Chapter 1 - The Real Secrets in Magic
Beyond doubt, the attractiveness of magic is largely due to its secrets. Not only to the general public, but also to the professional magician, the secrets of magic represent the most fascinating branch of the subject. They are, among all classes of society, a popular topic for conversation. They have given birth to whole libraries of literature and are responsible for a mass of chuckle headed opinions-greater in number and variety, perhaps, than have ever resulted from the discussion of any other subject under the sun.
Unfortunately, however, notwithstanding the constant attention de voted to this theme, the real secrets of the magic art have received but scant consideration. Their true nature-indeed, their very existence may be said to have been almost entirely disregarded by the public, and too frequently overlooked by professional magicians. The prevalent idea is that the secrets of magic consist in tricks and dodges, connected with the manipulations and the apparatus employed in the art. To most people, the "secret" of any magical presentation means simply "how it is done." It is assumed that, when once the devices used in producing a magical effort have been discovered, the' secret of that effect is revealed. The trick has been found out, and therefore nothing remains to be learned. A more erroneous view has never been conceived. Not only so, it is a view that cannot be justified on any rational ground, as we propose to show in the following pages.
The real secrets of magic are not merely trade secrets. They are not workshop devices, connected with manipulation and mechanism. They are not ingenious dodges which, when learned, enable their possessor to accomplish all that a skilled magician can do. They are not tricks and puzzles devised for the bewilderment of the public. Far from it. They are of an order far higher than elementary matters of that description, and far removed from the popular conception of their nature. Our present object is to disclose these secrets-to explain the real basis of the magic art, and the principles upon which magical effects actually depend. In short, we intend to show not only the tricks which magicians use, but also the essential factors which underlie the whole art and practice of magic. It will be found that, so far from being bound up in jugglery and paraphernalia, the true art in magic is purely intellectual in character, and comprises an infinitely varied range of interest.
It is essential in the first place that a just conception be formed of the scope and intention of this present section of our work. "The Art in Magic" is a very different thing from "The Art of Magic." The latter term may embrace an immense number of diverse considerations. The former relates to one side only of magic; a side which has never received the attention it deserves. Our immediate aim is the elucidation of those fundamental principles which, being reduced to practice, justify the claim of magic to be classed among the Arts-not, of course, among the mechanical arts, but among the Fine Arts-the Arts with a big A. We wish to demonstrate the causes which, irrespective of technical skill and knowledge, determine the relative success or failure of individual aspirants to fame in pursuit of our art. It is evident that such matters are well worthy of consideration by every magician even one of the most practical, or most commercial type. Indeed, it may be said, with some show of reason, that the man who cannot explain the principles involved in such questions as these, cannot claim to understand the inwardness of the magic art. It is that inwardness which governs a performer's ultimate success or failure. Therefore, it must be well to investigate the actual agencies which dominate the successful practice of magic.
This we shall now attempt, to the best of our ability. In doing so, however, we must direct the reader's attention to things which do not lie upon the surface of our subject. We must deal with points which are not exactly obvious to the man who, for the first time, looks into a book dealing with magic. We must, for the moment, lose sight of such details as "sleights" and "fakes," and confine our attention to broad principles which, superficially, may seem to be mere abstractions, of no especial importance to practical men. But, as we proceed, we hope to show by means of practical illustrations the really important nature of the matters we are discussing.
We presume that everyone will agree to the recognition of magic as an art. As a matter of fact, magic embodies both art and science. Ordinarily, the phrase "the art of magic" is used as including everything that relates to the subject, from any point of view whatever. Therefore, since our present inquiry relates only to the art side of magic, and has no concern with its science, we have been careful to choose for this section a title which avoids the loose terminology commonly employed. Then, magic being admittedly an art, let us investigate the real nature of the Art in Magic; for, upon that investigation depends the disclosure of the real secrets of magic.Back to Magic