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 Post subject: Going Too Far ??
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 11:47 am 
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born to perform.

Joined: 20 Nov 2004
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I recently spoke to my very good friend, who...like myself...has been performing Magic for a very long time. He is currently helping his 11 year old Grandson, to learn Magic. My friend has started out with the basics and this youngster is progressing remarkably well. So far, this young man has practiced and performed Ring on Rope and The Professor's Nightmare. My friend is extremely proud of his Grandson, as he has shown a natural ability and is well on his way to having great passion for our Conjuring Arts.

So, what's the problem?...you may ask. In a nutshell, my good friend has bought a Magic Trick for his Grandson and will be giving it to him on the young man's Birthday, in a few days. Ok, so? The trick that the youngster will be receiving is "The Self Tying Shoelaces", purchased right here from Penguin Magic. Cool! Right? Well, yes and no....Here's the deal...

My good friend has asked the young man not to open his gift in front of others. Telling his Grandson, that people will see the "work" behind STS. My friend has taught his Grandson The Magician's Code of Ethics and has said that by opening the STS package... it will reveal it's secret for others to see.

I'm all for The Magician's Code of Ethics and have honored them for numerous years. But, I question my friend's tactfulness towards his Grandson. Is my friend putting too much pressure on this 11 year boy? Asking him to open his gift in private, so that others will not see the secret contained within the package? Suppose the package was opened for all to see, would they really know what it is, they were looking at? By merely seeing what was inside, would they be able to devise the secret?

I believe that this is too much pressure for a youngster to handle. To prove my point...this same young man, while learning Ring on Rope, showed his talents off to his parents. Yet, they saw some of "the moves" invovled, as he was still in the practicing stages. The young man asked his folks not to tell his Grandfather (my good friend), as he was afraid of what he might say. So, are the Magician's Code of Ethics...scary?? Or is it...how, they are presented to impressionable youngsters?

I'd like your thoughts on this topic. This could be a very interesting discussion.


Last edited by bLiNdSiDe on Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 3:45 pm 
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Well it sounds like his mentor is not reinforcing the rule of practice, practice and then practice some more before performing an effect for an audience, whether it be siblings, parents or friends.
Now with that said I see no problem in asking him to open it in private, however I don't know how it is packaged, maybe if it was packaged so one could not see any gimmicks then I would have no qualms with the kid opening it in front of others. The only problem at that age is his friends will probably grab for it as he goes to open other presents and that would not be good.
Kind of on the fence on this one.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:02 pm 
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born to perform.

Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 642
Location: God's Country
I hate the way that magicians the world over seem to care more about secrets than magic. David Devant published a book that told the world at large how he accomplished loads and loads of his famous effects, and yet remained a renowned magician of great respect. The trouble is that everything about magic is geared toward the secret. Magic DVDs are effect followed by method, as if you can't know how it's done just yet, it's a secret. Magic books and DVDs are expensive, and available from specialists only. Magicians bang on about exposure and not telling how things are done all the time, and so often lose sight of the bigger picture.

Magic is about magic, it's about performance not about how you do it. It's the magician not the effect. I think that we really need to stop focusing so much of our energies on hiding the methods of what we do and start focusing on our performance instead. The quickest way to have people forget something is publish it. You get it into the public realm, people read it, people move on.

The code of ethics obviously has its place in magic, for example if you've just finished a performance of your favourite routine and someone says "how did you do that?!" you don't just tell them. But, having said that we shouldn't be quite so quick to crucify those who know what we do. Let's be honest about this for a moment, ask yourself this - who loses if the audience knows how we do that particular trick? My answer is always going to be the audience. It's nothing to do with me if they know how I do what I do, I won't tell them. If they figure it out or learn off their own backs, they lose out on my performance. Obviously if we as magicians lose all of our audience then we lose as well, but the chances of that happening are so slim it's not worth worrying about. Also, it goes without saying that creators lose out when things get exposed as people learn for free rather than paying for the privilege. But on the whole it is always the audience that loses.

I have no idea how people get sealed decks of cards, or baseballs, or nuts and bolts, or any of the many things that end up in impossibottles down the neck of the bottle and make them. I do not wish to know, as the mystery is enchanting. If someone was to tell me I would lose the enjoyment of the impossibottles. It's the same for magic. Now, if someone didn't enjoy magic (like my girlfriend), the mystery isn't enertaining for them, and as such they may like to know how to perform the effects you do. However, most times you'll find that these people don't care for magic either way, whether they know or not. The people that will lose the most are the people who enjoy magic and enjoy not knowing how it's done. So many people these days watch magic and try to work it out, as if it were a puzzle. We as performers strive to stop this through our performance but still it will happen; it is inevitable. But these people don't actually want to know how it's done. They enjoy the trying to work it out and failing.

Now, if a heckler comes along and tells them how you acomplish your magic then they will lose something from the experience. The heckler is the one that has caused the problem, and the reason I feel that they feel the need to tell people is (other than jealousy or other psychological possibilities) that the secret is hard to come by; they feel that they need to let as many people as possible know because these people won't possibly find out off their own backs.

So how do we stop this from happening? Well, one answer would be to tighten the security on the secrets of magic. But I think a better way to do it would be to lessen the secure grip on our methods. Obvioulsy I don't want everyone to know how magic works and become tricksters themselves, far from it, I'd like to see less tricksters and more magicians. But, I agree with Mr Devant in that we should be less protective of our secrets. Magic shouldn't ever be about cloaks and daggers, shadows and hard to find shops. Magic should be about performance, making people emote and entertainment. I honestly think that if we stopped locking away our secrets in the magical fort knox and instead welcome curiosity (to a point of course) we would help ourselves and each other. The people that really want to know would find it, but in finding it so easy to locate probably not feel any urgent need to pass on what they know. The people that ask and ask and ask but secretly don't want to know and the people that just enjoy the show won't find it.

Let's be honest, some of the methods behind our magic are so stupid or ridiculous that most people wouldn't believe that's what we do any way.

32


Last edited by povallsky on Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:36 am 
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fcchief... I agree with practice makes perfect...and then once we think it's perfect, we practice some more. But, with a young man, 11 years old...it seems he too, is proud of what he is learning. So, he will naturally want to show off what he has learned. It just concerns me that this youngster was more worried about what his Grandfather had taught him about the Magician's Code of Ethics. He obviously felt ashamed for unwittingly revealing a 'secret move' during his performance. Yet, instead of thinking about putting in more practice time, this young man was scared his Grandfather might be disappointed.

It's almost like my good friend...although teaching the proper Ethics, was using our Code of Secrecy as a Bargaining Chip. So, much so that the youngster has some fear of reprisal.

Obviously, in this case The Magician's Code of Ethics was perhaps presented to this youngster in the wrong way. How could we, as Magicians, present it better? Mentoring others to perform is great, but where do we draw the line?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:38 pm 
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Joined: 01 Jun 2006
Posts: 131
The problem with "The Magician's Code" is that it is rarely expanded upon. If we reveal a secret, we become bad magicians and disgrace the planet. If you perform a card trick twice you're the Vlad Dracula of card magic.

Instead we would do better to learn the real reasons behind the code.

Rules need reasons.


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