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The Life & Magic of Stewart James (1908-1996)


Three Companions Who Never Were (Part 2)

After selecting the division or trinity with which I wish to work, I decide on which thought-starter to employ. If the result arrived at is less than satisfying, I repeat the experimental permutations with another thought-starter.

— Stewart James

The previous page and its illustrations detail the true order in which James would generally work when refining his tricks.  After analyzing each of the three crucial ingredients for all routines – the known plots, methods and effects which might apply – he either asked for advice from his invisible companions or employed another of his 21 thought-starters for additional inspiration.  This would continue until he had generated diverse options, filtered them and at last determined the best three solutions possible. 

But we cannot know exactly which thought-starter(s) James actually invoked for each trick he created.  “Audio-Hypnosis,” at the very least, provides a clear example of the mental gymnastics the magician went through while analyzing material and the order in which he did so (SJP 287).  The familiar one-two-three order of the triangular visuals on the previous page has consciously been tinkered with to focus attention on step two – the thought-starter stage.  (Therefore, please see TRICKS CITED for a full description of "Audio-Hypnosis").

The thought-starter – the central moment of this three-part process – is critical to understanding James’ creative strategy system as a whole.  The next page draws upon a first-hand example to clarify how the magician often applied multiple idea kindlers simultaneously.  Additionally, “Grafter and The Tree of Knowledge” is an intimate glimpse into James’ lifelong correspondence with other magicians.






Copyright © 2007 Joe Culpepper and Magicana. All rights reserved.