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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Review of "Strong Magic" by Darwin Ortiz (52 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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necro555
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As I said, every chapter has specific and concrete advice. If you walk away, after reading, thinking that everything was vague, then you've obviously missed something. If you walked away thinking the advice Darwin gave was wrong, then I would probably disagree but at least would have thought that you gave the book some serious thought. Since it's clear you've hardly made a genuine effort to understand the book, why we should do the work and spoon feed you answers is beyond me.

Why do I say that you didn't make a genuine effort? Because you didn't mention any specific parts or sections that you disagreed with (or found unhelpful). At least the "good" negative reviews of Strong Magic actually discuss parts they didn't like. You've just said that you didn't find anything helpful and asked others to do the work for you. As ASW said, it's lazy.

If you've read some of the past posts from Artie and ASW, you will see that where there is genuine criticism or discussion on something, they actually gave constructive answers.
Doug Peters
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The question was: "what did you learn from the book".

If the book is one fraction as valuable as you suggest, surely its readers should make concrete changes to some effect they perform as a result of reading it.

Strangely, only one of the people on this thread has even claimed to have done such a thing (without details, but no biggie -- these would all be personal, of course).

If you can't (at least) do the same, I'll just add you to the long list of people incapable or unwilling to answer the question, instead choosing to groundlessly insult someone you don't know.
"if you have any answers, it's time to ask harder questions!"
R2D2
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Yeah, I agree Doug. I don't think people should be afraid to provide concrete examples of what they learned. I think it would be a great discussion.

I hope this isn't one of these situations where people are just afraid of mildly insulting (or just not complimenting the heck out of) some other magician. Certain people seem on the list of guys you *have* to compliment ("buy *anything* from author X", "how dare you disagree with author Y; we are blessed to have him on this board") while others are fair game.
Doug Peters
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Thanks, R2 - I loved "the Annotated Erdnase" and "Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table".
I would still like to understand why "Strong Magic" (for all its glowing reviews) left me flat.

But at this stage in the thread, I'm exceedingly curious about the open hostility.
A psychologist might suggest that it is evidence of cognitive dissonance -- almost a religious reaction to a perceived challenge.
"if you have any answers, it's time to ask harder questions!"
ASW
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Quote:
On Feb 17, 2017, Doug Peters wrote:
Thanks, R2 - I loved "the Annotated Erdnase" and "Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table".
I would still like to understand why "Strong Magic" (for all its glowing reviews) left me flat.

But at this stage in the thread, I'm exceedingly curious about the open hostility.
A psychologist might suggest that it is evidence of cognitive dissonance -- almost a religious reaction to a perceived challenge.


Not a neurotic defence to an existential challenge in my case. But certainly cognitive dissonance at the idea that someone could read the book and not identify a single piece of practical advice. So if my responses upset you, my apologies. I genuinely thought you were just pulling our legs.

The biggest problem with Strong Magic is that it has been heavily and maliciously politicised by its original publisher and some early reviewers who had undisclosed enmities and jealousies relating to Ortiz, or who subjectively didn't like Ortiz's style (despite its commercial success) so didn't like the idea of Ortiz penning such a book. (One of those reviewers in the latter category is a good friend of mine who likes my own style of performance even though it's a product of Darwin's mentoring. Irony!)

Anyway, if you are seriously at a loss to identify any practical advice in the book, I could reread it and email you some page references. I am busy with a PhD submission, editing an essay for publication and editing a friend's magic book so I couldn't get to it for a month or two.
Whenever I find myself gripping anything too tightly I just ask myself "How would Guy Hollingworth hold this?"

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Doug Peters
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Thanks for the offer, Andrew.
But honestly, I was more interested if people were willing to share what they learned from the book.
Here's the thing: if the book is as good as people say, then the lessons learned should be near at hand, no?

I'm kind of oblivious to politics (does it show? :-D ), and while I'm not a big fan of Ortiz style, I certainly have no ill feelings toward the man.
Good luck with that PhD!
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Ado
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I've learned that
- some people shared my vision of what magic could be, if magicians made an effort
- that constructing a trick/effect is difficult
- that more isn't better (in his anecdote on the end of Paul Harris' reset)
- that magicians stop thinking too early (to quote Vernon)
- I don't remember much about it and I should read it again, take notes, and make the contents of that book a second nature.

