Monday, November 28, 2005

Well, it sounded good in theory...

Magic theory. Not an exact science. Yet get a few (serious) magicians together and they'll hash and rehash the reasons behind the success or failure of various ventures, deconstruct endless routines, and spout bon mots from their favorite authors.

So where does theory meet practice? Do I discard theory altogether? Is Henning Nelms hopelessly out of date? Does Tommy Wonder's advice only work for him?

It comes down to this: magic is applied psychology. And psychology is neither a hard science nor an exact science. It's constantly being refined as we better understand ourselves and as the dynamics of human interactions change.

So it means that magic theory, like any theory, must be tested. If we really want to get our ducks in a row we ought to change our language. Things fairly well tested are theories. Relativity. Evolution (oops, going to catch some flak for that...). Spectators tend to focus on things that move rather than things that sit still, in the absence of other stimuli.

Those things not yet satisfactorily borne out by practice are postulates, not yet theories. Red cards are better than blue (or vice versa). One should never (or always) write one's own magic script. You shouldn't do card tricks for kids.

Why worry about magic theory at all? Because it can save a lot of time - otherwise each routine, each move, each line has to be developed in vacuo, with nothing to inform as to it's value other than empirical testing. That would be fun, wouldn't it - having to do market research on every facet of a routine before it became audience-ready? Also, understanding your personal theoretical underpinnings will help you develop as a magician. You'll know your foundation and will have that foundation to build against.

Monday, November 14, 2005

It was bad, but at least nobody watched

The latest Penn & Teller special (Off the Deep End) looked, from my point of view, to be a carbon copy of everything they've been railing against for years.

And to think I used to respect them.

The good news? They tanked (no pun intended) in the ratings.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

So why do I keep coming back...

...if magic and magicians suck as hard as I say they do?

Good question.

A couple of reasons, I think. The first sounds a bit like a Zen koan. I was in bitch mode one time, threatening to quit the whole magic mess, when an acquaintance hit me with these words: "You can't quit. You didn't choose magic. It chose you." I haven't heard from that acquaintance for a number of years but I have pondered those words often since he spoke them to me a couple of decades ago.

The other reason can be summed up in a song lyric that I'll get to in a minute. There are dilettantes in magic, and dumb shits, and dickheads, but some of my closest friends and some of my finest hours have been due to magic and magicians - it's just easier sometimes, when life seems to be a little rougher than you'd wish, to write about the bad stuff. Oh, that lyric?

The moon has a face

And it smiles on the lake

And causes the ripples in Time

I'm lucky to be here

With someone I like

Who maketh my spirit to shine

Those who know me will know the artist. Those who don't can use a good search engine (I recommend vivisimo). And if you think the lyric refers to you, it probably does.

Speaking of which, if you're interested in learning more about magic, you might go here.