jay, diaconis, freeman

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Guest » 09/09/01 12:53 PM

i saw these guys being discussed elsewhere on the board, but can't find it now, so i assume it was off on a tagent from an unrelated thread. just like they did to the lorayne topic! ugh! anyhoo. richard was mentioning that these guys hold stuff back, etc. so, fine. i'm all for protection of secrets, and i do believe that secrets should have more importance than they do, even among magicians. but what jay, diaconis, and freeman don't realize is that had THEY not been made privy to such secrets, they might not have advanced as they have, and perhaps magic wouldn't have advanced as much either. i think they shouldn't hold back in such a way as they are doing. after all....WHAT SECRETS? we all saw jay's show, what did he do that still has us scratching our heads? that big swooping top change? no. chop cup and ball combo? no. piet forton's pop out move? no. i can go on an on. i think their intentions are good, but ultimately for the ART i think they should open up a bit more, and if the rumors are true about what disconis did to vernon's revelations book, then that is INEXCUSABLE. sometimes, we have something we want to keep to ourselves, but this is getting ridiculous. and as i said...WHAT SECRETS? they obviously care very much about the art, but i feel they are hindering its progress.

Postby Guest » 09/09/01 01:31 PM

Some rambling thoughts:

Is it possible the secrets to which they refer are items done just for magicians? Is it possible these are items that were handed down to them by selection, which they will select a few to hand down to.

I'm not sure that we all deserve all the knowledge of all the performers. I am all for proving yourself to get from one level to the next.

That doesn't mean people should be standoffish but certainly we shouldn't expect every magician to tip his pet routines, which he has worked 30 years on, just because we cornered him at a convention. That goes double for the real inside secrets that may have been handed down and refined for generations.

Without such things we would lose our lore and Holy Grails. Let some mysteries be just that. Through this they do more for the art than their exposure might.

Tom Cutts

Postby Guest » 09/09/01 02:17 PM

hi tom,
if you read my post, you'll see that we are saying the same thing. one point though, vernon wrote a book, giving away what he wanted to give away to anyone who was buying the book. diaconis put a stop to it. you certainly can't see any good in that can you? vernon as the author thought we should have the information. disconis as the obstructor, didn't. just imagine the treasures that would have been filling up all the blank space in that book! in my opinion, it wasn't diaconis's decision to make.

Postby Guest » 09/09/01 06:36 PM

I am not very familliar with the details of the issue to which you speak so I am woefully unable to comment. (Might be a first, especially on the Internet.)

Non directed diatribe:

I wonder how many more nuances and finesses do we want? There is a glut of variation and patterns on a theme to work with.

I think we need less books and more community. We as magicians need to collectively advance the art through collaborative effort which fuels creation.

Everywhere I look magic is dying as a "fraternal" pursuit and is becoming more solitary by the day. It saddens me deeply.

More and more our only direct personal communication is when our magical worlds implode into a convention of frantic, sleepless perversity which then explodes again dispersing fragmented knowledge across the globe. Solitary searchers sucking down Big Gulp sized Slurpies of secrets because there is no place to sit and dine.

We are but cards cast to the wind.
And I am the Two of Hearts.

Tom Cutts

Postby Bill Mullins » 09/09/01 09:13 PM

This is only tangentially related, but: Where else to put it??

Bob Dylan has a new album coming out. The commercials for on VH1 and other places show Dylan playing poker. The dealer is none other than ... Ricky Jay.

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Postby Jeff Haas » 09/09/01 10:09 PM

I guess I just don't see the fuss over the stuff that's been held back...why is it so important to hold back? Presumably what was cut from Revelations were subtle finesses of certain moves. That's fine, but does it really matter?

The REAL secrets are figuring out how you, personally, can put your material across to an audience. That's what really matters. Magic is an art that lives during performance. For me, to practice "really killer" card moves and not figure out how to use them for a real audience is a waste of time. All the back-room sessions during conventions are certainly a nice hobby, but they don't help you get better at entertaining.

