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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » Exposure in magic books aimed at laypeople (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Rory Diamond
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Just picked up a copy of Magic, The Complete Course, by Joshua Jay. I am sure Josh is a nice guy, and a great magician. His book is sold at Barnes & Noble, Borders, and more (Just noticed it in "Things you never knew existed" mail order catalog.)He even does "book signings" at these mall stores. I am astounded to see that the book contains so many tricks regarded as "trade secrets" to working magicians: invisible deck, coin in the bottle exposing a folding coin, using the same for biting a coin effect, torn and restored newspaper, linking rings, many tricks exposing a thumb tip, etc. The book is not only written by Joshua Jay, but has offerings from Gregory Wilson, Gene Anderson,(who are just as guilty) and many others. Why is it that it is ok for these guys to blatantly expose magic in mall bookstores and nobody says anything about it? Where is Walter Blaney and his foaming at the mouth "WAM" when it comes to these Magic Castle types giving away well guarded magic secrets and methods? These are not simple, entry level magic tricks with paper clips and rubber bands.. these are tricks that are being used in working magician's acts. This is not a tourist magic shop where you buy a trick and they teach it to you.. this is right at the local mall of Anytown, USA. Anyone can pick the book up and casually page through it- in fact many people do, the book is often featured on display when you walk into a big box bookstore. Also picked up a book called "Mysterio's Encyclopedia of Magic and Conjuring", again aimed at laypeople and sold at contemporary bookstores. Exposes "knots off silk", Super X Suspension, etc. written by a well-known magician. How is this not exposure of magic? How is this any different than the "masked magician"? Oh, I guess it is ok if you are well-known and you are SELLING the secrets to laypeople! Talk about a double standard...
edh
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It all depends on who is doing the exposing as to whether or not they get hammered by their colleagues.

It is a DOUBLE standard!!!

The higher up the pecking order the magician is the less hammering they will recieve.

The lower down the pecking order the magician is the more hammering he will recieve.
Magic is a vanishing art.
Mr. Mystoffelees
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I agree, Rory...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Dr. Eamon
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Good point!
epoptika
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Snore.
This debate has been going on for 100+ years.
The first magic book I received under the Christmas tree as a young magic enthusiast was Henry Hay's The Amateur Magican's Handbook. I am sure there was plenty of criticism from the magic community when it was published because it disclosed too much "inside" information. I've spent countless hours lost in that book over the ensuing years as have many, many other magicians who have mentioned it as one of the most influential books in their magic development.
Joshua Jay's and Gabe Fajuri's books will help to launch a whole new generation of young magicians. I would not be too concerned about the occasional casual browser who might pick up one of their books. Who knows, it might just be the spark that ignites an interest in magic for them. Robert-Houdin claimed his own interest in magic was sparked when a bookseller accidentally wrapped up the wrong book, a magic book, rather than the book he had purchased.
George Ledo
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Not to justify it, but this was going on long before many of us were born.

When I was in high school, I saw a small stack of copies of Ottokar Fischer's "Illustrated Magic" at a display table outside a bookstore in SF. I loved that book (borrowed it from the library many times), and seeing it right there, for sale to the masses, both ticked me off and thrilled me. So of course I bought a copy. This was around 1968-69.

More recently, I picked up a copy of "Houdini's Paper Magic" at Borders.

We tend to forget that so many of what we call the "classic books" were actually intended for the masses, not for those "in the know." And magic is still around.
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Rory Diamond
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I'm not debating how long it has been going on. That's not the point. The tv masked magician has been going on for some time too. There was a vhs video tape in the 1980's entitled "Mystery Magician" and it exposed many large stage illusions, long before Magic's Biggest Secrets Revealed. Does that justify those tv shows, just because it was done before? Saying it was done before is a weak arguement. This type of thing does go on, and on, and on. Is it right? No. Ethical? No. It amazes me how the writers of these books are supposed to be the ones who are setting an example for the rest of us. If they want to launch a new generation of magicians, produce a book that is only sold at magic shops or on magic websites where you need to have an avid interest in magic to access it, not a casual interest.
the Sponge
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The only thing I really obect to is the choice of effects. If the old standards were good enough to inspire/interest us, why aren't they good enough for "the future generation of magicians?"

