all-around greatest living magician

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Jonathan Townsend
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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 5th, 2004, 6:22 am

Pretend for a moment we came to some sort of consensus that the winner is ********. Does this mean we should all try to be more like *******? Should we dress like ******** or do the same tricks as ********? What then is the purpose of the question and what would be the significance of an answer?

If you ask a layman, it's still gonna be Houdini, then maybe "that guy on TV" and if you are lucky they may remember David Copperfield, Doug Henning, David Blaine and perhaps Mark Wilson. Some may recall the TV series with Bill Bixby though that was over twenty years ago.

The rest is squabbling over crumbs that mean nothing to 99.999 percent of the six billion plus real people who live on this planet.

Continue squabbling. It reminds me of those critters who live in the castle in the movie "The Dark Crystal".
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Guest » November 5th, 2004, 8:55 am

I like the notion of measuring influence. After all, the Citation Indices are considered crucial to the measurement of value in the scientific literature. I recently made a list of the items I consider essential to my repertoire and their lineage. The names that kept reappearing were:

Vernon
Carney
Dingle
Roth
Nelson
York
Close
Latta

in roughly that order. Most of those guys are still living...

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 5th, 2004, 9:42 am

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
I like the notion of measuring influence. After all, the Citation Indices are considered crucial to the measurement of value in the scientific literature. I recently made a list of the items I consider essential to my repertoire and their lineage. The names that kept reappearing were:

Vernon
Carney
Dingle
Roth
Nelson
York
Close
Latta

in roughly that order. Most of those guys are still living...
and thus we have the second problem in this field, that of omitting honors to those who are the teachers of your idols.

Hofzinser
"Erdnase"
Slydini
T. Nelson Downs.
John Ramsay
...
long list there.

Just another reason this ranking idea is rank IMHO.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Bill Mullins
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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Bill Mullins » November 5th, 2004, 9:42 am

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
I like the notion of measuring influence. After all, the Citation Indices are considered crucial to the measurement of value in the scientific literature. I recently made a list of the items I consider essential to my repertoire and their lineage. The names that kept reappearing were:

Vernon
Carney
Dingle
Roth
Nelson
York
Close
Latta

in roughly that order. Most of those guys are still living...
Is that as much a reflection of their own original influence, as it is the fact that their published work is more available than that of their predecessors. For example, if Carney is #2 on the list, doesn't that de facto imply that Ramsay is pretty close behind him, since Ramsay is such a strong influence on Carney? While Ramsays books aren't unfindable, Carney's output is certainly more accessable, and since he currently does lectures, it is more likely that the average Joe has seen him perform and been able to take his lessons to heart. But many of the lessons themselves are in fact Ramsay's, filtered.

(And I'm not denigrating Carney or his contributions here. He's just a good example of the point I'm grasping for).

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Pete Biro
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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Pete Biro » November 5th, 2004, 9:48 am

INFLUENCES?

Hmmmmmmmmmm....

For me?

Jay Marshall
Roy Benson
Slydini
Larry Grey (The Dizzy Wizzard)
Glenn Haywood
Carl Ballantine
Victor Borga
My Father
Stay tooned.

Jon Racherbaumer
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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Jon Racherbaumer » November 5th, 2004, 10:17 am

What has not been said so far and perhaps only hinted at is that "influences" are personal and represent a single creative, synaptic link. They are also personal insofar as they DIRECTLY track back to magicians and writers that the person being influenced saw and read. Most of those magicians named so far are deserving "influencers;" however, if we track further back to who and what influenced THEM, we will likely discover the true giants--the ones with wide, muscular shoulders.

Where, for example, would Carney, Cervon, Jennings, Dingle, Close, Giobbi, and a host of others others be if they had not read Vernon, Marlo, Ramsay, Ross, Bobo, Hugard, and Braue?

These giants of course were also influenced by an earlier generation of the "best and brightest." But the ones I just quickly listed really took things to transcendent levels. Their influences were nuclear.

What we have today is a remarkable generation of superb INTERPRETERS who fix and finesse and in their zeal to pay homage to their teachers and tradition have kept the "bar" high and often have managed to leap higher.

Onward...

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Bill Palmer » November 5th, 2004, 10:42 am

If I were to consider the skills of the magicians I know personally, and have worked with, I would put John Thompson square at the top of the list of the all-around greatest living magicians. Let me explain why.

1) He has invented and performs (although not on a regular basis) several original illusions. A couple of his creations are in use on a daily basis in various Disney facilities.

2) His skills as a dove worker are right at the top. His influcence on dove magic is roughly equal to that of Channing Pollock.

3) His skills in non-card parlor magic, such as the egg bag, cups and balls, etc. are the equal of anyone.

4) His card work, if you aren't famiar with it, is definitely solid.

There are a lot of magicians on the previous lists who might be better in one field or another than Johnny, but there isn't a single one that can beat him in all of them.
Bill Palmer, MIMC

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Guest » November 5th, 2004, 2:41 pm

Hmmm...Probably Borges, or Tom Robbins or somebody...or maybe Antonio Carlos Jobim...don't know, it's a big world, and I don't agree with "bests", especially when you talk magic, which is such a big field. I guess I can clearly say that I wouldn't put any "magician" forward for the title of best Magician.

But then I don't suppose that means very much to you.

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2004, 5:10 pm

Billy McComb is one of my favorite choices, Ken Brooke, and Blackstone Jr.

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Guest » November 7th, 2004, 5:30 pm

I can throw out a list of wizards that I admire at a moment's notice. I can throw a list of those that have influenced and are influencing even sooner. So can you. Duh.

