"Trouble In The Magic Circle" radio show.

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Guest » 10/15/05 03:15 AM

An interesting and informative programme was just transmitted on BBC Radio 4 here in the UK, looking at exposure, the nature of secrets and intellectual copyright, all with a nod towards these issues' relationships with the venerable Magic Circle, and whether they lessen its worth.

There were contributions from Jim Steinmeyer, Bill Palmer and Alan Shaxon, amongst others.

Anyone else catch it?
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Postby Guest » 10/15/05 05:10 AM

An archive of the broadcast can be found here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/networks ... gic_circle
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Postby Guest » 10/15/05 09:42 AM

A very interesting programme. I have to go with Bill palmer on this. Any form of magic exposure is just plain wrong.
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Postby Guest » 10/15/05 10:25 AM

Originally posted by Graham Nichols:
...Any form of magic exposure is just plain wrong.
How then do you suggest we delineate exposure from commerce in magic?
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Postby Guest » 10/15/05 10:50 AM

Fair question.

Perhaps I should state what I consider to be exposure.

If an effect is published, albeit for profit, for the education of the magic community, then I take it as such and do not deem it exposure. However, If secrets are revealed to laymen/women, where the purpose is to 'entertain' them with the method of the effect, this is exposure.
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Postby Guest » 10/15/05 10:55 AM

While I agree that exposure is in itself wrong I call attention to the unwitting or witless exposure by beginners or tyros. When you consider that some of these "beginners or tyros" have been doing magic for many, many years you may shake your head. Go to a magic club meeting and you are likely to see several of them -- some of them honored by position gained more by their annual picnic for the club than by their skill at entertainment.
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Postby Guest » 10/15/05 11:12 AM

Originally posted by tonga:
...I call attention to the unwitting or witless exposure by beginners or tyros...
That is a tough one in and of itself. I doubt any of us has done every item we've tried so well that we have not flashed or exposed something to someone in our audience at some time or place.

Maybe we can avoid that slippery slope for now?
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Postby Guest » 10/17/05 12:19 AM

Since I was one of the "honorees" of this broadcast, perhaps I should explain some of the things that were done before the broadcast took place. Jolyon Jenkins, who is the producer of the show contacted me because of my anti-exposurer web site. He and I discussed exposure at length over a period of about a month or so, including not only the remarks that were broadcast but others that didn't make the final cut. Among these was the idea of "need to know."

I explained that I had no problem with teaching, and neither did the magic circle, but we did make it a transactional thing. Sometimes it was a transaction in the sense of money changing hands. Other times it might be in the terms of service, such as apprenticeship. In any case, the person learning the material had to prove more than just a passing interest.

We also discussed some other aspects of this.

Interestingly enough, after I got back from the Centenary, he e-mailed me asking if I would teach him my "no gaff" version of Scotch and Soda. I asked him if he had joined any of the clubs yet. He said he hadn't -- he didn't believe in them. So I didn't teach it to him.

After all, how would it have looked if he had talked me out of the method for the trick I had fooled him and the interviewer with. Wouldn't that have made nice fodder for his broadcast!

I could just hear that -- "After the Centenary, our producer, Jolyon Jenkins e-mailed Bill Palmer to see if he would teach him the routine he performed for us on the air. He sent him to a web site where it was published."
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Postby Guest » 10/17/05 11:47 AM

Bill - that was such a smart move not to send that link! Good for you.
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Postby Guest » 10/17/05 02:27 PM

I'm leaning in the opposite direction...

I have to believe that if an effect is available for a fee, in any recorded format, that it is by that very fact impossible to expose it.

I have heard the arguement that someone forking over a few dollars in some way means they are interested enough that it's alright to reveal the secret to them, but simply putting it in plain sight (in a magazine or on TV for example) is "exposure".

As if giving up my time to read or watch was somehow different than my giving up my money. I don't know about the rest of the world but I have much more disposable income than I have disposable time.

I did enjoy listening to the broadcast though...
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Postby Guest » 10/17/05 04:30 PM

He did not offer to purchase it. He wanted me to tell him how it was done.
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Postby Guest » 10/17/05 11:17 PM

I'm confusesd Bill. Was that a response to what I wrote?

If so I think you missed my point. I wasn't talking about your S&S routine, but rather the whole subject of "teaching" vs. "exposing".
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Postby Guest » 10/18/05 11:43 AM

Well, yes and no. It was a response to what you wrote, but I did understand what you were saying. I do agree with you to this extent. There must be a minimum of some sort on items placed before the public.

The Magic Circle and most other large magic organizations do impose a minimum price on items intended for the public. I'm not sure what the minimum is for any of these organizations any more.

But there are clearly some books that are written to get the public interested in performing magic. A good example is Nick Einhorn's recent book. Nick is an MIMC, and is also a very busy professional performer. But he knows the value of having material out there that will get the budding magician interested in becoming something more than just an onlooker.