So, while it's too bad that some stuff has been held back because it's "too good" for most of us, I don't really miss it.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 09/11/01 03:51 AM

I agree with John. I don't really see how holding back can do any good. More to the point, holding back material that the writer (ie. Vernon, Christ) WANTED published seems a very ego based move and does nothing to honor the memory of your "friend". I can at least accept the point of holding something back that would just be abused or misused, etc, but not policing others.
Perhaps I speaking out of turn and I don't understand the situation, though. I wasn't there afterall.
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Postby Tomas Blomberg » 09/11/01 07:09 AM

We had a guest lecturer in statistics and probability theory here at the University in Linkping (Sweden), and he taught us all a very interesting card trick.

It wasn't until many years later I realized that the lecturer I had met was Persi Diaconis and that he had, contrary to the reputation I heard about, taught a whole audience of non-magicians his clever methods.

Now I just hit myself at least once a day for not knowing who I had in front of me.


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Postby Rafael Benatar » 09/11/01 09:23 AM

Right. What secrets? I agree with some of the posts seen here (Blaze, Cutts, et al). I think it's more the mystery of the secrets than the information itself. There are many secrets that are published and we haven't had the time to process them. And if you're that curious, learn everything you're not familiar with from the Vernon Chronicles and then wonder about the secrets.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 09/11/01 04:02 PM

It's not so much the holding back of secrets that bothers me, in fact that doesn't bother me at all. It's the "policing" of others material.

If Mr. Kaufman stripped every book that he publishes of the material he wants to keep for himself, what does that say about him? If he had stripped Derek Dingle's book and published an inferior effort, for example.
(No offence, Mr Kaufman, just trying to make a point :) )
It should be up to the individual as to what is held back and what's not.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/11/01 06:31 PM

There are several different points here.
1) When someone like Vernon, an expert in our field, annotates what he considers to be the greatest book about card handling ever written, with the clear intent that the material is to be published, it seems that he should have the final authority in the matter. Ditto for Henry Christ, who explicity wanted his material to be published.
People who thwart those desires purely for their own selfish motives are greedy elitists--they think that people like us have no business, or are not worthy of, reading such material. I don't think further comment on such hypocrisy is necessary, particularly since the gentlemen involved all have large libraries and learned much of what they know from books.
2) The notion that this type of behavior doesn't really warrant discussion, or at least the notion of held-back material doesn't warrant dicussion, simply because there's lots of material in print that plenty of us have yet to assimilate, is simplistic. Not every person will assimilate every bit of information, nor can they be expected to do so. This type of reasoning can be used to make the argument that there's no reason to publish any more books ... ever! Hogwash. Some item in each book will appeal to someone out there ... and things should be published simply for that reason. If ONE person learns something from a book, then the author's mission is fulfilled at its most basic level.
3) The discussion has also left out the many many people who are interested in difficult sleight of hand and involved routines for purely academic reasons, and who therefore can never have too many printed resources.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 09/11/01 06:42 PM

Thanks! That's exactly what I have been fumbling and trying to express. I agree. You are a much more eloquent writer than I too.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 09/11/01 06:47 PM

There was a time not long ago when a magician's STATUS, particularly among his peers, was largely dependent on what he knew (secrets) that OTHERS did NOT know. There were people in the so-called magic "underground" that zealously guarded secrets, grudgingly traded them, and routinely "held back" and did not "tip." Tipping was bad form. Betraying confidences was worse.

There was also a time when "classified information" was not published or publicized.

There was also a time when entree to private sodalities and sessions was difficult to obtain.

This has apparently changed.

90% of the great secrets and so-called "real work" has been tipped in some form. Or so it seems. To paraphrase the X-Files, "the Work is out there." Big time.

The fixing and finessing, however, continues. More and more footnotes, mostly technical, are added to the Great Books. There is, in fact, a surfeit. Magicians, it seems, are insatiable and the marketplace sustains this craving. I do not see any abatement in sight.

The few secrets or Real Work that remain are so secret that outsiders don't even know they exist. There aren't even any "hints" of them floating around...


