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cafeinst
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I'm not so new to magic; the first time I did magic was maybe 35 years ago. I learned then that a magician shouldn't give away his secrets. I never really questioned this principle until now. What is the reason for this?

Isn't sharing knowledge a good thing? For instance, you can learn pretty much anything on the internet, except magic secrets. Granted, many tricks have been exposed on the internet, but most have not.

Craig
zippyfix
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In my oppinion it all depends on who and why you share. If I meet a fellow magician who honestly wants to learn a trick that I know I will usually show them how its done. Of course if its a trick that requires a gaff I will normally point them to the place I got the trick so that they can purchase it themselves. I wont ever teach anything that have bought because I don't have a right to it.

Now to a lay person I would never show how to do a trick. To show them is to remove the magic and mystery to the trick. I feel the heart and soul of magic is that it appears well magical. That something that shouldnt happen did and they don't know why.

Do you remember when you were a child and your parents told you a certain jolly fella wasnt real. I still recall that, and my world became less magical, less special.

So yes sharing knowlege with people that want to learn magic for the right reasons is a good thing. Sharing just becasue someone wants to know how a trick is done is not.
Johnny Butterfield
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To a layperson, "magic" is outside of normal cause and effect - its cause is outside nature.

To reveal the cause changes it from "inexplicable event" to "mundane, sneaky thing."

It's miraculous if coins go from one hand to the other with no possible cause within nature.

It's mundane if the coins go from one hand to the other due to some technique.

That's how I see it, anyway.
The current economic crisis is due to all the coins I've vanished.
The poster formerly known as Fman111.
B Hackler
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So you mean to tell me that the jolly fella isn't real? (LOL)

I totally agree with everything said about not exposing the secrets. If all of the secrets were out what would be the point of being a magician. Lay people look at magician as sombody that can make the impossible happen. Well without secrets the impossible can't happen.
funsway
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Whiel in agreement, it is sometimes a good idea to teach an audience how to do a trick -- something simple like Aair's Butterflies, that si a puzzle rather than a trick. At a party of 12 yr olds you can send each home with a special memory and might plant a seed of magic for their entire life. This also diverts any request of how to show them something else as they all sware not to reveal how thier new trick is done.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
Ed_Millis
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Quote:
On 2009-09-24 12:16, Fman111 wrote:
To a layperson, "magic" is outside of normal cause and effect - its cause is outside nature.
To reveal the cause changes it from "inexplicable event" to "mundane, sneaky thing."
It's miraculous if coins go from one hand to the other with no possible cause within nature.
It's mundane if the coins go from one hand to the other due to some technique.
That's how I see it, anyway.


That's basically the answer from an entertainment perspective. If the audience is simply watching you manipulate things, magic loses most of its entertainment value. It's different than watching a good guitar player - there I am only enjoying his technique and the results; in magic, they don't want to see or even know about the technique. It's like seeing the wires when Superman flies - you are jarred out of your word of wonder.

From a business perspective, there are people who sweat blood and invested great time and energy into creating and publishing tricks and routines. Don't they deserve their just due profits? If you believe this, you'll honor them by not giving away their creations for free.

Third, there is much to be said for not giving it all up even to someone who claims to be a magician. We tend to value what we work for much more than what we are simply given. Sometimes it's better to point them to a book or other learning resource and require them to "pay their dues". If you have to dig the method out of a book and work at refining it to fit your performing method, it will be "yours" much more than if someone just gave it to you.

And that part about making it fit "your" performance helps new magicians by (a) helping them to figure out who they are and why they are doing _that_ move, and (b) moving them away from simply being a copy of someone else.

