Mmm mkitt

VER the years, many writers of magic have laid great stress on the qualities of simplicity and directness when choosing or conceiving a magical effect. I agree and I disagree, depending on the sense in which the word simplicity is being used. §> There is a great difference between an effect that is easy to follow and one that is simple. Certainly an effect should be easy to follow. Otherwise one loses the audience. But should it always be as simple as possible?

Lets imagine that you wish to tell a story. Of course, when the story is told it must be possible for your listeners to follow the narrative. To achieve this goal you will want to use such tools as understandable language and logical steps in describing the progress of the story. However, if the story is told in a clear and easily understood fashion, there is no reason to keep the story itself as simple as possible. For a story to be interesting, it is desirable to have some clever twists, some embellishments that add to the atmosphere, perhaps even unexpected turns in the plot, a change in direction. A story stripped bare to the essentials can quickly become boring.

The idea expressed here is closely related to that discussed in "The Family Three" (p. 222). If we have two points in space and a line is allowed to flow through these two points, the line will be a straight one. Being straight rather than bent, the line bears no strain. Given three points in space, though, when a line flows through them, it must curve and there will be tension in it. Tension in the line places tension on the three points. With each point connected to another, forces come into play among all three. The result is vibration, life.

To make a story interesting, to introduce tension into it, more than two points are needed. A story going straight from Point A to Point B creates a tensionless, lifeless, static line. To have tension, a third point is needed. This third point can be virtually anything, a twist, an interesting idea. This creates a story that is much more interesting, more alive.

It is the same with tricks. You don t want a straight-line plot, with no tension; you desire an interesting curved line. Many effects have been made so simple, so direct, so barren of any extra elements, only a straightforward procedure remains. This, in my opinion, is rather boring. Effects can be made too simple, too direct. An added twist is needed to sustain interest. Such twists can be a secondary effect or merely an interesting viewpoint, an idea, a joke, a tag line that puts everything seen into a different perspective. You might even add more than

one extra point. A plot with five, seven or more points through which the line flows can work just as well.

Of course one has to be careful that these extra twists, additions and changes of direction don't make it difficult for the audience to follow your plot. Too many viewpoints, too many turns, too many ideas, and the effect can become a confused jumble. That's not what were after. Too many ideas are as bad as just one.

In "Mud in Your Eye", the third point in the plot is inherent to the type of effect in which something doesn't seem to go as planned. Midway in the action, the direction of the effect is completely changed: Instead of the copper coin crawling out of the box as promised, the silver coins penetrate through the box and the hand. This sudden and apparently spontaneous turnabout provides a rather drastic change in the direction of the effect.

The whole presentation of this effect could, of course, be made much simpler. You could make the copper coin penetrate through the box; or you could simply announce that the silver coins will pass through the box and the hand. This makes the plot much simpler; it now travels in a straight line from start to finish—but is it more interesting? I would say definitely no.

Another good example is Nate Leipzig's presentation for the venerable Stack of Pence trick; in my opinion, the best handling for this effect yet devised (see Dai Vernon's Tribute to Nate Leipzig by Ganson, Stanley, 1963, p. 131). In the Leipzig presentation two effects occur. The coins penetrate the hand (the main effect), and a dime, which was discarded in the beginning, magically reappears at the end (the secondary effect). This little effect of having the dime return is not sensational in itself, but it adds an extra element of surprise, an unexpected twist. It gives the effect more tension and substance than a straightforward penetration can provide.

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