WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
Michael Pascoe
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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Michael Pascoe » November 3rd, 2007, 5:21 pm

Todays youth are interested in speed. How fast can they learn the latest trick so they can buy the next trick that is hot. They dont slow down and learn everything about the art. I hate when a kid buys the latest trick, but I cant get them to buy a book that will teach them all of the basics that they need to know. They try to impress me with all of the latest flourishes. That may be cool looking, but you need your foundation.

The same applies to history. They dont want to take the time to learn about the greats from the past. They cant take the time because unless it isnt Chriss Angel, they can care less. They buy all of the t-shirts and playing cards with his face on it, but they wont take the time to learn about Robert-Houdin or Alexander Hermann.

I think there is a general population that likes to read. Book stores are packed even with the computer age. I am working on a novel that will romanticize the great magicians from our profession starting with John Henry Anderson all the up to Blackstone Sr.

Also, another problem is some of the books that are coming out on the subject are raw data that most people dont want to go through. When we were kids, we read books by William Lindsay Gresham, Melbourne Christopher, and Walter Gibson. Writers that knew how to tell a story.

Thats the void I want to fill. I think there still a need and a demand for it. That is, if one makes a demand for it.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2007, 5:55 pm


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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2007, 5:56 pm

Good point to all of you in here that have said that "the young still don't know what they have to know." This is very true and that is another obvious exception to the need of acquiring knowledge.

However, when a child grows and matures into their early 20's and on, there will come more times in everyone's life when it's most appropriate to use only what is useful and discard what is useless.

Take good care.

Anthony R.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2007, 7:17 pm

Anthony R wrote, "...APPLIED knowledge is power." Well put.
I've heard Anthony (Tony) Robbins say: "Knowledge is POTENTIAL power". Coincidence?...

I can't say I have ALWAYS loved history, but I come from a strangely bookish family and circle of friends, and was certainly exposed to enough good stuff to spark my interest, rather than being completely turned off at an early age.

I really don't understand how someone could NOT be at least a little interested in or curious about SOME facet of history. --Think of the infinite endlessly fascinating topics.

I believe one sure reason I HAVE "been into" magic (for 30 years) is exactly BECAUSE of its interesting and amazing history.

Who doesn't like, once they've been exposed to them, the stories of Alexander the Man Who Knows, Kellar, Robert Houdin, the Egyptian Hall, The Great Wizard of the North, Chung Ling Soo, the posters, the tales, the ingenuity, Malini, the Professor, Jarrow, Scarne, the Jinx, the Phoenix? Dedi?...anyone? Buehler?

Or if you don't want to strain yourself by going too far back, maybe a little more recent history: Garcia, Goshman, Slydini, Fechter, Dingle, Sheridan, "Cards as Weapons", The Hedonists, The Left-Handed League, Harry Lorayne, and on and on.

I know, I'm babbling to the converted again, but how DO you explain someone who has no interest in anything? Their brain's just a big slab o' inert meat. No spark, just a big dead lump. Not to mention the fat and gristle...

Guest

Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2007, 7:32 pm

There are two more questions, beyond that of literacy, which bear upon this discussion of how to proffer the past to those who have enough trouble accepting the present.

In order of utility, the first might be phrased as: How do we manage to avoid using our skills to create a falsified literature? Consider how the historian's past is far less rich than we might like and part of the historians task is to offer a best guess for the reader. What limits can we set ourselves which serve our readers yet also permit us some dignity as historians? Are we ready to take on vetting as a general part of publication review?

The second question would be that of exposure. While a cogent and well documented/footnoted discussion of how a trick or method has come to us , it also pretty much lays bare the mechanics of guile and reveals the workshop and trickster behind the wonder worker the public has come to enjoy.

Between our footnotes and desire to be rewarding we may face a world where our texts quickly become public via the internet.