Just because I like their work doesn't mean I want to copy it. Doesn't mean I want to be just like them. Sim-ple Fact Is...I couldn't...regardless of any reason. Duh.

These days...I'm tangling cross-culture. I battle language, culture, society, and the very fabric of group dynamics.

This is alien to you and your perfect world. (Except you, Stewart.)

It's best that I'm just me. Hell or high water.

Wake up.

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Guest » November 8th, 2004, 10:04 am

Originally posted by Stuart Hooper:
But then I don't suppose that means very much to you.
Except you, MDR Friday! :) . Bravo...

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Guest » November 12th, 2004, 6:08 am

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
and thus we have the second problem in this field, that of omitting honors to those who are the teachers of your [influences].
The Scientific Citation Indices have this principle built in. If a Magical Citation Index existed, it would contain the citation of Ramsay in Carney's work, for example. An index of this sort is actually an effective method of measuring influence. And the beauty of a Magical Citation Index is manifold:
- prolificacy/prolixity would be normalized (i.e., those thirty-five variations are nice, but the community only cares about #12)
- it would represent the historic record in a public way without exposure
- it would direct students to the original works
- it could be entirely apolitical

Note that there is only a correlation, and not a direct relation between "greatness" and "influence", the latter being but a humble shadow of the former. Martin Joyal has the right idea:
V is for Vernon

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 12th, 2004, 6:27 am

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
...If a Magical Citation Index existed, ...
Who would put in the citations?

This is the sort of project one might wish to look at in the large after things like Expert Card Technique are cleaned up. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon from the works Magic Christian is releasing on Hofzinser.

Till then, one might well cite Michael Ammar and David Blaine for most of the card magic seen.

Magic is at two forks in the road. On one side, its secrets are very close to open access and mass distribution. On the other road, the mean education of its constituents is sufficient to set down some rigorous standards for publication and citation.

These two highways connect at a cloverleaf of ego and community ethics. As when driving somehere, a failure to take the proper turnoffs will lead you to where you might not want to go. Also, as with driving, like it or not, we are moving at a fast clip and where we wind up is not just a matter of time, but of choices.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Guest » November 12th, 2004, 6:56 am

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Who would put in the citations?
I seem to recall that John Bannon had a great short-list of "convincing control" citations (in Impossibilia, if memory serves). The Annotated Erdnase was also a fabulous collection of proto-citations and cross-references. We need to develop a culture of citation, of course, and what better place to socialize the idea than the forum of the most influential publisher in the magic world? Publishers will also catch on to the fact that the habit of citation has the added benefit that an interest in older works is extended. I'd argue that the present needs to shame the past into proper citation, rather than there being any need to tidy up ECT.
Till then, one might well cite Michael Ammar and David Blaine for most of the card magic seen.
There would be nothing "well" about those citations. However, if such an attitude were collective, the prophecy would be self-fulfilling.

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 12th, 2004, 7:57 am

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
... The Annotated Erdnase [ had a ]collection of proto-citations and cross-references. ... I'd argue that the present needs to shame the past into proper citation.
How many times do you need to see a citation to Blaine's Two Card Monte or Ammar's Shadow Coins? Till there is sufficient shame, there may not be much of a future. Folks seem to have forgotten about Ross Bertram's handling of the Cap and Pence, and many other items lost to popularity as opposed to merit.

The card stuff may as well get cleaned up at the level of Expert Card Technique. The card material in the Robert-Houdin and Downs books might prove useful to annotate. Some here have gone back and researched works of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. From this we could get a good perspective on the contributions of others. Just where does Hofzinser fit in all this?

If proper honors are bestowed to Miller and Vernon and others, there may well be enough good faith to get the Hofzinser material into the light of day. A properly cited revision of the Hoffmann books would also help the situation.

There is much work to be done. The good works of all involved will stand, perhaps not as large as imagined, though certainly clean of the mire of the gutter.

Such are the choices along the path of scholarly efforts. How big a pile of mire do we wish to admire? And at from what distance?

We can admire and respect the showmanship of some, and the technical contributions of others. We can admire the entrepreneurial spirit of those who make/made a career of performing and selling the works of others.

I happen to like Michael Ammar. When we met in 83 he seemed a good guy and was careful to cite the folks whose works he presented.

What can come of this? Perhaps a larger market for older books. Perhaps we will share a deeper respect for the materials and ideas that make our craft so special among the performing arts.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Guest » November 12th, 2004, 9:14 am

Pat Page is not only a great performer, he knows how to handle an unruly crowd. When he lectured at our club a few years back, it was a pure delight to watch him flame the knuckleheaded tyros who kept asking the same get-ready questions over and over.

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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Guest » November 12th, 2004, 11:03 am

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
How many times do you need to see a citation to Blaine's Two Card Monte or Ammar's Shadow Coins?
It seems like more clarity on the concept is necessary: citations appearing on middle school blogs do not receive an entry in a Citation Index. Peer-reviewed and industry-published works only, thanks.

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: all-around greatest living magician

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 12th, 2004, 11:21 am

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
...Peer-reviewed and industry-published works only...
And there you find another issue or two.

Peers? Last I heard, some folks were free to publish the secrets of others. Or have things changed in the last couple of weeks? Historically, matters of peerage have been, at best, political.

Industry published? The interests of commerce are not necessarily the same as those of scholars. One wants a product to sell. The other may desire to keep some integrity with their record keeping. Remember we are speaking of a community of people, not ideals.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


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