It's a very difficult balancing act.
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Postby Guest » 10/18/05 04:21 PM

Bill, if I remember correctly you said that you woudn't sell the secret for 1pound. but you woud sell it for 40 pounds. If that is correct then what is it we are haggling for, we have established what it is what "we" are. Now it is just a matter of haggling over the price.
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Postby Guest » 10/18/05 06:23 PM

Originally posted by Edward:
...what "we" are. Now it is just a matter of haggling over the price.
Such is one of the reasons there are some who wish to add an oath to the exchange, a promise to treat the secrets as the "gold currency" of our community and not do things which devalue our currency or dishonor those whose work brought forth those secrets.
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Postby Guest » 10/18/05 09:24 PM

Originally posted by Edward:
Bill, if I remember correctly you said that you woudn't sell the secret for 1pound. but you woud sell it for 40 pounds. If that is correct then what is it we are haggling for, we have established what it is what "we" are. Now it is just a matter of haggling over the price.
You remember incorrectly. I stated that I would sell a secret, not THE secret for 20, which, I noted, was approximately $40 USD. The quotation, as I mentioned, was taken out of a context that had a much more detailed application.

The statement was basically this. If a person pays for a secret, he is far less likely to reveal it to his friends than if he got it free. So Jeremy stated that if I received a pound for it, then it would not be exposing. I replied that I would not sell a secret for a pound. I said that twenty pounds would be more like it. But we were not referring to any specific secret.

And it's not a matter of haggling over the price, really. It's a matter of what one might charge for a lesson.

What do you charge for lessons? Would you take on a student for 20? Or more? Or less?

Two minutes, more or less, extracted from 19 minutes of interview does not give a true picture of what was said.
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Postby Guest » 10/25/05 01:25 AM

As the producer of Trouble in the Magic Circle, I have been surprised to find myself being discussed, particularly in the context of emails which I had thought were private. I would like to give a little more information about what happened.

It is true that Bill was interviewed for 19 minutes and of that I used just under 2 minutes in two inserts. None of those 2 minutes were taken out of context. The cuts were made because this is inevitable in a 28 minute documentary; some of the taped exchanges were repetitive, digressive, or said things others had already said; and some were just things that were not so interesting to a British audience (eg the Masked Magician, Bills experiences at the Texas Renaissance Festival).

Insert 1
Bill was asked about exposure in general, and he gave a very clear answer, explaining why he was against it. I used this answer. He then went on to talk about his belief that it is OK to exchange secrets for the purposes of teaching, but this should be on a transactional basis, either for money or services. He gave the example of teaching magic to a skilled watchmaker who makes an intricate prop in return for learning magic. I did not use this partly for reasons of length, because I thought it did not reflect the kind of transactions that typically take place. Most magic transactions are for money, they are not in the context of teaching, at least not in an personal sense, and they are between individuals who do not know each other.

Insert 2
Later on Bill was asked about selling secrets, eg by dealers (there was a dealers hall nearby), and whether the fact that it is allowable to sell secrets to anyone who is prepared to pay for them doesnt weaken the fundamentalist anti-exposure position. He gave the answer used in the programme, i.e. in effect that its OK if you sell them if the price is high enough. He was pressed, but reverted back to the example of teaching, and gave the example of being taught the Downs Coin Star by a fellow magician, for 50. I did not use this because it was the answer to a question that had not been asked.

It is true that some of what Bill said was not in the programme, but that is not the same as taking him out of context. The context in which the answers were used in the programme was the same as the context in which questions were asked in the interview.

Turning to the emails Bill and I exchanged after the recording, Bill has given the impression that he averted a journalistic sting operation by smart thinking. This is wrong on several levels. As I say, I thought our emails were private, but clearly Bill thinks otherwise. It is true that I asked him about his ungaffed Scotch and Soda routine, which he had already offered to explain privately to members of the Magic Caf; I said I had tried out a method of doing it, involving a switch from Goshman pinch, and was interested in knowing his method. I thought it was pretty clear that I was asking for this on a personal basis it was hardly a journalistic question. He asked me if I had joined a magic club yet (i.e. on the assumption that I would/should eventually join). I said I did not like clubs. (Not, as Bill reports, that I did not believe in them, which is rather different). I said I had an amateur interest in magic, was reasonably well informed about coin magic, and that my interest in his routine was based on curiosity. Anyway, he refused to give me the secret. He obviously suspected a sting (though this would have been contrary to all BBC editorial rules). I made it clear that I had no such plan in mind, so it is curious to see the claim persist here.

However, this was not the end of the matter. He wrote: One of my friends might be willing to share my routine with you. And indeed, very shortly afterwards, one of Bills friends (who I did not know) emailed me, unsolicited, a link to a page on Bills site that describes the routine. This was non-transactional. I told Bill that I had received the information. I'm glad [name] helped you out. Enjoy the trick, and now that you have the method, if you have any problems with it, I'll be glad to help you out. We had a couple of email exchanges after that, in which he pointed me to a passage in Bobo and we discussed the main sleight. These, too, were non-transactional.

I post all this purely for the record, because I do not want inaccurate statements about me to persist for all time, as they can on the internet. I was, and am, grateful to Bill both for doing the interview and sharing his routine with me. I do not intend to post any more on the subject.
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Postby Matthew Field » 10/25/05 04:38 AM

This is priceless.

