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The Magic Memories (110)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Card magic is the poetry of magic; Note on Behr’s Conjuring Archive; More on Stage fright (Rupert Howard Course PDF); Diamonds of Performance by Christian Bischof

These are The Magic Memories 110, gone online Sunday, February 5th, 2023, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020 can be found HERE.

Poetry of Magic

Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser (1806 – 1875) maintained that “card magic is the poetry of magic”.

Frontispiece from KartenkĂĽnste (Fischer, 1910)

As far as I know, he never explicitly explained why he thought this was so, but one day in the summer of 2011, and in a burst of poetry, I wrote about it in my Genii column “The Genii Session”, where I tried to explore the question: If you care (re-)reading it, CLICK HERE.

I’ll reproduce the English translation of Goethe’s timelessly beautiful poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice below, just like that… maybe that from reading it you can extrapolate why card magic is the poetry of magic… If you have a good theory, let me know and I’ll publish it in an upcoming The Magic Memories.

And it might serve the younger among my readers, who maybe believe that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is by Walt Disney… but no, it is by Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von… 🙂

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1779, translation by Edwin Zeydel, 1955)

That old sorcerer has vanished
And for once has gone away!
Spirits called by him, now banished,
My commands shall soon obey.
Every step and saying
That he used, I know,
And with sprites obeying
My arts I will show.

Flow, flow onward
Stretches many
Spare not any
Water rushing,
Ever streaming fully downward
Toward the pool in current gushing.

Come, old broomstick, you are needed,
Take these rags and wrap them round you!
Long my orders you have heeded,
By my wishes now I’ve bound you.
Have two legs and stand,
And a head for you.
Run, and in your hand
Hold a bucket too.

Flow, flow onward
Stretches many,
Spare not any
Water rushing,
Ever streaming fully downward
Toward the pool in current gushing.

See him, toward the shore he’s racing
There, he’s at the stream already,
Back like lightning he is chasing,
Pouring water fast and steady.
Once again he hastens!
How the water spills,
How the water basins
Brimming full he fills!

Stop now, hear me!
Ample measure
Of your treasure
We have gotten!
Ah, I see it, dear me, dear me.
Master’s word I have forgotten!

Ah, the word with which the master
Makes the broom a broom once more!
Ah, he runs and fetches faster!
Be a broomstick as before!
Ever new the torrents
That by him are fed,
Ah, a hundred currents
Pour upon my head!

No, no longer
Can I please him,
I will seize him!
That is spiteful!
My misgivings grow the stronger.
What a mien, his eyes how frightful!

Brood of hell, you’re not a mortal!
Shall the entire house go under?
Over threshold over portal
Streams of water rush and thunder.
Broom accurst and mean,
Who will have his will,
Stick that you have been,
Once again stand still!

Can I never, Broom, appease you?
I will seize you,
Hold and whack you,
And your ancient wood
I’ll sever,
With a whetted axe I’ll crack you.

He returns, more water dragging!
Now I’ll throw myself upon you!
Soon, 0 goblin, you’ll be sagging.
Crash! The sharp axe has undone you.
What a good blow, truly!
There, he’s split, I see.
Hope now rises newly,
And my breathing’s free.

Woe betide me!
Both halves scurry
In a hurry,
Rise like towers
There beside me.
Help me, help, eternal powers!

Off they run, till wet and wetter
Hall and steps immersed are Iying.
What a flood that naught can fetter!
Lord and master, hear me crying! –
Ah, he comes excited.
Sir, my need is sore.
Spirits that I’ve cited
My commands ignore.

“To the lonely
Corner, broom!
Hear your doom.
As a spirit
When he wills, your master only
Calls you, then ’tis time to hear it.”

On Behr’s Conjuring Archive

I get quite a bit of requests and questions concerning sources and the “is my invention original…” type of question, which I cannot answer all, of course. I then refer most of them to Behr’s Conjuring Archive.

Recently Denis Behr wrote in with advice on how to better search in his Conjuring Archive.

Assume you look for “back-palm”: If you enter the term as-is into the search field you’ll obtain 18 entries (as of FEB 4th, 2023).

Denis suggests that going to the “Categories” item in the top menu bar, and there either enter “back palm” (without hyphen), or even better click through the very well established taxonomy (Cards –> Sleights –> Palming –> Back Palm). The latter will successfully take you to 93 (instead of 18) entries.

Take note, and try it with a few of your own terms to instill the information (see Sharing Secrets, “To Practice and Instill a Theory”, p. 11).

Me, Denis Behr, Pierre Greiner, after dinner at an Alsatian Auberge

More on Stage Fright

I’ve written several times about what we call “stage fright”, which really is a kind of “negative nervousness” – meaning unnecessary and undesirable – before and sometimes during a performance. However, to a certain degree it is necessary and part of the success – what sounds like a contradiction is a complex matter.

Nonetheless, it can be conquered.

In most of my coaching sessions, when someone performs just for me, this is one of the first subjects we discuss, as almost everyone is overly nervous. I then always say, “Don’t worry, this is exactly what I want to see.”

Recently I stumbled over a short text that is part of the little-known Rupert Howard Course in Magic. The first edition is from 1931, no less, at about the same time the Tarbell Course in Magic started. (As always find more info on the Internet, e.g., HERE.)

Admittedly, it is a bit simplistic, and when in the introduction they write “Broadly speaking, stage fright only attacks the beginner”, they couldn’t be more wrong, as this is a problem that bothers even seasoned professionals… and I know several who take medication, or worse drugs and alcohol. All of this is unnecessary if you bother to now about how to master the beast.

However, there is one excellent thought and piece of advice which is worth the whole article.

For a quick read of the Rupert Howard Course text, CLICK HERE.

(BTW: You can find my essay on the subject HERE.)

Diamonds of Performance by Christian Bischof

I’ve known Christian Bischof since he was in his teens, started out with my books, among others, and visited several times, hungry for knowledge, ambitious and talented.

He’s now been a successful and respected professional performer here in Switzerland and Germany for several years, built a house, raised a family (with two kids and a wife!), planted a tree in his garden, and now wrote his first book (actually two).

I remember that RenĂ© Lavand told me this is what you have to do in order to be a “real man” (many years ago on his visit at my home in Muttenz – see photo below).

René Lavand and me with Rafael (1992)

Last week Christian sent me his “debut work”, and what a debut it is: A magnificent two-volume, hardbound book printed in four colors, actually two books!

They come in a Collector’s Edition and in a Standard Edition, the latter at a very reasonable price.

Briefly: A beautifully produced book, written with passion and expertise. A book that will make you think.

Christian has created a webpage of its own that describes the book and its content better than I could.

You can check details and order your copy HERE.


Christian Bischof and me at the Swiss National Convention 2008


Wish you all a very successful week!

Roberto Giobbi

1 thought on “The Magic Memories (110)

  1. Thank you Roberto for the info on Christian’s book! I just ordered it and look forward to reading it!

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