Okay, that said, here's the 30,000 foot exploration for those who enjoy such things:

[playful]
We've pretty much separated into two camps on this; The faithful who already know to seek out wisdom from those who've decided to share - and on the other side of a wall we have the new kids on the block, the celebrated man in the street, the students of the school of hard knocks - AKA the great unwashed for whom there was much hand wringing over teaching literacy and deciding upon a course of appropriate literature back at the start of the industrial revolution. For them there is, borrowing a term from Orwell, the proletarian writing machine and the facile learning of skills along with a sense of "tradition" as established by the works used to indoctrinate them into their place in society. What then of the works they in turn produce. Do we want a two tiered literature? One could well argue against and cite Swift's Battle of the Books as direct example the recent explosion of "stupidity" books on the mass marked as evidence.

What to do with those who have not chortled over Swift's beautifulp phrased complaints or raised an eyebrow over the liberties of Carroll especially when compared to the educational theories of von Sacher-Masoch or the later activities in Anne Desclos' Story of O? The serious student will have no doubt considered the place of Alan Moore's Lost Girls as a solution to the problem based upon a psychological reframe into more adult territory. What to say to those who can't read Mary Shelly's novel as a laugh out loud comment about the manliness of her companions and the basic question of how to confront the creations of a less-than-attentive parent called "science". How do we recognize those who have not read Gaiman's The Books of Magic or explored the themes of Lovecraft's writings and lighter fare such as the old "what does it mean to be human" themes from the Kapec's R. U. R. through Philip K. Dick's oeuvre to Rudy Rucker's bopper stories?

Ah.. but onto the second concern of the day, that of the fundamental conflict between the scholarly and the dramatic. Umberto Eco offers ways of reconciling the crude with the rude to permit us to be at one in our historical agendas yet there may not be an easy answer to the basic question about what should be exposed to print, how it should sit in print and where the drama (effect) can become its own method using print medium.

Consider that some of Borges short stories used a literary playfulness regarding falsified sources. Just as Victor Hugo used this trick in enrolling the reader into his fictional world, a parallel to the real one set a century earlier, one is wont to apply our basic skills to create a Tlon, a fictional world which as rich or richer than our own in terms of documentation yet as spurious as the three versions of Judas proffered by a fictional author serving as knowing proxy for Borges. What then of our basic agendas as magicians, to create wonder where possible and home wherever it might take root?

This child of a classical musicologist, who was taught an an early age to seek out and work from primary sources where possible, has concerns for an art which may soon be having it's first Halloween and may need to learn to live with its ghosts as active members of the community.
[/playful]

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2007, 8:54 pm

Hi Dave,

you should read my previous post and you will see that we are on the same page. =)

Take good care.

Anthony R.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2007, 10:00 pm

Clay, I would like to share a few thoughts on your question.....

I think I can count on one hand the number of real magic historians I have come across.

I do not necessarily assume that someone who is a collector is also a magic historian. We know that there are lots of collectors. But, just because someone has a large and impressive collection of photos related to Herrmann, for example, does not make them a historian. More likely, they are INVESTING in magic related collectibles. One very well known seller of magic antiquities once said that one should focus on buying the best most pristine items in your area of interest and that is what makes a collection impressive. I think it is this investor philosophy that makes many performers see the collector as not very important in the magic world.

I mention these comments because I see a difference between accumulating the most complete collection of an item and the collection and preservation of magic related historical information. Often I find that there is a rich knowledge in magic in the areas of showmanship, performance technique, routining and even ordering of tricks in a show, that a magician has used completely lost and of little interest to the collector. The 8 x 10 of those magicians, however, does survive and is a prized possession!

I have only made these points about historians and collectors because it seems to me that most younger magicians have not met a real magic historian. I think it is likely that they may have come across someone who is a collector and possibly mistaken them for a historian. What value is there for a young magician to see the large collection of Harry Houdini photos? What relevance is that to their performance?

So, I would not say that the younger generation of magicians has a low opinion or is indifferent to magic historians and magic history. More likely, they have had very little exposure to any REAL historians or history.