Ed
scaevola
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"Third, there is much to be said for not giving it all up even to someone who claims to be a magician. We tend to value what we work for much more than what we are simply given. Sometimes it's better to point them to a book or other learning resource and require them to "pay their dues". If you have to dig the method out of a book and work at refining it to fit your performing method, it will be "yours" much more than if someone just gave it to you.
"
That hits the nail on the head for me. I spend hours, weeks, years working on my shift. If someone asks me how I do it, I could just say "I cut the cards when you weren't looking." But that is a trivializing of a lot of dues that have been paid.
Brad Burt
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The rule enjoins us to not give secrets up to those who are 'not' in the craft. Magic is the only art and craft that is not helped by exposure to the public at large. Secrets are kind of the point really. They form the bedrock upon which the exoskeleton of ENTERTAINMENT is then attached. Someone who both 'fools' folks AND entertains them is called a 'magician'.

The sharing of secrets within the craft takes place all the time. Once one has 50 posts here on the Café access is discovered to a stunning number of things magic and related to every aspect thereof.

The reticence of some online to 'help' a newcomer is just the way we try and make sure that we are not 'giving up' our hard earned knowledge to the merely curious.

That's the real problem with telling a layperson 'how' something is accomplished. Mere curiosity is simply not a sufficient reason to assuage their desire to 'know' how something that amazed (fooled) them was done.

"Keep your friends close", the old magi said to the younger, "...and keep your secrets closer." Or, something like that.

Best,
Brad Burt
DWRackley
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I’m starting to write before I read anyone else’s reply, because I don’t want my answer to be influenced by others whom I respect. I believe there are a number of excuses put forth as reasons, but here’s my thinking on it.

You shouldn’t reveal how a trick is done because truly, your audience doesn’t want to know. Oh, they’ll beg and cajole, and maybe even try to trip you up to catch a glimpse. But if you actually show them how it’s done, the magic is gone. In fact, they might actually be insulted or embarrassed that you fooled them so easily. Let’s face it, much of magic isn’t really that hard to figure out, once you understand a handful of basic principles.

No doubt, you’ve experienced this yourself when you buy a new trick, hyped up on the sales pitch, and then discover “That’s it?!?” I already knew that. Or it’s just like (fill-in-the-blank). Or (worst of all) I could have gotten that at Wal-Mart!

And the really tragic part of it is that at that exact moment, YOU are transformed in their eyes. You are no longer a maker of miracles, or even a carrier of clever conundrums. You are no more than a juggler, less than that if your tricks depend on gimmicks. In their minds, all they have to do is go to the shop where you bought your toys, and they will have all your “powers”.

If someone REALLY wants to learn to do magic, it’s not that hard, but he does have to put forth SOME effort. That’s what separates us from them. If they were interested on the same level you are, they’d know how it’s done, and they’d know why you don’t tell. But to the casual “observer’, it’s just for fun anyway. And knowing the answer, they move on to the next “fascinating” thing. (You spent HOW MANY HOURS practicing that flourish?!? You should get a life!)

All those other “reasons” put forth, are valid as well: You spoil it for other magicians, it takes the fun out of it, it cheapens the genre, etc. But the origin for all of that, IMO, is what happens in the mind of your audience. It’s too high a price.

Burt...
Quote:
Magic is the only art and craft that is not helped by exposure to the public at large.


...well, it's not the ONLY one, but if I told you the other, we'd have to kill you...
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...what if I could read your mind?

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funsway
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Quote:
On 2009-09-25 00:45, DWRackley wrote:
If someone REALLY wants to learn to do magic, it’s not that hard, but he does have to put forth SOME effort.


Is that not true of every field if endeavor today? Too many people want the rewards without putting in the effort -- in relationships, careers and personal development. The desire for instant gratifiation with a total lack of accountability is destroying much of what is good in our culture IMHO. So, it is more important han ever for magciains not to cave into the 'gimmy' mentality. Even as a mentor I will teach one effect at a time. You don't get a second one until you achieve some mastery in the first. The key is that is that if magicians do have integrity, why should they expect that of the audience? It's a matter of respect -- which is what you said above, of course.

Good post!
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
zippyfix
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Im glad to see we are all of simular mind

I would never show a trick to anyone that "claimed" to be a magician. I would either make them prove it to me by showing me a trick or make sure it is in a setting where lay people arnt around (an IBM meeting for example).

