Monday, 31 December 2012

Alan Moore an Illuminated Showman

Alan Moor is a comic book writer. Amongst his most famous are Watchmen, V for Vendetta and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  I was watching the documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore and as he spoke I found myself amazed at how similar our thinking was. He truly is an Illuminated Showman. He too believes that what artists (showmen) does originated in the Shaman, he to believe that we can do real magic, he believes... Just read it for yourselves.
The below quote from the movie summarizes so many of my views it is scary. In the doco he talks about how there comes a time when the world is ripe for a new idea. Like when the steam engine was invented several people came up with it within a few weeks. Perhaps this is one of those. Perhaps we read the same books. Perhaps we both struggle with acceptance of art forms that all too easily are dismissed as "mere entertainment." Read on Illuminated friends and fellow travelers of the Way the words below are spoken by a true Master Showman.

You have to be very careful with what you say because if you suddenly declare yourself a magician, without any knowledge of what that entitles, you might wake up and find that is exactly what you are.
There is some confusion as to what Magic actually is. I think this can be cleared up if we look at the very earliest descriptions of Magic. Magic, in its earliest form is often referred to as "The Art." I believe this is completely literal. I believe that Magick is art, and the art, whether that is writing, music, sculpture or any other form is literally Magic. Art is, like Magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness.
The very language of Magic seems to be talking as much about writing or art as of supernatural events. A Grimoir for example the book of spells is just a fancy way of saying grammar. Indeed to cast a spell is simply to spell, to manipulate words to change peoples consciousness. I believe this is why an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world to a shaman.

I believe that all culture must have arisen from cult. Originally all the facets of our culture whether they be in the art or science were the province of the shaman. The fact that in present times this magical power have degenerated to the level of cheap entertainment and manipulation is a tragedy. At the moment the people who are using shamanism and Magic to shape our culture are advertisers. Rather than to trying to wise people up their shamanism is used as an opiate to tranquielize people. To make people more manipulable. Their magic box of tv and by words and by jingles they can make people all over the world to think the same banal words and thoughts all at exactly the same time.
In all of magic there is an incredibly large linguistic component. The Bardic tradition of magick would place a Bard as being much higher and more fearsome than a magician. A magician might curse you and theat might make you hens lay funny, or you might have a child born with a clump foot. If a bard were to place, not a curse upon, but a satire upon you then that could destroy you. If it was a clever satire it might not just destroy you in the eyes of your associates, it would destroy you in the eyes of your family, it would destroy you in your own eyes. If it was a finely worded and clever satire, that might survive and be remembered for decades, even centuries, then years after you were dead people still might be reading it and laughing at you and your wretchedness and absurdity.

Writers and people who had command of words were respected and feared as people who manipulated Magic. In latter times I think the artist and writers have allowed themselves to be sold down the river, they have accepted the prevailing belief that art and writing are merely forms of entertainment, they are not seen as transformative forces that can change a human being, that can change a society. They are seen as simple entertainment. Things with which we can fill twenty minutes half an hour while we are waiting to die.

It is not the job of the artists to give the audience what they want. If the audience knew what they needed then they wouldn't be the audience, they would be the artists. It is the job Artists to give the audience what they need.

Alan Moore

In 1993, on his fortieth birthday, Moore openly declared his dedication to being a ceremonial magician, something he saw as "a logical end step to my career as a writer".[40] According to a 2001 interview, his inspiration for doing this came when he was writing From Hell in the early 1990s, a book containing much Freemasonic and occult symbolism: "One word balloon in From Hell completely hijacked my life… A character says something like, 'The one place gods inarguably exist is in the human mind'. After I wrote that, I realised I'd accidentally made a true statement, and now I'd have to rearrange my entire life around it. The only thing that seemed to really be appropriate was to become a magician."[58]

A clip from a BBC interview with this unique voice of magic and Illuminated Showmanship, Alan Moore.

The Mindscape of Alan Moore (the movie link above) is a 2003 feature documentary which chronicles the life and work of Alan Moore, author of several acclaimed graphic novels, including From Hell, Watchmen and V for Vendetta.

The Mindscape of Alan Moore is Shadowsnake's first completed feature project, part One of the Shamanautical / 5 Elements series. It is the directorial debut of DeZ Vylenz. It is the only feature film production on which Alan Moore has collaborated, with permission to use his work.

