Remember that thing we call a book?
You probably have quite a few sitting on your shelves at home. Yet in today’s world, so many young magicians disdain this “old fashioned” media for the instant accessibility of the Internet and DVDs. Let’s face it, youtube.com and other sites, along with DVDs, have revolutionized the industry and in many ways changed the way we learn new moves, sleights, routines, and tricks. However, for many of us, including the readers of The Linking Ring, there is something particularly satisfying about reading the “how-to” of an effect. The written word often gives us insight into the thinking behind an effect and thus a deeper understanding of how something is constructed.
The purpose of this passage is to bring you back to the bookshelf so to speak, to call attention to a few tomes that are on mine and perhaps, to get you to revisit a few of yours. If you are anything like me, you periodically reach almost randomly for a text that you forgot about; kind of like pulling out a gimmick from that drawer we all seem to have full of miscellaneous items purchased, played with, and then buried away.
Such was my experience a few days ago when I came across my weathered copy of Jerry Mentzer’s Counts, Cuts, Moves, and Subtlety (1977). I had completely forgotten about this paperback, though many years ago it was a rich source of instruction for me. I had studied and practiced most of the material contained in the book, finding Mentzer’s “voice” to be clear, precise, and accessible. Of course Mentzer’s book had led me to Hugard and Braue’s Expert Card Technique (or perhaps it was the other way around) and at some point the path guided me to the works of Erdnase, Marlo, Lorayne, Harris, Krenzel, Elmsley and countless others as well as periodicals like Apocalypse, Genii, Richard’s Almanac, The Hierophant, and of course, The Linking Ring. The same can be said about reading Bobo’s Coin Magic and how that led to reading Vernon and Roth and so on. Please forgive this tired metaphor, but these seminal works were for me the roots of a tree of learning that now has more branches that I can keep track of. I don’t know if viewers of videos can trace the lineage of all the things they have learned over time nor do I mean to judge them. But for me a visit to my personal library not only brings back memories of a time gone by, but also reignites the passion I have for all things magical.
Since all art is dependent on what came before, the creative process is thus evolutionary and predicated on influence. Our libraries are the tangible foundations upon which we have built, sustained, and enriched our bodies of knowledge. I urge you to take a trip down your own memory lane and randomly pull out a volume that you haven’t picked up in years. Hold that book in your hand, feel the texture of the paper, inhale its scent, and then (another tired cliché) open up your mind. I guarantee that the experience will be worth the trip.