Jolyon Jenkins, who has produced a program on exposure titled, for reasons unknown to me, "Trouble in The Magic Circle", gets annoyed about the exposure of e-mails he "thought were private."

The Magic Circle was founded, in part, to help prevent exposure, as Alan Shaxon explained on the show in question. Its motto is "Indocilis Privata Loqui" which, loosely translated, means "shaddup-a you mouth."

The program attempted to dim the distinction between teaching and exposure, at least to my ears (and I was for 25 years a producer of radio programs).

"Edward," posting here on the topic, uses the analogy to prostitution in the old gag line:

Originally posted by Edward:
we have established what it is what "we" are. Now it is just a matter of haggling over the price.
Are we to take it that the secrets aren't all that important? That e-mails are not confidential? That we can't always believe what the government tells us?

Lordy lordy lordy. What this world has come to.

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Postby Guest » 10/25/05 06:00 AM

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
This is priceless.
...
Lordy lordy lordy. What this world has come to.
We are supposed to believe it was okay to buy an island for a barrel of beads and trinkets yet not okay to buy a bridge for lots of money.

Nobody needs consent, or even a bill or sale then? Just a price will do?

Not to worry, the Wikipedia will level that playing field.
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Postby Guest » 10/25/05 11:42 AM

Matt,
It seems like he was annoyed with being misrepresented. Most people still believe that email correspondence is private, just like a paper letter. Of course, neither are

Anyway it seems to me that if you are willing to sell a secret, then the price is completely irrelevant. I know folks who would gladly pay several hundred dollars for the secret of a trick they would never perform. Ever heard of The Collectors Workshop? The world has plenty of folks who have lots of disposable income, and no interest in performing, but a real love for magical secrets.

Selling magic tricks to someone who is only interested in the props is exposure no matter how you justify it.

But if people are arent comfortable with the idea that selling magic tricks to collectors is exposure, then how about every magic dealer in North America exposing the locking shell coin? Because in any city with a magic shop you can bet that the Scotch and Soda gaff is a best seller and at least half of the sales go to guys who do that trick and only that trick. They are hardly what youd call magicians and they never will be until someone drops their gaff and they need a new trick because their marks are wise to that one.

To my mind exposure is wrong for the same reason publishing your version of someone else trick before they can publish theirs is Because its rude.

Exposing the secret of a magic trick is like telling someone that Darth Vader is Lukes father before the second reel begins. The show is still fun, but a big chunk of the fun is diminished.
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Postby Guest » 10/25/05 11:51 AM

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
...Exposing the secret of a magic trick is like telling someone that Darth Vader is Lukes father before the second reel begins. The show is still fun, but a big chunk of the fun is diminished.
I go a bit further on that one, Bill. It's like telling someone that the tragedy in Hamlet is that the kid can't believe his own mother wanted his father dead. It's like telling a Star Wars fan that the movies are Oedipal, narcissistic and show great disrespect for the thousands upon thousands of (fictional) lives disrupted because one man-boy can't face feelings of anger toward his own father, so instead a civilization has to face and suffer under evil. Nice job describing the rise of evil through tragedies of divide and conquer though. Gotta give him big kudos for that part.

Magic is such a strange thing in human experience. A sentiment about a perception. Knowing that a magic trick exists, much less how it works is like naming a star in the heavens. Or worse, giving it a number. See St. Exupery's The Little Prince for that one. ;)

This is also why we might do well to look on Wikipedia.org and see what we can do to help them understand that it does not help folks to put the "how to" online for casual perusal.
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Postby Guest » 10/27/05 07:24 AM

It was nice of Jolyon Jenkins to fill us in on the background of his sundry email exchanges with Bill Palmer. Given that Bill is American (with clearly, as Mr Jenkins admits, making American references that would be lost on a British radio audience), it is rather surprising that he chose him, rather than a British magician, as the main spokesman articulating the arguments against exposure. Perhaps he would like to explain his thinking on that.

Perhaps whilst he is about it he would also like to fill us in on his thinking behind 1) the choice of title of the programme Trouble at The Magic Circle in the year of the Centenary of The Magic Circle (a deliberate 'spoiler' if ever there was one); 2) why he decided to allow Etienne Praedier - one of the magicians forced to resign from The Magic Circle for his involvement in an exposure type programmes - to talk at length justifying his actions without giving a chance for anybody else to refute those arguments (the point being of course is that it is irrelevant whether the exposed tricks would ever actually be performed by magicians - the fact that basic magic principles are given away is detrimental to professional and amateur magicians alike); 3) why he also allowed Etienne the opportunity to impress the presenter, Jeremy Vine, with his magic - thereby suggesting that those who expose are better magicians than those who do not; without giving numerous other British close-up magicians equally on a par with Etienne (such as Nic Einhorn, Jon Allen, Richard McDougall, Martin Sanderson) who are against exposure of any sort an opportunity to similarly impress; 4) why no mention was made that John Lenahan continually uses the fact that he was expelled from The Magic Circle to promote himself and therefore of course has a vested interest in 'having a go' at The Magic Circle at every possible opportunity. (And just for the record it was not John Lenahan who actually performed the Three Card Monte on How Do They Do That? - he got another magician to do it. He went onto expose other tricks on the same programme which were actually worse, in many magicians' thinking, then the arguably justifiable exposure of the Three Card Monte).

