November 2018 Chatter

Posted at 31/10/18 - 08:12 PM

Where do you get your magical stimulus from these days? Is it from tricks you’ve purchased, books (printed ones or E-Books) that you’ve read, stuff you’ve found on YouTube or come across on TV, or is it from going to your local magic club or attending magic conventions?

I suspect that whatever the answer is, if you have been involved in magic for a fairly long time (at least 10 years or more), then the way you seek out things to pique your magical interest may well have changed.

As a young magician in my teens most of my input came from books and tricks that I purchased. The books were the most important for me at that time because with limited money to spend, I could get so much more value from a book than I could from a single trick that might have cost as much or perhaps even more than the book.

But I had no local magic club that I could attend (and in those days in any case many societies only admitted people once they reached 18 years of age), the amount of magic on TV was very limited, and of course there was no internet to browse.

The result of this was that I was very much thrown back on myself and basically if I wanted to have some new material to try or practise, I often had to try and make it up for myself. Luckily I had a pretty fertile magic imagination and although I re-invented some tricks that I didn’t realise had come before, the creative process itself was something that has stayed with me for all of my life and has enabled me to create a business selling my own ideas.

So, having a limited access to information and stimulus led me down a particular path, and I do wonder whether if I was in my teens now, whether the limitless access to ideas and material would be better or worse.

The trend over the last few years has been increasingly to present magic information in a visual format, whether that be initially via DVD and now more often as online streaming video. There is an opinion held by many that having every trick explained visually is to the detriment of the magician’s imagination. In other words, if he sees an effect presented in one way he will automatically copy that and not think so much for himself.

To be honest, I’m not totally convinced by that argument as I think that truly creative people still use what they see as a springboard, and those who simply want to perform magic as offered to them, would do that in any case no matter what format it was presented to them in.

I’ve heard it opined that many magicians now refuse to read magic books saying that they can only learn from video. However, I would suggest that this is not a problem that magic has in isolation, but is a fact in general life too. Our phones, tablets and computers constantly bombard us with visual content, and so people become accustomed to this rather than having to wade through large chunks of text.

So, I think we should celebrate the variety of stimulus that we have for magic these days. Seeing the artistry of someone like Shin Lim on AGT via YouTube, or reading a great routine in a new book, or sharing a magic move with a magic club colleague, all these help us to enjoy our art fully.

Author: Mark Leveridge

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