Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jump, Jump, Jump Mr. Rubber Band

It really isn't about exposure. Those rubber band secrets have little value in the magic world. Yet they do have value. And the second you start exposing those secrets, you dismiss the value of the secret.

Why do they expose? I'm sure a few actually wanna help others to become magicians. Others seek fame and even others have been pressured into this with money or promises. I'm sure David Copperfield's reason to do that was not evil spirited. In fact in most cases exposure is done with good intentions. If you take a look at the "expert village" magicians you will see, that they want to help, get money and fame at the same time. But why is exposure the wrong thing to do to begin with?

It is all about the mindset? If you dismiss any magic secret, because it seems of little value to you, then you are guilty of being pride and too arrogant about your own position in magic. It all comes down to being humble again. Who the hell are you to decide what magic secret is okay to teach to the masses for free? (That's why I  am willing to cut Mr. Copperfield a bit of a slack, after all he is, and he knows that he is the biggest magician in the world. He has no reason to be modest, yet he is more humble than most magicians I know.)

Magic needs to be taught to evolve even further. But if you teach it with little to no context, then you are doing a huge disservice to magic. Magic as an art has little to offer. Just secrets. The way you structure and design your tricks has it's roots in drama and comedy. The way you frame and present your tricks are taken from the visual arts and the theater. All we got are our little, precious secrets. Even if it is just the little bitty with the rubber band jumping from finger to finger. Who the hell are we to decide that giving away any of our secrets is helpful to the art? We must be insane then. We are stupid.


Michael Jay said...

what about Scarne? Was he insane or stupid?

Justin said...

I think the main reason it doesn't bother me is because I don't care about the methods being exposed. Those aren't the real secrets.

It's 2012. Magic is iNHERENTLY trivial. The only way to express any significance with magic is through LIVE performance. I'd agree with Weber, who states that any trick you see on Youtube is only that--a trick. It's only until a live performance that it can mean anything at all.

With that said, if you're a good performer, this stuff doesn't matter. Period. Why? Cause method doesn't fucking matter. These people aren't teaching our "secrets." They may think they are, others may think they are, but they're not.

If you establish a strong connection with an audience, and you perform the shit out a thoroughly mastered trick, then all that Youtube junk flies out the window.

Jerrine Absher said...

Rationalizing exposure, like any other thing one shouldn't do, does not make it right.
The old school Magicians didn't get into magic with the idea that exposure was cool, quite the contrary. They evolved to it through what Roland wrote about, pride & arrogance.
The younger generations now begin with the idea that exposure & even theft are kosher. Where will they end with that beginning?

Michael Jay said...

"So I must insist again: Shell bottles do not constitute any part of the true secrets of magic. Neither do folding bird cages. Neither do billiard ball shells. Nor Svengali packs. Nor forcing decks. Nor flap slates. Nor pulled threads. Nor folding flowers. Nor any apparatus of any kind.

"The real secrets of magic are those whereby the magician is able to influence the mind of the spectator, even in the face of that spectator's definite knowledge that the magician is absolutely unable to do what that spectator ultimately must admit he does do.

"Here is a secret!

"This skilled magician is an adept at disguise and attention control. He employs physical disguise with his apparatus. He employs psychological disguise-simulation, dissimulation, maneuver, ruse, suggestion and inducement. He exercises absolute control over the attention of his spectator by forestalling it, by catching it relaxed, by dulling it, by scattering it, by diverting it, by distracting it, and by openly moving it away.

"He cleverly, skillfully and dexterously mixes the true with the false. With equal facility he convincingly interprets matters to accomplish his own ends. He contrives to so influence the things the spectator perceives that the latter is aware of them as the magician desires. All is built upon an unshakable foundation of naturalness, plausibility and conviction.

"Here is real skill! Here are genuine secrets!"

- Dariel Fitzkee -

Jerrine Absher said...

"He cleverly, skillfully and dexterously mixes the true with the false."
You can't mix the true with the false when the viewer knows your recipe.
Yes you can use methods they are aware of to fool. When a trick is exposed however, that viewer will no longer experience magic though they can appreciate the effect & your performance.

