Thursday, September 29, 2011
About Theory and how it "feels"
Man I love it if any craft is pressed into theory. It's our never stopping desire to find patterns and to us those patterns to better ourselves in our craft. I read a book some years ago about poi swinging. The book was for beginners and it basically gave most of the common poi swing tricks some names. There was the "car going forward", the "car going backwards", the "sun", the "butterfly" and a few more of those. These names helped to understand the movement and the rhythm of the many tricks. It was a good beginners book. And I can say that I learned from the book the basics of poi swinging.
Later I went to a jugglers forum and they ripped apart the book. This guy (the author) dared to put theory into poi swinging. According to the jugglers, poi swinging needs to be an emotional experience. You gotta "feel" the moves. You can't describe them. (Of course you can.) You have to figure it out by "becoming the ball on the string."
It was very esoteric. And that seems to be true for most jugglers so it seems. You gotta get the right "feel" and very little theory seems to be in use. And those who do get shunned and spit on by the juggling community. Unless of course you are a big name. Then you get praised.
Anyways: I am here to argue FOR the side of the theory haters in the juggling community. I have no doubt that those guys can juggle. I have no doubt that they "felt" the learning process. And I have no doubt that some magicians are better left off not having to deal with theory.
According to science there are many different ways we learn. Modular learning is what most of us do. We watch others and then we can do it ourselves. This has nothing to do with understanding why it works. Somehow I think that by watching countless performances of others you might actually end up being a pretty good magician yourself, without stealing the acts. This doesn't mean you understand what makes up a good act. But you end up having a pretty good "feel" about it.
The Modular learning was the main way to go in the very early days of magic. If you wanted to be a magician you had to get a master. And if the master thought you are worth the training he would teach you by imitation. Not by teaching about theory. Most often the master themselves had very little theory on their own. They just had a pretty good "feel" about it.
Naturally this approach is not for everyone, and it should not. Some just feel better about their act when they know why it work. Or most often why it should work!