Theory Thoughts

Sleightly Ambitious Post #3

Most magic books jump right into technique and tricks, an understandable approach as the majority of starting magicians seek to understand the secrets first. All spectators want to know what happened that caused their astonishment, those more interested in knowing the method are the eager entering the magic world that take the next step to actually purchase a magic book.

Get a few tricks under your belt, perform them with moderate skill, and overtime magic theory becomes an interest. The what and how have been consumed, processed in the minds of the beginner magician, and after a period of time the why questions start to come into fruition…I have a hard time with this approach.

Think about when learning to drive a vehicle for the first time, what does everyone remember…safety first. They don’t teach you how to turn on your windshield wipers, how to parallel park, how to make a left turn. Rather, they teach you about safety, and why safety is important. Lessons around what the signs mean, why they are important, what you need to remember before starting a car, etc. Could the safety lessons equate to magic theory? Perhaps not the best analogy, I figured save myself hours of trying to identify the most applicable analogy, and risk complete paralyzation of publishing this post :).

I argue that the why could be more important than the what and how when starting out in magic. Beginners are immediately suckers for the good and the bad, as they struggle to differentiate between the quality vs the crap. The Ascanio trilogy puts a reader through the journey of understanding his theories, ideas, and principles first. His first book in fact is all theory, no tricks. His subsequent two books are packed with incredible magic. I lean in the direction of Ascanio’s approach…I imagine most would irregardless of the argument currently being made because he’s one of the great magical minds.

I follow the path of understanding the why first so I can better optimize my process of sifting through the what and how. I’m upgrading my shit-radar before it has a chance to become infected with weak art.

For me, Strong Magic – Ortiz.

A recap from my last post…Waving the Aces by Hollingworth and now Ortiz. This will keep my busy for quite a while, Strong Magic is packed with insights.

Magic is Hard

Sleightly Ambitious Post #2

Jamy Ian Swiss said it best when he spent time with us at the Chicago Magic Lounge, “Magic is fucking hard, put in the work and shut up”. Sleight of hand takes time to master, memorizing decks is brain numbing, scripting a performance to best fit your style/persona is never ending, keeping track of who came up with what technique/principle/method/effect is exhausting.

Those taking their first steps into the magical baby pool are eager to show their close circles of trust that the hours they spent reading and practicing tricks are worth it with casual performances; only to trip up or forget a step in the sequence as their confidence got the best of them. The resulting response is more often than not a sympathetic applause or ‘nice’, the forceful support is defeating. Non-professional magicians don’t have a varied audience, therefore we’re at the mercy of learning numerous new tricks as not to exhaust or bore our friends/family. Professional magicians however can have a rock solid set of 5-8 tricks that takes them years to perfect yet years of paid gigs to work through as a result. The beginning is terrifying, the middle is messy, the end is…well, never the end.

The greats we aspire to have no end in sight, they are constantly learning new things, tweaking existing, and questioning the old principles. Magic is hard because there are so many layers of complexity, so much so that the faint of heart or unguided will become paralyzed by choice and resort to watching more and more youtube videos of performances. The entertainment is more satisfying than the learning, the immediate pleasure of watching magic on youtube blind-sides the big picture.

Find a focal point, pick a trick and focus on getting very good at that one trick. Take time to explore variances to the effect, you’ll find hundreds of varied approaches. Think about the environments you’ll likely perform a trick, and find something that best suits the setting and time.

Just don’t overthink it, just pick one and start.

Waving the Aces.

I know you were expecting the Ambitious card, but I’m not ready to drop multiple doubles like a boss just yet. I need to honor that trick, and I’m not there yet.