i write for inner peace.
I have a new effect: Magician to King.
Being self-employed is a monarchy, and like all monarchies, it has a tendency to one day fall. I'm amazed at every day I wake up to learn that I am Houdini-escaping from the confines of the traditional 9 to 5 cubicle. I know my time with this art as work is borrowed, and I'm taking the chance to practice deeply.
Over the next few months, I will be working on a new video project to capture my moments with my art form in the corners of my late-night practice sessions. I know soon, I will have to be selfless and transfer ship to a 9 to 5 job, to support my fiance and upcoming family. But until then, I will sleep late and spend as much quality time with magic as I can.
The project is called "Cardboard Kingdoms", and introduces anyone who cares to follow me on a journey through a world of card magic routines performed to poetry. Each routine is its own frail, fleeting kingdom- kind of like a city of dominos that is destined to fall down with only me watching. I don't really get to express or perform these routines at my gigs that much, so these deep-night practice sessions are where I can really visit them, and get lost in the art I have grown to love.
The first of these kingdoms is the Sky, and is inspired by my long distance relationship with my fiance Agnes Pasco. Enjoy your stay, and if you'd like to see more, subscribe to the Cardboard Kingdom channel www.youtube.com/cardboardkingdoms, as I'll have a new kingdom ready for you to explore every few weeks or so this whole summer.
I have a new effect: Magician to Alchemist.
The purpose of this blog is to report my findings in my study of magic: my hidden findings; not the ones that involve learning new effects, routines, or even performing principles. The purpose of why I practice magic with the fervor of an alchemist is and always will be hagakure: hidden beneath the leaves for me to reveal.
I am a proponent of seeking the secret to mastery, like some rare earth metal or a planet with the elusive conditions to support life. Mastery is as elusive as time-travel, or getting into heaven on worldly works alone. I admit my faults and falls along the way, and my ego stares them down like an adversary yet to be defeated. I hate rivals. They bring out the fool in me, and I'm convinced to try and chase them down like shadows and catch up to their every move. I hate praise, and its allure, because it sways me away from my journey like a siren with its attractive words: praise God, and no one else. I wish to impart that on everyone I perform for, including the self I see in the mirror of my practice sessions. I fear criticism, like praise, because it can cause me to believe completely in the public opinion of others, and seek to validate every second of love-work I put into this art form with their judgement. I don't want to impress them, or to live in the shadow of proof. I don't stand behind proof, and instead, aspire to love what I do without proof. I have faith that I am in love with this art form; with my fiance; with God; with the belief that any good that comes from my magic is God's doing, and that any bad is from my own human imperfection. I am a horrible magician. I am naturally clumsy, socially awkward, set in my ways, and as oblivious an observer of people as they come. How I'm getting away with doing this for a living, I don't know. I know that I am capable of bringing out the God within through this alchemist-intense practice of this art I love only second to my fiance, my family, and God. The people who are not my audience for a fleeting moment of time, where praises, worship, and paychecks are at my grasp, are the ones worth practicing magic for; and getting good at it for. I hope to master this art in secret hopes of mastering self. The magician is the character of transformation.
I'm just going to be upfront with all the magicians in the scene that happen to be here reading this, and amazing me with enough non-indifference to come visit me here in the late-night corners of my alchemist-like lab: f**k learning new effects. The best effect learned in the practice of magic is the transformation of self. Do that, and I believe the reactions you'll get will go far beyond words, bookings, and tips.
And if you don't care to take any part of these findings I am humbly offering you an entire page of after years of laboring in the lab, oh well: God bless!
The key is to make a scene. The presence of a crowd, even of three or four people, looking at the same thing is already something to look at. They say in psychology, if you point and look up at a point in the sky, someone else might involuntarily look that way. That's what I try to do. I want the first few people who watch to be my arrows, pointing in my direction: a person who doesn't really like being the center of attention. I sit at the back of buses and walk to the park without a nod to passing neighbors. I like to shoot basketball by myself over playing in pick-up games. My coffee and beer, I drink alone. I put on a hard hat of tolerance when it comes to the hour or so at gigs. I have to be the center of attention. So to do that, I make a scene. The key is to create gravity. I like thinking of my 360 crowds as asteroid belts, and I this strange, mystical world they are orbiting and looking in on. I like it when my crowds cave in, instead of my reaching out to pull them. My center of gravity- the core- is a small wooden stool I've been calling the Lotus. It holds my three poetry books like a make-shift bookshelf. I also have a pole next to me with a giant sign that says "watch". I stand in front of the Lotus with Hagakure- the name for my deck of cards- out in my open hands like a fishing pole. I would cap off this living backdrop with the Lightning Rod- the short sword I use in my final demonstration- which I conspicuously lay on the ground right in front of the Lotus like a free throw line. And thus completes my storefront for attention. Sometimes I fall into a lull. Despite the out-of-the-ordinariness of this scene, people would readily pass me without a second glance. Some would look away. After no more than 10 minutes, though, someone extroverted enough would be bold enough to approach. They approach me! I love how its reversed like that, because most magicians end up approaching their spectators.