Alan Moore presents the story of his development as an artist, starting with his childhood and working through to his comics career and impact on that medium, and his emerging interest in magic.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Austin Kleon - Steal Like an Artist

I have previously blogged a post with the title steal like an artist, and this title was artistically stolen from Austin Kleon, the guy in the talk below.
Kleon is an interesting dude, with ideas I very much concur with. In the clip he describes one of his own "original" ideas: What he calls Newspaper Blackout... Someone then tells him that his idea actually was someone elses. Austin Kleon then traces the history of his "Original" idea back almost 300 years.
The ideas he talks about are also similar to what I wrote about in my post about Originality. I find it refreshing to hear someone talk about inspiration/stealing like this. It will cure any one suffering from writers block or show-material-constipation.
Where do you get your ideas? The honest artist answer is I steal them. How does an artist look at the world. Well, first you figure out what's worth stealing and then you move on to the next thing.
There's an economic theory out there that says: if you average the wages of your five closest friends you will be close to your own. The same is true for ideas. You are only as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.
If you try to devour the history of what you do in one sitting you're going to choke. So I think the best thing to do is to start chewing on one thinker you really love. Completely saturate yourself with their work, find out everything there is to know about their work. Then you find three thinkers that influenced your favorite thinker and find out everything you can about them. And repeat that as many times as you can. Build your own family tree and climb it as far up as you can. And once you have a family tree it is time to start your own branch. Seeing yourself as part of a lineage makes you feel less alone.
Austin Kleon.
So go on, read books, watch films of all the best artists and get those creative juices flowing. Go forth and surround yourself with all the best stuff and steal, transform and make your own fusion of all the art you love.

If you like his ideas, his art and his approach to creativity there is a longer and slightly more detailed talk here.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

the Trick that fooled Houdini

Dai Vernon aka the Professor.
I have recently become the father to a little girl and that has taken over my life to such an extent that I rarely find time to blog and when I do it is posts of a shorter nature.
With my short attention span I have found my interest in magic rekindled, and of late particularly card magic. It is all leading towards my next show which in my head currently has the title: Captain Frodo's Real Magic.
Parts of my research will be appearing and has already graced the pages of this Illuminated Blog.

Houdini Fooled 

"In 1922, Harry Houdini was the most famous magician in the world. The forty-eight year old Houdini was so confident in his knowledge of magic that he had an open challenge to all fellow magicians - 'show me any trick three times in a row and I'll be able to tell you how you did it.' At the Great Northern Hotel in Chicago, Dai Vernon took the great Houdini up on his challenge. But Vernon would not repeat his trick three times in a row - Dai Vernon repeated it SEVEN TIMES and Houdini could not get it!
The trick Dai Vernon chose to fool Houdini with was his own version of the classic ambitious card routine, so named because the spectator's chosen card always wants to get to the top of the deck. Vernon had Houdini choose a card and then sign the chosen card with his initials 'HH'. Houdini returned his card to middle of the deck and, with a snap of Vernon's fingers, it magically appeared on the top. Houdini was astounded and Vernon repeated the trick. And then again, for the third time. 'You must have a dupilcate card!' Houdini guesses, Vernon calmly points outs: 'With your initials, Harry?' Houdini then suggests that Vernon must have used a well-known mentalist's device. But Vernon points out that Houdini's initials are written in ink. 'They make them in ink now!' Houdini splutters but no magician in the room has ever heard of these devices using ink. 'Harry you are fooled!' cries Sam Margules, a Magic Show producer and former assistant of the Whirlwind Illusionist , Horace Goldin."
Tommy Wonder.
Below is a clip of the dutch Master Magician Tommy Wonder performing the trick know today as the Ambitious Card Routine, but apparantly it has also been called the trick that fooled Houdini. Regardless of what it is called this performance stands out as an absolute triumph. It has been said that every magician has their own version of this trick, but it is my belief and experience that it rarely if ever gets a reaction like Tommy Wonder gets, and even more seldom a well deserved standing ovation.
It is a perfect illustration of the old dictum: It is not what you do but how you do it that matters.

Below is a video that came up whilst I was searching for the video above. It is not the Ambitious card Routine but either way it is a nice story to a sweet and very clean trick.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Lennart Green

Lennart Green doctor turned card magician.
Green's act [is] an heroic display of skill masked by well feigned clumsiness. 
Alex Stone, Fooling Houdini.

In 1998 a fumbling swedish doctor arrive on the international magic scene as he took the stage in the close up competition of the FISM or world championship of magic. As Lennart Green began his act he seemed like a likely candidate for disqualification due to lack of training, but as he continued he stumped the judges. The esteemed master magicians judging him became convinced that Lennart was using a trick deck, since there was no other way that he could have done the unbelievable things he did. SO in the end they did disqualify him, not for incompetence but for cheating the magicians.
As it was Lennart hadn't used a trick deck. He had instead been practicing and developing an entire new method for handling cards that would completely alter what magicians believed what could be done with a deck of card.
At the next FISM Lennart Green entered again, performed pretty much the same act, and won.
Here he is. Enjoy.