Tarbell Course in Magic - Lesson 2 by Harlan Tarbell
The History of Sleight Of Hand
Before proceeding with the lesson I want to give you some further history of Magic -- this time, on the branch of Magic called Sleight of Hand.
Sleight of Hand is the art of deceiving the eye of the spectator by adroit movements of the hand so as seemingly to bring about the following effects:
1--Producing--making an object appear
2--Vanishing--making an object disappear
3--Transforming—changing an object
Legerdemain and prestidigitation are synonyms of the term, sleight of hand.
The term, legerdemain, is often used to cover all kinds of conjuring by means of mechanical and other contrivances, but properly applies only to tricks performed with the hand. In analyzing the word we find that it is derived from the French "leger de main," which means nimbleness of hand, or literally, "light of hand" — "the light touch."
The word, prestidigitation, also applies to tricks depending on the hand only for execution. This word has a Latin origin and analysed means quickness of the fingers.
A Hand Is Not A Table
Quick show of hands—how many of your prefer the term "strolling magic" over "walk-around magic?" Personally, I'd like to see a third option. For 21 seconds, I thought "intimate magic" might work, but people seemed to misunderstand me when I asked them if they'd like to pay me for a night of intimate magic. Anyhow, "walk-around magic" sounds as ridiculous as "sit-down singing," and "strolling magic" sounds slightly better, but the words feel very mismatched. Hmmm . . . what if we combined the words "strolling" and "walking?" That's it! Stalking Magic. I think we have a winner.
Everything Is Infected
I don't like destructive criticism and unnecessary negativity, but I do appreciate constructive criticism and honest feedback. With the former, we can tell people that they have no idea what they are talking about, mock them, or express our dislike for the person at every opportunity, but none of this makes the world a better place. With the latter, we can point out something that is harmful, stagnant, or just not working well, and bring others to a better place through our criticism and feedback.
The Magic Of Extraordinary Objects
The first thing I can remember wanting to invent as a child was a machine that would record my dreams so I could experience them again and again.
The Manipulation Of Surprise
Imagine you're at a cocktail party, and you step outside to get some air. There's a gentleman there who acknowledges you, then resumes his efforts to light his cigarette with a lighter that just isn't working. You stand there watching for a bit, waiting for him to give up. Just then, the lighter in his hand instantly changes to a book of matches. He takes one out, strikes it, and triumphantly lights his cigarette. He then transforms into a pterodactyl, picks up your date with his claws, and flies off into the moonlit sky.
With the exception of my fantastic ending, what I've just described is a Tommy Wonder effect—something he created for moments like these that occasionally present themselves. These moments are so incredibly powerful in part because magic makes a surprise appearance! There is little to no expectation of magic, so the observer perceives the entire event differently than someone with magical expectations.
Having an audience without the expectation of magic can, under certain circumstances, increase the effectiveness of the surprise magical moment.