I also tend to agree with a number of the previous posts that suggest that an individual who just wants to PLAY with a few tricks would not see value in knowing magic history. But then again, why would we want to teach them anything anyway? If there comes a time where an individual is serious about our art, THEN a mentor with a knowledge of magic history would be a good thing. This group, I think, would NOT have a low opinion of magic history. I do, however, think it does require a certain maturity and an interest in some area of magic besides card tricks before magic history will appear relevant.

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Matthew Field
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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Matthew Field » November 4th, 2007, 4:04 am

Originally posted by castawaydave:
Everything boils down to a bell curve: MOST people DON'T read.
Most people don't read, but including Racherbaumer skews the average much higher.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Matthew Field » November 4th, 2007, 4:24 am

OK. Seriously.

Most magicians do not care for or about magic history for the same reason they do not care about stagecraft. They are interested only in tricks. More and more tricks. I think Richard Kaufman and Stan Allen would concur regarding the desires of the readers of their magazines.

I edit The Magic Circular, which has quite a bit of history between its covers each month. But that magazine is aimed at professionals and an older readership who presumably have gotten over the often unquenchable intellectual thirst of the newcomer to our art.

But even among the readership of Magic Circle members I get people telling me that, (1) they don't want to read about magic theory ("Eugene Burger has some good tricks, but I can't read the rest of what he writes" is something I've heard more than once); (2) they won't read about magic history unless it's about someone really well known -- Houdini or Devant for example.

The reason for this is, I think, threefold. First, amateurs are showing new tricks to the same audience, so they've got to keep coming up with new things, semi-learned but really undeveloped, to show their friends and family; second, amateurs often don't thirst for anything more than, "Isn't he clever" comments -- they're not earning money or trying to establish a career; third, they may have not been properly tutored, so they do not realize the value either of magic history or stagecraft to their performance.

This is not an age thing, although younger people are still in the formative stages of their craft, and are more likely to be searching for the new effect which will transform them from a mediocre to a great magician. The answer is, of course, that it's not the trick, it's the magician. The way to become a better magician, other than practicing your craft, is to see what made the great magicians great (magic history) and discover how best to reach audiences effectively (stagecraft).

Matt Field

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2007, 7:51 am

While I agree with Matt Field's observations, I think that there's also a far simpler reason.

Most people who take up any hobby/profession/activity, be it a performing art or not, simply want to do it. In general, they're not interested in how someone else, decades ago, used to do it. And that's just human nature.

Dave

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2007, 10:04 am

Yes, people want to do the activity badly, and too often they succeed.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2007, 2:02 pm

Many thanks to those who have posted in response. I really appreciate your input. For those who have not responded thusly, it would be great to hear your ideas on what may be done, at the very least, to foster an appreciation of magic history (I realize that some will believe that nothing can be done and that debating that point probably won't help much in this discussion).

Dave Le Fevre makes an interesting point that has some validity, IMHO. However, I would not lump professionals in with the amateurs on this point. Why? Because if your living depends on your success as a pro, just doing it aint going to cut it youll do anything to improve so you can assure or increase your success, and I would guess that most pros would say that having a decent working knowledge of magic history is an important (if not essential) element of improvement, if only for the reason cited by David Alexander in his Powell comments.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Frank Dudgeon » November 4th, 2007, 2:41 pm

Magicam said : I would guess that most pros would say that having a decent working knowledge of magic history is an important (if not essential) element of improvement, if only for the reason cited by David Alexander in his Powell comments.
-
John Carney proved that point beautifully in his presentation at the last Collectors' Weekend. He collects older performance pieces, and he performs them wonderfully. It was such a pleasure to see.

