Friday, September 28, 2012


Dear friends, supporters, comrads, mystery fans and conjurors, I am currently and constantly working on a solo album at my desk here in Athens, Ga. I have no plans to play any shows until I have something new to share with ya'll. I hope this takes one weekend but so far it seems like it wants to take a lot longer, these things command their own time frame. Meanwhile, I will report here and continue my own version of the story.  Thanks for checking in, coming to shows, and generally encouraging me. - Don

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Honor System

Stealing magic has become a commonplace crime. Teller, a man of infinite delicacy and deceit, decided to do something about it.

Teller performing Shadows in 1976 at age twenty-eight, seven years before he copyrighted it. He conceived the trick as a teenager and has performed it onstage for more than thirty-five years.
On April 11 of this year — that date is precisely known — Teller did something it seems no magician has done in decades: He became the plaintiff in a lawsuit in United States District Court to protect one of his magic tricks against theft. The defendant is Gerard Bakardy. "This is an action for copyright infringement and unfair competition under federal statutes," the Nature of Action reads. "Plaintiff seeks damages, attorneys' fees, and costs."
When Teller filed his lawsuit, it made news: ROGUE MAGICIAN IS EXPOSING OUR SECRETS!!! read the TMZ headline. Teller did not like the coverage. The publicity might have sold more tickets to the show, but it misunderstood his purpose. Most of the stories suggested that he was suing Bakardy to protect the secret of his trick, the method. "The method doesn't matter," Teller says. He has performed Shadows over the years with three different methods, seeking perfection. The first involved a web of fishing line that took a painfully long time to set up; the second version required rigid, uncomfortable choreography; the third, today's version, he has never revealed. Bakardy, who said that he had seen Penn & Teller's show, almost certainly didn't use Teller's present method. He knew only the idea and the effect it had on the audience. He felt the crackle that runs through the otherwise silent theater when Teller wields his knife; he saw that some people start to cry, little soft sobs in the dark; he heard that some people make strange noises and other people try to make noises and fail. What Bakardy stole from Teller wasn't a secret. Bakardy stole something that everybody who has ever seen Shadows already knows.
"It's a particularly great trick," Steinmeyer says. "It's beautiful and elegant. It needs no stupid patter. It needs no stupid presentation. Every one of its little surprises makes perfect sense. It has some feeling that it's bigger; it hints at things that are bigger and more interesting than the trick itself. It's three minutes long, and it's just perfect."
"It's so beautiful, I have tears in my eyes when he's finished, I really do," says the Amazing Randi. "The hush in the audience, my God, nobody breathes. I swear they're turning blue. You hardly blink. That's what makes it a very brave trick."
"Teller tapped into this idea of magical thinking," Penn says. "I see it as a reminder that this isn't the way the world works. I see it as a cautionary tale. To me, Shadows is a reminder of how happy we are that the world is the way it is."
"It's one of the top five tricks of all time," Bill Smith says. "There's no question about it."
That's what Bakardy stole from Teller: not the secret, but the magic. In his hands and in the hands of his desperate customers, Shadows risked becoming another Origami or the Zig-Zag Girl. It risked becoming ordinary, remembered for what it was only in eulogies.
But then Bakardy pulled a pretty nifty trick that was all his own. A lawsuit like Teller's has to be served to the defendant; a physical copy must be put in his hands. And over the last several months, a server has tried and failed to deliver those papers to Bakardy at addresses across Spain and Belgium. On May 8, Bakardy uploaded a video to YouTube that featured only blaring accordion music, gaudy text, and a photo of a rose in a Coke bottle. It promises a great reveal, the true story — as well as "The better than in Las Vegas trick... . " He also sent a short, cryptic e-mail declining to be interviewed for this story. ("Not now. Soon you'll see why.") That's all anybody has seen or heard of him in the months since Teller's lawsuit became public. Gerard Bakardy has vanished.
When Teller was in high school, he had a strange and pivotal teacher named D. G. Rosenbaum, an actor and magician who looked diabolical, with a black goatee and pince-nez. Rosey, as the kids called him, smoked black cigarettes and liked to crack raw eggs into his milk shakes. One snowbound afternoon, when his classroom was nearly empty, Rosey read a short story to those few students before him, including an enraptured Teller: "Enoch Soames," by Max Beerbohm, written in 1916.
In the story, Beerbohm relates the tragic tale of Soames, a dim, hopeless writer with delusions of future grandeur. In the 1890s, Beerbohm recounts, Soames made a deal with the devil: In exchange for his soul, Soames would be magically transported one hundred years into the future — to precisely 2:10 P.M. on June 3, 1997 — into the Round Reading Room at the British Museum. There, he could look at the shelves and through the catalogs and marvel at his inevitable success. When Soames makes his trip, however, he learns that time has almost erased him before the devil has had the chance. He is listed only as a fictional character in a short story by Max Beerbohm.
Thirty-four-and-a-half years after that snowy reading by his satanic-looking teacher, and accepting the large risk that he might be the only person in the world who cared about an old short story called "Enoch Soames," Teller flew to England ahead of June 3, 1997.
As it turned out, there were about a dozen people in the Round Reading Room that afternoon — a dozen people who had been so struck by that short story at some point in their lives, they too had decided to make the trip to London. There was a woman from Malibu named Sally; there was a short, stocky Spanish man; there was a slender woman wearing pale green. And at ten past two, they gasped when they saw a man appear mysteriously out of the stacks, looking confused as he scanned empty catalogs and asked
unhelpful librarians about his absence from the files. The man looked just like the Soames of Teller's teenage imagination, "a stooping, shambling person, rather tall, very pale, with longish and brownish hair," and he was dressed in precise costume, a soft black hat and a gray waterproof cape. The man did everything Enoch Soames did in Max Beerbohm's short story, floating around the pin-drop-quiet room before he once again disappeared into the shelves.
"For some reason," Sally from Malibu said, "I'm having to fight tears."
