Upmanship Tricks: Secrets of One-Upping Magicians
The Forbidden Gambits and CountersA scathing commentary on the world’s most ruthless subculture, or a diabolical guide to eviscerating one’s saboteurs?
Key Examples of the Spirit of Upmanship in the Field
The Martinka Back Room Gambit
Imagine yourself at a private collection or museum of magic paraphernalia. While standing before a glass case containing, for example, an ornate deck of antique playing cards, employ the basic gambit of Exhibitionship (as outlined in Stephen Potter’s One-Upmanship, 1952). Plonkingly say, “To me personally, cards are meant to be handled, to be played with.” Or, “Oh, but it’s not the same, not behind glass.” Or, from a different angle, “Looking at this priceless collection, all I can think of is the honest-to- goodness excitement of opening a brand new pack of blue-backed Bicycle cards. What can beat that feeling?” Or, of a larger prop, “Terrible if one has been overcome by the miracle of this in its glory on the stage—terrible to see it here, inert, entombed.”
When in doubt, criticize the lack of information “for ordinary magicians [or magic aficionados] like me.”
To suggest that you can perceive magic beyond the confines of the museum, pause before some object that has nothing to do with the exhibition, such as a light switch, and say, “Now this, to me, is real magic. Ask a dozen electrical engineers what electricity is, exactly, and not one will be able to tell you. Without this bit of hocus pocus, we’d all be standing here in the dark.”
The ultimate upmanship in a museum, as Potter notes, is to be in love with the person you are with, and for that person to be in love with you (or at least convincingly appear so). Let the other people give their attention to mere things; your attention can barely be pulled away from the bliss of intense passion, thereby transforming people and objects into mere background distraction.
About the Author
Craig Conley is a magic enthusiast and scholar. Recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation,” his intensive and eccentric research has led him to compile a true masterwork entitled Magic Words: A Dictionary. He has also authored One-Letter Words: A Dictionary, among other strange and unusual lexicons, and is a regular columnist for Pentacle magazine. Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size.
A free daily symbolic outlook