Frank Dudgeon

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2007, 3:05 pm

Originally posted by Kevin Connolly:
Originally posted by castawaydave:


The average American reads zero books per year.
[/QUOTE} [QB]

I guess Amazon should pack up their tents and go home. :eek:

Tens of millions of books are read in the USA. You may want to re-adjust your average. :o
When Kevin posted this way upthread, I remembered coming across a bit of trivia regarding this very thing. I believe Kevin's claim is a bit in error. He said "...are read in the U.S." Not necessarily true. I think the actual claim should be that tens of millions of books are bought in the U.S. That doesn't mean they're ever actually read. From the Telegraph UK website: (and yes, I know it's a British study, but I doubt there's much of a cultural difference in this regard between us and our friends across the pond)

On a different tack, a remarkable 55 per cent of the sample (Note by JG: Sample was 4000 adult readers) confessed to buying a book not with the intention of reading it but as "decoration" - as a status symbol to show off to friends and neighbours, much as 19th century gentlemen bought books "by the yard" to fill their libraries.
Here's the link to the Telegraph UK article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... ooks12.xml

So the concept of "book as decoration", not just "book as reading material" needs to be factored into any discussion of how many books are being sold. And there are other factors at work as well that can artificially inflate sales numbers, but that's definitely off-topic.

I think both Matt Field's comments as well as Sal Perotta's are quite valid. There is a definite difference between the Collector and the Historian. One can definitely (and ideally) be both, but I've encountered people who would definitely be "collectors" rather than what I would define as "historians".

Out of curiosity, I wonder if there's been any sort of discernible uptick in interest in the history of magic due to the recent films The Prestige and The Illusionist? Could films like this be effective tools to foster a greater interest in magic history? Things to ponder...

Jeremy

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Kevin Connolly
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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Kevin Connolly » November 4th, 2007, 3:31 pm

Jeremy,

I said read, not bought. You must put into the fromula, libraries. Or are the people borrowing the books to decorate for a week or two?

I do agree with the above "The Dumbing Down of America". It's taught in schools as we speak.
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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2007, 4:03 pm

Originally posted by Kevin Connolly:
...I do agree with the above "The Dumbing Down of America". It's taught in schools as we speak. [/QB]
Interesting choice of title as to become dumb is to lose the power of speech. Seems about right for an agenda to reduce our populace to a silent consumer class without artistic, social or political voice beyond that of product preference.

Was it Vance Packard's book "The Status Seekers" which described the nouveau riche going antiquing and hiring decorators to fill libraries who'd then go and buy books by the yard?

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2007, 4:34 pm

John Carney (and others) are examples of good results obtained by studying history if one is to be a good (entertaining) performer. If the audience is to be laypeople and not members of magic clubs, then researching classic effects is the way to go. They are classics for a reason and you won't find out what the classics are if you don't research magic history.

One of the people I studied when I was a kid was Max Malini...to the point that I hunted up Ozzie, his son and visited him numerous times.

Malini's repetoire consisted of simple and direct effects done in a direct and entertaining manner. I concluded that if it was good enough for Malini, it was good enough for me, but this only came about by a study of magic history.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2007, 5:02 pm

It's interesting that nobody has mentioned the conflicting data on literacy in the US. While the CIA "fact" book reports that the US is 99% literate, tests given by people in the business of determining these things find that a literacy rate of between 46% and 51% is more accurate.

The CIA's data was based upon the ability of an adult to recognize and write a couple of thousand basic words. It's possible for a person to do this and still be a functional illiterate.

It would be interesting to know the actual number of customers Amazon.com, Borders and Barnes and Noble have. There would be an overlap in the customer list, of course.

The census figures on the number of households with computers and/or internet access are available as of 2003. That indicates that as of that year about 51% of households had internet access. This may be higher now.

As has been pointed out, the number of books sold does not tell us how many have been read. And the number sold may even give us a false indication as to the number of people who are interested in a particular subject.