And all the while, Teller watched with a small smile on his face. He didn't tell anyone that he might have looked through hundreds of pages in casting books before he had found the perfect actor. He didn't tell anyone that he might have visited Angels & Bermans, where he had found just the right soft black hat and gone through countless gray waterproof capes. He didn't tell anyone that he might have had an inside friend who helped him stash the actor and his costume behind a hidden door in the stacks. Even when Teller later wrote about that magical afternoon for The Atlantic, he didn't confess his role. He never has.
"Taking credit for it that day would be a terrible thing — a terrible, terrible thing," Teller says. "That's answering the question that you must not answer."
Now, again, his voice leaves him. That afternoon took something close to actual sorcery, following years of anticipation and planning. But more than anything, it required a man whose love for magic is so deep he can turn deception into something beautiful.
For years, Penn & Teller sought a way to test our resistance to magic, to come up with a trick that forced us to make a conscious choice between wishes and facts. It took them more than twenty years to come up with the right trick, because they are a particularly patient brand of obsessive. They called the trick Honor System. It was an escape.
Before the show, there were two boxes waiting on the stage, which they invited members of the audience to inspect. One was clear, with a lid like a shoebox; the second, the larger one, looked like a wood crate with a hinged lid that swung open like a door. Teller climbed into the clear box — so the entire audience could see him — and then assistants put him and his box inside the wood crate and locked the crate from the outside. Houdini had done a double-box escape; it was a good trick, because it seemed impossible to push the lid off the clear box without opening the wood crate first. Someone could look at those boxes for a long time and not be able to figure them out.
Penn began his patter. He told the audience that they were about to be given a choice. Teller was going to make good his escape — there was no doubt about that, Penn said. Penn was going to start playing a song on his bass, and Teller was going to finish it on his vibraphone, done deal. The choice for the audience was whether it wanted to be mystified or informed. Keep your eyes open if you want to know the secret, Penn said. Keep your eyes closed if you want to be amazed.
Penn began to finger the strings, and on most nights, most of the people in the crowd kept their eyes open. They chose heads. (If you chose hearts, skip ahead to the next paragraph.) They saw Teller push up both the clear box's lid and the wood crate's lid with his feet — the wood crate was built with a hidden rig of pneumatic pistons so that the lid that opened like a door could also rise and fall like a levitating table. He then stepped out of the box, pushed down on the lids to close them, and began playing his vibraphone. It was an elegant little trick, simple and clean. It was an artful reveal.
But for those members of the audience who kept their eyes closed, Honor System was confounding. One moment Teller was locked inside a pair of boxes, and the next he was playing music beside his partner, Penn. There were people who went to see that show seven or eight times, and they never opened their eyes. It became a test of their personal resolve. Given a choice, they chose mystery. For them, Penn & Teller had turned magic into something more than entertainment. "Magic gives you the gift of a stone in your shoe," their magician friend Mike Close once said. In that short time between Penn's first hit on his bass and Teller's opening note on his vibraphone, magic was also an act of will.
On August 9 of this year, Teller received unusual permission from the court to serve Bakardy by e-mail and by running weekly notices in Antwerp and Fuerteventura newspapers for four consecutive weeks. The undelivered lawsuit had been hanging over him for months, and it sometimes showed on his face, these burdens of the man leading life's artists in their latest fight against life's thieves. "If he can find him and sue him and win, that would be huge for the world of magic," Bill Smith says. "It would set a precedent where there's never been one."
Nobody seems to know whether Teller's copyright filing will stand up in court. The law seeks clarity. Magic is expressly designed to be murky. Teller has requested a jury trial; whether he wins or loses could depend on how those twelve citizens see Shadows: Is it art? Is it the sort of art that one man can own?
At its recent World Championships, the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques gave Teller a special award for creativity and artistic vision. Some saw it as an unspoken show of support, a way to steel his resolve while also acknowledging that it's time for magicians to confront the kidnappers in their ranks. Even if Bakardy never answers the virtual summons, even if the lawsuit never gets settled or goes to court, maybe just the filing of it will be enough to change the order of things. Teller has sometimes told himself as much. "Nothing fools you better than the lie you tell yourself," he says.
For now, the fate of Teller's lawsuit, and of Bakardy himself, remains a mystery. The strange thing is, most of the evidence of Bakardy — the stills from his disappeared YouTube video and long-gone online advertisements, his aliases and nationality and birth date — survives only as legal exhibits in Teller's filing. Bakardy's name doesn't come up in magic forums except in reference to the lawsuit, and there are no ready accounts of anyone actually having seen him perform in those distant spots on a map. He has no known current address or phone, and anybody could be behind an e-mail. No one has any idea where he is. It's as though he's disappeared off the face of the earth, almost like poor Enoch Soames after he made his deal with the devil.
Is it possible that something beautiful, something implausible and yet logical, will emerge out of what appears to be a perfectly ordinary copyright suit? Could Teller's lawsuit be part of some incredible trick — that Gerard Bakardy is a stooge or an actor or never existed in the first place? ("The better than in Las Vegas trick..." "Not now. Soon you'll see why.") Even for someone as devoted as Teller, even for someone so good at long cons and keeping secrets, that would be an almost impossible trick. That would be the trick of a lifetime. That would be the sort of magic that would make you want to close your eyes.
UPDATE: On September 10, someone purporting to be Gerard Bakardy e-mailed Esquire, TMZ, Reuters, and Magic Magazine to inform them that he has filed a complaint in Belgian court against Teller for "libel, slander, defaming, fraud, extortion-blackmail, etc." He claims to be seeking damages of 8,000,000 Euros, or about $10,330,000 U.S. dollars. His email concluded, "Mr. Teller is fully informed about this, and I presume he's eager to give you more details. That's how celebrities are, they love the media spotlight, at least, that’s what Mr. Teller told me."

