October 6, 2010 1 Comment
I have never really liked CARD CONTROL by Arthur Buckley. The tricks in there seem uninteresting, the thinking is rather tired and it’s ‘classic’ status seems to simply rest on it being around for such a long time.
And I never hear anyone refer to anything specific from the book except the fact that it is apparently a ‘classic’. Always a bad sign…
Well – I recently came across something to do with this on the incredibly useful ASK ALEXANDER site. On page 159 of Vol. 97 of the MAGIC CIRCULAR there is a lovely article in which various creators in magic are asked how they create tricks. Ali Bongo, Pat Page, Eugene Burger, Mark Mason and Lennart Green are all interviewed. Oh – and some bloke called Alex Elmsley. The article is very interesting, and below is an excerpt from the interview with Elmsley. I particularly like the quote to do with Buckley’s work. And at the end there is a lovely coda outlining what he sees as elegant construction. It is very insightful – as is to be expected from a genius:
But the process itself should be enjoyable?
Yes indeed, and with the best of the tricks I have produced I got
a funny feeling. It wasn’t as though you were inventing something.
It was as though you were discovering something that
already existed. And I think from what I’ve heard other people
say in other fields – scientists for example – they at times have
had the same feeling. That they weren’t inventing techniques
and so on, they were discovering them.
That must be a strange feeling when that happens?
It is indeed. It’s an enchanting feeling. It’s sometimes said that
inventing good magic is a process of stripping things away
rather and making things simpler.
Has that been your experience?
I tend to work bottom up rather than top down.
Starting with a simple idea and then building a presentation on
You can see the opposite with the work of Arthur Buckley,
a very good technical magician. He was very good at inventing
and discovering sleights. But when it came to tricks – oh dear!
He had about 40 tricks in one book and to me they were all
rubbish because they were achieved through brute effort. He
thought of the effect first and then worked it out using whatever
sleights were available to produce the effect. And it was somehow
What I like in a good trick is where there’s some sort of meld
between the effect and the method so that the effect simplifies
the method and the method simplifies the effect.
And they work together somehow.
Of course – the rest of the article is worth checking out as well…
And for those interested – there is also an interview with Alex in an old issue of THE DUNGEON magazine. Check out issue No. 7 (1995).