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  • Throwing cards in the classroom

    About Ricky Jay’s card throwing:
    A properly launched card would go ninety miles an hour. Unobstructed, it could travel a hundred and ninety feet. From ten paces, it could pierce the outer rind of a watermelon.

    I’m still working on this. What I’ve discovered (after thousands of throws) is that of the two basic elements, the grip and the release, is that the latter is by far the more important. I’ve seen demonstrated several variations on the grip but eventually came up with my own (I’m sure my Dupuytren’s contracture has something to do with this). But I’m pretty sure the release is pretty much the same for every successful throw. When I teach juggling I point out that it is in letting go of the prop that we face our greatest fear and that this when we make most of our errors. Compared to this, catching is easy.

    Similarly, when a therapist seeks to perform manual magic they have to learn to overcome their fear of letting the patient go rather than guiding them in some manner. This comes easily to some and not to others. Perhaps I need to throw a few cards to the back of the room in order to demonstrate this. It will also become a lesson in how force and strength are unnecessary in order to accomplish something quite impressive.
    Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 02-06-2007, 05:12 PM.
    Barrett L. Dorko

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    • This could be why participants give up early: Feature Creep (a link from Deric Bownds' Mindblog.)

      Maybe PTs can't quite grasp the inverse of this, feature de-materialization.
      Diane
      www.dermoneuromodulation.com
      SensibleSolutionsPhysiotherapy
      HumanAntiGravitySuit blog
      Neurotonics PT Teamblog
      Canadian Physiotherapy Pain Science Division (Archived newsletters, paincasts)
      Canadian Physiotherapy Association Pain Science Division Facebook page
      @PainPhysiosCan
      WCPT PhysiotherapyPainNetwork on Facebook
      @WCPTPTPN
      Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual PTs Facebook page

      @dfjpt
      SomaSimple on Facebook
      @somasimple

      "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

      “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

      “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

      "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

      "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire

      Comment


      • Diane,

        That’s the perfect link for this thread.

        I used the phrase Simple Contact many years ago after I read the passage from Brook’s Sensory Awareness featured in this essay on my site. People still tell me that the word “simple” is what drew them to my workshop. This article implies that I’ve got it backwards when it comes to sales however.

        Theoretically, what I need to do is promise an astoundingly complex but learnable method that will take years to perfect yet yield amazing results immediately. In this way therapists will be privy to remarkable information unattainable except from me yet will be empowered somehow to out-perform their colleagues in no time at all.

        Instead, I make it clear that the method itself is easily employed (just a few features) though understanding it might take a while.

        I’m screwed.

        Meanwhile, the concept on manual magic is nicely described in this passage from the New Yorker article: When Ricky is doing one of his poetical pieces, he's working in his own unique venue. He's mixing disparate things-quirky scholarship, iconoclasm, technique, a good story-into some soup that works. Because he picks good, strong tricks and makes them come to life, in the end there's this basic simplicity about what he does. Before Ricky came along, there had been comedy magicians, but never ones who really fooled people.

        Of course, I’m not trying to fool anybody, but the comedy sometimes works.
        Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 02-06-2007, 07:46 PM.
        Barrett L. Dorko

        Comment


        • Manual Magic and Malini's Manner

          Ricky Jay is especially respectful of the career carved out by Max Malini. A fascinating portrait of this man can be found here.

          From the New Yorker: “Malini was the embodiment of what a magician should be-not a performer who requires a fully equipped stage, elaborate apparatus, elephants, or handcuffs to accomplish his mysteries, but one who can stand a few inches from you and with a borrowed coin, a lemon, a knife, a tumbler, or a pack of cards convince you he performs miracles."

          Malini didn’t just possess a certain skill – he was certain of his skill. He knew that those he communicated with (up close) in his special and well-practiced way would respond as he expected and that whatever happened after The Pledge (an ordinary object or circumstance) and The Turn (an extraordinary happenstance) would be experienced as The Prestige. (See previous posts for elaboration on each of these)

          I make it clear that everybody in the class will possess enough understanding and skill to do what I do before we break for lunch, and that turns out to be true. But what they lack is the audacity that a magician like Malini came to express with such ease. However, I’m convinced that a little practice with manual magic will lead to this sort of self-assurance quite naturally.
          Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 04-06-2007, 03:12 AM.
          Barrett L. Dorko

          Comment


          • Natural Movement and Manual Magic

            Ricky Jay’s grandfather would often take him to magical performances and was especially mindful of Dai Vernon, a man spoken of several times previously in this thread. Vernon’s nickname was “The Professor.”

