Mark Panner is not exactly a friend of Inside Magic but he did lend us money to pay the server bill two months ago. In return for his kindness, we said he could write an opinion piece for the web site. This is that piece. He tries to find parallels between the 99 percent movement and magic secrets. We do not agree with his logic, argument or conclusions but a deal is a deal. We note that while we do not edit Mark's writing, we had to change the title from its original, "99 Percent in Magic Untie."
As I was watching the occupy movement do their thing, I thought about inequity and how unfair it is. One of the questions that kept crossing my mind was, how come the Vegas Headliners get the best secrets and technology and we are all stuck with the turn of the century – Last Century! –boxes and mirrors. It's not fair at all.
There is no other word for it other than inequity and unfairness (okay so maybe two words) but it expresses the vas deference between the 99% of magicians who need to use boxes screens or assistants (if you can afford them or are able to even go to where they congregate to ask if they would like to work for you). The elite one percent get to make things vanish, float, change, appear, grow or shrink without anything at all.
I have been looking into this question for a long time. It's been six months so far and I think I have some answers but they are not good ones.
When magic began, there was relative parity among all magicians. Magicians could make things vanish, float, appear, disappear, change or multiply with equal ability. They all used the same skills and tools. In the Iron Age, everyone used Irons and in the Bronze Age they did the same and no one had better tools than their neighbor. One caveman's Iron thing was the same size and shape and substance as the caveman next door and that did not change until the end of the "Ages" part of history ("Iron," "Bronze," "Dinosaur," "Bird," and "Trains") and the start of the Jet Age (around the time of the Wright Brothers).
Until the Jet Age, people entertained people in their villages and huts with essentially the same tricks either bought from a central store or made from common instructions. All magic plans used to be printed in blue ink and sold in rolls to magicians who wanted to build their own tricks from supplies they had around their cave or hut.
It took a while for this to die out. As late as the 1940s, for instance, Harry Blackstone used the same equipment as all magicians to make the standard "magic rabbit" appear or disappear. Magic rabbits were raised to be genetically identical so that all magicians could interchangeably use their props to do the rabbit tricks regardless of their location. A Boston rabbit would fit a Chicago rabbit gimmick and vice-a-versa. But there was a war on and many of the rabbits were actually made in the equivalent of factory farms where they were grown by strict military specifications to fit standard government issue magic props as used by the professionals (such as Blackstone) or the amateur at home or the magicians who entertained the troops during the battles around the world.
With the advent of the space race, the "elite" magicians began to insist on using "different" methods to accomplish the effects performed by so many. "Good enough for government work" was an expression first used to denigrate the magicians who were forced to use surplus magic tricks left over from the war effort. The elite used bigger bunnies (or with different colored ears or faces) and insisted on different methods to make tricks happen.