Jolyon Jenkins is candid enough to admit that 'he does not like clubs' (so obviously no conflict of interest then in making a programme about a club!); which also would probably explain why he clearly knows absolutely nothing about them. The Magic Circle, like all organisations and societies, has its problems. But one problem it most definitely does not have is on the question of exposure. All its members are virtually unanimous in agreement that exposure of tricks on television is wrong. The Magic Circle does not have any 'trouble' with that stance. The only people who have 'trouble' with it are those who abuse that position.

Jolyon Jenkins is very keen on telling us what the BBC editorial rules are when it comes to supposed stings. What about the editorial rules in coming in with a preconceived agenda and giving extended airtime to the tiny minority of persons who agree with that agenda?
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Postby Guest » 10/28/05 03:11 AM

Spraying to all fields (except Matt):

Okay, the topic of exposure is old and still arouses passionate debate, perhaps because its nearly impossible to draw a bright line rule or definition. It seems that what constitutes exposure is very dependent on the context, and a million hypothetical contexts can be conjured up to discuss and argue the concept of exposure.

Graham Nichols wrote:
If secrets are revealed to laymen/women, where the purpose is to 'entertain' them with the method of the effect, this is exposure.
Perhaps its not perfect, but I like Grahams pithy definition.

Jonathan T. wrote:
That is a tough one in and of itself. I doubt any of us has done every item we've tried so well that we have not flashed or exposed something to someone in our audience at some time or place. Maybe we can avoid that slippery slope for now?
Good point. Although Jonathans comment was in response to Tongas comment on performance by thoroughly incompetent folks, it applies to even the best magicians. But why avoid discussing it because of the slippery slope problem? The whole topic of exposure seems filled with slippery slopes, which is why defining exposure is so difficult, IMHO.

Just for fun, what do we say about stage magicians who reveal part or all of the secret to a trick to lay assistants (not stooges) in the course of performing an effect? Let's assume that the magician has no choice but to bring the audience member(s) into his/her confidence because of the nature of the trick. Are such magicians exposers or do they get a "pass" under the means/ends test?


Bill Duncan wrote:

I have to believe that if an effect is available for a fee, in any recorded format, that it is by that very fact impossible to expose it.
and
Selling magic tricks to someone who is only interested in the props is exposure no matter how you justify it.
Bill, I respectfully disagree with both comments. I disagree with the first comment because it seems to ignore the distinction between magician and layperson. Isnt one of the primary concepts behind exposure the fact that non-magi are given access to secrets? I suppose you could argue that if a secret is shared with other magicians who arent supposed to have access to that secret, thats exposure as well, in which case it would seem that a key component of exposure is the fact that an unauthorized person is made privy to a secret. Take Harbins book, where purchasers were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement when they bought the book. Harbins book is a good example of secrets being available for a fee in a recorded format. But if an owner shared the secrets in that book with a layman (or perhaps, you may argue, another magician), wouldnt that be exposure?

As to your second comment, there are plenty of magic apparatus collectors who dont perform. They buy the trick only because they are interested in the props. It seems a bit extreme to say that someone who sells props to a non-performing but bona fide magic apparatus collector is exposing secrets, and seems to push the concept of exposure far away from the core concepts which prompt the exposure debate. Im not suggesting that your statement be dismissed, but I do think that if it is to be accepted, its relationship to the general concept of exposure should be clear and well-connected.

Jolyon Jenkins wrote:
As I say, I thought our emails were private, but clearly Bill thinks otherwise... He obviously suspected a sting (though this would have been contrary to all BBC editorial rules).
Maybe Ive missed something here after a couple of readings of Bills posts, but Im having trouble finding Bills breach of your privacy here. He never quoted anything you wrote, and only said that you e-mailed him and asked him to teach you a trick. Generally, we want/expect privacy in one-on-one exchanges because of the deeply personal or sensitive nature of the communication. But your request was neither not even close. Its easy to give Bill the benefit of the doubt on this one, for I think that only the most rabid of privacy freaks would (1) consider Bills passing reference to your e-mail to be an invasion of privacy and (2) be able to draw the conclusion Bill clearly thinks your e-mails were not private. This privacy issue is a straw man, and seems especially so in light of the fact that your post exhibited the very conduct you criticized: you too shared some of your private e-mail exchanges with Bill. Moreover, you chose to quote him, which should be more suspect than merely paraphrasing a request in passing (as Bill did).

You may be a journalist with the highest of integrity, and may indeed strictly follow the BBC editorial rules. But to suggest that Bill should not have been guarded when it came to his dealings with you, a journalist, is to ignore the pervasive misbehavior of journalists these days. No doubt there are honorable journalists in this world today, but there are plenty of dishonorable ones who would have done to Bill exactly what he feared. How was he supposed to know that you are one of the good guys?