Korbinian said...

This is probably one of the oldest discussions in magic. And still only some people have learned their lessons. At first rationalize exposure. Exposure has always been a companion of magic. Think just about "Discoverie of witchcraft". This is basically exposure. But has it hurt the magic world. No. And I've to agree with Michael Jay and Justin. Real magic is somewhere else. If you take any activity, any art, any discipline, any skill, take it and push it as far as it will go, push it beyond where it has ever been before, push it to the wildest edge of edges, then you force it into the realm of magic. (Tom Robbins) But some people seem to think, that secrets, whatever that is, allow them to do shortcuts. And I am slowly coming to the belief, that this whole discussion is bullshit. Look Penn & Teller, the Cups and Balls, or even worse google Tellers Interview for the Smithsonian Magazine. There he is exposing real secrets, not childrens tricks. But I believe more than anything else, that this whole discussion about exposure is just there because for some people their secrets are just methods. They don't understand the difference between tricks and magic, and feel if tricks are exposed their magic is worthless. And sometimes I feel, if people think that the most important part of their magic is the method, their magic is really worthless, because magic is about emotion, feelings and most importantly about the audience. It is not about you, your fame, your money or whatever else you can imagine achieving. Magic is the only art, which will always mean another thing for the artist, than for the person, who is watching. So our small fights about who is exposing what are just bullshit or even better, they serve as an ever changing challenge to evolve our magic. We have to fool, deceive, delight maybe even entertain people of the 21. Century. If they know our tricks and methods, we need new, modern, adequate inventions. We and magic as an art will never get anywhere, if we won't stop complaining about losing old tricks. And just some things to think about. T. Nelson Downs sold pamphlets explaining his Misers Dream to audience after the show. But they were fakes, so people believed him to be more skillful than he really was. So in the end maybe the magician upholding the real code are those, who are pissed about other people exposing secrets, but who don't have a problem, running their own website, where they demo one trick after another complete with references and names, which I basically find a good idea, but just think about what is worse for magicians, audiences who know one rubber band trick or audiences, who know that even your sleight of hand is not yours but standard and you can just buy books and everything online. People are not stupid. If a layman found "Weekly Magic", he has more than enough videos of real quality material, which he can download, rewind, slow down etc. Isn't this desire to be recognized among other magicians the exact difference from being humble and great? Isn't it also carrying the problem of making huge amounts of material available for laymen? And isn't it in every good magicians intentions to have educated audiences, who book good and hard-working magicians, instead of just trickmonkeys? A German magician, I believe it was Markus Zink, although I'm not sure, told me once, that magic should be thought in school, so that I would be possible to develop a class of magicians, who like artists, develop new magic and get recognized by their educated audiences, who really know how to judge a great magician and one, who does just standards. I'm sorry, maybe this is all rubbish and probably also a little bit chaotic and unorganized, and I'll probably shut up after this post, but this whole exposure and stealing business tells more about the people complaining about it, than about the people participating in it.

Admin said...

Yeah, secrets are not what make magic entertaining for an audience. The real secret of the art lies somewhere else.

Mike said...

The truth is that there is a dark mean spirit within many magicians who think that they are better than their audience because they are in the know on a secret.

Magicians like the ones Roland is showing here are not that type. They are sharing the magic experience because they believe their primary mission is to entertain, not score points over their audience.

And these oh so superior muppets are the first to scream about exposure because it takes away the prime thing that makes them feel superior.

Think I'm wrong ? Then explain phrases like " This'll fry them" or "This will kill them".

Tensai said...

Magic is not about the secrets. That's just a tool. What makes a great magician is not how many secrets he knows, but rather the way he can use those secrets to entertain the audience.

"Who the hell are you to decide what magic secret is okay to teach to the masses for free?"

Who am I? Well, who are YOU to decide who gets to learn magic, and who doesn't?

Admin said...

Good point Tensai.

Admin said...

I think the old magicians are just jealous really, because they had had a hard time learning magic, whilst we, the young generation, have learnt more in considerably less time :p

Roland said...

"Who am I? Well, who are YOU to decide who gets to learn magic, and who doesn't?"

