Comments on: The Empty Safe conversation and contention, for your attention Wed, 14 May 2008 10:53:32 +0000 hourly 1 By: greyling Wed, 14 May 2008 10:53:32 +0000 I dated a stage magician once, and learned far more than i ever expected about the art.One thing that i can say for this very hard-working bunch: they’re totally honest about deceiving you. It’s actually part of the mystique. You know they’re putting you on, they SAY they’re putting you on, and yet… without some knowledge of exactly WHERE the switch is happening, or the bird is concealed, or the magnet is placed… our brains are hardwired to follow the flow and are surprised every time when something new happens.

I think of it as experiencing first-hand the brain’s predilictions and lazinesses.

I think of religion with the same respect, having read too many times Ana-Maria Rizutto’s Birth of the Living God. Yeah, we know it’s man-made. And the best practitioners will TELL you it’s man-made. And then you find yourself in the darkness, talking to transitional representations, and it still works.

Or else they don’t tell you that it’s man-made, and i spend the next two hours watching them and gleefully pointing out where the tricks are to nearby members of the audience as a petty revenge. (Warning: Catholics don’t seem to mind this early as much as evangelical baptists. Be careful about doing this in church.)

By: doug Mon, 05 May 2008 05:06:18 +0000 Fitz,
This is beautiful information, and I hope to find myself in Manhattan soon enough. I will report on it here.
I agree with you in regards to occultism. Using practises of occultism can, I believe, be useful as frames-of-reference, maps. Of course, by and large, it is a refuge for those who hopelessly confuse maps for their territories.

By: Fitz Fri, 28 Mar 2008 16:04:17 +0000 Doug,

When I was enrolled in Coney Island USA’s Sideshow School I had the pleasure of seeing the video of Melvin Burkhardt’s last performance of the Human Blockhead routine he pioneered which was done at Todd Robbins’ wedding. After showing me the tap Todd walked over to his bookcase and took out Melvin’s nail, a huge honking thing that only he could have worked with, along with some other artifacts.

A few years later Todd did a one man show recreating 19th Century Seance methods called “Dark Deceptions.” During the talk up he mentions that it would be a night of Deception and Delusion. He’s bring the Deception, it was up to us to bring the Delusion. That was the night I discovered one of the key formulas to Path of the Order of Ascended Charlatans.

If you should find yourself in Manhattan try stopping by the Center for Conjuring Research. They have a truly remarkable collection of books on stage magic and a small side collection of occult titled. They’re in the process of scanning large portions of their archives to be made available to interested researchers. You can find otu more at

I’ve spent a fair number of years dealing with people directly and indirectly connected with occultism. The best of them were people who had used their interest as a means of altering their perceptual frames of reference and brought that skill forward in fields like art, literature, academia and military consulting. I’ve found to a dime that the ones who made being an occultist their primary persona or who more foolishly attempted to make careeers out of it were a sad lot. They reminded me of the kind of overbearing party goers who think others are shying away from them because they cannot handle the depth of their insights while in truth they are being avoided because they smell of something dreadful and their fly is open.