Where is the Old magic?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dragonfly, Oct 19, 2020.

  1. Early postings on bygone days, my legs buckle before the audience, I feel the urge to share some wisdom - a pin drops, there is silence. Where is the old magic? Lost in tomes from long ago, hidden from the view of the shiny and new.

    What is magic for?

    This is a brand new question to consider. Are we just to be tableside jesters, tumbling along, or can we repurpose the art to say something of worth?

    A coin vanishes, and fails to reappear - why should this be of value to a modern audience?
  2. In my opinion, these are all great t0pics to ponder on. Thank you for posting this. :)

    However, I think the question should just be "What is magic for?" instead of "Where is the old magic?", and the reason I'm beginning by saying this is because there have always been magic effects which are just flashy eye-candy and nothing else, in the past and today.

    The problem with equating old magic to modern magic is also in the amount of knowledge and exposure to magic people have now-a-days. Sawing a woman in half, walking on water, all of these used to be miracles. Now, they aren't. Especially with the advent of technology, video editing and (again) knowledge of how TV productions work, people tend to be less surprised in general because they know that everything is to some extent, possible.

    In fact, it's my guess that if I could go back to the 1500's and just show people what my smartphone can do, then I could gain legions of followers and start a new religion (or be burnt as a witch). Because that's mind-melting, real magic to them. If I went back to 1950 and just told people what the internet is, they'd say it is real magic.

    What is 'real magic' or 'worthy magic' or what value magic brings to the audience, is a function of time.

    Practically speaking, this is a question which the magician has to answer while thinking about their patter or presentation. When I see an IMPOSSIBLE looking coin vanish on Instagram today, synced to music, I think, 'Oh, that's nice.'. When I see Garrett Thomas vanishing a coin, I remember it enough to reference it years later on a Theory XI forum post. I'll never forget it.

    So it isn't the coin vanish that's of value. It's what value WE as magicians bring to it.

    Also, 'value' is a pretty relative term. The flashy Instagram coin vanish does bring me value, just a different kind. I look at it and go 'Wow!'. Seeing the coin vanish impossibly right when the music beat drops, I'm entertained.
    Seeing the sharpie pass through a deck even with zero context, I'm astonished.
    Looking at magicians coming up with creative ways to vanish and produce the magic thumb lights, I am amused and I laugh.

    All of this is valuable to me. Comparatively more short term? Yes. Are they replaceable with any other post from any other art form that's entertaining, astonishing or funny? Yes. But they're still not worthless.

    Just a different kind of worthy.

    Sometime, I don't WANT a magic effect to communicate any message at all. I look at somebody performing an impossible effect with a storyline, a message, and I go "Stop already, it's just a card trick!". There are times when I can't bear watching mentalism performances no matter how amazing the performer genuinely is (my brain goes "Just read their mind ALREADY" or "you want me to believe that you have these godly powers, and all you did with it is audition for AGT?"). I pause and realise that I'm reading book after book, post after post, thread after thread on how to make a coin vanishing magic trick look good! I feel so pretentious and also, stupid.

    Then there are times when I want something more. I want to look at magic the art form. I want to re-visit my childlike wonder. I want to listen to Asi Wind talk about invisible dice. I want to listen to Garrett Thomas talk about reality. I want to listen to David Copperfield talk about what love is. I want to read and re-read Strong Magic, Maximum Entertainment a million times.

    I think that all magicians, to some extent, face this duality. All non-magicians too, in fact all human beings in my opinion, face the duality of wanting some 'light entertainment' sometimes or wanting some 'life-altering experience'.

    Aiming for just the latter is therefore, not only unnecessarily making things too difficult for oneself but also limiting. I feel that the beautiful, actual life-changing magic should be the general goal. But if we end up hitting the eye-candy level instead, it's still worth it.

    But yet again, we should pause from time to time and gain perspective on what we are spending hours, days and ultimately years of our life pursuing. Again, just my opinion.

  3. As the magic ages it becomes like a fine wine. Tomorrow's dreams are always urging us forward. To recognize the subjective nature of art is great. Magic can be anything you wish it to be. So thank you for your response. As the coin reappears the audience is relieved, like the punchline of the joke brings laughter.

    What is the old magic?

    Not tricks as performed by the conjurer that's for sure. The old magic to which I refer is more a state of mind. To return to the old ways, and make magic real once again. Some have referred to this as Urban Shamanism... this strikes me as a rather unfortunate title with a commercial undertone.
  4. Commercial undertone? Not sure where you're getting that, personally. The esoteric practice of Urban Shamanism was well established when I discovered it back in 2000 or so. It's an effort to bring the spiritual practices of Shamanism into the modern, urban setting. More recently there was also a movement with the same name in the magic community, which could justifiably be categorized as a combination of Bizarre Magic and Mentalism with spiritual undertones.

    Something Matt Pulsar said recently on the subject on the Cafe seems relevant:
    As far as the magic industry goes, the old school bizarre magic resources are probably going to have the closest thing to what you're talking about in this thread. If you want to explore that, look into the original releases. Authors like Caleb Strange, Doc Shiels, Eugene Poinc - their routines are more like rituals than a magic show. A lot of people will recommend Andruzzi as well but his truly bizarre work was generally hand made, very limited, and now very expensive if you can actually find it for sale.
  5. The term shamanism itself is a strange one. To the western mind it conjures up a certain image, and one which is quite alluring. Exotic themes have been utilized by western stage magicians for a long while. The otherworldly is enticing, especially to those who live in urban settings.

    Perhaps you can enlighten us: how does one become an urban shaman?
  6. Refer to my previous post, particularly the quoted portion.
  7. Is this the same Matt Pulsar?

  8. That is him, yes. Matt Pulsar is an alias and not the name he performs under for his more serious work.
  9. "At the moment, the people who are using shamanism and magic to shape our culture are advertisers" - Alan Moore
  10. You have to take into consideration the techno-industrial civilization that exists now and the technophile ways people are

    when let's say Blackstone Floated a Lightbulb there was no other explanation besides supernaturalism, now even if you know it might not be true people have been exposed to Computer-generated effects, Camera Tricks, the internet, Social-Media there are more "explanations" available that people can associate "Magic" with, even if it is absurd the connection "can" be made and as long as it exists as a possibility the doubt will always be there...

    But, that should never be an excuse for Magicians/Mentalists
    MohanaMisra and Gabriel Z. like this.

  11. I am sorry but I am completely lost...

    Are we talking about REAL magic here which we aren't sure exists or not? Or are we talking about shamans claiming to use real magic?

    This, is important.
  12. 1) Tricks are real magic
    2) Matt Pulsar's quote is confusing
    3) What is an urban shaman?

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