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Everything Is Infected

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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.

Looking back at some of the things I've written here, I often wonder if I could rephrase it to make it sound . . . brighter. After all, I prefer to celebrate the good side of things rather than point out the bad. That being said, I also see the merit in a more surgical approach—in other words, an approach that identifies the parts that are most harmful and aims to remove those tumors to arrive at a more positive result.

With that in mind, allow me to offer some feedback.

I don't remember when it happened, but one day I woke up and realized that magicians who performed magic with small items had a certain mannerism that was very different from most people. It is practically universal. You can see it in the guys who are just getting into magic all the way up to those who have been practicing for 40 years. (I did it too.)

We all handle our cards, coins, and other small objects as though they are infected with a deadly virus.

It's as if we have to hold a dangerous object and we've forgotten our protective gloves. Everything is at the very tips of the fingers—usually held only by the very edge of the index finger and thumb. The rest of the fingers are outstretched—held as far away as possible from the fragile object. The other hand is often affected too, and is held wide open, fingers spread, and palm facing outwards, like we're signaling someone to throw us the ball.

Somewhere along the way, we must have thought that the audience, in their inherent distrust of those trying to deceive them, needed to see everything as openly as possible. If we held our hand in a natural position with the fingers curled in a bit, then the spectators would know that's where we were hiding the gremlin.

I disagree.

Firstly, I hide my gremlin elsewhere. And secondly, I believe it is more important to be consistent with the natural manner in which we would handle an object than it is to always show the audience the inside of every finger. While we could rationalize the infected-style of handling objects, in the end, we would still be justifying an unnatural inconsistency.

This inconsistency is detected by our audience, and it activates their fraud detecting mechanisms. Something must be going on, they think, otherwise he wouldn't be handling those cards like the ink hasn't completely dried.

It seems a bit counter-intuitive—to think that in our quest to make the experience above guile and transparent, we can go too far and actually make the situation look more suspicious. You're turning a card over on the table. Just turn it over. Why approach it with a hand spread wide open and turn it over with only the slightest touch on the edge of the card? Just turn it over!

Finally, I don't believe we need to sacrifice openness for natural movement. Instead, we need to discover what natural movement already exists that allows us to be more open. The infected-style has become a sort-of accepted default way of displaying things when there usually is a more natural way that is nearly as open.



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Everything Is Infected
Tuesday, 01 May 2012

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Our valuable member David R. has been with us since Tuesday, 16 November 2010.

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