Read more:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Crows can 'reason' about causes,

a recent study finds

Crows reason about hidden causal agentsA New Caledonian crow using a tool

Related Stories

Tool-making crows have the ability to "reason", say scientists.
In an experiment, researchers found that crows were more likely to forage when they could attribute changes in their environment to a human presence.
This behaviour may suggest "complex cognition", according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Until now the ability to make inferences based on causes has been attributed to humans but not animals.

Bird brained?

  • The study was a collaboration between researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, the University of Cambridge, UK and the University of Vienna, Austria.
In their experiment eight wild crows used tools to remove food from a box.
Inside the enclosure there was a stick and the crows were tested in two separate series of events that both involved the stick moving.
In one instance a human entered the hide and the stick moved. In the other, the stick still moved but no human entered.
On the occasions when no human was observed entering the hide, the crows abandoned their efforts to probe for food using a tool more frequently than they did when a human had been observed.
The results indicated that neither age nor sex was a predictor of the behaviour with juveniles, males and females displaying the same behaviour.

Watch the crows being put through their paces
Scientists said that the kind of "reasoned inference" shown by the New Caledonian crows under these controlled conditions could also be utilised in the wild to anticipate danger or food.
The study is the first to suggest that animals have the ability to make reasoned inferences, although scientists added that the phenomenon could be more common among animals than previously thought.
thanks to  for this one....

Saturday, September 15, 2012

G.K. Chesterton

“People wonder why the novel is the most popular form of literature; people wonder why it is read more than books of science or books of metaphysics. The reason is very simple; it is merely that the novel is more true than they are.” 
― G.K. Chesterton

Friday, September 14, 2012

Our Oldest Self-Help Book

When did we start choosing over-the-counter over DIY witchcraft?