Well, first I do not decide who gets to learn magic. If you wanna learn magic you still can. Even if there wasn't a YouTube guide for everything. Guess what I learned most of my magic without the help of an Internet.

Second, indeed who am I to have an opinion and to voice it? But I allow everyone to do the same. Even you.

And of course you are right to point out that the real secret of magic is not in the secret. My main concern is the fucked up mind who willfully exposes, thereby abusing at least one principle pillar of magic.

A secret has value. Not so much what the actual secret is. That is usually not worth anything. But the fact that it is a secret.

The biggest value of a secret is, that it's secret and that nobody knows. Otherwise it becomes trivial. And exposing magic trivializes magic. According to the broken windows theory: "Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."

Exposure sends the wrong signal. Not that of learning, but of abuse.

Tensai said...

And that, my friends, is the Logical Fallacy know as 'Slippery-Slope Fallacy'.

If you give a mouse a cookie, he will go to school, and if he goes to school he will learn science, and if he learns science he will use that science to make an atomic bomb, and if he makes an atomic bomb, he will blow up the world. Therefor, we must not give mice cookies, because even though a cookie is a small thing, it still has some value, and will end with the world being blown up.

Do you see the flaws in your logic?

But anyway, let us take into consideration the duo Penn and Teller. They expose fundamentals of magic all the time, yet they are loved by magicians and spectator alike. Why? Because in the end, it's not the 'secrets' that entertain, it's the performer. I have yet to see an audience that says "Wow, that was so much fun! That magician really fooled me and I don't have a clue as to what happened!"

Roland said...

Interesting that you accuse me of the Slippery Slop argument, by going on and offering me a straw man argument combined with an excluded middle argument. So I guess we are not arguing anymore.

I respect your opinion. Thank you for letting me know.

Tensai said...

To reiterate my last statement:

No one goes to a magic show to be 'fooled', they go to be entertained.

For example: Restaurant Table Hoppers. You're not being payed to 'fool' people, you're being payed to make sure the diners have a memorable time.

Korbinian said...

Sorry Tensai to correct you. But the people are going to a magic show to see magic aka to be deceived or fooled.
Most magicians seem to forget this and instead do comedy with magic or other hybrids.
The reason, why Penn & Teller are that recognized by magicians and laymen alike is because they fool them both.
In my opinion the biggest problem in magic is, that most magicians have forgotten this simple fact. If you wanna do magic, fool them, if you wanna do comedy, make them laugh. But people laughing is no guarantee or sign of good magic.
One could even state quite the opposite. Real good magic leaves people in a state of awe, where they sometimes even forget to applaud. And there is the problem with the magician entering the real world. You wouldn't get paid if all people in a restaurant are in sort of a shock state. Clients need to be able to evaluate your magic and this happens mostly by judging the amount of noise, which is generated a your table. But again, this only is guide to judge your ability to generate laughter and noise and says nothing about your ability to perform magic.
This is not only my opinion, but has been stated by guys like Paul Harris, Cellini etc. The question at the end of the day is: You wanna be a magician or you wanna be an entertainer?
But to be honest, nobody will care outside this of discussion board, when you are doing it right. :-)

Admin said...

I would add that they neither go to a magic show to be fooled nor entertained. All they want is experience magic that feels real and mature.

Korbinian said...


Tensai said...

Korbinian, that simply isn't true, because in the end: They know it's not real. They don't know exactly how you did it, but they know t wasn't real magic. Just do a card trick and ask how they think it was done, and they will answer "Sleight of hand". They know you aren't really doing magic, so if all you do is try to fool them with your clever secrets, then you will fail. You can everyone in the room stumped, but if you are being a jerk and acting down to them, then you have failed as a magician.

To prove my point, just watch a really good magician preforming (I recommend Tommy Wonder or David Ace Palmer). Even though you, as a magician, know how everything is done you still admire it. Why? It's not because you are fooled, it's because they are such good performers.

A magician who thinks they are 'good' because they can do a perfect pass, and start belittling the audience is actual a very bad magician.
One is not a good singer simply because they know every song, one is not a good comedian because they know a lot of jokes, and a magician is not a good magician simply because they can do lots of sleights.

