David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

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DanZ
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David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby DanZ » February 22nd, 2020, 9:38 am

Today's Globe and Mail (Canadian national newspaper) on the occasion of the opening of an extraordinary exhibit of magic posters has this op ed from David Ben in his role of artistic director of Magicana and guest curator of Illusions: The Art of Magic. Itopens at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Feb. 22.

The headline reads: Magicians are the original purveyors of ‘fake news.’ They can’t help it.

https://tinyurl.com/vojdlke

Bob Farmer
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby Bob Farmer » February 22nd, 2020, 12:02 pm

That is a wonderful article by David. His many connections to concerns of today make magic relevant to a modern reader. And I loved the reference to magicians being the first purveyors of "fake news."

Bill Mullins
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby Bill Mullins » February 22nd, 2020, 12:34 pm

And he did a nice bit on morning TV yesterday, as well.
https://twitter.com/globalnewsto/status ... 0313031682

DanZ
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby DanZ » February 22nd, 2020, 1:19 pm

And Julie Eng on CBC Radio
https://tinyurl.com/up3uqo4

I'm not sure if this is geoblocked.

Bill Mullins
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby Bill Mullins » February 22nd, 2020, 2:37 pm

Available in Alabama.

Joe Lyons
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby Joe Lyons » February 22nd, 2020, 4:18 pm

Nice article and interview as you would expect from Mr. Ben.

I couldn’t tell, though, was he calling Houdini or Jesus Christ a fictional character?

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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 22nd, 2020, 6:06 pm

@Joe, that would be George Bernard Shaw, supposedly.

Other opinion has it that when there's advertising space sold they need copy to foll some pages. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/ ... efox-b-1-d

Fake news, infotainment, agitprop, backstory... pin the tale on the donkey? ;)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Bill Mullins
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby Bill Mullins » February 22nd, 2020, 7:49 pm

Joe Lyons wrote:I couldn’t tell, though, was [David Ben] calling Houdini or Jesus Christ a fictional character?

I think he was quoting GBS as having said so.
Background on the quote.

performer
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby performer » February 22nd, 2020, 8:19 pm

David always tries to promote the art whenever he has the chance. I always think of him as a patron of magic.

Joe Lyons
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby Joe Lyons » February 22nd, 2020, 10:47 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
Joe Lyons wrote:I couldn’t tell, though, was [David Ben] calling Houdini or Jesus Christ a fictional character?

I think he was quoting GBS as having said so.
Background on the quote.

David Ben and Julie Eng with Mr. Slaight’s patronage have been awesome for magic.

I’m familiar with the quote. Not that it matters, I just can’t find where “and two of them were fictitious” is attributable to Shaw. Although he declared himself an atheist as a young man, by the time of this quote he had recanted.

David Ben
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby David Ben » February 23rd, 2020, 5:28 am

First, thank you for the kind comments about the article in the Globe. The exhibition is truly marvelous, and with a slightly different spin than the one staged initially at the McCord Museum. We hope you get the chance to see it in Toronto.

Second, I apologize if this post is rather lengthy but you will soon see why.

It is about the purported Shaw quote and, the tag line “and two of them were fictitious.”

I have used/repeated this quote for decades. I read the first part of the quote in the 1976 Randi/Sugar book at the time the book was published. (I still have the book in my library.) I have used the quote in media conversations for decades. Over the past few years, with the rise of the Internet, I have had conversations with Bill Kalush, John Cox and Bill Mullins, who have also been intrigued by the quote, and have attempted to determine whether or not Shaw actually said those words. Bill kindly provided a link to some of the research in a previous post in this thread.

As for the “and two of them were fictitious” part, that may have been added by me. Not sure whether I added that quip initially or whether I took it from someone else. Here is the context.

When I was pitching and then staging The Conjuror at the Shaw Festival - first performed in 1996 but developed over the two prior years - I tried to establish a link between Shaw and magic in order to stage the show at the Festival.