I've often thought of America as a nation forged in loneliness. That pioneer spirit, that radical self-reliance that claims to need nothing but itself, is another way of talking about a people dislocated, living off the fragments of each other's traditions. Breaking ground in the rural wilds far from cities, settlers of the New World were forced to democratize the very idea of tradition out of necessity. Religion, science, Old World remedies brought from Europe on scraps of paper, New World cures just discovered — Americans were interested in any scrap of custom or ritual that could help them be more independent. Even magic and the occult were useful. In this, ritualized independence itself may be the primary tradition that Americans — a society of fragments — has produced. It can be found in all the important American texts, from the Constitution to Leaves of Grass. It is in the utopian health manifestoes of John Harvey Kellogg and Sylvester Graham whose message we literally devour every time we eat the cereals and crackers that bear their names. It is in our national anthem, in all our songs and jingles.  

The Long-Lost Friend: A 19th Century American Grimoire: A New Biography by John George Hohman. 312 pages. Llewellyn Publications. $17.95.
Most of the early how-to guides of practical wisdom and useful magic have been absorbed and forgotten. But a couple of them still get reprinted now and again to provide clues about how America came to be the land of three hundred million sovereign individuals. One of these guides is The Long Lost Friend. Officially, The Long Lost Friend is a grimoire, a book of magic. According to Daniel Harms — who has meticulously edited and annotated a new edition for Llewellyn — The Long Lost Friend may well be the most influential and, at one time, most well known grimoire to have originated in the New World. First published in German in 1820 as Der lange verborgene Freund (‘The Long-Hidden Friend’) — and receiving a second translation in 1856 with the subtitle A Collection of Mysterious and Invaluable Arts and Remedies, for Man as Well as Animals: Of Their Virtue and Efficacy in Healing Diseases, etc., the Greater Part of Which Was Never Published Until They Appeared in Print for the First Time in the U.S. in the Year 1820The Long Lost Friend is a “practical manual of spellcraft” (Harms) composed from bits of Santeria, hoodoo, Catholic prayers, medieval European spells, Native American herbal treatments, and German folk medicine.

Calling The Long Lost Friend a book of magic is misleading to the modern mind. Usually, magic books have a cryptic aura about them; they are filled with an arcane knowledge that is difficult to interpret or understand — untouchable, unknowable. As Harms writes in his Introduction, The Long Lost Friend is more of a compendium of household tips and prayers for all manner of supernatural ends, a guide for everyday people who are looking to kill their bedbugs, heal wounds, compel a thief to return stolen goods, extinguish fire without water, “fasten or spell-bind anything”, and generally fend off the forces of evil. 
Harms attributes the popularity of The Long Lost Friend to the fact that the book was inexpensive, simple to understand, bold and comprehensive. The magic in The Long Lost Friend is a user-friendly kind of magic, a book of recipes just mystical enough to feel authoritative but familiar enough to be accessible. There is “A very good remedy for the Colic” using “half a gill of good old rye whiskey” and “a pipe full of tobacco”, and a benediction To Release Spell-bound Persons that goes like this:
You horseman and footman, whom I here conjured at this time, you may pass on in the name of Jesus Christ, through the word of God and the will of Christ; ride ye on now and pass.
The author of The Long Lost Friend was a man named John George Hohman, a German Catholic who sailed to America in 1802 from Hamburg and settled in Reading among the Protestant Pennsylvania Dutch, that community of settlers hailing from southwestern Germany and the German-speaking parts of Switzerland and France (‘Dutch’ meaning German, ‘Deutsch’, rather than Netherlandish, as is often assumed). Hohman scraped together a living writing and publishing everything from musical broadsides and hymns (for which he was well known) to books of catechism, apocryphal gospels and medicinal guides.The Long Lost Friend drew from all these influences and more. Its roots, writes Harms, are in a genre of books called Hausvaterliteratur (House-Father-Literature), written for farmers and rural folk of limited means and with limited access to medical services. Although the desire for these books was dying out in early 19th century Europe — with its growing cities and growing regulation, centralization, and professionalization of social services — they were in big demand among isolated American settlers. Unable to rely on doctors or professionals or the clergy, rural pioneers had to become their own doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, and spiritual healers. Hohman catered to all these needs, creating a book that is wonderfully holistic. The spells and cures in The Long Lost Friend often had multiple purposes and worked with multiple methodologies. For instance, his spell To prevent Witches from bewitching Cattle, to be written and placed in the stable; and against Bad Men and Evil Spirits, which nightly torment old and young people, to be written and placed on the bedsteadis part incantation, part Hail Mary. It promises to protect and free all persons and animals from witchcraft.
At one time, says Harms, everyone either owned a copy of The Long Lost Friend or knew someone who did. Much like the Bible, just being near a copy of The Long Lost Friend was said to thwart malevolence. But The Long Lost Friend was not only popular. Some considered it powerful and potentially dangerous. The post-Enlightenment American medical establishment, for one, publicly denounced all claims of self-healing or any medical practice not overseen by a recognized authority. Hohman was not to be deterred. He had seen the magic work, had seen people healed. What greater sin could there be than to refuse helping a fellow human being if you could, even if you didn’t know exactly how it all worked? Hohman defends his book with the following:
The majority, undoubtedly, approve of the publication and sale of such books, yet some are always found who will persist in denouncing them as something wrong.… It is true, whosoever taketh the name of JESUS in vain, commiteth a great sin. Yet…. I say: any and every man who knowlingly neglects using this book in saving the eye, or the leg, or any other limb of his fellow-man, is guilty of the loss of such limb, and thus commits a sin, by which he may forfeit to himself all hope of salvation.
And then Hohman provides a long list of testimonials. Ben Stoudt, son of a Lutheran schoolmaster, cured of wheal in the eye in just 24 hours. Daughter of John Arnold, burns banished in the year 1815. John Allgaier of Reading, whose wild fires were cured by Hohman’s sympathetic words. A cure for rheumatism written by Hohman and sold in shops for a dollar or two that was so potent it didn’t come with directions. “Where is the doctor who has ever cured or banished the panting or palpitation of the heart, and hideboundedness?” Hohman asked. “All these cures, and a great many more mysterious and wonderful things are contained in this book; and its author could take an oath at any time upon the fact of his having successfully applied many of the prescriptions contained herein.”