s
epoptika
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Has magic really suffered? I don't think so. Yes, I'd be quite pleased to hear that the masked magician had choked on a chicken bone and croaked at Chick-fi-la but at the end of the day magic will survive. People forget his exposure soon enough. But then books and TV are two different things. In a country where most people spend an average of 7 hours a day sitting on their fat asses in front of the television the likelihood of their watching the Masked Magician, which is only about exposure and nothing more, is much higher than the likelihood that they'll go into a book store and pick up a magic book which was presumably written to foster an interest in performing magic (with the obvious exception of those written purely for exposing secrets). A magic book with nothing more than the "entry level" tricks you deem appropriate for the uninitiated is not likely to hold the interest of many with an IQ above room temperature in my opinion. Selling such books only in magic shops, of which there are fewer and fewer with every passing month, is unlikely to justify the cost of publication or do much to bring in young blood, or old for that matter, to the magic scene. Anybody with the most casual interest in knowing how a trick is done can find out in a matter of minutes by taking their iPhone out of their pockets and Googling the trick in question. There are no secrets for anyone who wants to know how-you-did-it badly enough. Perhaps you should direct your ire at the magic societies who allow anyone with the most casual and passing interest in conjuring to join their ranks and attend their meetings and lectures, or the many (remaining) magic shops which openly display gimmicked coins, invisible thread reels, thumb tips etc. in their glass front cases for all to see, or the countless crappy "magicians" who get in front of an audience and butcher magic because they aren't willing to put in the necessary time practicing before they inflict themselves on the public.
Magic books for the general public;
Is it right? Yes.
Is it ethical? Yes.
Is it the end of magic as we know it? I don't think so.
And 100 years from now someone will be complaining that they are providing brain chip downloads of magic's most cherished secrets to novices with no right to our secrets... Smile

Posted: May 3, 2010 12:28pm
P.S. Please let me know where those magic shops and websites are where "you need to have an avid interest in magic to access" their secret tomes of enlightenment! I'm not familiar with any such places.
edh
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Why don't we all just forget about complaining about exposure. If the top names in magic(Joshua Jay, Richard Kaufmann) can publish books for the public then let's not complain when others expose magic. What the heck these guys do it.

And it's really all about money, not educating the public on magic.
Magic is a vanishing art.
George Ledo
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Quote:
On 2010-05-03 11:02, Rory Diamond wrote:
I'm not debating how long it has been going on. That's not the point. The tv masked magician has been going on for some time too. There was a vhs video tape in the 1980's entitled "Mystery Magician" and it exposed many large stage illusions, long before Magic's Biggest Secrets Revealed. Does that justify those tv shows, just because it was done before? Saying it was done before is a weak arguement.

I guess I didn't make my point clearly enough... Smile

Saying it's been done before wasn't an argument. It was an acceptance of a fact: a fact that has been a fact probably since Reginald Scot's book, even though we like to pretend it ain't so.

We like to think that Professor Hoffmann's books were written for the elite. Not so. I grew up on a lot of Walter Gibson's books, and Elliott's, and others that we like to think are "magic books," but were intended for the masses. I even have a copy of "Howard Thurston's Book of Magic," written by none other than himself (although he probably had it ghost-written).

My own, personal, unofficial, totally un-scientific test for whether a book was written "for magicians" or "for the public" is very simple. If the book just tells you how the trick works (most of the ones I mentioned above, along with Dunninger's Encyclopedia), it was intended for the general public; if it shows you how to actually prepare it and perform it (such as Tarbell), it was intended for those who have some degree of interest in performing magic.