Here's an example. If someone of historical significance writes a book about a subject that he or she has paid a pivotal role in, all of the college and high school libraries will purchase copies of it, just for the historical significance. If someone else writes a similar book, but does not have the historical chops to make it a pivotal work, the sales will be restricted to those in the niche that is interested in the subject.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2007, 5:14 pm

Other than exposing people to the interesting history, I honestly don't know how you get someone "hooked"--If they don't know what they're missing, they won't seek it out, no?

In addition to the chaps mentioned above, may I add David Ben, Steve Cohen, Lance Burton, Mack King, even Penn and Teller--as supreme examples of performers that have that "old-time" aesthetic. --And it KILLS--today maybe more than ever, everything old truly is new again--but it is only a teeny piece of the whole huge, overwhelming picture.

Thus, Mr. Tustin (is that a ceremonial title, like "Miss Coachella Valley"?), when all is done and said, to answer your question, I actually have no f*****g idea.

I admit it.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2007, 7:32 pm

First, I dont think a huge number of younger magicians realize what magic history teaches us. I remember the epiphany I had when I realized that studying the clothing worn by magicians would help improve my magic. Sounds obvious now, but studying clothing as a magic tool demonstrated to me that magic history was as important as studying the latest four ace routine. I dont want to sound stuck up, but I really feel that quite a few people dont engage in any real in-depth type of thinking in their lives. The concept of looking for cause & effect relationships, examining what worked or failed in the past, or drawing parallels between past and current events is something that doesnt occur to some people.

I would also say that quite a few people are not really magicians, rather they are magic fans. Just because you have an interest in magic doesnt make a person a magician. I have several guitars but I would never call myself a musician. Im a music fan. My daughter on the other hand is a musician (piano & flute) and has studied music history extensively. If you view your progress in magic from all facets, magic history is going to become one of the tools you will need to explore. On the other hand, if you are addicted to a quick magic fix (I.E., the latest youtube performance from someone badly performing {and exposing} their version of This-n-That), your view of magic history probably wont extend much further than the latest internet download.

As a teenager, I was desperate to read any book on magic. I read and re-read The Illustrated History of Magic by Milbourne Christopher. It wasnt that I was a great magic history scholar, there simply wasn't that many magic books available to me. With the flood of magic on video, Im afraid that some people will never make the time to study magic history. There is always another new video that begs to be watched. Since most of magic history is in books, not videos, this further lessens the chances that magic history will be a priority in their lives.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 5th, 2007, 11:33 am

Okay, aside from preaching to the choir - and congrats to all who are of the choir on this one...

How many here have picked up and read Charlotte Iserbyt's book on the deliberate dumbing down of america (capitalization as per book title -JT) and of the group, how many have compared his findings to those in Jules Henry's Essays on Education?

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby George Olson » November 5th, 2007, 1:35 pm

In my musings, this quote jumped up!

"To know nothing of what happened before you were born is to remain ever a child"
-- Cicero

GO

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Kevin Connolly
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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Kevin Connolly » November 5th, 2007, 1:58 pm

When did they shut down the History Channel? :o
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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 5th, 2007, 3:01 pm

Originally posted by Kevin Connolly:
Originally posted by castawaydave:
[QB]

The average American reads zero books per year.


I guess Amazon should pack up their tents and go home. :eek:

Tens of millions of books are read in the USA. You may want to re-adjust your average. :o
The average American has less than two legs.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 5th, 2007, 3:08 pm

...
Tens of millions of books are read in the USA. You may want to re-adjust your average. :o
okay, now exclude Max Maven and Jon R and what do we get?

Guest

Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2007, 9:51 am

Originally posted by Kevin Connolly:
When did they shut down the History Channel? :o
"They" haven't. We get two versions of the History Channel here -- the regular History Channel and History International. If you can't get the History Channel where you are, it's your local provider's call.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2007, 9:58 am

At the opening of the performance of the Dr. Hooker Rising Cards presentation on Friday of last week, Jim Steinmeyer made a comment in his introduction, referring to the "fallow" period magic is currently going through.

