Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Muhlenberg College 2009 Conference on Magic: A Review

Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, held The Theory and Art of Magic conference during March 19-21, 2009. It was part of a larger academic program directed by Lawrence Hass, a professor of philosophy and theatre. The meeting was neither a typical magic convention nor a fully academic conference, but rather an unusual hybrid.

Although the conference was primarily devoted to performance magic, several paranormal and religious issues were discussed. Some of those were relevant to trickster theory. As such, I believed it worthwhile to prepare a focused, non-comprehensive review of the conference.

My review is available at—

(37 KB PDF file)

I spotlight the work of Eugene Burger, one of the most profound thinkers in magic today. I also allude to the marginal and anti-structural nature of performance magic, a characteristic it shares with the paranormal. Extensive endnotes are included for readers with specialized academic interests.

A schedule of the conference program is on the Muhlenberg College website—


Photos from the conference can be found at Dexter Lane’s website—


Monday, June 29, 2009

Articles on Magicians and the Paranormal Now Online

Now available on my website is the article “Magicians on the Paranormal: An Essay with a Review of Three Books,” which appeared in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (JASPR) in 1992. The article is something of a bibliographic study that addresses magicians’ writings on paranormal topics. For over 400 years magicians have confirmed and disputed the reality of paranormal phenomena. (The length of that debate is one illustration of the inherent anti-structural nature of the paranormal.)

Appended to the bibliographical study are three short reviews of non-academic books, two of which deserve little notice. The third, which has some merit, was coauthored by Joe Nickell, Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly known as CSICOP [Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal]).

Click here for the JASPR article (2.2 MB PDF file)

Already available online is my article “Magicians Who Endorsed Psychic Phenomena,” which appeared in The Linking Ring, the monthly magazine of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Click here for The Linking Ring article (1.1 MB PDF file)