Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Magical things

Have you ever dabbled in magic? Or wanted to? Well, do we ever have a crop of books for you. Sleight of hand here we come! "Amaze your friends and family" as the old pitch goes.
Magic is never far from chicanery, which is found in abundant proportions in The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York. The line between fact and fiction dissolves as journalists who wouldn't know ethics if it kicked them in the classified ads publish a  story so outlandish that Poe claimed they cribbed it from him.
 What some artists can pull off could be classified as magical, as in these digital collages of fantastical beasts using machine parts by Diego Gráfico. Above is a detail from his dragon graphic, which appeared in the 2011 edition of the Yearbook of Illustrators. Right and below is his take on Poe, which appeared there in 2012.
 Celebrities who started out as magicians include Johnny Carson and Steve Martin. Have you seen any impressive magicians in person? The occupation sure inspired some amazing posters, as in the one below. It has a little bit of everything!

11 comments:

  1. Where can I find Diego Grafico prints to purchase?

    This one is my favorite:

    http://www.diegografico.com.ar/ilustracion_ballena.html

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  2. These Grafico pieces are amazing!! Great find. I've been to a few, mostly very amateur, magic shows in my day. If you're local to Baltimore, the link below is for a really fun night...
    http://www.illusionsmagicbar.com/

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    1. I'm glad you posted this! I had a friend who was trying to find the name of the magic bar they had been to in Baltimore, so I bet this is it!

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  3. The story E. A. Poe was referring to was probably "Mellonta Tauta", in which a spy-glass sees clear to the "Neptunian asteroids" and women have humps on their backs like dromedaries.
    He and The New York Sun had a thorny relationship. Poe got back at them in The Balloon Hoax, which he claimed created "indigestible aliment for the quidnuncs", when it appeared as news in The Sun.
    Is there a gender gap among magicians? As a kid, I obtained the trick deck of cards, and the magic box that makes coins disappear (now it's my wallet that does that). But none of my girlfriends cared the least bit about magic.

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  4. The Diego Grafico pieces are really cool, they remind me of Songbird from Bioshock.

    I was never interested in magic, not magic tricks anyway. I've always thought that real magic, like the kind in fairy tales or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is really fun.

    In fact, I think I actively dislike magic tricks! I am sorry for my post laced with negative comments.

    p.s. I hate magic tricks.

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    1. I don't believe I harbor a dislike of magic tricks, but perhaps more of the idea of "magicians" themselves. They're always keeping information from you, staying one step ahead of you, never on your "same page".. there are certain things they'll NEVER TELL YOU. :'-(

      It's that sort of perceived superiority that magicians often exhibit that bugs me. The magic tricks themselves are sometimes quite nifty. Not to mention, if you're a puzzle-solving type, it's fun to come up with possible "solutions" or explanations for how the tricks are performed.

      I think sleight of hand is pretty neat as well. It takes lots of practice and is very impressive when done well.

      Bring on the hate from the magic-haters!!!

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  5. Geez, Hambone! If you don't have anything nice to say... Just kidding, I've always kind of disliked tricks as well. You know there's a secret but still it haunts you:) The only good thing magicians like the Davids (Copperfield and Blaine) are their parodies on Youtube. Do yourself a favor, they're hilarious...

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    1. I wish I had time to go see these RIGHT NOW, but alas, I need to make up another blog for today.
      One topic I meant to bring up is the whole matter of people exposing tricks and illusions so that it ruins people's acts (and viewers' fun). Although even though you know how something's done, it can still be marvelous to see it happen. And how about that Apollo guy who tells you he's going to pick your pocket and you can't perceive him doing it???

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  6. Poe got back at them in The Balloon Hoax...

    A classic story; I wrote about it for the Smithsonian 20 years ago. Looks like my article has been excerpted online here.

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    1. Thanks, RPS, for explaining the hoaxes to me! Poe had written about the adventures of Hans Pfaall, who traveled to the moon in a balloon, in June of 1835. The New York Sun's elaborate hoax, which involved the unwilling and scandalized astronomer Sir John Herschel, appeared in August of the same year.
      Poe intended to stretch out his story in installments, but the Sun's tale overwhelmed the public's attention, hence the Poetic ire.
      It's hard to imagine the audacity of the Sun's editors, but the hoax sold papers, and that justified all.

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