            "When we watched Vernon, my grandfather would say, `Look at the Professor and study the naturalness with which he handles objects.' From The New Yorker

            The word “natural” is essentially meaningless when it comes to medicine though it has been foisted repeatedly upon a public unwilling, it seems, to think much. But when this word is applied to movement it acquires some meaning. I equate “natural” with “instinctive” and recognized long ago that culturally encouraged motion was commonly “unnatural” in the extreme.

            A stage magician feigns naturalness in order to hide the machinations of his skill and this becomes part of the secret he seeks to keep from his audience. Conversely, the manual magician hides nothing and their movement toward and with the patient appears natural for a simple reason – it is.
            Barrett L. Dorko

            Comment


            • Consciousness Is Not a Power Moonroof

              I read something in I Am Strange Loop today after looking in the index for the word “magic” that I feel fits here. I plan on duplicating this entry in the Therapy’s Strange Loop thread.

              The passage begins under the heading “Consciousness Is Not a Power Moonroof” and concerns the fact that this thing we experience as consciousness is a result of our brain power, not an “add on” that we can purchase separately once the thing that contains it is in our possession. In other words, it’s not a moonroof on a car. As Hofstadter puts it: Consciousness is not an add-on option…it is an inevitable emergent consequence of the fact that the system has a sufficiently sufficient repertoire of categories. The strange loop of selfhood will automatically arise in any sufficiently sophisticated system, and once you’ve got self, you’ve got consciousness – NOTHING ELSE IS NEEDED. (emphasis mine)

              This is where magic comes in. As Arthur Clark so powerfully states at the top of this thread “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” As Hofstadter goes on to point out in a variety of ways, a belief in something that something over and above physical law is necessary to explain that which can’t be explained according to our current knowledge is fraught with all sorts of difficulty, not the least of which are the illogical conclusions we must eventually draw.

              Understanding this, the manual magician simply doesn’t go there. Instead, a therapist of this sort will prepare explanations that do not require belief and are in compliance with what is known presently. Of course, therapists and patients don’t necessarily want this, anxious to be deceived as they tend to be.

              We must give it to them anyway.
              Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 13-06-2007, 03:15 PM.
              Barrett L. Dorko

              Comment


              • One more thing.

                This thread will get 100 views in the next 24 hours and I'd love to have some of the many visiting look at this thread as well and let me know what you think.

                Thanks.
                Barrett L. Dorko

                Comment


                • Magical Thinking

                  I wrote an essay years ago that has proven very popular, that is, if the numbers on my web counter mean anything. It was titled Magical Thinking.

                  Like a lot of people, including many therapists, I like what is called “magical thinking (MT).” This term has no strict definition but it typically operates according to a few basic principles, among them belief in forces aside from the four known to exist, mystical power existing in all things to various degrees, symbols and some kind of cosmic connection between things that appear similar (think homeopathy). There’s more of course, but these are enough to keep me busy. I’m sure that my appreciation for Star Trek comes from the same source in my head and I know I was born this way because I can’t recall either of my parents or any teacher ever encouraging me to worry about other worlds or lose myself in the technical aspects of time travel. But this is fun for me, and I’m not entirely certain that it doesn’t help me be a better therapist, though why that is can be a little complicated.

                  I’m not sure I made it in that recent post, but this is my point: Liking magic and understanding it are not mutually exclusive. To me, nature’s laws provide enough to wonder about – I need nothing more.
                  Barrett L. Dorko

                  Comment


                  • This thread generated from Ian and Diane a look at the book The Man Who Was Magic: A Fable of Innocence and as it happens, I found a copy of it in the Cuyahoga Falls Library. As I read it this week I think I can find some parallels relevant to this and that other thread. Aside from traveling to teach in Michigan this week I’ve apparently got not much else to do.

                    In the meantime, I came across this old essay titled The Presence of Magic that I’d forgotten I’d written. It reminded me of how long I’ve been thinking about this stuff however.

                    In the essay I describe a patient wearing a copper bracelet for his arthritis. I say, There's no credible evidence that some combination of copper and epidermal tissue at the right wrist would relieve the pain secondary to mechanical deformation in the left wrist, but I'm not going to tell anybody that they don't feel better when they say that they do.

                    I'm offering here another explanation; the presence of magic. By this I mean the perfectly human tendency to look for and gaze at the mysterious and seemingly unexplainable. It is not the magician's job to fool us, but to fascinate us. We will remain altered by a magical effect only until we see it explained. At that point, something immeasurable is lost, and we begin looking elsewhere for another bit of mystery.