At that time, the Shaw Festival only produced plays by Shaw and his contemporaries. When I pitched the show, I did a presentation- complete with posters of the period and various magic magazines (particularly Sterling’s Magical World which listed magicians playing in London) to show the relevance of The Conjuror to the Festival’s mandate. We were successful. (Daniel Zuckerbrot’s film - A Conjuror In The Making - then came into the picture.)

As mentioned, I had read the first part of the quote in the Randi/Sugar book, and certainly added it to my pitch.

I always loved the tag line –“and two of them were fictitious” because it is intentionally mischievous given “Houdini” was a made up name.

Although I have been using that tag line for decades, if I did not read it somewhere, it could have been developed or said by:

Patrick Watson (my co-writer/Director); Charles Reynolds (The Shaw Festival were/are quite well known for their program notes, and I had asked Charles to write something about Magic of the Golden Age for the program. He could have said it to me in passing.); Denis Johnson (our dramaturge); Christopher Newton, the Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival (and a witty man) who heard my pitch and authorized the production for the Festival, Daniel Zuckerbrot, Suley Fattah (my long time colleague/assistant) or even me.

Any of us could easily have said it. As I mentioned, I have certainly been saying it for twenty years as a line in my public talks about the history of magic. And if I didn’t come up with the tag - and it is certainly the type of cheeky line or quip I might and now do say - I could have added it conveniently into my repertoire having heard one of the others make it in passing.

So, I am curious if anyone on this forum had heard the tag line before or read it somewhere earlier, and if so, where as the question is now two-fold: Did Shaw say the first part? Who said the second?

Interestingly, in my original submitted draft to the Globe, I described the quote as being apocryphal. Their editors deleted that word from the piece. They also deleted the tag line. I wrote back and asked them to reinsert the tagline suggesting that it was what made the quote, if it was by Shaw, Shavian. They did so. (I suppose it truly was an “Op-Ed”.)

This doesn’t address the first part of the issue - the initial grouping of celebrities - but it may shed some light on the second.

DanZ
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby DanZ » February 23rd, 2020, 7:56 am

Patrick Watson (my co-writer/Director); Charles Reynolds (The Shaw Festival were/are quite well known for their program notes, and I had asked Charles to write something about Magic of the Golden Age for the program. He could have said it to me in passing.); Denis Johnson (our dramaturge); Christopher Newton, the Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival (and a witty man) who heard my pitch and authorized the production for the Festival, Daniel Zuckerbrot, Suley Fattah (my long time colleague/assistant) or even me.


David Ben: I agree the tagline takes the quote to another level. However, I can assure you it weren't me who came up with it. I wish I was that clever.

Although he declared himself an atheist as a young man, by the time of this quote he had recanted.


Joe Lyons: If you mean by recanted that he became a theist I don't think that's quite true. At least not a theist in any conventional sense. As I read it GBS's belief about God shifted from holding that 'God does not exist' to 'God is a project and the ultimate evolution of the life force that animates everything' i.e. God will exist as a result of evolution.

Joe Lyons
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Re: David Ben on Art, the Internet, Magicians and Fake News

Postby Joe Lyons » February 23rd, 2020, 9:51 am

Mr. Ben: thank you for the thoughtful response. Admittedly, initially when I saw the length of your post I thought my God, I am taking the man away from the Vernon bio part two for something I casually remarked. Then I quickly realized that you are more interested in the etymology of the phrase than I am.
Shaw has a few quotes that are attributed to him, and completely Shavian, yet hard to pin down the genesis of.
Thanks to the internet I just searched over 8400 pages of his works and couldn’t find the Houdini quote.

I agree, the fact that Houdini was an alias creates the mischievousness that makes the phrase play.

Mr. Zuckerbrot: no doubt you are correct, I only have a vague memory of him making positive remarks about Christianity in his later days so recant was too strong a term.


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