Mention of one of the good guys is a nice segue way to weave in a response to some comments in Ian Keables post. I tried to listen again to the BBC broadcast but, alas, it is gone from the archives (or at least I cant find it). I wanted to see if the broadcast was as biased as Ian suggests. Oh well. But I can offer two thoughts: first, I too thought that the title of the show a bit inappropriate to its content, and remember thinking that the title was just one of those journalistic devices to titillate. Second, all due respect to Ian, but I doubt that the fact that a U.S. resident was asked to discuss the general concept of exposure somehow confused the Brits and left them less informed on the general nature of the exposure debate. I dont think our cultural differences extend that deeply (at least I hope not!). To those who do not know Ian, I do not believe that he was suggesting that Bill Palmer was unqualified to speak on the topic of exposure just because Bill wasnt British, although it might read that way to some of you. Ian can clarify things, of course, but I think what he might have been saying was Hey, if this is about The Magic Circle, then ask an official representative of The Magic Circle to address the matter. Who knows what comments from Alan Shaxon were left on the BBCs digital cutting floor.

Although I couldnt find the broadcast, I did find the lead-in summary on the BBC website. Here it is:

Trouble in the Magic Circle
The Magic Circle celebrates its centenary this year. Membership of the world's premier club for conjurors is highly sought after, but in recent years the Magic Circle has been grappling with the problem of those members whom it accuses of breaking the first rule of the society - do not give away the secrets. Jeremy Vine, himself an amateur magician, investigates why the Magic Circle has been expelling some of the best magic talent in the business, and asks whether it is ever acceptable to spill the beans.
If Ian is correct (and I think he probably is) about the fact that there is little debate in the membership when it comes to exposure on television, then the BBC teaser that TMC is somehow grappling with members who expose is nonsense and perhaps just naked sensationalism. Finally, is it true that some of the best magic talent in the business was expelled? Or is this just more BBC hype? It seems that even the BBC teaser is misleading or, at the least, confusing.

Clay
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Postby Guest » 10/28/05 04:44 AM

Originally posted by Magicam:
...But why avoid discussing it because of the slippery slope problem? The whole topic of exposure seems filled with slippery slopes, which is why defining exposure is so difficult, IMHO.

Just for fun, what do we say about stage magicians who reveal part or all of the secret to a trick to lay assistants (not stooges) in the course of performing an effect? Let's assume that the magician has no choice but to bring the audience member(s) into his/her confidence because of the nature of the trick. Are such magicians exposers or do they get a "pass" under the means/ends test?...
My concern is for pushing ourselves down that slope by mudslinging. I'm all for discussion of how to do better.
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Postby Guest » 10/28/05 04:54 PM

To those who do not know Ian, I do not believe that he was suggesting that Bill Palmer was unqualified to speak on the topic of exposure just because Bill wasnt British, although it might read that way to some of you. Ian can clarify things, of course, but I think what he might have been saying was Hey, if this is about The Magic Circle, then ask an official representative of The Magic Circle to address the matter. Who knows what comments from Alan Shaxon were left on the BBCs digital cutting floor.
Thanks for bringing that up Clay - and I apologise if some people read it as suggesting I felt Bill was not an expert on the topic of exposure. The reason I wrote that was because I suspected that Bill was not that familiar with the BBC television programme, Secrets of Magic. It was Secrets of Magic - and the fallout from that - which was the central contention of this documentary that "The Magic Circle has been expelling some of the best magic talent in the business."

It would be rather similar to me being interviewed on American radio about The Masked Magician. I would have a viewpoint obviously; but I would be unaware of all the background to the making of the programme or have any prior knowledge about Valentino.

I do apologise to Bill if I was wrong in that supposition.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/28/05 07:29 PM

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Postby Guest » 10/28/05 09:48 PM

I was hoping to wait until I got off the road to respond to any of these posts; however, I feel compelled by the last few posts to explain things that were not made clear to me before and/or during the interview.

1) I was never told that this was supposed to be an "official" program about the Magic Circle. It was presented to me that the program was to be about exposure. My views on the subject are quite well known.

2) The proposed title "Trouble in the Magic Circle" was not mentioned to me. I don't think it was mentioned to Jim Steinmeyer or to Alan Shaxon. If I had known that the title was to be "Trouble in the Magic Circle," I would not have consented to be interviewed.

Alan Shaxon sent me an e-mail after the program aired, which I do not have available to me on this computer. However, the general tenor of the e-mail was that I came across well. He did not think the show did any damage to the Magic Circle.

John Wade also sent me congratulatory e-mails about the broadcast.

Regarding the "Secrets of Magic" show, I had followed along with the whole brouhaha over the show. I am familiar with the proceedings. I actually do read the minutes of the meetings of the council. However, had I known that there was going to be as much emphasis over the actions of those involved with this program, I would have bowed out of the interview. I was not asked any questions at all about that show. The main focus of my part of the program was about exposure, sales and teaching of magic, and it had NOTHING at all to do with the "Secrets of Magic" program, per se.

Let me also mention that I did not represent myself as an official representative of the Magic Circle.

After listening to the broadcast clip a couple of times, I got an impression that Lenahan was more responsible for this interview than anyone else. It seemed to me to be his way of putting down the Magic Circle as a group of amateurs and duffers and setting himself up as the experienced professional.

