Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.
Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 7882
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 30th, 2018, 4:12 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:...
the solution is to embrace the dark side and rely on the greatest motivator that magic has always been built from - copycatting. ...

That works if you avoid emotional investment in 'exclusive' or 'secret' as links go up offering limited edition copycats with free shipping - and much less than polished unwrapping/performance videos by copykitties .

Comic signoff : Cue the video of "Losing My Edge" by LCD Soundsystem
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

mbreggar
Posts: 7
Joined: March 14th, 2012, 9:26 am

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby mbreggar » January 30th, 2018, 7:14 pm

Great thread. Some really interesting thoughts here.

I believe the issue (if it is indeed an “issue”) is complicated. Many people have no desire to learn any more than how to do a few tricks or sleights. Their motivations are akin to “showing off”. Their skills are robotic and their performances a severely lacking if existing at all. But it doesn’t matter to them. They can do something their friends cannot. Then there are those that see the tricks as the tools of magic. They may have wonderful performance and delivery skills or just the rudiments, but they inherently understand the yin and yang of performance and “trickery”.
Like skills, this understanding may only be rudimentary, but these magicians are keen to learn magical history.

Many of the posts here equate history with undertsnading the provenance and DNA of a trick. They are very different things. I need not know the provenance of techniques used to paint a landscape. But if I desire to learn painting as an art form, knowing the history of landscape painting and famous landscape painting artists would be invaluable.

User avatar
Susan Arendt
Posts: 24
Joined: October 31st, 2017, 2:57 pm
Favorite Magician: Doug Henning
Contact:

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby Susan Arendt » January 31st, 2018, 10:24 am

erdnasephile wrote:In my more cynical moments, I wonder if it is a bit futile to hope that an appreciation of magic history can be engendered in future generations--at least in American society.

I base this on the numerous studies that demonstrate the woeful knowledge of American history amongst the majority of study subjects, the seemingly willful ignorance of some reporting ("We've never been this divided in our nation's history!" -- Uh, "Civil War" anyone?), and the current strain of popular "presentism".

Then again, I remember being able to recall specific stats on the back of my baseball cards as a kid, so it seems natural to want to learn all one can about a thing (or person) we love.

Maybe the key to getting new magicians to learn magic history and provenance is to teach them how to really love magic


Following that line of thinking, how does one teach someone to "really love magic"? They either do or they don't, no? I mean, it helps to be exposed to good magic and also to have your interest supported by your friends and/or family, but assuming that's all in place, what else can be done?
Magic is for everyone.

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 7882
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 31st, 2018, 10:37 am

mbreggar wrote:... They may have wonderful performance and delivery skills or just the rudiments, but they inherently understand the yin and yang of performance and “trickery”.
Like skills, this understanding may only be rudimentary, but these magicians are keen to learn magical history...


How did you get from the entertainer who uses some magic tricks to the opinion that such a person would also have a keen interest in history?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 7882
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 31st, 2018, 10:55 am

Susan Arendt wrote:...how does one teach someone to "really love magic"? ...


How magic affects others? How performing magic affects the magician? How tales and artifacts affect the student of this craft?

Not sure it's ecological to teach others "to really love magic" until knowing what those others consider "real", "love" and "magic" while avoiding setting up situations which could be reframed as indoctrination and/or abuse.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Brad Henderson
Posts: 3784
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: austin, tx

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby Brad Henderson » January 31st, 2018, 11:19 am

one of tamariz's veils states that while he has no idea how, audiences can tell when a performer has a deep understanding of the history of the effect being performed.

it stands to reason, the more you understand what you are doing, the more competent you will be in creating living experiences based on that knowledge.

the truth is most magicians care only to please themselves, and for most that doesn't take a lot. learning a secret is often enough. Fantasizing about performing it someday is usually as far as it goes. And if it does get performed, the 'magician' gets bored and quickly moves on to the next diversion.

you can't understand a magic piece until you've performed it thousands of times and understand how it has evolved up until the moment it started its current life in your hands.

but that's only relevant if you care to understand magic, and not just dip ones toes in it's waters and squeal 'weee'.

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 7882
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 31st, 2018, 12:35 pm

Would that perception of deep understanding communicate to the casual viewer of a YouTube video? If so then performance video showing the same "trick" played to different effect might inspire the curious to read on from there.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

User avatar
erdnasephile
Posts: 3774
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby erdnasephile » January 31st, 2018, 2:41 pm

Susan Arendt wrote:
erdnasephile wrote:In my more cynical moments, I wonder if it is a bit futile to hope that an appreciation of magic history can be engendered in future generations--at least in American society.

I base this on the numerous studies that demonstrate the woeful knowledge of American history amongst the majority of study subjects, the seemingly willful ignorance of some reporting ("We've never been this divided in our nation's history!" -- Uh, "Civil War" anyone?), and the current strain of popular "presentism".

Then again, I remember being able to recall specific stats on the back of my baseball cards as a kid, so it seems natural to want to learn all one can about a thing (or person) we love.

