David Ben on creativity, paradox and 'what if' questions| January 8, 2016
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David recently launched his #NoHairSelfie campaign to raise funds for cancer research. Today we talk about magic, "perfect editorial judgement," what if questions, creativity, uncertainty and his fascination with paradox.
David's interest in magic began after receiving the book, The Stein and Day Handbook of Magic by Marvin Kaye from his father in 1973. Ben's childhood interest turned into a lifelong passion after he watched the television special Doug Henning's World of Magic (1975). Ben became a frequent visitor to the Arcade Magic and Novelty Company in Toronto, and then Morrissey Magic Ltd. While in high school, Ben worked part-time at Morrissey Magic, learning the craft from store founder and Canadian magician, Herb Morrissey.
In 1978, Ben acquired the book The Magic and Methods of Ross Bertram and in 1979, through Morrissey, Msgr. Vincent Foy and P. Howard Lyons, met the book's author, Ross Bertram. Ben studied magic with Bertram for six years (1980–86) and became Bertram's sole protégé.
Ben graduated with a BA from University College of the University of Toronto (1983), an LLB from the University of Western Ontario (1987) and an LLM from the London School of Economics (1988). He articled at the firm of Macdonald & Hayden, was called to the bar in the Province of Ontario in 1989, and joined the firm of Goodman, Phillips and Vineberg (now Goodmans) as a tax lawyer.
In May 2000, Ben co-founded, along with broadcaster Patrick Watson and producer/director Daniel Zuckerbrot, Magicana, a not-for-profit organization (and now a registered Canadian charity) dedicated to exploration and advancement of magic as a performing art.
In 2005, inspired by his friend the late Tom Kneebone and the Smile Theatre Company, Ben created Senior Sorcery, a program designed to bring magic shows to immobile seniors, the goal being to create intergenerational opportunities for the old to invite the young to share the experience of magic. Magicana continues to offer Senior Sorcery to thousands of seniors, their families and friends at centers around Toronto.
Ben developed a number of online exhibitions for Magicana including Ross Bertram, Master Magician 2010; Sid Lorraine: The Magical Chatterbox 2009; The Life & Magic of Stewart James 2007 (in collaboration with PhD student Joe Culpepper); Postcards of Magicians 2005, 2010; and Bert Douglas: A Family Remembers 2005, 2010).
For more information about my podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit my site here.
With thanks to producer Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.