Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

>Being a meandering ramble about not going to Blackpool Convention and my ongoing attempts at not being drawn into the passive consumerism of magic buying.

It’s going to feel strange not going to the Blackpool Convention this year.  I won’t be going because I have another project on at the same time, and besides the whole FISM thing doesn’t really appeal to me.  But, my main reason feeling a little sad about not going is that I’ll actually miss the Dealers’ Hall.  It’s a chance to really see how stuff works, by this I mean how effects really perform when properly demonstrated and most importantly whether the effect is something I’ll actually use.  So many effects these days are hyped beyond belief and priced beyond belief.   The carefully angled video looks great, but in reality you’re going to pay around £25 for a DVD of a single old unusable technique and you’re going to be disappointed.  The snake oil salesmen of the online magic shop will have you believe that you can heal the world with their latest effect.  You can’t, and a fool is easily parted with their money.
Perpetuating the flimflam is the snake oil salesman’s hidden assistant the friendly reviewer, who for one reason or the other will happily invent positive things on whatever forum they can get on about the effect.  I really dislike that kind of dishonesty.  Of course, some reviews go the other way, being uncomfortably venomous about a particular product due to having some axe to grind somewhere.  This is just as dishonest.
Review the product in an honest way.  The key here is to be genuine; if you are genuinely excited by something great, if you genuinely dislike something great – say it like it is.
That’s why I like the Dealer’s Hall, because a snake oil salesman can always spot another snake oil salesman and the façade drops.  More often than not I’ve found honesty in the madness of the crowds (and if you’ve ever been to Blackpool you’ll know what I mean about crowds, and if you’ve been in the Ruskin Bar you’ll know about madness) and I’m able to make rational decisions on whether I’ll actually use the product and whether it is any good.
In many ways I might be a dealer’s nightmare, I don’t buy stuff for the sake of it or to simply own it.  I don’t perform a different effect each week (badly) for my mates down the pub and I only buy what I think I may perform.  Ironically, I have still managed to collect a box of junk that I know I’ll end up never using, but I’m sure it’s less than most.  And I still yearn for a time when I can afford a truly beautiful piece that is more treasured artefact than performable effect.  Perhaps I just don’t have as much disposable income?
I like to think I’m carefully selective.

I don’t really know why I started this blog post, but in the haze of a recently passed migraine attack I began to ponder all things to with this magic lark.  Perhaps what I’m calling for from dealers and magicians alike is more honesty, less hype and more quality.  And there is quality out there and some great artisans of effects (you know who you are.)
I honestly don’t know, perhaps I’m just lamenting because I’m won’t be endlessly circulating the stifling Dealer’s Hall looking for that little gem I’ve never wanted.
Perhaps I’m simply a bit grumpy tonight, oh I don’t know why these things bother me so.

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