I don't believe this is a fallow period. There are many magic acts working in Vegas. Membership in the clubs may be down a bit, but that is probably due to the inability of the organizations to connect with the new generation of magicians.

Interest in magic is actually rather high. If those of us who are interested in the history of magic can get the younger magicians interested in what history has to offer, maybe they will become interested in it, as well.

I wasn't interested in the history of magic at all until I met Harry Riser. He showed me some things that are in Erdnase. I'd never heard of Erdnase. I got a copy of the book and realized that there was a lot of good stuff there. I had a passing interest in the Hoffmann material, but most of it seemed to be so strange as to be of no value to me at all.

My opinion of this material changed when I learned about context. I ended up doing a couple of items from Hoffmann, albeit in modified form, in my Renaissance festival act.

If we can demonstrate to those who do not care about the history of the art that the history contains very useful information, then they will become interested in it.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 6th, 2007, 10:08 am

I agree with Jim--it is a fallow period.

There is no one in line to replace the giants in the field of close-up magic who've died: Dingle, Jennings, Hamman, Vernon, Marlo, etc.

There is no "next" David Copperfield anywhere in evidence.

The field is contracting: membership in all magic organizations is down; attendance at conventions is down, circulation at magazines is down; magic shops close every month. The new breed of magicians don't care about any of those things--their entire magical world is built around the internet. It's not a case of reaching out to them--they don't want to be reached. Their magic world is one in which they spend most of their time alone, communicating solely through an electronic device. Personal face-to-face interaction is not part of it.

A fallow period, indeed.
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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Amos McCormick » November 6th, 2007, 12:34 pm

I became much more interested in history of all sorts when I realized that I had become part of it. When you are young, you and everyone you know will live forever. Once you realize this isn't the case, I think you begin to pay more attention to the things going on around you.

In my lifetime I have been fortunate to see and meet many magicians, many of whom are now deceased, who will make up the next series of magic history books. Fortunately, most of these magicians have been very accessible people, so someday I will be able to tell my children about the time I got to visit with so-and-so at the "Castle" or following a lecture or backstage after a performance.

On a side note, I don't think we need another David Copperfield. Instead, we need more talented, lesser-known performers whose shows the general public can afford to attend.

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2007, 3:00 pm

It's ironic to me Richard, that the crowd you mention earlier isn't interested in face-to-face contact regarding Magic history (or probably any other knowledge for that matter), when Magic itself lives in the personal contact between the performer and the audience.

If the history of the art of inexplicably making the impossible possible isn't interesting, then what the heck is interesting?

Guest

Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2007, 3:17 pm

Originally posted by Terrence:
... If the history of the art of inexplicably making the impossible possible isn't interesting, then what the heck is interesting?
I call shenanigans on the basic premise.

First, if history was of general interest in conjuring over the last few generations we would be sure who "erdnase" was. Nor would we have unauthorized copies of Germain's stuff, Hofzinser's stuff etc floating around for generations till a few scholars decided to write up what they knew and publish what letters they have.

Maybe it's not the history we care about so much as the products which can be sold under an 'educational' banner?

Part of our craft involves storytelling. So what if we really find out what the routine done by a guy two thousand years ago using pebbles and bowls really was as far as our auciences are concerned it may as well be what you invented yesterday or what some caveman did to get the attention of a pretty cavewoman many thousands of years earlier? To them, our audiences it's just a story. Our history can at best be of interest to us, and what I ask you does such knowledge and it's attendant responsibilities offer us? Come on folks, if we can't keep honor the living memories of those whose stuff we use what could we really benefit from remembering those whose stuff we will likely never use?

Knowledge comes with responsibility. It's the other side of that issue raised in 'The Prestige' about "getting your hands dirty".

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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2007, 3:20 pm

So, the answer is to give up, because there is no way to reach them. I don't think so.

The way to reach them is to get to them through the media they are most fond of.

They watch Blaine. They watch Criss Angel. Have any of the clubs bought advertising on Mindfreak? What about the replays of the Blaine shows on cable?