Korbinian said...

Tensai, I'm starting to feel sorry. have you really read any of the works, you are quoting? Than you should know that this man is called Johnny Ace Palmer. But who cares? It is just the internet, isn't it. Nobody knows you here. Nobody is talking about looking down on anybody, Nobody!!! Getting it? And read the books, if you don't believe me. People believe in magic, if you do it properly. If you don't believe me, what I wouldn't do also, read Tamariz, Wonder, whom you are quoting (Is it irony), Nelms etc. People want to belive in magic. have you ever wondered, why people admire Uri Geller? They want to believe in it. Get it or be a trick monkey. Magic is already bigger than your ego. Just look for french magic adn Cie 14:20. they really know what magic is all about. Magicians doing magic for Jean Paul Gaultier. Restaurants up your ass. They really do cultural business. They change worlds and perspectives. Oh wait, we change cards. have you ever asked you what would Houdini do? He was a cultural icon, we are just freaks online. I'm a little bit sorry, for this comment has really turned into a rant.

Tensai said...

Lol, this Korbinian kid. You do realize none of the points you just made are valid? I could pretty much respond to them in a list fashion (Which I will, to save time)

1) I initially was going to write "Tommy Wonder, David Copperfield, and Johnny Ace Palmer", but I decided not to include Copperfield, as he was recently discussed, so he really wouldn't make a strong example. I seem to have erased the wrong bits though. Doesn't seem to matter though, because you failed to respond to the point I made about them. Instead you went on about books and such.

2) The name 'Tensai' has been around a bit, if you look. If you look even harder, you can even find out my real name. So much for the point, if you were even trying to make some sort of point.

3)People believe in magic due to something called 'Suspension of Disbelief'. They only believe in magic while you are on stage, not afterwards. If you think you will perform and then have spectators walking away believing you can do real magic, then not only are you delusional, but worse yet: You are degrading the spectators' intelligence and coming very close to committing fraud, just like those phony psychics who trick people into believing they have special powers. Which conveniently leads me into your next point:

4) What Uri Geller did was wrong, and he now admits it. Not much more I can say about that, as that point pretty much countered itself.

5)The final point: Houdini. Why do you hold Houdini in such a high position? According to your definition of 'Magician' he was a very poor one. His card skills were horrible, his stage presence was none existent, his knowledge of magic was lacking (Dai Vernon could tell you that, as he was the 'Man who Fooled Houdini' with a simple Double-Lift), and his illusions were laughable (Go look up his attempt at vanishing an elephant on stage.)
But after all this, why was Houdini remembered as a great magician? I'll tell you why: Because he was a great performer. He knew how to make sure the audience had a good time.

That's what being a magician is about, making sure the audience has a good time, one that they'll remember. It's not about how many sleights you know, or how often you can fool people. If all you do is aim to fool people, then you are nothing more then a 'trickster'.

Once you learn this, maybe then you will be able to get off the internet and start amazing people. Because then, when you perform, you will be entertaining, not giving puzzles to the spectators.

Trickster said...

I think we all know about Godwin's Law, but has any one noticed a similar thing around here? I call it "Tensai Syndrome".
If you read some past comment discussions, this one included, you might notice that if any one has the temerity to disagree with Tensai, and to actually back their argument up with logic and reason, there is a high probability that a certain phrase will be uttered by Tensai. As the discussion gets longer the probability increases.

When logic and rationality fails, Tensai goes for the self aggrandizing put down, the one where he pretends that he is a mature adult and the person arguing with him is a silly child.

"Lol, this *insert username here* kid."

Obviously anyone that argues with Tensai must be a kid, as no adult would dare disagree with some of the tripe he spews?

Just an observation.
(It's a bit like the darstar phenomenon where the longer a discussion continues the greater the chance that Darkstar will boast about his prowess with women.)

Tensai said...

That's pretty much it in a nutshell. Respect is something earned, not given, and as such everyone is a 'kid' to me until they prove otherwise. Plus, it's just my dialect. Some say 'bro', some say 'cool cat' or something to that degree. I just say 'kid' because that's how I grew up.

