Dear Friends in Magic,
Greetings! I hope you and your loved ones are okay now that we are in the “second inning” of the pandemic. Here’s hope there will be only two innings in this particular “game”! In any event, my goal here is to let some magic illuminate your day, so let’s start with…
A BIG IDEA
On July 23, I wrapped up my three-week online course devoted to the magic-philosophy books of the great master, Juan Tamariz.
In our first week, we worked through The Five Points in Magic—Juan’s extraordinary book about how to use the “five points” of our body during performance to effectively communicate our magic. The following week we took off on The Magic Way, studying Juan’s rigorous method for constructing routines so they create profound experiences of the impossible. Finally, we worked together, for nearly four hours, on Juan’s recently published conclusion to his trilogy, forty years in the making, his magnum opus: The Magic Rainbow.
The Magic Rainbow is an overwhelming achievement. It is both Juan’s “love song” to his chosen art and it includes rigorous analyses and arguments about what magic performance is and could be. And it uncovers several important features of the work that have never been discussed before in any magic book (wow!). Almost certainly, The Magic Rainbow is the most consequential magic book published in the past twenty-five years.
For just one example… . In Chapter 3 (“The Magical Effect and Its Significance”), Juan makes a beautiful argument—with many examples—that great, classic magic routines are not merely impossible: they must also be fascinating.
Whoah! That’s a big idea! Magic isn’t only about fooling or surprising people; it is also about doing a particular kind of effect that audiences find fascinating, captivating, enthralling.
What does Juan mean by this? Fortunately, he is crystal clear: What fascinates an audience is that the magic effect has symbolic and metaphoric content—that it theatrically presents the fulfillment of deep human wishes, desires, and dreams.
For example, this happens when one ring is liberated from a linked chain of rings, when the symbol of created life—an egg—emerges time and again from the void, when the playing card keeps rising to the top, against all odds, and so many others. Juan’s work in this chapter really turned some of my thinking around, and I feel inspired!
That’s what a great work of philosophy can do for us, and I have only mentioned one discussion in one chapter out of twelve! How lucky we are that Juan dedicated so much of his lifetime to the composition of this book! How lucky that we’re now able to harvest the fruits of his labor, to test ourselves and our own thinking, and to perhaps discover something new to guide and shape our own magic.
The Magic Rainbow is a major event in the subculture of magic. Every magician needs to study it and read it, because Master Juan has “changed the game.”
IN THE STUDIO
Alongside my preparations for the Tamariz course, I have been developing several new pieces of interactive magic for Zoom, which have been performed in our online courses and in some of the online appearances I have been asked to make.
Further, I have been working to complete two books. Judge Gary Brown’s Wandcraft: Making and Using a Magic Wand is now off to the printer and will be unveiled at our Online Magic and Meaning Conference, October 24-25, 2020. This is going to be a major event for the Magic & Mystery School. (Perhaps you would like to join us?)
I have also been working on a new book with Bob Neale and illustrator Kiva Singh: Magic Inside Out. It will be ready for design in September for an early spring 2021 release.
When you this arrives in your inbox, I will be full-on back to the work on Eugene Burger: Final Secrets. Many of you have emailed with concerned inquiries. Never fear: the book remains on track to be released when I intended, sometime in the summer of 2021.
So, there has been no “moss” growing on this “stone.” New online courses, new routines, new books. The studio has remained very busy!
IT’S NOT MAGIC, BUT…
Many of you know that Marjorie, my wife, is the President of Rhodes College here in Memphis. You can imagine the kind of summer she has had as the College faces the massive complexities of trying to bring students back on campus. Nonetheless, on the one day she took “off” in late June, she wrote a thoughtful essay that might inspire you.
It is titled, “How ‘One True Question’ Will Clarify Your Life’s Purpose.” The essay invites each of us to think about our “one true question” —a core yearning that guides our life, our thinking, and our pursuits. It appears that everyone has one, although for some of us it might take some careful excavation to put it into words. (And for others, they will know it instantly.)
Marjorie’s essay helps us understand this idea and why it matters. She also expresses her own “one true question” and how it has shaped her life.
My “one true question” is about how to stay present and fully connected to each other and to the extraordinary living moment. This question has been with me as long as I can remember. It carried me into philosophy, and it guides all my work in magic. Because nothing connects people in the real like a moment of radical astonishment, when thinking stops and we are ecstatically together in wonder.
Marjorie’s essay can be read here. I hope it inspires you, as it has done for me.
HAPPENING AT THE PRESS
In conjunction with the Tamariz course, Theory and Art of Magic Press been selling copies of The Magic Way and The Magic Rainbow. In addition, we just acquired copies of Juan’s Verbal Magic, which has been out of print for years. When sheltering-at-home hit in March, as a kind of therapeutic discipline, I worked through one of Juan’s remarkable routines each day, knowing I would need to create new magic for online and Zoom performance. Juan’s opening discussion of the principles he uses in creating effective routines like this is worth the price of admission.
Finally, let me mention again that we now carry both the print and PDF versions of Ferdinando Buscema’s and Mariano Tomatis’s Amaze: The Art of Creating Magical Experiences. Amaze is not a book of tricks but a manual that will help you design magical experiences for friends, colleagues, clients, and customers.
As my friend Jeff McBride likes to say, “Magic is good medicine.” It is good for ourselves and others, especially during these days of stress and challenge. I hope my thoughts here have brought some magical “medicine” to your day. Stay in touch and please share this newsletter with any friends and family who might enjoy it.
May you be healthy and peaceful in the weeks ahead!
Dean of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School
Publisher, Theory and Art of Magic Press