                    I see that my view and my way of explaining it has changed just a bit, but not much, and I wrote this at least ten years ago.
                    Barrett L. Dorko

                    Comment


                    • I found this this morning on Mindblog: Deric off to Magic and Consciousness in Las Vegas - ASSC meeting
                      Diane
                      www.dermoneuromodulation.com
                      SensibleSolutionsPhysiotherapy
                      HumanAntiGravitySuit blog
                      Neurotonics PT Teamblog
                      Canadian Physiotherapy Pain Science Division (Archived newsletters, paincasts)
                      Canadian Physiotherapy Association Pain Science Division Facebook page
                      @PainPhysiosCan
                      WCPT PhysiotherapyPainNetwork on Facebook
                      @WCPTPTPN
                      Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual PTs Facebook page

                      @dfjpt
                      SomaSimple on Facebook
                      @somasimple

                      "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

                      “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

                      “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

                      "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

                      "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire

                      Comment


                      • Barrett,
                        While reading something, somewhere on SomaSimple, I came across a quote you provided that I don't recall seeing used in this thread:
                        Eden Philpotts once said: The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
                        Seems to sum up what you've been writing about here, I like it.
                        Eric Matheson, PT

                        Comment


                        • I thought this latest Mindblog post belonged here.
                          Diane
                          www.dermoneuromodulation.com
                          SensibleSolutionsPhysiotherapy
                          HumanAntiGravitySuit blog
                          Neurotonics PT Teamblog
                          Canadian Physiotherapy Pain Science Division (Archived newsletters, paincasts)
                          Canadian Physiotherapy Association Pain Science Division Facebook page
                          @PainPhysiosCan
                          WCPT PhysiotherapyPainNetwork on Facebook
                          @WCPTPTPN
                          Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual PTs Facebook page

                          @dfjpt
                          SomaSimple on Facebook
                          @somasimple

                          "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

                          “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

                          “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

                          "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

                          "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire

                          Comment


                          • I came across a passage in a post I wrote almost three years ago here. It comes from a book by Margaret Atwood titled Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing.

                            I’m being referred to as “a guru” on the Evidence in Motion site these days and whatever else this accusation might represent, everyone who teaches regularly for a living is suspected of such a thing and attacked occasionally in this way. No one who knows me calls me this, just those who don’t like my ideas, or me.

                            Anyone teaching manual technique of one sort or another will tell you how easy it is to appear remarkably skillful and effective in front of a class. You appear almost, well, magical. Atwood describes the Wizard of Oz in this way: “(He) exists at the intersection of art with power, and therefore with moral and social responsibility…If you’re an artist being a good man is pretty much beside the point when it comes to your accomplishments…if you’re good at creating illusions that can convince people of their truth, then power of various sorts may well come your way.”

                            Manual Magic has been very carefully described here, but it will remain a concept difficult for many to understand, especially if it scares them for some reason.
                            Barrett L. Dorko

                            Comment


                            • Houdini's Courage

                              The History Channel had an hour long special about Houdini’s career yesterday and I got to watch it because one of the advantages of no longer being an active clinician is more time seated in front of the TV. I love that part.

                              Anyway, a historian recounted a story I’d heard before and might even be included in this thread somewhere. Specifically, the story involves a conversation Houdini had with the young physician attending to his care the day he died. Houdini spoke with admiration of the young man’s vocation and when the doctor objected that he was nothing compared to “The Great Houdini” the magician explained: “What you do is real; everything I do is an illusion.”

                              On the show the man recounting this grew excited, explaining that Houdini’s admission was a “courageous act.”

                              I hadn’t considered that before, but, when you think about it, that’s what this thread is about. It’s about recognizing how our work might appear to others, understanding it well enough to explain it without violating physical law (or, to put it another way, “succumbing to magical thinking”) and then having the courage to object when others insist otherwise.
                              Barrett L. Dorko

                              Comment


                              • The "magic" of ballet

                                I listened to the October 19 podcast of Studio 360 over the weekend and was especially drawn to the segment titled Tendues and Torque featuring a physicist who at the age of forty began taking ballet classes. Great stuff.

                                He points out that the ballerina’s real challenge is to appear as if they are “moving magically” i.e. without preparation or effort; floating. It’s not possible to actually do this floating, of course, but the devotion to the illusion is so entrenched that the instructors demand it and the dancer is forced to “cheat” with hidden movements that place undue stress upon the body.

                                Pain and injury are the dancer’s common companions in this form, and the reasons are obvious to me – proper form. I think you might hear the opposite from those who zealously guard the illusion; the magic; the secret.

                                Manual Magic must not fall into this trap.
                                Barrett L. Dorko

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