What’s everyone been reading lately? Specifically, what are you reading about creativity (or creatives) that’s keeping you motivated/curious/excited/angry?
I just wrapped up “Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear” by Jim Steinmeyer. What does a book about Victorian-era magicians and their sustained campaign of mutual dickery, deception, and theft have to do with creativity?
Steinmeyer – himself a lifelong manufacturer of stage illusions and and magic historian – paints a vivid picture of a period of not only extensive mutual larceny involving names you have heard of like Houdini (who just comes off as a shameless self-promoter who would go out of his way to undo his rivals), and ones you haven’t like David Devant, all amateur scientists and geniuses of physics and the manipulation of light, sound, and human perception.
But what’s most interesting about “Hiding the Elephant” is the way Steinmeyer lays out the iterative nature of illusions – and by extension, the creative process. The book is framed by the author’s attempts to understand the mechanics of a roughly-sketched illusion involving a disappearing elephant in front of an audience of hundreds, and the evolving path of optical stage illusion which allows him to ultimately (spoilers) find the trick of the trick himself.
Never steal, but never be afraid to evolve and iterate on what came before.