Maybe it's just me but I really never "get" a trick when its just in a book. I know I must be dense or something. But I learn by doing, and to have someone show me how its done. I can then take what I learned and make it my own. So I guess that's why I don't mind showing someone else the ropes as well.

I will even confess to having watched the "Masked Moron" because I delight in the how its done parts. For me its differant though Im not "ruined" on the trick to me it just stirs my imagination, gosh I think I could do that. Maybe if I just tweeked this it would look even better etc

Ive even watched a illusion that has been exposed and that I know the secret to. And Im still in awe for the most part. Im watching an atist at work, just because I know what kind of paint and canvas was used doesn't mean I can paint the Mona Lisa. Im still in awe of how much I have to learn

That being said I feel it still wrong to inform the public. I have magic in me. I have since I was a small child. Most people really don't care how a trick is done. They want to know simply to see if you will show them.

I like the term "craft" by the way. It brings me to my point, Magic is beautiful because you are seeing things that inspire you, that make you think. You are watching a true "Craftsman" at work.

Magic should stay magical
RobertlewisIR
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I tend to agree.

Think about a trick you purchased. I know we've all done it. The video advertising it online blew you away and you just HAD to learn the secret behind this trick. Or the guy at the magic shop blew you away, and it was the same story. Or whatever. And then you get it hope, look at the gimmicks or read the instructions or watch the DVD, and you get that disappointed look on your face. "Oh," you sigh, "so THAT'S how it's done."

Honestly speaking, there are very, very few effects with elegant methods. They look good when all the secrets are covered up, but exposed to the light of day, they're just clever (sometimes not even very clever) manipulations. The real magic is in the mystery.

As conjurors, we tend to have a higher level of appreciation for cleverness of gaffs or methods. We see effects in a different way, and can feel a certain sense of wonder, or at the very least respect, when we see something particularly clever. Laypeople view our art in a completely different way. Without the background of studying the craft even just a little bit, even the methods that we think are elegant will seem horrendously mundane to the average spectator.

So if even we are sometimes unimpressed upon learning the secret to an effect, just imagine what the layperson would think!

Allow me to try to make my point in another way, by using a very good friend of mine as an example. In addition to being a conjuror, I'm also a writer (primarily horror). My friend is also a writer, and is not a conjuror. I would be willing to bet that a large number of you enjoy a good novel from time to time, and I would further be willing to bet that most of you are probably not authors.

When you read a good book, the sort that pulls you right into the story and makes you forget everything else, a sort of magic takes place. You're brought into another reality, completely divorced from the reality we inhabit from day to day. You enjoy the ride, but most people who aren't writers don't have the foggiest idea what actually goes into the creation of that novel, and would be bored to tears listening to a group of writers discussing their craft. That's because, like in magic, the actual work behind writing a novel is not particularly sexy, nor is it interesting to laypeople.

Back to my friend. As writers, we can discuss literature from a certain perspective that non-writers cannot. We can discuss the craft of writing, pick a novel apart, put it back together, and discover the secrets behind the magic that is literature. But my friend is not a conjuror, so he has absolutely no interest in learning the secrets behind my other art any more than those of you who don't write would care to listen in on one of our lengthy debates on plot and characterization or the merits of adverbs.

My friend is honest enough with himself to realize this. When he first learned I did a bit of magic, he said, "you'll have to show me something, but I don't want to know how it's done." Of course, I wouldn't have told him anyway, but I appreciate that he's content to just enjoy the magic and not try to figure it out. Most laypeople (yes, even the ones who will beg and scream and cry and offer their first born son to get the secret) are actually just the same, but too stubborn to admit it. Once they know the secret, the magic is gone, and what's left is the sort of mechanical knowledge that's only interesting to another practitioner.

Magic requires mystery.

However, to this I will add another thought: that perhaps too much emphasis is placed on the keeping of secrets. If all you have are secrets, you're not a performer of magic, you're a worker of tricks, a manipulator of apparatus. To be truly magical, you must transcend the secrets and achieve a level of artistry. When you can fool someone even though they DO know the secret (or at least entertain and amaze them despite this knowledge), THEN you've got something really magical.

