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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Unethical? Amazing Irv's Handbook of Everyday Magic (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Necromancer
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I must say, I have some serious ethical reservations about this book.

This is a mass-market publication aimed at the beginning, never-done-any-magic-before readership, and is being distributed not only to bookstores, but to card shops (which is where I encountered it). Nevertheless, Mr. Furman has chosen to include such professional-grade effects as the Balducci Levitation and a watch effect whose secret has appeared in a recent book by Ted Lesley, among others.

The second issue is that Mr. Furman (who is clearly a knowledgeable member of the magic community, as owner of Hocus Pocus Magic in Philadelphia) has chosen not to credit a single inventor, choosing instead to treat all effects as if they were public domain.

To add insult to injury, while doing all the above, Mr. Furman's "About the author" implies that the SAM approves of his actions, by citing its supposed pronouncement of him as "the magician's magician." As a member of the SAM and its ethical stance within the magic community, I am personally angered at this implication.

If you are a member of the SAM, I hope you will encourage your leadership to send a clear message of disapproval to Mr. Furman for his actions. If you are simply a supporter of ethics in magic, I hope you will take your magic business elsewhere. I know I will.
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Tim Taylor
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Wow! I've heard all the talk about the levitation, but a Ted Lesley effect? What was he thinking? I thumbed thru it at the book store the other day and showed my wife that he revealed the the levitation but thought that was as far as he went.
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Dave Egleston
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It's amazing to me how you can be so surprised. Bozo the Clown showed the whole world that levitation about thirty years ago. That may have been my first trick before I ever had an interest in magic and as always, any magic book sold such as this is bought by parents, who will never look at it, for their kids. Besides, how else are we going to stir an interest in budding magicians if there are no general interest books available?

Dave
John Clarkson
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Bozo the Clown was an unrepentant exposer? One more cultural icon shot to Hades!
John D. Clarkson, S.O.B. (Sacred Omphaloskeptic Brotherhood)
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magiker
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Quote:
On 2003-02-15 17:09, Dave Egleston wrote:
Besides, how else are we going to stir an interest in budding magicians if there are no general interest books available?

Dave


How did you start?

When I started I had to search hard and long as there were no general interest books.

I'm all for helping budding magicians, but the line must be drawn somewhere.

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John Clarkson
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But that's precisely the point, isn't it? Where does one draw the line? Why do we not complain about "exposure" when Harry Lorayne writes a book on Himber Wallets that any 12 year old can buy off the shelf of a magic shop or on-line? And, how about Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic? Why do we not see these as exposure?

I am more offended by lack of credits than by the publication itself. If people are interested, they will buy the book. If it nourishes their interest, all the better. If they decide they are not interested further, my bet is they'll forget most of the stuff in the book anyway.

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Dave Egleston
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When I "started" to take an interest in magic, it was mostly because of Mark Wilson and the lovely Nani Darnell. Mr Wilson would teach a trick occasionally on the most rudimentary level.

It was fun. Then, as a teenager, I bought Hays' "Handbook for the Amateur Magician" and read it for exactly 1 1/2 hours and didn't look at another magic book for 25 years. Way too hard for my level and 3 minute attention span at that time.

I believe that's the way most magic books are received by youngsters and if you look and listen to most of the kids on this board, they essentially have no interest in learning from books either.

It makes me wonder, if video products were around when I was their age, would I have the same lack of respect for the written word as far as magic is concerned?

Dave
Paul
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re;
"But that's precisely the point, isn't it? Where does one draw the line? Why do we not complain about "exposure" when Harry Lorayne writes a book on Himber Wallets that any 12 year old can buy off the shelf of a magic shop or on-line?

Maybe because his book was aimed at existing magicians and sold through magicians' outlets rather than every book shop or greeting card store? And when it was written there probably weren't all the web outlets.

I have nothing particularly against beginners books aimed at children, but it is annoying sometimes the material which is included in these books without permission or credit.

I don't recall much fuss over Paul Harris's "Secrets For The Astonishing Executive" book some years back, which was aimed at the general public.

As you say though, JD, it is very difficult drawing the line. David Devant and Pat Page are people in Britain who were expelled from magical organizations in the past for writing magic books for the public.

Has anyone in the U.S.A. ever been thrown out of a magic society for writing a book for general bookshop distribution?

Paul.
John Clarkson
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Quote:
On 2003-02-16 10:15, Paul wrote:
...
As you say though, JD, it is very difficult drawing the line. David Devant and Pat Page are people in Britain who were expelled from magical organisations in the past for writing magic books for the public.