The active discrediting of doctors, which Hohman does repeatedly ("I doubt very much whether any physician in the United States can make a plaster equal to this"), at first seems unnecessary. But the attack is part of Hohman's ingenious method. Each time he prints a spell "which has effected many a cure where doctors could not help," he keeps readers believing in their own powers, encouraging them to be self-reliant (and in need of Hohman’s book) even when there may be a professional around.

The Long Lost Friend
 was also disturbing to both the Protestant and Catholic clergy who believed Hohman’s spells — which actively, and creatively, evoked the name of God — to be heretical. Homemade prayers to release your horse from colic was already drifting into heresy. What church could approve of the following?
Against Evil Spirits and all manner of Witchcraft
All this be guarded, here in time, and there in eternity. Amen. You must write all the above on a piece of white paper, and carry it about you. The characters or the letters above, signify: "God bless me here in time, and there eternally."
But the use of prayers and biblical references was essential to The Long Lost Friend. John George Hohman understood well the printed word’s power to be tangible and divine at once. He knew the very fact of The Long Lost Friend’s publication could be proof of its effectiveness. As he wrote in his preface to the first edition, “There are men who will say, if one has used sympathetic words in vain, the medicines of doctors could not avail any, because the words did not effect a cure. This is only the excuse of physicians; because whatever cannot be cured by sympathetic words, can much less be cured by any doctor’s craft or cunning.” 

With the assurance of an apostle, Hohman presented himself as the channel for healing words that came directly from God. “I, Hohman, ask: Who can immediately banish the wheal, or mortification? I reply, and I, Hohman, say: All this is done by the Lord.” With these lines Hohman did something remarkable — and remarkably compelling. He gave himself just enough agency to be credible (I, Hohman, ask. I reply, and I, Hohman, say) and then handed the healing power to his readers in their direct relationship to God. This method made The Long Lost Friend particularly agreeable to the community of Anabaptist Americans he lived among. These were people who preached a personal, immediate relationship with Christ, obtained through experience and through reading the Bible — a Christianity that is a priesthood of friends.

