Dear Friends in Magic,
I hope you are well as we head into an exciting summer. I have lots of news this time, but, as always, we start with:
A BIG IDEA
Over the past decade, I have delivered many magic programs for medical professionals. This has happened at several Mystery School events, but also through the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. There, Ricardo Rosenkranz, M.D., is the award-winning teacher of Magic and Medicine classes for first- and second-year medical students, and he often brings me in to astonish those young docs and share my views about the fascinating relationship between these fields.
One way I frame the discussion is by sharing my belief that doctors, healers, and health professionals might learn some important things from professional magicians—for example, about not letting the technology (“props”) get in the way, relationship building, and crafting “good words” to serve the desired outcome. At the same time, I acknowledge that performing magicians have many things to learn from professional healers, so “let’s get into it.” And we do!
The learning exchange is always high-energy and great fun—and those medical students have some serious sleight-of-hand “chops” waiting to be trained. But here I want to share three things I’ve learned from these conversations that inspire me as a magician.
1. Medical professionals are surrounded by a Culture of Excellence. There is no other standard than the highest one because the stakes are so high. This isn’t to say healers, and the institutions around them, are perfect. They aren’t, and mistakes and misfunctions happen. But striving for excellence, insisting on it, developing systems to protect it, and learning from every mishap is the universal norm.
2. Medical professionals are committed to Continual Learning. Required, ongoing learning is just part of the deal. This often takes the form of structured courses and experiences known as Continuing Education (CE) and Continuing Medical Education (CME). But also, healers have a disciplined commitment to reviewing journals and the latest research to stay on top of developments in their specific area of expertise and in patient care as a whole.
3. Medical professionals fully embrace the ethos of Best Practices. Healers are incessantly looking for a better way. This hunger brings with it a refreshing openness to creative thinking and innovative practices that are well outside the box. Which is, I think, why my presentations as a magician in medical institutions are so enthusiastically welcomed. Even so, the heat is on: I have to really deliver because these folks need solid content and won’t suffer fools gladly.
I deeply admire these three values, and I love spending time with the medical professionals who embody them. Of course, magic performance has far smaller stakes, but I often wonder: What might the art of magic become if our sub-culture more fully embraced these values? What might my own magic become if I can remain true to their higher vision?
In the Studio
It is going to be a big summer of appearances, so these days I am in full-fledged rehearsal mode. Here is a partial list of what’s coming up:
This Thursday, June 16: Special Guest on the Washington Magic Show. For readers in the D.C. area, a few last-minute tickets might still be available.
June 20-26: 7-Day Master Class in Las Vegas at the Magic & Mystery School.
July 10-16: Lance Burton Teen Seminar offered at the I.B.M. National Convention in Atlanta. Lance, Jeff McBride, and I will be running teen programs all week, so be sure to say “hello” if you are attending the convention.
July 25-30: FISM Convention in Quebec City, Canada. FISM is the premier magic convention in the world, and this is the first time it’s being held in North America. I have been booked to both deliver a main stage lecture and perform/teach every day as part of the Mystery School Installation. At the time of writing, registrations are still available.
And finally…I am delighted to announce that in September my full-evening show Magical Life will run for four weeks at the Rhapsody Theatre in Chicago. To be precise, it will open Labor Day Weekend and run the next two weeks; after a one-week hiatus, I will be back for a final week of shows, closing on October 2.
Tickets for my September run at the Rhapsody and the August shows of Rob Zabrecky will go on sale in July. Meanwhile, tickets have just gone on sale for the season’s first two performers: the fabulous Carisa Hendrix as Lucy Darling and the incomparable mentalist Ross Johnson. So perhaps a trip to Chicago is in your future!
IT’S NOT MAGIC, BUT…
Ordinarily, this section focuses on something tangential to magic, but since my Big Idea already ent there I want to discuss something squarely in the world of magic: the recent work by the Spanish card maestro Dani DaOrtiz.
It doesn’t matter if you like cards or not, Dani’s work is creating new concepts and practices for every magician. As a student of Juan Tamariz, Dani starts from a deep understanding of the psychology of attention and memory, but he goes further in highly practical ways. In creating his staggering card mysteries, DaOrtiz cares less about what the audience thinks or even sees and much more about what they feel. Because, he maintains, those feelings form “pillars of memory” that either point toward or away from the method.
For a quick example, if I grip the cards in my hand, set them on the table in a squared pile, or deal them singly in a tidy stack, the audience feelscontrol. If then the participant is asked to say “stop” when I riffle the front corner of the tightly-held deck, the audience feels more control and builds a memory of this crucial moment, no matter how invisible my force is. Thus, Dani’s approach is to construct his magic so all feelings of control dissolve and memory pillars form around moments that have nothing to do with the method.
Wow! This is a huge idea, right? And that is just one of many to be found in Dani's work—practical concepts that have direct applications for many types of magic, including stage magic, mentalism, and grand illusion.
So, if you are interested in some “continual learning” about a forward edge of our art I recommend you start by digging in to Dani’s Any Card at Any Number Project (Penguin Magic) and move on to his new book, Freedom of Expression. Don’t get hung up on the cards; focus on the concepts. Like Burger, Wonder, and Tamariz before him, I think Dani DaOrtiz is breaking new ground.
HAPPENING AT THE PRESS
In April, I predicted two of our books would sell out by now, and I was prescient: Eugene’s Teaching Magic and Bob Neale’s Magic Matters are officially out of print.
But it might not be too late to get your copies, because I haven’t publicized this. My quick survey of eBay shows that copies of each book can still be found there at retail prices. So, act quickly if you need these not-to-be reprinted treasures.
After that, please stop in at Theory and Art of Magic Press to consider our books and supplies from artists like Jeff McBride, Juan Tamariz, Bob Neale, George Parker, among others. We also have Eugene Burger’s posthumous books (From Beyond and Final Secrets), as well as an exclusive line of props for many of Eugene’s mysteries.
I should mention that our home page can only feature a few items, so please click on the “Our Authors” link (in the upper left) to access a page for each author with all their items.
Thank you for reading my newsletter and sharing it with friends and family who might enjoy it. I like hearing from you about what inspires your own thinking and growth in our art. I hope to see you at a show or event as this busy summer moves forward.
Best Wishes, Larry Hass
Dean of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School
Publisher, Theory and Art of Magic Press