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



Any trick requiring a sleight is not honest. You are telling a lie with your fingers.

— Stewart James

A self-working principle is the opposite of a sleight-of-hand technique.  The former creates magic because it is misunderstood by the spectator, the latter because it is hidden from the spectator.  That no one has yet created a typology for the principles either discovered or further developed by Stewart James is both shocking and inspiring.  Imagine what a powerful tool such a classification of his material would be for the study of deception and for the magic community as a whole?

Such a study would be quite valuable for thoroughly understanding and applying the properties Stewart either discovered or refined using a deck of 52 playing cards (and other objects).
One of the immediately identifiable trademarks of Stewart James work is its penchant for employing natural principles rather than artificial sleights to perform magic effects.  Even more fascinating is his later material’s increasingly complex use of combined principles (the result of one principle seamlessly flowing into another).  The problem is that some of his principles, especially those used in his card tricks, seem to blend together due to similarities.

Therefore, this section of the exhibition and a call to intellectual arms.  To begin it merely describes three key principles which arise in the Stewart James oeuvre and offers one card trick for each as an illustrative example.  With any luck, those of you who stumble upon this plea and wish to contribute either guidance, or further trick candidates as principle representatives, will be motivated to do so. 

We invite you to contact our Exhibition Curator Joe Culpepper with additional information, comments and thoughts.




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