One could argue that most of the book is common sense. But given that most magicians are Biffs (to borrow from Ken Weber), I think it's a very use book about how to be have a critical understanding of some important points that allow the audiences to tell apart great magicians from the rest.

P!
necro555
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Quote:
On Feb 17, 2017, Doug Peters wrote:
If you can't (at least) do the same, I'll just add you to the long list of people incapable or unwilling to answer the question, instead choosing to groundlessly insult someone you don't know.


Fine. To very briefly answer your question in bullet points I'll pick a random chapter from the book (i.e. the chapter on Conviction). A couple things I learned:

- Emotional Memory vs Intellectual Memory ("The more time that elapses between closing the hand around the coin and opening the hand to show the coin gone, the less strongly the audience feels in their gut that it must be there." - i.e. the spectator's emotional conviction of the coin being in your hand reduces as more time elapses, thus resulting in a weaker effect)

- Deteriorating Conviction (For several effects, while there may be a high degree of conviction at the beginning, the structure/progression of the effect weakens the spectator's conviction at each phase). For example, if you do an ace assembly where you lay the aces in a T formation (which have been switched) and the first ace joins the leader ace, the spectator is surprised/amazed. When the second ace joins the leader, the spectator starts to wonder whether the cards laid out in the beginning were really all aces. By the time the last ace travels, the spectator's conviction that "the cards laid out initially were aces" has deteriorated and concludes that some kind of switch must have occurred.

The rest of the chapter goes into many more details such as The Must-Believe Test, Accidental and Incidental Convincers, etc.

The above are just a couple examples of theories that helped change the way I think about the structure and selection of my effects. While I only used bullet points above and briefly mentioned what it was about, the book goes into a lot more details about each individual point with more examples and solutions. I can't go into more detail because it's not my book, but you can easily look it up and re-read the chapter(s). It's hard to write about what I found helpful when I found almost the entire book helpful.

As for "insulting", I've only commented on how I feel you've reacted to the book. As I said before, it's one thing to disagree with the advice in the book (which implicitly suggests there's actual advice in the book to disagree with) and it's another to imply that you found no practical or concrete advice in the book (in which case I feel you may have just skimmed the book). I do have grounds to comment on your posts/reaction to the book because you didn't lay out any specific ideas you disagreed with. What I didn't do is insult or personally attack you as a person.
Doug Peters
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Thank you, Necro, for the time and effort taken.

I hope you don't mind, but let me take your two examples and explain why I don't find them "specific" or "practical"

As for the first principle, surely there must be a "golden mean": that is, if you open the hand pretending to hold the coin too quickly that will certainly also result in a weaker effect. The point is granted, of course (i.e., I agree with Ortiz). But unless there is some optimization measure, it is difficult to apply.

As for the second principle, I still perform Ortiz' Modern Jazz Aces (from his At the Table book), which (as you likely know) involves exactly the T formation of face-down Aces mentioned. And I expect that Ortiz still performs it, too. So the question that arises is: "what do we do with this information?" The point is once again granted. Its application is not at all obvious.
"if you have any answers, it's time to ask harder questions!"
RiffRaff
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Many years ago, Doug asked the same question. I provided him with specific, concrete examples which he quicly dismissed. He's not looking for enlightenment; he's looking for an argument.
Doug Peters
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RiffRaff - link or didn't happen Smile
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RiffRaff
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Buskers Café Americain, I believe.
And it did happen.
Doug Peters
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Failing that link, you could always reproduce one "specific, concrete example"?
"if you have any answers, it's time to ask harder questions!"
Tim Cavendish
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Sometimes the winning move is not to play.
RiffRaff
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Greetings, professor Falken.
ASW
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Quote:
On Feb 23, 2017, RiffRaff wrote:
Many years ago, Doug asked the same question. I provided him with specific, concrete examples which he quicly dismissed. He's not looking for enlightenment; he's looking for an argument.


If true, that's somewhat depressing.
Whenever I find myself gripping anything too tightly I just ask myself "How would Guy Hollingworth hold this?"

A magician on the Genii Forum

"I would respect VIPs if they respect history."

Hideo Kato
Renoire
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YES. Unfortunately most authors still live in the stone age and don't get it.

We (the PAYING PUBLIC) DEMAND - yes, "DEMAND" that content be made available in the format WE WANT - not what their publisher wishes. IT'S CALLED THE iPad - the iPhone.

