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Over the past fifteen years, professional magician Jamy Ian Swiss has, through his monthly book reviews and other writings, gained a reputation for insightful and occasionally incendiary journalism. Shattering Illusions gathers twenty of Mr. Swiss's best and most provocative essays, covering a wide range of topics, from the ethics of conjuring to tributes to some of magic's past masters to a series of discussions designed to help the serious student of the craft discover fresh performance material, stronger presentations and a unique character and style. These complex and important topics are often difficult to discuss and even more difficult to approach with fresh insight. Few have the abilities to do so, and fewer still to express them articulately. Swiss comes to the fore in this collection with astonishing bravado, intelligence and clarity.
The twenty essays that make up Shattering Illusions include pieces written from 1987 to 2002. Sixteen of them first appeared in Genii magazine and in Mr. Swiss's Theories. These essays have all been either revised or updated, and four new pieces, specially written for this volume, have been added.
Among the topics examined are effective and ineffective methods of combating the exposure of secrets to the public; the real impact of such exposure; why magic is commonly held in low esteem by the rest of show business and much of the public, and what can be done about it; intellectual property rights in magic; the problems of presentation for mentalists (and one solution), learning magic from books or video, how to recognize a good trick from a bad one, the problem of the Too-perfect Theory, the fallacy of "naturalness" in sleight-of-hand, the benefits and pitfalls of commercialism, ways to discover one's on-stage character and a style that can lead to success, and finally an answer to the troubling question, Why do we do magic?
Shattering Illusions showcases the many facets and conundrums of being a magician, and examines them with fresh thought and a distinctive voice, making this book worthy of placement among such classics as Maskelyn and Devant's Our Magic, Sharpe's Neo-magic, Burger and Neale's Magic and Meaning and Tommy Wonder's The Books of Wonder. Open these pages and be instructed, stimulated, challenged, occasionally infuriated—and find you and your magic improved by the experience.
293 pages in hardcover.