I stood nothing to gain from this broadcast. I was interviewed (so I was told) because of my outspoken stance on exposure, which has, with one exception, been supported by the Magic Circle. I will not go into detail about the exception, because I am not supposed to know about certain details of a certain meeting.

I certainly have gotten no shows from this.
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Postby Guest » 10/28/05 10:38 PM

Bill, I believe you.

That said, objective folks tend to think that the truth is often somewhere in between opposing sides, if not because of misrepresentation, because of misunderstanding. That is not a backhanded way of throwing suspicion on your story of the events. Rather, it is a prelude to saying that your recent comments (to me, at least) make Jolyon Jenkins appear even more disingenuous or insincere than one might have concluded earlier, and to say that the title Trouble at the Magic Circle was not only ill-advised, but, so far as the interviewees were concerned, downright misleading. Or perhaps it should be said that this title was misleading so far as the interviewees were concerned who had no axe to grind with TMC. If your facts are spot on, then if Jenkins has not breached the BBCs anti-sting rule, he appears to have danced a full circle around it, and his statement that he did not intend to pursue the matter further on this forum seems wise. For given what you have written, I would think Mr. Jenkins has some explaining to do. I suppose if this were annoying enough to you or others, the matter could be taken up with the BBC. If Jenkins wont answer to you, he might have to answer to his employers.

Clay
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Postby Matthew Field » 10/29/05 04:03 AM

Since this thread is apparently winding down, I'd like to make one additional point.

Since moving to England last September (and becoming Editor of The Magic Circular) I have been struck by the significantly higher profile magic enjoys over here compared with the U.S.

There are magic programs on TV all the time. The latest offering from Objective Productions, the producers of many of the shows, is "Dirty Tricks" which is a weekly show on the popular Channel 4. Not to my taste, but it is a magic show.

When people ask me my occupation and I tell them, I find everyone knows what The Magic Circle is. Compare that with general knowledge among the public in the U.S. of the IBM or SAM, which is virtually nil.

So it's not particularly surprising that a radio program with "Magic Circle" in the title would have some appeal, and no matter who put the word in the producer's ear that exposure was a hot topic, the "Trouble" inclusion in the title was, I'm sure, designed to grab potential listeners' attention with a somewhat lurid title.

I agree with Alan Shaxon that the program, if anything, made the Circle appear to be a group that cared very much about its principles. It spread the name of the organization. It made listeners think about magic for a half hour. It aired just as the Christmas holiday booking season is beginning -- what a great plug!

Like most publicity, in show business if the photos show you with at least your pants on, it's usually not a bad thing. It also usually doesn't hurt even if your pants are off.

Matt Field
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Matthew Field
 
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Postby Guest » 10/29/05 07:47 AM

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
It also usually doesn't hurt even if your pants are off.
Is this what you call 'close up' Matt? <Letterman rimshot>
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Postby Guest » 10/29/05 10:37 AM

Matt,

As "fussy" as some of the UK members of TMC can get over some things which might strike us Yanks as rather trivial (not knocking the Brits, just making a Yank observation here), I wonder if someone at TMC might take Jenkins and the BBC to task over the misleading nature of the show, or at least the misleading premise under which several folks were interviewed. But if you and others think the PR was positive overall, maybe it's better to let it go?

Clay
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Postby Guest » 10/29/05 12:05 PM

Originally posted by Magicam:
As to your second comment, there are plenty of magic apparatus collectors who dont perform. They buy the trick only because they are interested in the props. It seems a bit extreme to say that someone who sells props to a non-performing but bona fide magic apparatus collector is exposing secrets, and seems to push the concept of exposure far away from the core concepts which prompt the exposure debate. Im not suggesting that your statement be dismissed, but I do think that if it is to be accepted, its relationship to the general concept of exposure should be clear and well-connected.
Clay,
Ill address the second statement first. Im going to assume we are defining exposure to providing the secrets of a magical effect to a non-magician

If you really disagree with my comment about exposing to magic collectors let me ask you this: If I collect old guitars, and own many recordings of people performing music, does that make me a musician, or a layman?

I note also, that you didn't mention the second half of that statement, about the exposure of the locking shell coin, done by magic dealers. I don't see anyone picketing the magic shop at Disneyland or any of the other shops that make their rent on tourist walk-ins rather than "magicians".

As far as the distinction between magician and layperson goes, based on the realities of the marketing of magic tricks and books, I would have to say that the only thing that mitigates who can obtain a magical secret is knowledge that the secret exists.

A quick search of the internet using Google provides anyone who has enough interest to type the words magic secrets into a text field, over nine million (9,180,000) places to look to satisfy their curiosity. One of those hits might even be the Genii website, which exposes several simple magic tricks for free. Surely that kind of causal curiosity doesnt meet the test of real interest that some would say should qualify teaching someone a magic trick?

