This post was supposed to go up on Friday, but due to some minor trouble with my site maintenance program, it did not… So here it is now!
I’ve been sifting through some wonderful old books, and what really strikes me as wonderful, (especially today, with our drawn out descriptions of how everything works) is how little information they gave. There really was just a basic mention of how something was accomplished. You didn’t go into gritty detail, rather, you got a basic idea of what to do to make the magic happened. In many ways, this is advantageous. While I love reading methods for hours and hours trying to dissect the reasoning, there are times when you read two effect that are oddly… similar. It seems today we have become so specific about the exact method that things like selection procedure (when not radically different) or the type of top palm are being used as differentiators from the original. Variations are being published but they variation isn’t changing anything important.
The classic “I use red cards, he used blue, so it’s my trick.” comes to mind immediately. We also see a lot of inferior methods being put in print, simply to put it in print. How much Marlo stuff do we consider to be kinda inferior? Tons! But that was his style. Publish everything, no matter how small the change. Probably so that nobody would be able to publish something similar and claim it was there own. It is too bad we don’t really use those all encompassing statements like, “force a card by your favorite method” or “have the card returned and controlled to the top” That’s all you need to know relative to some tricks, and the many over specific descriptions that use extremely standard selection processes then claim to be variants are nothing more than crude attempts at originality.
Perhaps we are at a crossroads where one must describe the tricks and method, and then provide personal preferences for the selection process. Maybe this will help to prevent the glut of repetitive publishing and releases we see today. Next time you read a method for a trick, ask yourself if they really needed to include ALL that detail in certain parts. Then, if you have them around found a book from like 50 years ago, or further back if you can, and read the descriptions of tricks. The Art of Magic by T. Nelson Hilliard should be full of perfect examples.