyone, hes speaking about everyone.

Reread his piece; he makes no attempt at a differentiation whatsoever, and thats my beef with the piece. I would even go so far as to agree that for a segment of the population of the magic community, he is spot on.

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Postby Jim Maloney » 10/27/10 07:19 PM

Ortiz's audience was pretty clear -- you even quoted it yourself, Dustin: "[magicians] awaiting the next great magic book that would transform them into great magicians."

If that phrase does not apply to you, congrats! The essay was not directed towards you.
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Postby AMCabral » 10/27/10 09:12 PM

Dustin wrote: "The difference between Burger and Ortiz is enormous: One has a scholarly and mentor-like tone while the other has a level of smugness: these attitudes come through in their writing."

Oh, so the problem is the tone, not the sentiment. I thought the problem was with the sentiment. It's not. Unless it is.

Although it would seem the difference between the two tones you describe has a lot to do with what you think of the teacher, regardless of what they have to teach. Or maybe Ortiz just needs to grow a big beard.

-T
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