...the aspect that continually amazes me is that rank-and-file magicians are not AS interested in theory, fraternity, or performance artistry. For every STRONG MAGIC that breaks through, there are hundreds of technical books composed of trick variations and modified methods.

Who will write books such as THEORY FINESSE?
Who will write seminal books that will fine-tune subjects such as showmanship to the same degree that sleights such as the Diagonal Palm Steal fine-tuned?

Obviously it won't be ME. My specialty has been compiling tricks and sleights in the form of "magic cookbooks." This does not mean, however, that I wouldn't welcome tomorrow's premiere theorizer and performance artist analyzer.

I only hope that he appears soon...

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Postby Guest » 09/11/01 06:55 PM

I would like to make a few points, first of all I think if diaconis kept vernon from publishing things that is wrong. I also think that we might be better at discussing these itemsif we knew what they were. I also feel magicians care more about what they can't learn then what they can ex: we have thousands of incredible books but half the magician population is waiting for the tamariz books. besides if these items were published most people would probably look over them. just thoughts

Noah LEvine

Postby Guest » 09/12/01 02:25 AM

Oops, I had assumed Richard was privvy to all the inside poop. :D

Hey, what if it is just a bluff? :eek:

I hadn't thought of that...

Tom Cutts

Postby Guest » 09/12/01 06:01 AM

...besides if these items were published most people would probably look over them


At least they'll be overlooked by the masses. Or until someone gets the fine idea to bring these hidden secrets forward and make them easy to master, so to speak.


Postby James Foster » 09/12/01 09:40 AM

In this discussion of the presumed excising of the Revelations manuscript prior to publication I will add the following: Wahley, in "The Man Who Was Erdnase," clearly claims that the rumor of the elimination of "choice bits of Vernon's best work" from the final edition are unsubstantiated. Further details are in the Whaley book. However, Whaley's book does touch on our need for the elusive holy grail and why a much-anticipated book such as Revelations did disappoint so many people. Clearly it didn't reveal some mysterious inner circle of secrets and techniques that we felt it should. Our diappointment perhaps tells us more about ourselves than about some cabal of devious editors.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/13/01 12:00 AM

James, anything in the Bart Whaley book needs to be taken with a grain of salt. There are many incorrect "facts" in his book.
I am telling you, in as direct language as possible (and this was told to me by a person who spoke to one of the participants), that Vernon's "Revelations" was disembowled by the gentlemen mentioned. It is not an unsubstantiated rumor, but a fact.
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Postby Guest » 09/20/01 12:52 PM

Hi all...

I just wanted to say that to a certain extent keeping secrets is a good thing. Doesn't it feel good to get fooled by a magician(being a magician.) You get the chance to feel like a layperson agian.
Also be not knowing the method of something, but thinking it exists lets you work on your own method and thus creating your own secret move(leaving it up to you whether or not to share this new information.)
So by sharing all of their info. they might not be doing magic any good, but holding it back.

peas awt

Postby Guest » 09/20/01 12:58 PM

I also have a question. Is it true that Bill Malone was going to release a book full of his effects??? And then his wife suggested that he didn't.
To her, his material was too valuable to sell(i.e. she didn't want him to sell out.)
Is that such a bad thing???

"Hey...they have the Monkeys.Ihear they were a major influence on the Beatles."


Postby Charlie Chang » 09/20/01 01:41 PM

There is a definite elitist air surrounding the people mentioned in this topic. Personally i am all for a magic underground. The problem is, and should be, getting in to the circle of confidence. Once there, secrets can circulate with confidence and trust. This does happen and I hope it continues as long as Magic itself.

Not everything in Magic should be available for a few bucks. The truth is that most people interested in magic do not know the good from the bad and are unable to appreciate what they already have. It's also true that once certain GREAT secrets get out they just become "that old thing". How many of you have actually read and understood the original Erdnase text? The real secrets are all there.

Nothing hurts an artist more than having his work become hackneyed within his own art, despite it's true virtues.

