Thursday, December 27, 2012

Three Realities

What book would you recommend for a beginning magician? "Magic for Dummies" by David Pogue? "Close-up Magic" by Nicholas Einhorn? "Magic Tricks for Grownups" by Jon Tremaine? Or even "Magic: The Complete Course" by Joshua Jay?

Think back when you first learned magic. Did you really get a book first? Only a few of us have been so lucky? Before we got a book we had a trick.

In my case it was the Ball and Vase that my grandpa used to own. It was a plastic version. It was dark green and the ball was black. Like a black pearl. He used to fool the hell out of me. And one day I stole the darn thing.

So that was my serious introduction to magic. A criminal act. Next Christmas I got my first magic kit... yeah who's been naughty or nice? My first book on magic was years later. I was in third grade and my reading skill finally has come to a degree that I had fun doing the reading.

But before I read the book I had tinkered with magic stuff many times. And if I hadn't done so I probably would have had a hard time to comprehend even half of what the book was talking about. I was 8 years old. I had a hard time to differentiate between the reality the spectators where perceiving and the reality I had. And that I had to pretend to have the same sort of fake reality that my spectators had. And rather difficult concept really! Now imagine the enlightenment the following trick had on me:

A bowl of rice. You place a wooden ball on the surface of the rice. Then you lift the bowl above every ones head. And then you shook the bowl slightly. And when you brought the bowl down the ball had become golden. I knew what was going on, but realizing to pretend to be amazed myself got me a greater reaction I slowly understood the meaning of magic. Because I didn't see the ball change my reality was the same as the spectators reality. Now I only had to deny the absolute reality of it being a trick and physics and all.

That knowledge really helped me to "pretend". Now when I change the color of a ball I see it. But I can pretend not to see it. Therefore I don't send any signals of guilt or that of a different reality apart from the spectator's reality.

And that is something that those books do not teach you. At all. I made this little drawing I should have seen many, many years ago:


Bizzaro. said...

Mark Wilson Course of Magic (the big phone book sized one)

Justin said...

Aye, I started with his Cyclopedia of Magic (the small fat one). Pretty sure it's almost the same text, just cut down a bit. It was a damn good introduction.

the Minutemen said...

Definitely. Besides, Roland, I got the Ball and Vase at the very beginning too!

石榮狼 said...

My very first magic book was The Magic Handbook, by Peter Eldin; I think I must have been seven or eight at the time. The least I can say is that for a book aimed at kids, it sure teaches a lot of relatively advanced stuff! Just a few off the top of my head: HPC pass, three or four different palms, Chink-a-Chink, French drop, coins through table, cards across, cups and balls, cut and restored rope, double lift, stacks, a couple of forces, out of this world, memory systems, the one-ahead principle, basic misdirection... I still use much of its material to this day.
And yes, it does teach you to believe - or act like you believe - in the reality you're trying to convey to your audience. Many beginners' books teach you what you have to do with your hands to vanish a coin; this one taught me what I had to do with my eyes - which is, of course, so much more crucial.

Of course, when I got it a quarter-century ago, I foolishly dismissed most of its best techniques as crazy and impractical ("releasing a coin from one hand while pretending to drop it from the other hand? Yeah right, as if anyone were gonna' buy that!"). So I started by doing its easiest self-workers such as the jumping rubber-band and Sim-Sala-Bim, working my way up the difficulty ladder as I grew older and more experienced.

As a matter of fact my "two in hand, one in pocket" routine - still possibly my favourite coin trick to this day - was first learnt in that book (although I've tweaked it a lot over the years, particularly regarding the final load).

If it's still in print I would definitely recommend it to beginners - provided we're talking about *serious* beginners. Some of the tricks in it (OOTW comes to mind) are too valuable to be off-handedly exposed to your average, briefly-interested-in-magic-after-watching-Criss-Angel-do-something-awesome youngster.

Bizzaro. said...

The small one is missing a lot actually but still a good start. My first book I recall having was the klutz book of magic. Also has some good stuff inside.