Some comments are just not worth my time, simple as that. Especially when they are long posts, without any form or body. Writing a long post doesn't prove intelligence, it just proves you can string words together. The most beautiful arguments are the ones that are simple.

One edit I would make to your amusing definition of 'Tensai Syndrome' is this: It has nothing to do with 'Logic or Reason'. There was hardly any logic in this whole thread of comments, first we had the value of rubber band tricks growing exponentially, followed by the argument of "If one liters, then soon the whole street will be flooded with trash", and after that we had some kid talking about how great Houdini was (Which only further provided evidence to my definition of a 'good' magician), and now we finally have Argumentum ad Hominem. Instead of disputing my claims, we have this kid in a jar making comments on my unique style. So it seems you're prone to a few fallacies yourself.

tl;dr: Tensai is Tensai, and will always act how Tensai acts. Logic does not factor into it.

Tensai said...

One more edit: The phrase can be said with or without the username. It's optional, but it is helpful when there is one or more people besides the user in the thread.

Trickster said...

Calling someone "Bro", or "Cool Cat", or in my area, "Mate" is completely different to your use of Kid, try substituting.

"Lol, this *insert username here* Bro"

"Lol, this *insert username here* cool cat"

Nope, the put down is why you write it the way you do. It's condescending and I suspect you know that full well, which is why you use the word kid; implying a child, so stop trying to make it out as some vernacular garbage.
It speaks to your arrogance and inability to respect those who disagree with you.

Michael Jay said...

I have to laugh at the Houdini tirade. It is claimed that Houdini had no stage presence and in the very same argument it is claimed that he was a great performer. What?

And I always get a laugh out of the argument that Houdini didn't know much because he was fooled with a double lift. Well, if you know the full facts, then you know that it was a double lift with a double backed card to drive home the illusion. Gee, imagine that a magician existed that didn't know absolutely everything about magic. As if Houdini should have had an encyclopedic knowledge of magic and be completely incapable of being fooled or he was nothing more than a fraud.

Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds? Even today, the big names are fooled by other magicians. Penn and Teller purchased their bullet catch from Banachek - they had to be shown how it was done because it fooled them. By the same Houdini logic above, Penn and Teller suck as magicians because they were fooled by another magician.

I can site a hundred other examples and can even give you examples of where Dai Vernon was fooled by other magicians at times. So Dai Vernon sucks because somebody fooled him.

Give me a break.

And for the record: I hate exposure. I think that our secrets should be sacred amongst us. I've just learned to live with the fact that exposure will always be there.

Trickster said...

@Korbinian - Tensai is right about one thing, he does seem easy to identify, there aren't many people arrogant enough (even among magicians) to call themselves Genius.

Tensai said...

Alright, let's get to it then:

1) Stage presence: How you show yourself on stage. Speaking loudly, never turning you back on the croud, etc.
Presentation: Knowing how to get an audience engaged and keeping there attention (Like hanging upside down handcuffed above a river, perhaps?)
The difference is elementary, my dear Jay.

2) I don't know what to say to this. It's like you are arguing to me.. with my own points. It's not the amount of sleights you know, it's about how you use them. I used the Dai Vernon story because it was relevant and fits with my argument.

3 and 4) Once again, you are proving my own point? That logic: "A magician is a bad one if he doesn't know a lot of sleights" is what I'm arguing AGAINST.

And that's actually why I chose my name. I thought it was ironic, calling myself 'Genius'. It had this nice flare to it. Plus, I just like the way the word 'Tensai' sounds.

Trickster said...

The difference is not that elementary obviously, as you don't actually seem to know what those terms mean. Your definition of stage presence is actually stage craft, your idea of stage presentation is actually the routine.
Speaking loudly, leading with the correct foot as you traverse a stage, not turning your back on the audience (unless called for) etc is all stage craft
Stage presence is more about how you hold yourself. Some describe it as the ability to fill the stage, even when you are alone up there.