I have no idea why I am writing about all this. I am not at work right now. I was just reading this book called "Pinball, 1973" by Haruki Murakami, and he has brought to light to me the uselessness of being good at something. I think I'm fairly good at making a scene; giving people something to look at, and do, like a pinball machine in the corner of abar, flashing its lights while waiting for someone to stop by and play.That's what I do: I am a pinball machine at gigs.
This is great to know! This is humbling to take in.
Hidden beneath the illusions I create are purposes that extend to serve things greater than themselves. I am a deluded practitioner at times, sharpening my swords blindly with the intent of getting good for no one's sake but my own. Musashi would have been pissed. A certain chaos swirls out of slashing in vain. My ego is inflated, and the very essence of why I have chosen to pick up this sword of Magic becomes Hagakure: hidden beneath the leaves.
The samurai of long ago served their lords until death, with a selflessness that feared neither humility nor defeat. I revisited my samurai inspirations and have noticed that my reflection is blurry. Why am I struggling to be good? Who is my adversary? The competitor in me strives perfection without a second thought, constantly measuring my ascent with that of my peers, and racing to the top with no idea what to do when or if I get there. The top is lonely: an elusive point in the sky that can do no one else any good by being there because there is only room for one. The reasons I do magic have become as Hagakure as the world beneath the clouds: far away, and out of reach.
The purpose of this sword in Magic is to serve: to transcend my own selfish desires for others. I need to be with my fiance: to travel to that far side of the world to see her, and to eventually close the distance by bringing us to one place. Magic will make the money I need to do that. My mom also needs money: she's never going to be out of debt, and works too much to try to pay it all off. The money I make from gigs will help her with that. Jadu- the precious feeling of baby-mind astonishment that people rarely feel- is a light that needs to be spread. Magic lets me to serve this to those around me. The House of Flying Cards, a dojo of practicing magi whose love for magic is what unites all the members, needs my magic: to hold that community together, help members grow in love with what they do, and hopefully be a light to them on their journeys. Also being in a dojo keeps me humble: always a student and never a master. The soul mirror: only in doing one thing with the diligence of a polisher can some kind of inner clarity be achieved. I read once about a monk in the Tang Dynasty who achieved enlightenment by chopping bamboo, and I seek the same inner clarity through disciplined practice of magic, slaying demons like ego, pride, and greed on the way. To praise God for his blessings: the act of doing magic as a job alone makes me prayerful enough to give thanks and praise before every gig. Meeting RPG characters on my journey, and putting me in a position to be an RPG character of my own to them on theirs: my light can only be spread only if I'm out there, meeting people face to face through performance. Otherwise, my reclusiveness gets the best of me and I end up staying at home, seeing no one and holding whatever light is in me back. Seeing the world: my magic has caused me to go places I wouldn't have been to and meet people I wouldn't have met otherwise. Seeing the world can only bring me closer to my real self, and destroy any rigid frames of mind that stand in the way of getting there. Love: the act of doing magic teaches me to love what I do. Being in magic is being in a relationship, and if I can stay in love with what I do, this sword can only be a humble precursor to loving at greater levels. I once heard any art form is a bridge to heaven. If that is so, then climbing to the top might not be so bad.
I am not a mentalist, but I have a feeling of what you're thinking:
Whatever he's doing is stupid. Why is everyone standing around him? How dare he make himself the center of attention? I hate him already. I don't want to take part. If I do, it would be like participating in the macarena, or the electric slide. I refuse to conform and do what he says. It might be fun, and I will feel stupid: that is what I am afraid of. I am angry and offended already at the notion. Why is everyone happy? I need to get closer. I don't want to see, because what if it's good? I might hate him even more. I don't want him to see me. Good, he doesn't see me. I'll just watch this from the outside- I'm okay watching from where I'm watching, from the outside looking in. I can't play along, because I'm not an idiot. I'm an adult- a passerby, full of pride and preconceived notions on how the idea of watching a magic show is stupid. I know it looks fun, but so does the macarena. He's looking my way. He just asked for my name. I secretly wanted to join this stupid game of "let's watch the magic show" the whole time. Okay fine, I'll play along. I apologize for hating. I find myself smiling. Thank you so much for making my pride vanish.
