How to read this book

As you sit to read this book, you may notice elements of its format that strike you as odd. One is the use of numbered steps within effects and routines, though not techniques. This is a largely abandoned practice in recent magic writing. It was also the cause of considerable discourse between my wise publisher, Stephen Minch, and me during the preparation of this work. While other authors have used numbered steps for their own reasons, it is my intention that the steps provide the reader with guidance regarding "performance phrasing," a term and concept that requires some explanation. A magical effect is neither a series of discrete actions nor a chain of techniques interposed with open actions and patter. Rather, all the actions, secret and open, cluster into sequences or "phrases." Between these phrases are pauses, sometimes filled with patter, when nothing consequential seems to happen. These pauses are functional in much the way paragraphs are in writing: they improve clarity. I believe "phrasing" to be an important element in effective performance but one that is rarely, if ever, addressed in print. Like a rest in music, the "performance pause" is as integral and useful an element of a magical piece as a patter line or a gesture. While the most evident benefit is to increase the clarity of the effect, other ends are also served. To be fair, sometimes these lulls allow secret actions to be performed, or at least to be set up, and some authors have noted such uses in their text. The late Tony Slydini employed somewhat exaggerated moments of tension and relaxation to integrate misdirection into his choreography. Such use is indeed powerful. Most often, however, these pauses are simply moments of relaxation, respites of varied duration between clusters of activity. In most sequences, precisely when a pause occurs is not critical but that one occurs is important. (Essential pauses are noted in the text.) Thus, while the particular moment may not be critical, a step-indicated pause is often necessary and is always helpful. Still, they are not cast in stone but should be seriously considered. Collectively, the pauses impose a sort of irregular rhythm to a performance. I could, I believe, write a small book on performance phrasing and how little variations from regularity—known in Music as "rubato"—distinguish performers and their performances. For now, it should suffice to suggest that you take note of the step-indicated pauses. Consider them as both general guidance and specific reminders that a pause is in order and where I recommend you take it.

Beyond this active performance function, I see the step divisions as a kind of "super-paragraph," binding together related ideas that have multiple sub-ideas relating to the sequence being described. A step number indicates more than a paragraph break but less than a section heading. Finally, as they have been used in the past, step numbers allow for more efficient description of multiple handlings of the same effect where only portions of the two differ. With the gentle prodding of my fine publisher, I have tried to provide enough of a reminder of what the referenced steps accomplish to avoid requiring you to re-read the original text. It is, however, assumed that you have a familiarity with the referenced handling. Where you have doubts, re-read the original.

You will also notice gray stripes in left margins of many pages. At times, in the explanation of an effect or a routine I will stop to examine side issues, occasionally at some length, that are closely related to ideas being discussed. To make it easier to follow the trail of the actual handling, the action text is indicated by the gray stripes.

KNOWLEDGE my assumption

I stated earlier that this book was not written for the hobbyist; neither was it written for the novice. An issue that arises in any magic book these days is referencing standard techniques. This book is no exception. Enchantments is not intended for the rank beginner. There are many excellent texts for that purpose. It is assumed you have a working familiarity with the basic tools of our craft. I have not re-described techniques that I believe the reader should already know. Still, we all have gaps in our knowledge. Mindful of this, I've tried to provide references to texts describing these techniques. These texts are not always the earliest versions but rather point to what I consider reasonably good descriptions. Most other techniques are described within this work, though I've tried, where possible, to avoid re-description or duplication of my own published material.


the creation of magic

This is a sore point for me. I believe that credit should be given where credit is due, and I have endeavored to do so as best I can. I have even taken some credit for myself. I have no personal vendetta for or against anyone. I made my pilgrimage to see Ed Mario and I thought the man a wondrous gift to our chosen pursuit and was glad to call him friend. I knew Dai Vernon from the time I was a boy. I didn't know then that the man would become a living legend but he was always a kind and informative help to me. I have submitted material to those who have asked me to do so and some who haven't, and I intend to continue to do so. If I offend anyone, it is not because I intend to offend but because the truth is the truth; I report it as I know it. Someone (I wish I knew who) once said, "There are three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth." I report my side. If anyone wishes to discuss these matters with me, to add information to my store and by doing so attempt to alter my perception, I am willing to listen. I will not take sides and I will not argue. To all who have contributed to the art of magic, I love you all. You have shared with me the product of your creative minds, a gift from God, a reflection of the God within you. I can do no less than love you for that. But if you would fight, bicker or bring negativity to magic, I will ignore you. The price you wish to elicit for your work is too dear. The courts take years and millions of dollars to settle battles over who invented what, and even then the results are rarely satisfying. In those cases, at least the parties get to present their respective cases before an impartial arbiter. We have no such arbiter in magic and no forum for the presentation of cases. The bitterness that grows out of arguments is corrosive, invidious and hopeless of resolution.

Eat, drink, make magic, for tomorrow we may die.

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