GET IT TOGETHER - SOON - or people will simply TAKE your book and SCAN it into a PDF and we will be stuck with crappy copies on our electronic devices.

COMPLETELY WILLING TO PAY YOU FOR AN EXCELLENT ELECTRONIC VERSION (Searchable) of your GREAT Work - but I will NEVER pay your a penny for your Strong Magic ****BOOK*****

ps: STOP KILLING TREES !!


Quote:
On Jan 15, 2016, Kjellstrom wrote:
I have a wish: I would like to have this book as an ebook and an audiobook.
Very handy when you travel or have freetime, just pick up your smart phone and get access...
You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. BUTT If you round out your edges - you lose your edge.
rnaviaux
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I have no desire to rewrite this book but am willing to summate what I got out of this: 1. Find out exactly what it is you are trying to communicate with you trick, routine, act and/or show. 2. Include those elements that contribute to this communication. 3. Remove those elements that don't contribute to this.

Mr. Ortiz provides a list of factors to consider along these lines. Much like a movie maker has to worry about set design, lighting, sound, mood, characters, etc. a magician has a list of aspects that can affect the quality of the communication that he is trying to affect via some magic effect. I find this has given me a lense through which to more critically evaluate any effect I might perform down to the exact facial expressions, words and movements I might make in an effect.

All of this is weighed against the final effect. Darwin mentions "audience impact" as being the standard by which one judges the effectiveness of what one is doing. I think this goes back to idea that is being communicated and how well can you communicate it.

A specific thing I am working on is how to make what I do not corny. More natural and real. It's amazing how hard I have to work to take a simple effect and excise the things that I do to that make it look like I am "performing" so as to get a more focused result. This book provides a map of sorts to find areas to improve I wouldn't have thought of before.

Mr. Kaufman once made a comment that the book was useless for any competent practitioner as they should already know this information. (This was years ago.) This may well be true but for someone that doesn't already "know all about it" (like myself) this is an invaluable guidebook.

A specific point that seemed to really cause some angst was the comment about "no room for challenge" in magic. Well that one idea alone is worthy of serious contemplation. I no longer ask an audience to say "how many cards are there" or "what card do you have?" and then prove him wrong. I think this is just a lazy way of insuring you have conviction. I have changed several patter lines as a result. But it goes deeper than that of course and raises new problems that need to be solved not all of which I have answered to my satisfaction. (No need to hash it all out here.)

One benefit of reading this book is I went from "tricks are cool" to having a much finer sensibility of the construction of effects and routines. Rightly or wrongly I now have opinions and am willing to dig in to a routine and find out what makes it work and adjust it to make it work better, or fail in the attempt:)

An example is Darwin's Signature Effect - I have a love/hate relationship with this effect and have been performing it for close to 17 years now. I have found there are several points in the routine that if you go too fast or waste time then you lose impact and raise suspicion. Using various tools in Strong Magic has helped me to observe these points and not ignore them, learn from what is happening and then put into practice exact technical solutions. Admittedly, some of these changes are minor and I may be accused of overthinking the routine. But I enjoy the work and it's fun to analyze and talk about which might be the greatest benefit I have gotten from the book. Your mileage may vary:)

Disclaimer - I am a real fan of all of Ortiz's published material.
ASW
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On May 5, 2017, rnaviaux wrote:
Mr. Kaufman once made a comment that the book was useless for any competent practitioner as they should already know this information. (This was years ago.) This may well be true but for someone that doesn't already "know all about it" (like myself) this is an invaluable guidebook.


The irony is that Kaufman isn't a competent practitioner [in the sense of a professional entertainer]. He does however do tricks for friends. Clearly this isn't the book for him, but at the same time he's hardly qualified to judge. Not merely on the basis that he isn't a mature performer or that he lacks the desire to elevate his performance abilities above an amateur level. As I understand it he didn't even want to publish the book and fought against doing so because he thought it would be a commercial failure. He was completely wrong as it is one of the best selling books in magic history. I'm sure he's still smarting about having to relinquish the rights to the author, who has since reprinted and sold out several times and has sold publishing rights in non-English speaking markets.

I enjoyed your post.
Whenever I find myself gripping anything too tightly I just ask myself "How would Guy Hollingworth hold this?"

A magician on the Genii Forum

"I would respect VIPs if they respect history."

Hideo Kato
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