How do you keep the secrets alive?

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Scott » 09/27/02 06:35 PM

So many of the great magicians that have passed away have taken their secrets with them. Some have published material that is in possession of private individuals who shall never publish the information. In some cases, these tricks or techniques will never see the light of day.

Is there value in that? If you owned magic history that belonged to someone who has passed away, do you have an obligation to pass that information forward into the future, keeping it alive, or do you have the right to keep it secret and have it die with you?

By owning something like this, history of magic, and being a link in the chain that makes up magic history, is it right for you, as an individual to break the chain?

I'm not suggesting that everything should be public domain, but do you have a responsibility to make sure that whatever information you were lucky enough to get is passed on once you're gone?

Just curious. Seems like tons of great material leaves this planet every year.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/28/02 11:14 AM

Tons of people leave this planet every minute.
Stay tooned.
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Postby CHRIS » 09/28/02 06:33 PM

Scott,

my opinion is that nobody has the 'right to private information'. So if somebody let's say creates a new routine or move and passes it on to me with the stipulation that this is not to be given to others, then I will take it into my grave. The creator has the right to decide what should be done with his creations. If he wishes to destroy them then so it shall be.

But, you can of course and probably should influence the creator while he is still living to publish or record in some other way his creations and perhaps make him agree to a limited distribution after his death. But this has to come from the creator.

If he gives no explicit orders either way, I would think that publication would be appropriate, of course honoring any copyright laws or moral guidelines.

A trick is just a trick, we are not talking life saving knowledge. If somebody has found a cure for cancer and orders to destroy it after his death, I would not do so, because disobeying his orders is the lesser evil, than letting millions of people die.

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Postby Scott » 09/28/02 06:43 PM

Sure, it's just a trick, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. What would the magic world be today if John Ramsay had written down everything he did? Would we be 30 years ahead in coin magic right now?

It just seems such a waste to see some of the greatest magic every created hidden away and eventually, lost. Again, I'm not saying publish everything. Also, I'm not saying once someone is dead, tell everything they did. But, should a few select people be told, in order to preserve the material?

If you were lucky enough to see something special from one of these guys before they passed away, something secret, why do you think they showed it to you?

Didn't they show it to you because they wanted you to have the information for some reason? Certainly if they wanted to take it to the grave, they wouldn't show it, would they?

Seems like they show material and say "Don't show anyone", but deep down, they want the material to live on, or they wouldn't have shown anyone.
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Postby CHRIS » 09/28/02 07:10 PM

Scott,

if you start reading something into a statement then you are on a slippery slope. If a friend says 'Please don't tell anyone else' then that is what it means. Sure you may choose to ignore such a plea. I choose not to ignore such things. That is a personal choice I make and for me it is the right thing to do.

But I think the real problem is not that so many great magicians want their work to be destroyed. This is the rare occurance. Even the story about Hofzinser's material seems according to recent research, to be more a thing coming from his wife rather than himself. The real problem is that often great performers or inventors are being ignored later in their life. And then their material is lost because their family doesn't care about it.

Take for example the Skinner notes in his magic book library that Geno Munari got a hold of due to a lucky coincidence. The whole thing could have been lost. I myself experienced something similar in Vienna with a largely unknown but very creative magician who came back into the magic scene short before he died. It was the effort of a friend to save some of his documents and creations. This guy actually looked for a place in the magic community but was largely ignored as an 'old idiot'.

I think we would be wise to care more about our old magician breathrins and about magic's history in general. One lesson I have learned in converting old magic books into electronic form, is that there are many published secrets which are ready to be redisovered. Yes, there is a lot of unpublished material. But there is also a huge amount of published material that nobody knows. There are unbelievable secrets available if you just search for them.

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