Has anyone in the U.S.A ever been thrown out of a magic society for writing a book for general bookshop distribution?

Paul.
I don't know, Paul, if anyone here has been expelled for writing a book aimed at the public. Actually, though, that characterization is not quite fair: these books are aimed at that part of the public that has, at least, some minimal interest in magic--just like cookbooks are aimed at that part of the public who want to cook, not necessarily at chefs or people who don't even want to be in a kitchen. "Magic For Dummies" has sparked a lot of interest in magic and has attracted new magicians, as did, in my day, Mark Wilson's book. Both are available in general bookstores.

Quote:
I don't recall much fuss over Paul Harris's "Secrets For The Astonishing Executive" book some years back which was aimed at the general public.
True enough, Paul. But I also don't see that magic has suffered any as a result of his book (or any of the other many books available on-line and in every major bookstore). I am willing to admit that I may just fail to recognize the damage done by these books, but it often seems that we magicians are a bit too touchy.

In my day, there was no internet. I got magic tricks from adverts in the back of comic books, and found magic books in the public library. Most of my peers weren't interested enough to check out the books and certainly did not have enough interest to save up their allowance to buy anything.

I think there is a stronger factor of self-selection than we might think in the audience for these books. Broadcasting on Fox Network, however, at least in my mind, steps over the line because the audience does not have to invest anything or make any effort to be exposed to our secrets. (Although, at the risk of sounding heretical, I have to say the Masked Magician's antics didn't upset me nearly so much as it appears to have disturbed some posters to the Café... but that's another topic...)

Back to your original question: I wonder how we find out who has been drummed out of a magical society here in the USA and on what basis? We could make a list and send them voodoo curses.

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John D. Clarkson, S.O.B. (Sacred Omphaloskeptic Brotherhood)
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Dave Egleston
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Unfortunately we don't take our organizations so seriously. I've dropped both SAM and IBM memberships. If these clubs took memberships a little more seriously and had a little clout in things magical and quit squabbling amongst themselves at the higher levels it would mean something to belong.

Paper tigers are always found out and always shunned.

As it is now, our magicians would use that as an advertising ploy.

"Come see the GREAT DAVE --- Banned by the two most Prestigious magical organizations in the world!!!!!!!"

Dave
John Clarkson
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Thanks, Dave. I let my membership in both lapse years ago and was beginning to have impure thoughts about reinstatement. Thanks for the reminder. So, I'll just keep the membership in the one magical organization to which I have belonged for 27 years.

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John D. Clarkson, S.O.B. (Sacred Omphaloskeptic Brotherhood)
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"There is nothing more important to a magician than keeping secrets. Probably because so many of them are Gay."
—Peggy, from King of the Hill (Sleight of Hank)
Steve Friedberg
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Dave:
You reminded me of an old Groucho Marx line..."I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me for a member."

:D

Now on a more serious note...Neil raises an interesting topic. Irv Furman is a staunch supporter of the magical arts. He runs his own shop in Philadelphia, and he's well-known to many. Yet, by exposing in print several effects, with a book aimed at the general public, how (for argument's sake) is he different than Brad Christian or others, who also make a buck by exposing and perhaps not crediting the originator?

This goes back to a point I've made several times, here and on the Genii Forum: unless an effect is copyrighted, and unless the copyright holder is willing to act on that copyright, any time you put an effect into the public, you're (unfortunately) losing control over it.

I know there are many here who will disagree; my friend Andy Leviss will say that unless we have specific permission from the effect's originator, we should not teach it to others...even if the originator has passed on.

There is no easy answer here, obviously. No cut-and-dried, one-size-fits-all response. We can only act in honorable ways that we truly believe are in the best interest of the art of magic.
Cheers,
Steve

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magiker
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Unfortunately, Magic societies don´t have any weight behind them. Someone breaks the rules, they get chucked out. Nothing else happens and the culprit is likely to get TV exposure as having been kicked out.

Yes, more credit should be given in any magic book to the originator.

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Necromancer
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John, I agree entirely with the idea of self-selection. When we took our first cracks at magic, we had to expend a base level of effort to gain access to the craft's mysteries: we had to actively seek out the appropriate books at the local library or book store. Later, we had to cross the threshold of a magic shop as a rite of passage before finding effects and books of a more professional grade.

I have no problem with beginning magic books; they are "outreach" materials for the craft. But as such, they should provide material that is appropriate to the audience that their marketing is addressing. This is a book being marketed to a large, passive audience -- a browser in a card shop, not an active seeker of magic books in a library or bookstore. There are no stacks to sort through; it's right there in the open, one of only a handful of titles. In this context, divulging professional-grade effects (uncredited, no less) to so broad a cross-section of the public seems quite inappropriate.
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Dave Egleston
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Mr. Clarkson writes: So, I'll just keep the membership in the one magical organization to which I have belonged for 27 years.