The Long Lost Friend
 could be read as a charming bit of old-time esoterica, except that something about it still feels alive. Maybe that's because The Long Lost Friend is a progenitor of another important contribution to American scripture: the self-help book. Like Hohman, the self-help author is usually a channeler of a secret that — through the publication of the book — is made manifest and disclosed to the reader. The efficacy of the self-help book depends greatly on personal testimonials. The promise of all self-help books is self-improvement and self-actualization, and like The Long Lost Friend their essence is found less in the ‘help’ than in the ‘self’. How you can be improved, what inside you could be actualized — these are incidental, fluid. The primary message is that one can go it alone by tapping into inner resources that everyone holds. Self-help books — like The Long Lost Friend — are resolutely democratic. To be helped, one only needs enough money to buy the book and enough education to read the words. Whether the purpose is to heal grief or addiction or obesity, or preach the untold benefits of plain vinegar, the self-help guide proposes to improve the lot of anyone and everyone. All the self-help book needs is people who believe. Or try to believe. Or just try.

Like The Long Lost Friend, the seemingly innocuous self-help book is powerful — and also threatening. Millions of Americans consume self-help books with a devotion usually reserved for sacred texts; the rest believe these guides to be testimonials of stupidity and evil. In its way, the self-help book is as romantic as Whitman, emphasizing independence, experimentation, spirituality. Self-help can itself be an exciting proposition because it promotes the idea that individuals can heal themselves, a job usually reserved for figures of authority, doctors or clergymen. As Hohman might put it, doctors’ offices are filled with secrets. “I sell my books publicly,” Hohman wrote, “and not secretly as other mystical works are sold. I am willing that my books should be seen by everybody, and I shall not secrete [sic] or hide myself away from any preacher. I, Hohman, too, have some knowledge of the Scriptures, and I know when to call and pray unto the Lord for assistance." Self-help books, from The Long Lost Friend to today's offerings, are books of revelation.

And the revelations keep coming. There seems to be no end to the promise of increased self-reliance. It's almost as if the more self-help is promoted the more it is needed. What was once a method for survival in a harsh colonial landscape is now a tool by which society finds itself spiraling ever inward. This is what makes the culture of self-reliance so simultaneously enticing and frightening, even to some of the Americans who use and enjoy self-help literature. Within the pages of self-help books are recipes not just for healing but for divinity, a promise that every American can be individually complete and autonomous.

There's a mood of disorientation and longing in The Long Lost Friend's title that strikes a different note than the confident claims to be found inside. Maybe this is the book's "Long-Hidden" message, its essence, and the essence of all the self-help books that would follow it. The self-help book, via The Long Lost Friend, is an appeal to the American still wandering in the wilderness, curious about everything, needing nothing, wanting it all but not knowing how to get it, believing in the magic of utility, and the utility of magic. • 10 September 2012

Stefany Anne Golberg is an artist, writer, musician, and professional dilettante. She's a founding member of the arts collective Flux Factory and lives in New York City. She can be reached at

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Handsome Family

Looking forward to playing a show with these folks next week.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Joseph Beuys

- To be a teacher (Beuys was art teaching on the Düsseldorf Art Academy, fh) is my greatest work of art. The rest is the waste product, a demonstration. If you want to express yourself you must present something tangible. But after a while this has only the function of a historic document. Objects aren’t very important any more. I want to get to the origin of matter, to the thought behind it.
* statement from an: interview, Willoughby Sharp, 1969; as quoted in “Energy Plan for the Western man – Joseph Beuys in America –”, Four Walls Eight Windows, New York, 1993, p. 85

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Yorick's Skull - an old optical illusion

This Pear's Soap advertising
card is from before 1900. 
(Click to enlarge)

It is an "awe inspiring but interesting illusion."
(Click to enlarge) 

This optical illusion on an advertising card is an example of an afterimage or ghost image. I'm not sure how Yorick's skull was supposed to sell soap, but since this English product is still being sold, and has been sold since 1789, I guess they knew what they were doing.
Yorick's Skull.

An awe inspiring but interesting illusion.

"Now get thee to my Lady's chamber, and tell her, let "her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come."
Hamlet. Act V- Scene 1.

Directions to see the ghost.

Look steadily, in a good light, for thirty seconds at the mark X in the eye of the skull, and then at a sheet of paper, a wall, a ceiling or elsewhere, and continue your gaze fixedly for another thirty seconds when an awe inspiring and ghost-like skull will slowly appear!

By increasing the distance the apparition will increase in size, so that at five or six feet it will appear of huge proportions.

Presented by Pears' Soap.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jeffrey Butzer Collaboration

I recently recorded a song in collaboration with my friend Jeffrey Butzer. The album should be out this fall/winter. In lieu of that song, which Maestro Butzer is keeping under wraps,  here's a video from last year.

Saturday, September 1, 2012