Do any of the clubs have banner ads on the web sites of the "usual hangouts"?

I went over to "the green place" to see if anyone had put an ad in the Street Magic section. There is no ad there. The IBM and the SAM could certainly afford the price of an ad in that section.

Guest

Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2007, 4:06 pm

If the estimates of 20,000 "magicians" world-wide are correct, then the interest in history isn't as bad as we think when the various high-end publishers come out with books that run $100+ in editions of 1,000 and sell out.

Guest

Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2007, 4:34 pm

I recall maybe 20 years ago reading about a period of time where magic had seemingly become passe. I think it was the early 50's and the advent of television the article referred to. At that time Magicians had a tough time competing with that new media. Talking pictures had killed vaudeville in the 30's. television devastated the cinema in the 50's and the internet is a serious challenge to television today. But along came Mark Wilson and then Doug Hennig to revive it. I believe it is cyclical like many things and we don't know yet what will turn it around.
I think every generation at some point gets into this funk about it's present condition. But the show goes on.

Guest

Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2007, 9:52 pm

Some might continue to call this a "Golden Age", with media stars like Copperfield, Blaine, Angel, and others...considering what there was, before Henning, Copperfield, S&R.

I find it fascinating, to read old magic magazines, or The Billboard from the 1920's, with stars like Houdini, Thurston and many performing from vaudeville to sideshows, and the hand-wringing editorials and letters, crying, "Is magic dead?"

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Matthew Field
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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Matthew Field » November 7th, 2007, 3:13 am

See Maven, Max: "The Protocols of the Elders of Magic", Hermetic Press, Seattle, 2006.

Matt Field

Guest

Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 13th, 2007, 8:55 pm

Question: "For those of you who are not really interested in magic history, or dont agree about the important place of magic historians, etc., Id be grateful to hear why you feel this way, here or offline?"

75 messages. Please, I am not good in English. From that 75 posts - WHO WAS "not really interested in magic history" or "dont agree about the important place of magic historians"?

Please. Tell me I am not correct and you get a lot of answers from peoples who do not like history of magic offline... :-)))

Guest

Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 14th, 2007, 6:53 am

magicians who perform have no regard,
and don't care about the past
because they want to think they
invented everything that it is now.

without realizing that all that is here
today came from some idea of the past.

Guest

Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Guest » November 14th, 2007, 7:14 am

Originally posted by Stepanov Oleg:
...are not really interested in magic history, or dont agree about the important place of magic historians, etc"
You can tell quite a bit from our literature and market. Most simply - if we did have regard and respect for personal trust, secrecy and history there would be no doubt as to wrote the "erdnase" text - and the great inventions of folks like J. N. Hofzinser, Karl Germaine, Del Ray etc. would be available to all to enjoy, perform and evolve.

The price we pay for tolerating a sort of "benign neglect" of history is a great loss of wonders and good works brought forth by people who simply didn't want to see their works taken and sold in the streets and performed so badly as to bring pangs of guilt and a sense of shame when attending the muses.

So sad to see works floating out of context and disowned by the surviving families of those who invented them. Instead of enjoying a tradition of caring we get to watch celebrity dumpster diving and revelations made by those who were not entrusted by the inventors of the works they display.

If you know anyone who's invented anything or who simply loves our craft... get to know them and remember them and their works. You may well have to carry that history forward as a trust for a while.

Take your time parsing the above. It's vernacular English - email with any language or pertinant rhetorical questions.

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Kevin Connolly
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Re: WHY THE GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO MAGIC HISTORY?

Postby Kevin Connolly » November 14th, 2007, 8:45 am

Originally posted by mai-ling:
magicians who perform have no regard,
and don't care about the past....
Off the top my head, Kellar, Houdini and Copperfield all/are interested in magic history. They were/are on the top of their field in their eras and still showed interest in magic history.
Please visit my website.

http://houdinihimself.com/

I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.


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