I would suggest that such small exposures are good for magic, because no one cares as deeply about magic and its secrets as a hobbyist magician. And without hobbyist magicians magic would probably wither on the vine.

from the same post by Magicam:
it would seem that a key component of exposure is the fact that an unauthorized person is made privy to a secret. Take Harbins book, where purchasers were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement when they bought the book. Harbins book is a good example of secrets being available for a fee in a recorded format. But if an owner shared the secrets in that book with a layman (or perhaps, you may argue, another magician), wouldnt that be exposure?
As for exposing secrets to unauthorized persons, even if those persons are magicians, Ill say an emphatic yes to your question. It is worse than exposure, in my mind because in the case of generic exposure there is no specific person harmed. If I show someone how to do a French Drop, for example, it in no way impacts anyone personally. If on the other hand I teach you a secret taught to me by someone else in confidence, then I am betraying a person, and presumably, a friend.

My stand on exposure remains unchanged. It is a rude act, which trivializes the art. But I doubt that any amount of protestation will convince me that reading Expert At The Card Table gives me the moral authority to condemn others for sharing secrets that are common currency in the magic community, where there is absolutely zero establishing criteria for membership.

best,
bill
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Postby Guest » 10/29/05 12:46 PM

Bill:

If I accept your definition that exposure is providing the secrets of a magical effect to a non-magician, and if I accept that a non-performing collector is not a magician, then I have no argument with you. But, characteristic of most examples involving a discussion of exposure, its still a fuzzy line, I think. For example, what if the apparatus collector had performed in the past, but no longer performs. Is this exposure? What if the collector performed for one year and has been collecting for 20 years? Exposure? Im not really expecting a response, unless you want to respond. Just offering that this topic of exposure is so difficult to pin down because of all the moving parts and circumstances!

I think your stance re exposure as also involving the disclosure of secrets to non-authorized magicians is also a fair one.

Ive already pointed out (which is not news to any of you) that the task of defining exposure is tricky business. Your post, Bill, is an example of how different people see exposure. Im only guessing here, but I think the majority of magicians who debate the meaning of exposure focus on the exposure of secrets to laymen, not on exposure to fellow magi.

True enough that I did not address your comment re the sale of tricks by magic shops which cater to laymen. I guess I though this observation was more or less part of the rest of the discussion and did not need singling out. Obviously, with all the nuances of the issue of exposure, that may be my mistake!

On the subject of not addressing comments, I did not see a response from you on my comments re your statement I have to believe that if an effect is available for a fee, in any recorded format, that it is by that very fact impossible to expose it. I take it that since you argue that exposure includes the disclosure of secrets to unauthorized magicians, that you agree with me that the foregoing statement of yours is clearly false. For, given what you say, it is in fact possible to expose even if an effect is available for a fee in a recorded format, as I demonstrated with my Harbin book example.

Kind Regards,

Clay Shevlin
MEMINISSE MAGICAM
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Postby Guest » 10/29/05 01:53 PM

Clay,

You are absolutely correct that defining exposure is a tricky business, but not, it seems in the minds of some.

Im sorry I didnt address the Harbin example directly, but I didnt see what it had to do with my points. My meaning wasnt that you couldnt perform an act which would be classified as exposure by many people, but rather than once a secret is committed to a recorded format it is no longer a secret and by that fact it is not something which can, any longer, be exposed. It is only a matter of to whom it is known. Since you can buy the Harbin book on EBay, without signing an NDA, I think that makes, rather than discounts my point.

And that is really the core of this issue isnt it? Its us against them and we dont want them to have our secrets because, presumably, they will make fun of us or tell people the little sponge ball is in the other hand. My problem is the seemingly elitist attitude that there is a them, and who gets to make that distinction.

I would have less of a problem with groups like the Magic Circle making their sweeping condemnation of exposure if they were consistent in what they classified as exposure. But as Ive stated, you never hear of them, or anyone else, trying to close down those tourist-trap magic shops.

Someone please explain to me the difference between my showing a friend a thumbtip, which would get me kicked out of the Magic Circle, and my selling one to a stranger at EuroDisney. The difference, as far as I can tell, is two pounds, ninety nine (the current price of a Vernet tip in England). The Circle allows the latter, but condemns the former, as exposure. Until they can reconcile that, I cant support their position.

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my initial post.
bill
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Postby Guest » 10/29/05 02:48 PM

Bill,

You are only assuming the case where someone buys the Harbin book. But that was not my hypothetical. I posited that someone who has signed the Harbin NDA subsequently discloses a secret to a magician who does not own a copy of the Harbin and otherwise does not have permission or the right to know that secret. Under my hypothetical, here is a case where recorded secrets up for sale have been sold but then disclosed to an unauthorized third party. By your previous statements, you have agreed that unauthorized disclosure to a magician is exposure. Unless you retract that assertion, then it must follow logically that your claim that once a secret is committed to a recorded format it is no longer a secret and by that fact it is not something which can, any longer, be exposed is patently false. I think youve gotta give me this one!

I generally agree with your comments re the inconsistency of The Magic Circles position based on the example you provided, but (for better or worse) that is merely a reflection on the inchoate nature of exposure. Although its certainly not the preferable course, Ill take limited (and sometimes inconsistent) enforcement of the rules over none at all.

Clay
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Postby Guest » 10/29/05 06:30 PM

Clay,
If a law is not applied consistantly it is not a law, but tyrany.

:)

As for the Harbin example, if you like you may consider that you have bested my argument. I however, will simply choose to see it as picking nits.

