Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I have spent most of my day trying to figure out why the printer did not want to talk to the network. I shut things off and on with no result. I uninstalled the software only to discover that I could not reinstall the software because my laptop did not see the printer because the network couldn’t see the printer. I ended up switching the Ethernet cable that connects the router to the feed from ONO who is our cable and Internet provider. After I did that the printer was able to see the network, but I have no idea whether the new cable was the solution to the problem or whether the gods of technology took pity on me.
Yesterday was pretty uneventful. Susan caught up with Vilma for breakfast and a chat and I made it to the gym for my workout. On her way home Susan stopped at the Central Market and picked up some ham, cheese, fruit and vegetables. When I got back we decided to eat at home because Susan had an Aqua Fitness class at 3:30 and she wanted to be sure that her meal was well digested before she jumped into the pool. Susan made another spectacular salad that included fresh strawberries and goat cheese. She also made a tortilla española and along with some white wine and a spectacular loaf of bread from El Parisien – the bread had bits of chocolate and nuts embedded in it – we enjoyed a very satisfying meal.
While Susan was away at the gym, I worked on the blog. I had to put that task off because earlier in the morning I had received a plea for an instant editing job on the English course descriptions for Magic Agora that were supposed to go up yesterday, but somehow they just did not make it there. Later in the day I headed to the CIVAC where I hung out for an hour and a half and then made my way back home. Susan had already eaten so picked on some of the ham and cheese she had bought in the morning and life was very good. Since we were both tired we had an early bedtime.
My friend, Robin Robertson, who is a Jungian analyst, as well as an author, mathematician and magician frequently talks about synchronicity. I have caged the following definition from Wikipedia for those of you unfamiliar with the term. Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance and that are observed to occur together in a meaningful manner. The concept of synchronicity was first described in this terminology by Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s”. The reason that I mention this is because synchronicity was very much in evidence in my life yesterday.
One of the documents that I was editing yesterday had to do with imitation versus creativity. In the world of magic one begins by copying and imitating. The problem arises when one is content to do just that and only that. The Internet and the plethora of DVD’s have exacerbated the situation. The best evidence of that is an experience a friend of mine had when he visited the Magic Castle in Hollywood in the company of several lovely ladies. Younger members continuously approached the group offering them the opportunity to see them do some magic. That night five different guys approached the group and every single one of them did the same effect. My friend said that it was if they all were working from the same script. Instead of amazement, the end product was boredom.
Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery or is it an excuse for those who are too lazy to exercise their creativity muscle. There are roughly a dozen processes that define the world of magic. I will not list them all, but, as magicians we can make things appear or disappear and we can even transform them. The number of objects that we can make appear or disappear is limited only by one’s imagination. Technique in magic is important, but it never as important as presentation. Effective presentation is what sets the good magician apart from the bad magician. In order to put together an effective presentation you need to know who you are as a performer and what you need to do to make both you and your presentations unique.
That in essence is what Magic Agora is about. The goal of this online magic academy is to teach you all that you need to know about being an artful and entertaining magician. In addition to “tricks”, you need to have an understanding of the history of magic, the sociology of magic, the psychology of magic and the philosophy of magic. You need to have knowledge of scripting, as well as movement, music and audience management. In truth, most magicians today could care less about the aforementioned skills and are happy to buy trick after trick, DVD after DVD and presenting material that is for the most part unentertaining and boring. There is no unity to their performance. The glue that holds a performance together is you, the magician, the unique and original you the magician. Magic Agora strives to make you the best performer, artist, entertainer or magician that you can possibly be. That is why their motto is, “More than just tricks!”
As if copying another’s style or act weren’t enough, there are many people out there who are more than happy to steal someone else’s copyrighted work in the belief that they are somehow entitled to it. If I publish a book, make an album, create some software or make a movie it is somehow okay for me not only to copy it and make it available to hundreds or thousands of people for free. I guess the idea is hurray for me and to hell with the creator. These days you can download entire movies for free, as well as albums, as well as books. There is one magic site that has closed membership where you can download every important magic book that has ever been printed, not to mention hundreds and hundreds if DVD’s. Their justification is that it is way too expensive to buy the originals and, in that way, give the author a fair return on his work. It is clear that we live in the age of entitlement where people fell entitled to everything and are exempt from any responsibility for their actions. This was the focus of Sunday night’s podcast of This Week in Tech as they talked about a bill before congress that would place limitations on the Internet.
The third event in the trifecta of synchronicity was something that happened at the CIVAC meeting last night. A member was showing off two effects that he had bought for manufacturers in China. Both were copies of effects that were created and marketed by their creators. The Chinese have taken to copying hundreds of magic effects and selling them at greatly reduced prices. Again the justification of those who buy these pirated copies is that the originals are way too expensive so it is okay to buy the pirated copies. This bespeaks an unwillingness to acknowledge that a lot of research and development, trial and error and enormous amounts of time went into producing the product and the creator is asking to be rewarded for all his time, effort and creativity. Also, sometimes prices are set to create exclusivity for an effect so it does not end up being something that every magician does.
Do I think that anything that I have said here will change things? No, I don’t. I will continue to live my life according to what I think is ethical and fair and I will continue to work with groups and organizations whose goal is to help people of all stripes to tap into their creativity and learn how to exercise it. If you have read this far, I thank you. This is me stepping down from my soapbox.