Mr. Jay talks a little about the difference between revealing tricks as the Masked Magician does and explaining them as he does in his new book, and says that someone who goes to the trouble of getting his book, either out of the library or buying it, is "showing effort", whereas someone who simply watches a "masked magician" show didn't ask to have the secret of the tricked revealed to her. Really? Then why is she watching? She did ask; she does have at least a superficial interest in learning "how it's done." And I truly don't see what's wrong with that. I don't see why knowing how the trick is done makes it less enjoyable to see the second, third, or tenth time. The magic is in the performance. Seeing a beautifully performed illusion is what makes the magic. I may actually know how the trick might have been performed (I might even have two or three theories), but I might not be sure. There's the fun.
Mr. Jay sees the difference as one of kind. I understand his point but I must say that I don't agree. People who watch these kinds of shows are asking to have the tricks revealed, just as people who read magic books are asking to have the secrets revealed because they want to learn to do the tricks. The difference I see is in degree, not kind. "People"--and here I'm talking more about young people--who discover an interest in magic through an exposure to "masked magician" shows who pursue their interest by getting magic sets or buying magic tricks or buying magic books, do indeed pursue an interest much further than people who satisfy their interest with the explanations that masked magicians give them. But the latter group of people are the sort of people who are satisfied with general explanations of all sorts of things.
Some of the people who pursue an interest in magic further I think will look back on the "masked magician" shows with dissatisfaction, admittedly, and say that they disapprove of exposure and agree with Mr. Jay. But I think some, like me, will not. I do see the value of the "masked magician" shows partly as a way to stimulate some interest in learning and doing magic. Some people, including young people, will want to learn how to do magic from watching these shows and replicating the illusions, just as some people want to learn magic even though Penn & Teller reveal the secret of some illusions (only the ones that have been around a long time, though--just like the Masked Magician does). And yes, I know that many, many magicians believe that exposure is bad. I get that. And I fully expect that I'll get comments telling me so. That's what the First Amendment is for.
--After reading Jeremy's comment, I understand that my use of the word "fun" could cause confusion and I should clarify it. I meant "fun" in the sense of "enjoyment," that is, "enjoyment" of the magician's performance. I admire and am amazed by the performance. I'm not focusing on the puzzle. That's why I like watching a magician's performance of the same illusion over and over, and different magicians' performances of classic illusions. For the same reasons I like listening to a particular pianist's performance of a sonata, or a favorite singer's performance of an aria. In fact those are even more "fun" for me since I've studied piano and voice. Jeremy, thanks for the thoughtful comment.