The Great American Spectator
See the full article at
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=226895514056472&set=a.226895507389806.55097.116333738445984&&theater Trying to create some publicity for myself lol. press people get at me
Today, I watched About Schmidt, and Jack Nicholson asked himself a very important question that poked me: what have I done on this Earth that is making a difference? The same question was posed in a book I'm reading called "Dance Dance Dance" by Murakami: is the world doing okay without me and my work? I've wondered how things will be if I never did a single show again; if this last trick I showed you would really be my last. After a long stretch of no work, I went out of 2011 riding back to back gigs, and feel revived to just be in front of a room, performing again. My show is the one thing I do that I have a comfortable certainty doing. Ironically magic is a mystery to most, but to me, the things I do that aren't magic are the mysteries: falling in love in new ways with the girl I'm engaged to, finding God, and believing that my story will turn out alright. What I'm trying to say is, magic is the one thing I know, front and back, in a universe swirling with things unknown. I cannot just drop it at the end of this year. Even if I may find myself working a 9 to 5 a few years from now, I know the world will be okay without my magic shows. But my world, internally, will not be okay. How will my mind be without this practice? The great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi discovered his purest state of mind through perfection of the sword. I can only hope to continue practicing for that same purpose, regardless if there is a paying audience in front of me many years down the road or not. I can't stop magic, even if I tried: to do so would be to vanish. That's impossible, as I'm still here at the end of the year, breathing and alive. There are so many more places to spread my magic to. I'll never be finished. My magic will continue like a universe, unfolding with or without my control in every direction for all to see.
I have great compassion for you, whether or not you have love or hate. I promise to treat your event with meticulous care, like an artisan potter with a mound of clay. I will represent my art form properly and prolifically at your event, and will add a dimension of entertainment that will surpass any amount of decorations or hype you can build up. I promise you I won't hold back, and will give you my magic in it's fullest form: effect for effect, moment for moment. I understand you work for your money, and I do as well: I will work diligently to make sure my magic is something you and your guests will love. I love what I do, and I intend to project that unto you when you are done seeing what I have to show you. I have a show for you, my great American spectator. I work for my bread and feel blessed, while you enjoy the finer things in life such as a slice of discretionary income for you to spend on your event. Live magic performance is an awesome thing to treat your guests to: an art form for the ages, a feeling as primal as a breath of fresh air. You will be wowed, in one way or another. I will see to it. You are in my hands for the hour or two that you book me and my show. I may not like you, but I love what I do more than any disposition you have can sway that. See you at your next event.
There's a delicate balance I wish to achieve with the magic I make. It's as fleeting as a moment on a tightrope. On one side sit commercial mages of the gig circuit with their invisible decks and their snowstorms in China. On the other, effect junkies of the club scene waving their newest torn and restored cards and signed coins jangling in bottles. I don't want to stand on either of the two towers, but right here, in the middle of the two: nowhere magicians of either industry would feel like going.
I have a knack for falling out of any population I find myself in. I want to express myself out of it, like a lonely passenger on an express train out of Tokyo into the hermitage of the mountains. When I am alone with my magic, I fall in love with it. When I see the way other magicians can rape it, I feel bitter; maybe, the way a lover of words would react to the lyrics of rap songs on the radio.
As I regain consciousness from my reflection on the tightrope, I find there is no way to walk the thin line between magic as "art" sold to magicians and magic as entertainment sold to laymen. The way is to be still. I am resolved in my position, not to sell out completely to either camp, because I disagree with both sides equally. I do not agree with the effect junkies who perform for no one and spend their days worshipping creators and chasing them around the convention circuit. I do not look up to the commercial magi who spend all their time performing the same played-out material that everyone else is doing, with all the same corny jokes that they all use for the sake of a reaction. And the few famous celebrity magicians like Criss Angel on the billboards across the street? I don't want to be them, because they are who I am not. I don't want to be like any celebrity for that matter, for fame is a fume that can be addicting and deadly.
If there was a balance I'd want to achieve, I'd have to fall several times to figure it out. The way I want my magic to go is up, and away. All art is a bridge to heaven, so I'll lay down on this invisible string and stare at the sky in between the two towers, levitating in my place.
After the gig, I did Clear Mind Sky to a lady named Sandy (my mom's name) last night who was trying to let go of someone who was close to her. I don't do this effect for everyone, because it isn't for everyone. The people who are supposed to feel it will feel it, and share what they've felt with others. This was her reaction:
I feel positive changes in the air. I can't believe what you did last night with that card and what I yelled inside my head. Have you ever felt there was a mission or a purpose something you had to do, but wasn't sure what it is? That is what it is like with this man Gary. He is coming over tonight. Funny, I can pick up on other people, but not myself. I know you are special, I can feel it...I felt it the moment I laid eyes on you. I do know this, you are on the right path, you have a special quality......your spirit is wonderful, however too many people tune their Spirits out. They will not listen to their hearts. You must find a way to reach them. I can help in some way. I am not sure what it is yet, but we will figure it out. Don't change!
For every one hundred rounds of applauses, WTFs, and dollars thrown into the hat, every now and then I stumble upon a gem of a reaction that tells me what I am doing is worth more than I know. Magic is a great language. I am honored to speak it and deliver what needs to be heard, seen, and felt.
The Move Unseen
A blog for magic.