As for the this super elitist secrecy; a lot of this amounts to a form of theft, in my view. If someone gives you something to publish, or you take something with the promise to publish and never intend to do so, you are a thief. You have stolen from your contemporaries knowledge they are, by the authors wishes, entitled to. Moreover you have robbed the author of recognition for his genius and hard work.

Please dont come crying to me, when my book comes out, that my handling of the Erdnase Bottom Palm was in Vernon's unpublished (withheld) sections of Revelations, or that my impossible open cull is in the Christ notebooks.

If you, or I, keep secrets, the chance of innocent re-invention is the risk you take. I am sure Mr Christ, Vernon and others wanted to establish their thoughts, not only for self satisfaction and the acclaim of "the herd" but to pass their thinking on so it might contribute to the next level.

One last thought. Such "super secrecy", the selfish hoarding of secrets, does nothing for the art itself. If Vernon had behaved this way we would still be playing with 32 card decks. Vernon taught his secrets for a reason, so they could continue. Not so they could die in the greedy hands of the next generation.

Publishing is not the only way.

Restrict the information somehow, even find a student and pass it down. But for goodness sake, dont let it slip through our fingers.
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Postby Matthew Field » 09/20/01 02:32 PM

Originally posted by R P Wilson:
Publishing is not the only way.

Restrict the information somehow, even find a student and pass it down. But for goodness sake, dont let it slip through our fingers.

Publishing may not be the only way, but it is by far the best way. Think, for example, of Hofzinser and his student (Heubler?). It is through the student that Ottokar Fischer was able to reconstruct Hofzinser's material -- but is it complete and accurate? How much more fortunate for us would it have been if the great man himself had sat down with an author to record his ideas!

Having the magic live through students is, of course, also to be desired. The Slydini books do not tell us all we want to know about that master, and there is much which can be learned from his students.

Marlo attempted to restrict distribution of some of his more esoteric work through the concept of private manuscripts. Certainly this is a better idea than outright censorship, which is what suppression is. Withholding knowledge is, as Paul Wilson stated, detrimental to the furtherance of our art. I know the gents in question believe they are protecting the tradition of magic by withholding the pearls from the swine, but what hubris to dub themselves the gatekeepers!

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Postby Charlie Chang » 09/20/01 03:02 PM

The truth is that certain touches so closely guarded cannot be understood without a full appreciation of the original text - and precious few have that (referring to SWE).

Publishing is not the only way - so long as a way is found and sought by those involved.
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Postby Cugel » 09/20/01 05:51 PM

Another bit of scuttlebutt says that Freeman was sent along to muzzle Vernon during the Revelations taping. This is clearly wrong - if you view the tapes critically you'll note that it's Freeman who coaxes Vernon to reveal information on moves and gamblers, etc. It's actually Oullet and Ammar (to a far lesser degree) who slow things up. It's clear that Oullet knew hardly anything about advanced technique - this is obvious since he keeps coming back to various moves to get the detail from the Professor. The information on the tapes is clearly for intermediate to advanced cardworkers, and Oullet's eagerness to learn items that better workers already know is frustrating and slows the flow of information. He constantly interrupts Vernon midstream so that he fails to finish something that might be interesting so he can recap on some move, again, and again. It's like inviting some duffer from the local club to sit in and discuss sophisticated performance techniques with Fred Kaps or Tommy Wonder.

Of course, Freeman ignores Oullet's requests for him to tip his own material - and why shouldn't he? Would you tip it to some duffer and the local club?

In any case, at least for me, the idea that Freeman tried to hold back information in the Revelations book doesn't gel with his behaviour on the Revelations tapes. I think it's more likely that Miller was behind it all - assuming it happend at all - and Freeman may have just towed the line.
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Postby Guest » 09/20/01 06:47 PM

Actually if you look very very close at the tapes you will notice, in the background, that the REAL professor was tied up and that it was Valentino(dressed up like Vernon) who gave all the info.

Dam that Valentino he did it again!!!


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