Online you run across any number of self-described “serious” students of magic. That puts me in mind of the incident I related the other day about my college creative writing class coming down on me for saying I liked Stephen King. What I neglected to mention then was that those coming down the hardest considered themselves “serious” writers. I certainly see parallels.
You see what those “serious” writers of my college years were most serious about wasn’t writing. Effective writing is about clear communication; those communicating with the greatest clarity are those who are most successful. But as I related before those “serious” writers held the collective opinion that the most successful writer in history is a hack. Far from being dedicated to producing clean prose, those serious writers were most serious about themselves.
These were the kind of people who would walk around campus ostentatiously carrying obscure – and essentially unreadable – literary works. Many wore berets and haughty expressions and waxed philosophical about the state of modern writing. They did these things so anyone they encountered would know they were “serious” artists, real writers.
Which brings us back to those “serious” students of magic. Are they most serious about magic? Or themselves? When they dismiss and ridicule anything that’s popular, you really have to wonder. When they dedicate themselves to producing little videos of themselves executing sleights, instead of using what they know to entertain an audience, you can be pretty sure.
I’ve heard some very successful magicians describe themselves as students of magic. But I can’t think of one who describes himself as a “serious” student. When you throw in that bit of pretension the implication is you’re much more informed than the average student. Much better. No matter that you never really perform. No matter that you ignore the most useful tools a magician can possess – like a pleasant personality. You’re serious. You’re better. Magic is all about how well you can do the moves, right?
If you want to be serious about magic, stop taking yourself so seriously. Show them you’re a serious student, don’t tell them. Perform and succeed, that’s the name of the game. Then all the serious students can sit around and trash you. Until next time, take care.