;)
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Postby Guest » 10/29/05 09:51 PM

Bill Duncan wrote:
As for the Harbin example, if you like you may consider that you have bested my argument. I however, will simply choose to see it as picking nits.
Ha! I didn't mean to "best" this particular argument of yours. I think it's an interesting one, and merits examination. I only meant to point out that, given the absolute language you used to express it, it is not absolutely correct, making it another example, I think, of a "rule" regarding exposure that isn't always applicable or correct.

I think part of the problem of defining exposure is those very nits that get "picked"!

Clay
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Postby Guest » 10/30/05 12:34 AM

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
Im going to assume we are defining exposure to providing the secrets of a magical effect to a non-magician
I am struck here by a difficulty in Bill's laudably precise definition, which is that it requires an equally precise definition of "non-magician." I think this is a much, much harder word to define than most magicians imagine.

Instead of trying to categorize the person as magician or non-magician -- Ramen or Varelse, as Orson Scott Card would put it -- I prefer to consider what they are going to do with the information. This has proven to be a very workable schema to apply to this problem, and I recommend it to everyone who is comfortable using the word "schema".

If someone wants to know a secret so they can use it to create magic (whether by performing the trick or making up a trick or doing some job in the show that requires knowing the secret, etc.) then I will share (assuming it's mine to give, etc.) If they want to know a secret just to know the secret, (or to publish it to people who just want to know it) to then I won't.

I have yet to encounter a question regarding "is it exposure?" that this definition has not resolved in a very right-seeming way.

Masked magician = bad because the info isn't being used to create magic.

Instructional books for beginners in bookstores is okay because people buy those books intending to learn magic. Ditto so-called "lay" people who venture into magic shops and buy tricks.

My former roommate, who's an actor, asked for something magical he could do while portraying a wizard at a tradeshow. I got him a D'light, which he used quite wonderfully.

Instructional magic bits on TV specials, McDonald's giveaways, etc. areokay because the intention is to teach magic.

Friends and relatives asking me the secret of David Copperfield's "Flying" get a polite decline, since they won't use the info (although I don't explain it this way).

Any magician asking the secret of Flying -- or any trick, for that matter (unless it's inappropriate for me to reveal the secret, i.e. the originator is still making money from it and the person might use the secret to avoid buying the product, etc.) is okay because knowledge of the method will contribute to the magician's body of knowledge, the sum of which is what makes you a magician.


Anyway I highly recommend trying out this approach and see if you agree with the results. I find it much more useful than trying to figure out who's a magician and who isn't.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 10/30/05 06:53 AM

Originally posted by Magicam:
...where recorded secrets up for sale have been sold but then disclosed to an unauthorized third party. By your previous statements, you have agreed that unauthorized disclosure to a magician is exposure. Unless you retract that assertion, then it must follow logically that your claim that once a secret is committed to a recorded format it is no longer a secret and by that fact it is not something which can, any longer, be exposed ...
Add to that the clause "as property and traded for money alone" and we might have something upon which many of us can agree.

The breach of the NDA/NC ( was there a NC aspect? ) has its own legal and ethical issues.

The example of the Harbin book that I use is simply that a non-magician can buy one and such moves the contents out of protection of any sort. At that point one may as well expect to see the thing discussed in full on the History channel on a program like "Engineering Feats of the Twentieth Century".
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 10/30/05 11:29 AM

Peter M. wrote:
Instead of trying to categorize the person as magician or non-magician... I prefer to consider what they are going to do with the information. This has proven to be a very workable schema... I have yet to encounter a question regarding "is it exposure?" that this definition has not resolved in a very right-seeming way.... Masked magician = bad because the info isn't being used to create magic ... Instructional magic bits on TV specials, McDonald's giveaways, etc. are okay because the intention is to teach magic ...
Just playing Devils Advocate here Peter, but I noted that the initial part of your post focused on the intent of the party receiving the information, whereas in later examples you provide, the focus is on the party giving the information two very different perspectives and judging points, I believe. And if your definition indeed has such a variable focus for determination, then there exists the possibility that information may be given with the intent that it be used for performance but not received by everyone who has the intent of using it for performance, or vice versa, in which case the results are inconclusive, no? For example, what if PERSON A receiving the information disclosed by the Masked Magician intends to use it for a magic performance? Does this mean that the Masked Magician has committed exposure vis--vis PERSON A? Using your test, the answer could be yes or no, depending on which person you focus on, the Masked Magician or PERSON A. For it to be workable, I think you have to pick one focal point or another.

Even if a focal point is selected, the other problem is determining intent. Its not always easy to determine what a person is thinking who disseminates or receives secrets.

If I understand Bill Duncan correctly after our exchanges, I think he would dispense with the use of the term non-magician and focus on the disclosure of secrets to an unauthorized person (magician or non-magician, it does not matter who it is). I readily acknowledge that not all people may agree with this approach, but it does have the advantage of boiling the issue down to whether or not the secret is okay to be disclosed and whether or not the recipient is authorized to receive it. No doubt some degree of judgment is needed to answer these two questions, but I think they lend themselves more easily to objective determination than your schema.

Just my thoughts and just trying to examine things from all angles with a critical (but friendly) eye.

Clay
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