Maybe the key to getting new magicians to learn magic history and provenance is to teach them how to really love magic


Following that line of thinking, how does one teach someone to "really love magic"? They either do or they don't, no? I mean, it helps to be exposed to good magic and also to have your interest supported by your friends and/or family, but assuming that's all in place, what else can be done?


I can only speak for myself. I learned to love magic by being fortunate enough to see a lot of really great magic when I was very young with the Mystics. However, the welcoming environment of that group also had a ton to do with it as well. I was always the youngest around, but the older kids never dissed me for it. They were honest, but not cruel. They always encouraged us to reach. I distinctly remember one dude trying to make fun of me for wanting to read "Expert Card Technique" and Randy Pryor just shut him down. That gave me the confidence to try, and pretty soon, I flew. That sort of thing was a large part of getting me hooked.

I also had great teachers (Thanks, Stan and Brad!) who passed on their love for good magic in the context of history to me. In their wisdom, one of the first books they taught from was Paul Curry's terrific "Magician's Magic." Mr. Curry not only weaves an exciting, accessible tales of some of the most famous moments of magic history, but he also includes really good tricks that a beginner can do (including one that I'll bet would fool a whole lot of magicians) that goes along with the theme of the various chapters. Sure, the history presented isn't always the most detailed, and there are inaccuracies (e.g., pg 84), BUT it sure helped the magic bug to bite me hard.

In short, I suspect that if we expose beginners to great magic (and teach them why it's great and how to recognize what's not great) in a supportive environment, hopefully that will help spark a respect and love for magic (Michael Close has a great story about what he does when someone is really interested in magic in The Paradigm Shift). That noition, of course, puts the onus on us to be outstanding ambassadors for magic whenever we perform (and even when we aren't--if you're a creeper and people somehow find out you do magic, you just help reinforce that dreadful stereotype. It also means that the stereotypical boorish behavior that some display at conventions around young people has got to stop. What sort of parent would want their kid hanging around that kind of mess?).

Second, making magic history relevant once that spark is ignited (the way Curry does) may also be of value. Again, by learning the modern tricks that use the ancient principles, the lessons of history are caught, with a minimum of preaching. (Maybe you could do an article around this sort of theme on GeniiOnline. )

I'm certainly no expert on this stuff, and I'm just rambling off the top of my head. I certainly don't think there's a one size fits all answer, but maybe these snippets might inspire better ideas.

User avatar
erdnasephile
Posts: 3774
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby erdnasephile » February 3rd, 2018, 10:22 am

Here is an interesting article that has some suggestions that may be relevant to getting new magicians interested in magic history: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/educational ... young.html

In addition, there is an interview with a Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Gordon Wood, in today's WSJ that has tangential relevance in terms of the practical benefits of understanding history.

User avatar
Susan Arendt
Posts: 24
Joined: October 31st, 2017, 2:57 pm
Favorite Magician: Doug Henning
Contact:

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby Susan Arendt » February 21st, 2018, 1:40 pm

erdnasephile wrote:
Susan Arendt wrote:
erdnasephile wrote:In my more cynical moments, I wonder if it is a bit futile to hope that an appreciation of magic history can be engendered in future generations--at least in American society.

I base this on the numerous studies that demonstrate the woeful knowledge of American history amongst the majority of study subjects, the seemingly willful ignorance of some reporting ("We've never been this divided in our nation's history!" -- Uh, "Civil War" anyone?), and the current strain of popular "presentism".

Then again, I remember being able to recall specific stats on the back of my baseball cards as a kid, so it seems natural to want to learn all one can about a thing (or person) we love.

Maybe the key to getting new magicians to learn magic history and provenance is to teach them how to really love magic


Following that line of thinking, how does one teach someone to "really love magic"? They either do or they don't, no? I mean, it helps to be exposed to good magic and also to have your interest supported by your friends and/or family, but assuming that's all in place, what else can be done?


Second, making magic history relevant once that spark is ignited (the way Curry does) may also be of value. Again, by learning the modern tricks that use the ancient principles, the lessons of history are caught, with a minimum of preaching. (Maybe you could do an article around this sort of theme on GeniiOnline. )

I'm certainly no expert on this stuff, and I'm just rambling off the top of my head. I certainly don't think there's a one size fits all answer, but maybe these snippets might inspire better ideas.


I would *love* to do a series of articles like that. You, uh, interested in writing them? We pay. :)
Magic is for everyone.

Curtis Kam
Posts: 505
Joined: January 18th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Waikiki
Contact:

Re: Your opinions wanted: what do new magicians need to know about the history of magic?

Postby Curtis Kam » February 21st, 2018, 3:11 pm

I just want to add that the gateway to my magic addiction was magic magazines. Genii, in fact, was pivotal. I had read Magician’s Magic from the library, and the backstories Curry provided were interesting, but what really got me as a young man was not stories of the past, but rather, the thought that there was a vibrant, living community of creative people who were working on the same things that I was, right now. For me, it was the feeling of urgency; that if I didn’t get on board, I’d be left behind. That, coupled with the confidence that I might be the first to discover something. Magazines had an immediacy that books did not.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Return to “Buzz”