Goethe and magic

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
MitsuMatsu
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Goethe and magic

Postby MitsuMatsu » December 3rd, 2014, 6:29 am

I think Johann Wolfgang von Goethe loved magic.
Does anyone know whether he was an amateur magician?
If so, is there any evidence or quote that indicates so?

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 3rd, 2014, 7:57 am

MitsuMatsu wrote:I think Johann Wolfgang von Goethe loved magic.
...


What led you think he liked magic as distinct from the mysteries of nature or the human heart?

Newton, Goethe and Albers all worked at exploring the notion of color. Of the three it seems only Newton was privately open to pondering the intent/will of the observer as a possible cause.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 3rd, 2014, 11:40 am

Goethe bought a magic set for his nephew (I think) in the early 1800s. The magic set is in the Goethe Museum. It has been documented in the book Zauberkasten by Wittus Witt.
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MitsuMatsu
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby MitsuMatsu » December 3rd, 2014, 6:41 pm

Thank you.
I understand there is no evidence showing Goethe as an amateur magician who left some interesting anecdote on magic and its performance.

Richard Hatch
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby Richard Hatch » December 3rd, 2014, 8:28 pm

Here's a blog on Goethe's connections to magic:
http://cuentacuentos.blog.de/2011/11/08 ... -12137403/
Goethe ordered a magic set in November 1830 as a Christmas gift for his grandson Walter and in July 1831 had Ludwig Doebler coach Walter in a performance. This resulted in Goethe writing an oft quoted couplet in Doebler's honor. Goethe's correspondence about the magic set notes that he felt it would be good training for the grandson to learn public speaking, etc.

MitsuMatsu
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby MitsuMatsu » December 3rd, 2014, 9:40 pm

Thank you Richard for telling the blog and your translation into English. It is very much intersting!

Edwin Corrie
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby Edwin Corrie » December 4th, 2014, 3:29 am

There's another article here:

http://www.academia.edu/2135810/Entzauberk%C3%A4sten._Zur_Fr%C3%BChgeschichte_eines_paradoxen_Spiel_zeug_s

Also a summary in plain text (with most of the information about Goethe) that you can copy and paste into Google Translate to get a general idea of what it says:

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-211-69313-1_16

The information about Goethe is more or less as given by the two Richards above - i.e. Goethe himself didn't really do any magic, but he thought it would be worthwhile for his grandson (even though he refers to magic tricks as "Torheiten" (= foolishness)) and hired Döbler to give him lessons .

The rest of the article is about old magic sets in general and the sorts of tricks found in them. A detailed description of the contents of the Goethe set is given on page 243 of the article, with photos. The Goethe set if from 1830, but the article also mentions an even older one from around 1800, owned by a Swiss collector.

If Andrew Pinard is reading this (hi Andrew), one of the sets includes a pre-folded Troublewit.

MitsuMatsu
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby MitsuMatsu » December 5th, 2014, 8:32 am

Hi, Edwin Corrie
Thank you for the additional info. A detailed description of the contents of the Goethe set is especially interesting!

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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 5th, 2014, 8:48 am

To describe magic as folly is something of an improvement from Lucilius on trickery. "Not to know them does no harm, and mastering them does no good."
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

MitsuMatsu
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby MitsuMatsu » December 6th, 2014, 3:54 am

Thanks Jonathan,
Is the words "Not to know them does no harm, and mastering them does no good" of Seneca, right?

Edwin Corrie
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby Edwin Corrie » December 6th, 2014, 4:24 am

Yes, it's Seneca, in a letter to Lucilius, but he's actually referring to sophistry and the techniques of rhetoric, and comparing them to sleight of hand.

Seneca said:

Then, too, the man who is asked whether he has horns on his head[1] is not such a fool as to feel for them on his forehead, nor again so silly or dense that you can persuade him by means of argumentation, no matter how subtle, that he does not know the facts. Such quibbles are just as harmlessly deceptive as the juggler's cup and dice, in which it is the very trickery that pleases me. But show me how the trick is done, and I have lost my interest therein. And I hold the same opinion about these tricky word-plays; for by what other name can one call such sophistries? Not to know them does no harm, and mastering them does no good.


[url]http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Moral_letters_to_Lucilius/Letter_45
[/url]

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Andrew Pinard
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Re: Goethe and magic

Postby Andrew Pinard » December 13th, 2014, 9:28 am

For Edwin Corrie (if you are reading this):

Thanks for bringing the troublewit reference to my attention! I have corresponded with Wittus Witt and have the reference from his book on magic sets, but will check the article out as well...

Back to Goethe!

ajp


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