I think Penn & Teller's cups and balls routine is a perfect example of this. When they do the trick for a second time with the clear plastic cups, everyone sees the secrets. And yet, despite this extra knowledge, the audience is still fooled to a point, and amazed even more. Because even though the audience can tell when they execute the moves, the audience still can't actually see most of the moves taking place. Their skill and presentation creates an experience that, in my opinion, is even more magical than their first time through the routine with the opaque cups.

So I would say that disclosure of secrets to a lay audience is sometimes, but rarely, acceptable. The condition is that it must be done in such a way as to enhance, rather than undercut, the magical experience.

I would also add that disclosure of secrets being used to harm or defraud the public is not a matter of artistic merit, but one of human morality. So if someone is standing on a stage pretending to talk to the deceased relatives of their audience members (and claiming to really do so, rather than just as part of an act), or cheating someone out of money with a Three Card Monte routine, I feel that it is our duty as legitimate entertainers to expose the secrets (or at the very least, the nature) of their operation simply as a public service.
~Bob



----------



Last night, I dreamed I ate the world's largest marshmallow. When I woke up, the pillow was gone.
funsway
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It is great to have a new person wade in with valuable things to say, and the willingness to do so. Perhaps it the willingness to do things that others will not is the hallmark of a magician. I hope so.

Welcome and well met.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
Strange Tasting Fish Sticks
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It's simply. Revealing a trick reveals the mystery, the excitement and wonder one gets from seeing a trick. I remember when I first learned the paddle move (the hot rod was my first trick when I was 7) I thought it was such an amazing trick and its secret had to be really hard or advanced like a button or something. When I learned the secret, I was disappointed, because its secret was so simply. A lot of magic is really simple, such as sponge balls too.

People don't want to know how tricks are done, they want to keep that feeling of wonderment and amazement and revealing a trick ruins that.
JustLoco
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When I was in the 5th grade my teacher showed us a trick where he made a silk vanish into thin air. I was amazed and wanted to learn it, the next day he show us how it was done using a TT. I was furious that he revealed it to the whole class, because my plan to learn it and perform it was now ruined. Sure I learned the trick, but who was I suppose to perform it for now, everyone else knew it too.

Secrets of magic, just like the secrets of all other arts should be reserved for those who seek the secrets, and have taken the oath.
john5d
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I think ALL secrets are already on internet. You just have to know where to look.
funsway
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Quote:
On 2009-09-26 16:05, john5d wrote:
I think ALL secrets are already on internet. You just have to know where to look.


There are many secrets in my new eBooks that are not on the Internet --
yet!
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
Drake
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It just seems to me that giving away the secret to the lay audience would just undercut the entire reason that they either come or stop and watch, which is to be entertained.

Being able to see the illusion and experience that suspension of disbelief I think is truly at the heart of many people who enjoy watching a magician practice their art. Not to immediately have that feeling killed by the magi showing how it was done. Just seems to me it would cheapen the whole art that you just made for your audience

Your mileage may vary
~D
othelo68
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What about revealing well known tricks with a surprise alternate handling like the kevin james trick where he reveals a card with a popped balloon then offers to reveal how the trick was palmed and shows the card visibly penetrate the balloon. I'm sure there are other examples of this type of trick and I think it adds to the effect
lynnef
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Check out Penn and Teller's cup and balls, using clear cups! It's still amazing, because of the skills of the performers. The 'secret' is not the key thing in a magical performance. HOWEVER, I don't believe magic tricks should be revealed. Fish Sticks previous post was right in saying that the audience wants to keep that 'wonderment and amazement' to themselves.
I would add a proviso that the magician should not take advantage of a person's gulliblity or emotions (eg talking to a dead relative).
Penn said something that stuck in my mind... that the audience (for the most part) knows that some object (eg a sponge ball) didn't disappear into thin air. Yet they still love the effect.
The real secrets of magic do not lie in the gimmicks or gaffs, but in the performance itself.
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