These complaints have been going on for a long time. I was one of the complainers (a very loud one) myself at one time. And those complaints will continue as long as magic is around.
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Jonathan Townsend
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I see little in the way of valid purpose for magic "how to/how it's done" books for the public. I see such works as ways of belittling both the craft (oh that's all it was?) and its audiences (wow I feel foolish for not figuring that out) - making magic into puzzles and turning inspiring wonders into trivia.

"But what of those who find there way into the craft by way of extant books and toys?" the facile reader might ask. Those who would become refined deceivers or offer convincing illusions as part of their work will find the artisans and get the help they seek. Look, you got here ... what would you like to learn how to do?

The rest are, IMHO, better served by learning the three "r"s - reading, reasoning, rhetoric. Along that path they will likely come across that nice quote about how a trick which seems so clever becomes tiresome when one knows how it's done. Why destroy or belittle the enjoyment of others?
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Pakar Ilusi
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If it's that important.

Tell it to Joshua directly.

No, really.
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2010-05-03 18:07, Pakar Ilusi wrote:
If it's that important.

Tell it to Joshua directly.

No, really.


To whom is your comment addressed?

Clearly Joshua and anyone else who's put out items directed at the public have already taken a position on the matter.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Josh Chaikin
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17 years ago I received Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic from an Aunt and Uncle - the book came with an assortment of props as well. It fostered my interest in magic. We all start somewhere. Should something as comprehensive as that be readily available at a low price? Maybe, maybe not. Will it expose people to some secrets? Yes. Might it give fodder for a heckler to hassle a table hopper? Possibly. Is it detrimental to magic? I doubt it.
Jonathan Townsend
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Before you got that course, Josh, what were you interested in?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Starrpower
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This book is not about igniting an interest in magic. This book is about $$$, plain and simple.

This book is exposure, there's no two ways about it. It's professional secrets being distributed in public venues. If that is not the definition of exposure, what is? The Masked Magician exposed absurd garbage and was lambasted for it (I, personally, had to take the Fork Lift Levitation out of my act.) Somebody, somewhere (I'll pick Stan Allen since he first gave Joshua his widespread voice) decided that Joshua Jay should be an "insider." So now, he is protected and can do as he pleases with complete disregard to the consequences within the general magic community.

I personally am sick of the Big Shot Big Mouths in magic who think they can make the rules (as well as the Little Shots like epoptika who make condescending remarks about whom entry-level magic appeals to. There's a reason it's called "entry- level" my good man.)

If you think this book is appropriate, that's your opinion -- but be honest with yourself and never again voice concern over exposure, because you have just shown support for it.

Now I am going to go back to my cocktail. I thank you.
Rory Diamond
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I agree with Starrpower and EDH. Let's get real here.. you are not simply "sparking an interest" when you are giving away invisible deck, a folding coin, a Blaney/Super X Levitation, and a thumb tip. You are doing it for the almighty buck. With the thousands of other tricks out there, why would you include these? Because they are the tricks of most working professionals out there. They are good tricks, and by exposing them it helps sell books. People page through at the bookstore and say "oh, here is how that coin in the bottle works.. I am going to buy this". The writers of these books are not out to do anyone a "favor" by getting them interested in magic. How come Joshua Jay (and the other contributors) didn't include the methods to all of thier "pet" magic effects they would perform at magic conventions, if they were so concerned with getting people interested? And hey, where is Walter Blaney and his WAM magicians against exposure on this? That Mysterio book pretty much shows how his suspension works.
squando
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Magic exposure has always been around...for a price. Everyone has a different price point however...
Frank
Dr. Eamon
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It does not matter how long it has been going on, that does not make it right...

Many wrong things are been going on for centuries but that does not make it right...

But it does not matter anymore, all secrets are exposed already.

Magic and mentalism are dead!

If you tell someone in Holland you do magic or mentalism they smile like you are an old-fashioned fool. When a mentalist or magician is pronounced, you hear people say: “Oh, not again, I know all these stupid tricks already”

The only thing they do appreciate is a real entertainer, and it does not matter what he does, even if every trick goes wrong or does not do a trick at all. Are you able to entertain people, that´s the question…
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