Art – What Is It Good For?

“Art is the objectification of feeling, and the subjectification of nature”.

Suzanne Langer

Dear Friends:

Tobias, here, while Jeff is away in Italy & Spain.

May Day! May Day!

Oh… it’s not THAT kind of May Day. No emergency here… just time to celebrate spring and new beginnings. The time when foliage returns, gardens burst into bloom, and love fills the air. Can you feel it? I can, and it leads me to think about the connections between magic and nature.

Spring Rose

One of our tasks as magicians, and artists of all kinds, actually, is to celebrate the magic that surrounds us. The “wheel of life.” What can any of us perform that is more magical than a flower developing from bud to blossom? Or a newly hatched robin, or baby deer? How magical is it when all the brown, dead foliage suddenly blasts into lush green?

“The Louvre is a good book to consult, but it must only be an intermediary. The real and immense study that must be taken up is the manifold picture of nature.

Paul Cezanne


As practitioners of the magical arts, I think it’s important that we allow ourselves, and our work, to be truly inspired by nature. But how many of us actually can do that? Jeff McBride is fond of the phrase, “You can’t give a gift you don’t have,” which I take to mean that it’s difficult to give someone else a magical experience if you’ve never had one yourself. But how many of us can claim to have really had a magical experience? Is it a magical experience when you find yourself fooled by a card trick? Maybe. Sometimes. But if all art is an imitation of nature (as Aristotle would indicate), then what part of nature is that card trick imitating? I wonder.

I think we all want to experience something we think of as real magic (whether we profess to believe that there is such a thing or not). Some of us, like the young Jeff McBride, actually go on quests to see if we can find it. Like most hero’s journeys, though, I think we actually get to find real magic only once we’ve returned home. Want a “real” magical experience? Watch a baby being born, or go out at nightfall and watch the moonflowers unfurl their blossoms. Go into the woods, or down to a lake and see the wild things with their young. A mother duck with a string of ducklings paddling in formation behind her, or a baby bird learning to fly for the first time.–what could be more magical than that?

My magical gift to you, then, is the suggestion that you put down your cards and coins, close the books and turn off the videos, and go to get yourself a dose of real magic. Right now, when the springtime has it bursting out of every nook and cranny. Let it inspire you. First just go and soak it all up. Then let it sink in. Sleep on it without even thinking about tricks. Let your deep subconscious do its work. Consider what it feels like to experience that kind of magic. Imagine what it would feel like to create that kind of experience for someone else. Imagine their faces when they do experience it; their exclamations of joy or wonder. Imagine what you will feel like when you get to experience them having that experience, right before your eyes!

And then, one day soon, as you return to your cards and silks, your ropes and rings… you may just find yourself with a revelation. You may just find a new way of performing something you’ve long known how to perform, but in a new way. A way that allows you to share that experience—the one you got to have out in the forest, or by the lake. That experience of real magic, but expressed through your own performance. That’s my idea of what it really means to be a magician. I hope you may experience it soon, if you haven’t already done so. Your life and art will be richer for the experience.


As I write this, Jeff McBride is wrapping up his trip to Italy and Spain, where he has done several shows and lectures, and getting ready to return  home just in time to re-pack his bags and head off to The Magic Castle. Audiences there can see Jeff in the close-up theater between May 4-10. I hear the lines have already begun to form.


This is Spain with Angel Vicente

As for upcoming classes: we only have one coming up this spring, and it’s our 3-day Master Class, from June 12-14. Last time I looked, we still had 3 slots left for that class. If you’re thinking of competing at any of this summer’s conventions, this may be your best possible investment in order to increase your chances to win. Jeff’s coaching, both in the context of master classes and in his one-on-one Show Doctor consultations, has helped many, many winners over the years. So… if you want one of those slots, go to right now and sign yourself up.

Our “Monday Night Mystery School” subject for May will be “Real World Card Magic,” something I expect many of you will find to be of special interest. The show on Monday, May 4 features the whole faculty, and is free to everyone. Tune in at that night at 7pm PST to catch it live.

Tobias Two Books

That’s all for this note. Jeff will be writing our next Museletter in just a couple of weeks. I hope this one has given you some interesting material to consider.

Best wishes.

Tobias Beckwith

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