Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Am No Layman

I am annoyed. There is this notion in magic that all we do must look "natural"... And this is often confused with "like a layman". This is not the same. The most notable example is the double lift. It seems to be a common place to say "The card must be turned over like a layman turns over cards, or else the move is suspicious."

Well, guess what, we are no laymen, we are professionals. Ergo our turning over of cards should look professional. And that means beautiful and efficient. Both of those attributes have to apply in order for the move to be "natural" for the professional.

If it is lacking one of the two attributes, beautiful or efficient, only then the move is suspicious.

How come this is not understood by most magicians?


awhan said...

roland full marks to u ... when i realized it for the first time i thought of slapping myself and double slapping all others who cry foul all the time.
``Hey don't forget what the Professor said, Be Natural ! " is the common rant that gets thrown in the face and they immediately follow that with "No, that is not how a layman would do it" or "Think how a layman would do it". man o man that rant boils my blood every time i hear it.

if you see a layman handle a deck of cards you will faint u stupid guardian of rules in magic ! why i have seen the late martin nash almost chide spectators on ruining his deck of cards by using excessive force while shuffling.

darkstar said...

I think we may just interpret what Vernon said differently. For me it means to not fiddle or basically expose the methodology. If you do a double in an interesting way that isn't what Vernon was pointing at. On the other hand if you do some weird digging motion and there isn't a flow, then that would be what he meant by unnatural. I don't think he was comparing laymen to magicians at all...just proper form, a fluidity. Even though it may be a crazy looking flourish move it appears very natural in the performers hands because he does it well.

That's the way I translated it. I tend to think that was Lennart Green's point also in his first DVD talking about the same.

darkstar said...

Now that I sit back on it a little


caru said...

I guess it's possible to handle cards like a layman all the time, even more clumsily, and sneak magic moves into the clumsiness. might be a style worth considering. but you'd have to do it ALL the freakin' time, and NEVER do anything that looks remotely like a flourish. bloody hard!
it's supposed to be the curse of the card shark: he has to attain prodigious skill, but never show it, lest he might be suspected. also Corinda advocated that a mentalist, if using cards, should hide any manipulative skill he might have, shuffle clumsily and even drop cards. that's all very fine.
but I don't think it applies to the professional card worker.

I, personally, have lost all ability to handle cards like a layman. when I play cards with friends and get to deal, typically someone admires my shuffling skills, and the game is ended - in favour of a flourish show.