Using the Houdini example, what he lacked in stage craft and routine, he made up for in stage presence.
Stage Presence is hard to define accurately and even harder to learn or teach. It's the X factor that some have and others don't.
Without stage presence you're just a guy standing on stage (or doing some lame dance or other equally sad movements) and doing uninspired illusions.
Those with great stage presence could do anything on stage and the audience would be riveted.

Tensai said...

That's an issue of semantics. Like how magicians seem to have 3 ways of pronouncing the word 'Equivoque'.

But it seems semantics is the only thing keeping us from agreeing.
When you say "Those with great stage presence could do anything on stage and the audience would be riveted", instead of calling it 'stage presence', I call it 'Presentation', because it doesn't just apply on stage.
And 'presentation' or 'stage presence' is what is the most important to a magician, not knowing a lot of sleights.

And just for completeness:
Lol, this Trickster kid.

Trickster said...

Not semantics at all, what you described as presence is stage craft.

Now run along little boy, the adults are getting bored with your childish attempts to redefine things that already have clear definitions.

For those playing the game, that's another 1 and I think it makes 3 this week.

Tensai said...

You must reading it wrong, let me break it down for ya:

Performance is when ya actually do a trick. Different performance styles lead to different takes on the same effect. One might do a trick and have the audience amused, while another magician might do the exact same trick and have the audience bored. This is due to performance, the presentation aspect, if you wanna get precise.
And I don't know if ya know this, but a lot of magicians don't always perform on a stage. Some sit around a table, some do magic close-up for people, and some even decide to hide in jars (Not that there's anything wrong with that, clowns are very respectable).
And what's going to decide if you are a good magician or not is your performance. Not because you can do a one handed reverse farro shuffle cybil cut.

Is that clear enough for ya mate?

Andy said...

Tensai, You seem to dismiss the great performers have very strong and deceptive magic. I'm thinking of Tamariz, Copperfield, Brown, Blaine... If what you say is true, they could all be doing crap tricks with the same success. If you look at Williamson for example, the guy is extremely entertaining, but his technique is flawless and he fools the heck. He doesnt just leave them with "he must have used sleight of hand". Their stuff is deceptive. There are many who would use a funny line to cover bad skill or story telling to make up for poor magic. How many of those are successful? ps. I don't think what fooled Houdini was the double lift but rather the clever use of the double backer!

Korbinian said...


just an interesting thing. If actually studied japanese for about 3 years and have a degree in japanology. And Tensai can be translated as genius but it can also be translated as natural calamity or disaster. Keeping that in mind, makes this discussion a lot funnier. :-)

Tensai said...

It's very true, a good performer must also have strong material, that I will never argue with, but I'm just saying it should never come before making sure the audience has a memorable and enjoyable time.

And I didn't know that second meaning of Tensai. That fits well, doesn't?

Andy said...

Tensai, not sure what you mean by "making sure the audience has a memorable and enjoyable time". Isn't that what strong material does?

Tensai said...

Not necessarily. It helps, but it doesn't seal the deal.

For example, lets say we have a new magician, age 15, just got into magic 3 days ago. He also has some money to burn, so he buys some Tommy Wonder DVDs and learns the material. He practices the moves until he is ready, he can do every sleight well. He then shows the effect to his friends at school.

Here's the question: Since both Tommy Wonder and this kid are both doing the exact same material, are they both equal magicians? If someone who had never seen Mr Wonder perform anything else but that one effect, and then watches the kid perform, would this spectator think they were both equally entertaining?

That's my point, it's not all about the secrets or the effects. You gotta have more than that.

Andy said...

If a kid does Tommy Wonder's watch to nested boxes the audience will be bewildered, simply because the effect itself is fantastic. Of course, presentation can make it even better but the point is strong magic is entertaining in itself.

Tensai said...

You would be surprised how easy it is to ruin a great effect without good presentation.

Without presentation, the effect is merely a trick or puzzle. It's up to the performer to make it magic.

Barry Solayme said...


You should get a blog already. Phone me for advice, we have much in common! We both need our opinions heard. Use Roland to pimp your "real work", Tensai, He's good for that. Don't get sidetracked with evidence. That's a losers' game.