Find magic you dislike
What plots in magic do you like? While a simple question on the surface, there's much depth in determining what is good and what is not.
Every month The Family posts a video podcast with Ben Earl and Myles Nakouzi. This last October, enough beer was had that conversation swerved to which plots in magic we don't like/find unappealing/would love to set on fire. Some mentions included Card on Ceiling, Cylinder and Coins, Oil and Water, and Cups and Balls.
Before you get out the digital pitchforks, let's take a deep breath and have a biscuit.
Magic has long placed ‘the classics’ high on pedestals. These routines have been refined generation after generation, gradually chipping away marble to reveal a beautiful figure within.
Plots become immortalized this way for a reason. Their construction may contain fundamental truths in creating Magic that refuse to be destroyed by time. Or, we'll see someone who's made the routine part of their soul, and we wish to find that passion in ourselves. We hope to touch the same Magic by mastering their routine. Take Jared Kopf’s rendition of the linking rings; it makes us want to cry and try to capture even a drop of his pure awesomesauce. This is a trap. As Michael Weber laid down at the Studio52 live event ‘TEN’, we'll never find their passion inside us. We must create our own.
After the October podcast dropped, The Family Forum quickly jumped forward with a fun ranking game of popular effects. From ‘the best of the best’ to ‘just plain bad’, every notable plot in card conjuring was sorted.
Everyone had their say, and while there was light ribbing, we were pleasantly surprised no digital riots erupted. We had our popcorn ready and everything. Really, we shouldn't have been that shocked, as everyone in The Family Forum is awesome. They understand it's okay for one person to like something others don't. If we all gravitated towards the same plots, magic would quickly collapse into an infinitely dense black hole of dullness. Just read up on the melodramatic rivalry between P.T. Selbit and Horace Goldin on sawing a woman in half—we’re still dealing with those after-effects.
Continuously questioning ideas is vital to the artistic process. We often learn more from what we dislike than what we do. Today's market is bloated with thousands of variations of plots and methods. It's easy to be frozen with decision fatigue. We solve this by tuning out the noise.
This is challenging. There's no shortcut, only time and practice. Like a fine wine, our taste evolves as we do. A perfect example is Ben's journey with Coins Across. He started with a smooth handling of three-fly but, with critical self-exploration, refined it over the years into the visceral experience of Primary Movement; check out the last session of Deep Coin Work for the full evolution.
All of our paths are different, but we don’t walk alone. Find those that inspire and push you to be better. Share your thoughts and listen to theirs. Learn from them, discover why they think it's good, then be critical and examine if you like it because of their passion or if there's something deeper calling to you.
Ignore everything your parents told you and be picky! We only have so much time to breathe, and we'll be damned if we spend it on something because others say it's good. Take that, Dad—we’re living life with our elbows on the table!
The best magic is that which comes from you. The hardest part is discovering what you want to say—not what you think, others will think is cool, if they heard you say it… but what you want to say.
Don't consume more. Curate more.