Which organization is that?

Like you, I don't get too upset over the so called expose shows and books. Most of my friends lost interest in The Masked Magician after the 2nd commercial. It just wasn't what they expected or wanted.

I haven't seen the book Neil is talking about, but once again: As you can see from this forum alone, the youngsters are more interested in video than getting a book and actually reading about it. We all forget about the vultures from Dover Books who picked up some of the classics of magic and reprint them for $6.99. They have a far greater potential for damage than "The Amazing Irv."

Dave
Necromancer
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Actually, I'm not worried about the Dover reprints. They're in the magic section of bookstores, not in displays at card shops.

Also, they're not automatic tricks -- I'd love to see more kids putting in the effort to learn something from T. Nelson Downs' Art of Magic.

Lastly, whether the kids are more interested in videos is immaterial to the question of whether or not Mr. Furman has acted unethically. I've just been told by Bruce Kalver that this situation is currently under review by the Ethics Committee of the SAM; we'll see what comes of it.
Creator of The Xpert (20 PAGES of reviews!) and the Hands-Off Multiple ESP System ("Quality and design far exceed any ESP cards on the market"-Genii), both at Penguin.
Steve Friedberg
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Quote:

On 2003-02-17 13:46, Dave Egleston wrote:
We all forget about the vultures from Dover Books who pick up some of the classics of magic and reprint them for $6.99, they have a far greater potential for damage than "The Amazing Irv"

Dave


Dave:
I've never thought of Dover as vultures...actually, as I sit here, I count three of their books in my collection, from Hugard. Books I never would have thought of owning if they hadn't called my attention to it...books which are truly classics...and books which most kids (and for that matter, adults) won't bother reading through because they're so antiquated in style and presentation.

What should I know about them?
Cheers,
Steve

"A trick does not fool the eyes, but fools the brain." -- John Mulholland
John Clarkson
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Quote:
On 2003-02-17 13:46, Dave Egleston wrote:
Mr. Clarkson writes: So, I'll just keep the membership in the one magical organization to which I have belonged for 27 years.

Which organization is that?
...
Dave
Dave,

I've been a regular (now called Magician) member of the Academy of Magical Arts (Magic Castle) since 1975. I've avoided becoming involved in the internal politics of that organization, too.

Smile

Quote:
On 2003-02-17 12:02, Necromancer wrote:
John, I agree entirely with the idea of self-selection. ...
I have no problem with beginning magic books; they are "outreach" materials for the craft. But as such, they should provide material that is appropriate to the audience that their marketing is addressing. This is a book being marketed to a large, passive audience -- a browser in a card shop, not an active seeker of magic books in a library or bookstore. There are no stacks to sort through; it's right there in the open, one of only a handful of titles. In this context, divulging professional-grade effects (uncredited, no less) to so broad a cross-section of the public seems quite inappropriate.
Neil, I've not looked at this particular book. I guess I am concerned a bit, though, about how we come up with any operational definition of what's an appropriate level, how to judge the intended audience, whether to fault the author, the publisher, or the distributor... there are just so many factors that seem insurmountable. Failing to make an effort to credit sources is something that is pretty easy to determine and rectify, so maybe we could start there.

Smile
John D. Clarkson, S.O.B. (Sacred Omphaloskeptic Brotherhood)
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kermitthefrog
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Suppose I decide to write a book in which I teach my twenty favorite card tricks. One by Larry Jennings, one by Harry Lorayne, one by Paul Harris, one by Paul Curry, etc. I write the tricks up in my own words and with my own drawings. I credit the creators. I call the result "The World's Best Card Tricks." It catches on and starts being sold at Barnes & Noble and similar stores. I make a bunch of money. Or I just create a website where I do this, and again I make a bunch of money.

Any trouble with this? I think so. (a) I think this would make me a type of thief of those other peoples' material. They created it; now I'm making money selling it. (b) I'm also reducing the value of the material by peddling it to the general public without respect for the norms that usually keep this stuff in magic stores.

As I see it, what I've just described is what ellusionist does. I understand that some people, especially young people, like ellusionist because that site turned them on to magic. But the fact remains that much of the material sold on that site fits the account and invites the criticisms just laid out. The first criticism could also be leveled at Michael Ammar because of his ETMCM tapes -- but not so much the second criticism.

KF
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Didn't Ammar get their permission to teach those effects?
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