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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Magic of Ascanio vs Designing Miracles (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Andy the cardician
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Hi,

I have read Designing Miracles back to cover twice. A fantastic book that I can warmly recommend. Especially after reading Strong Magic.

My question is, is it still worth to get the Magic of Ascanio vol 1? Are there big differences?

Thanks a lot.

Andy
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korttihai_82
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Of course its worth to get Ascanio book as well. Two performers and two perspectives. Try to read as much as possible from the great people of our art and learn as much as possible.
Andy the cardician
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Thanks,

guess, my main question is - are the perspectives very different, or just the same in different words, some in more depth than the other?
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Andy the cardician
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No one else?
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ASW
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The books are very different. You should also get the Ascanio text.
Whenever I find myself gripping anything too tightly I just ask myself "How would Guy Hollingworth hold this?"

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Andy the cardician
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Thanks.
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Dominique
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Quote:
On 2007-03-20 04:41, Andrew Wimhurst wrote:
The books are very different. You should also get the Ascanio text.


If the books are indeed different in their form (chats, essays, articles, lectures for The Magic of Ascanio, and essay for Designing Miracles), "Designing Miracles" does reformulate many concepts which belong to the Ascanio's theory for a long time : D.ORTIZ always quotes the Ascanio's definition of a magic effect, the concept of inner/outer reality, Ascanio's concepts of "parenthesis of forgertfulness" and "actions of apparent continuity" are labelled "time deplacement" in D.ORTIZ' book, even some examples like the study of metamorphosis come word for word from Ascanio.

Frankly, I was a little bit desapointed with Desingning Miracles in its beginning : 43 pages to conclude that miracles are better than puzzles in magic, and that magic is an irrational cause of an effect, don't sound very new.
Desapointed also in the fact that the next chapter "Temporal Distance" is very close to Ascanio's theory. But, after all, even if it does not sound so new, one may understand that D.ORTIZ does include these concepts for exhaustiveness.

So, on one hand the D.ORTIZ's book is like a handy book, well written, which summarizes many concepts you may be already familiar with if you know works on theory by A.Ascanio, J.Tamariz or A.Schneider.

Of course Designing Miracles is not a sustitute to these theories since it omits some key concepts of the Ascanio theory like the anti-contrasting parenthesis, the distincion between false moves and secret moves ; does not go deeply in Tamariz false solutions theory, or in the "backward track with false assumptions" of the Schneider's theory. For this reason, one should read also The Magic of Ascanio (and also "The Black Days" one of the best book even written on magic, the model of what each and every book with tricks should be), The Magic Way of Tamariz and Al Schneider's on Theory (it was some years ago a free content on M.Schneider website, unfortunatly this masterpiece is no longer online it seems, and it is now included in his L&L DVD set).

On the other hand, in the second part, D.ORTIZ adds some very, very, interesting concepts on the cover in magic with the Spatial and Conceptual Distance (chapter 5 and 6). Some fine views on the Visual Magic wich go against the current of all "boom-in-their-face" fast tricks. Clever analyzes on the use of ruses or a duplicate in magic (the rule 2 "of 3"). By the way , you may better be familiar with D.ORTIZ' own repertoire, since many examples come from it.

So that, Designing Miracles becomes a very practical book since it does provide us with clear definitions, well thought tools to actually put in practice theory (because theory deserves practice of course).

Because of its beginning, because of its structure which involves some repetitions through the book (but magic theory intersects all the time the concepts, and it's hard to talk about an isolate one), my first reading of Designing Miracles just didn't start let's say "on the right foot" and imposes to me ... a new reading that's all !
Designing Miracles must be read and read again like most of the good books on magic theory.
Cordially,
Dominique
Andy the cardician
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Dominique,

thank you very, very much. You provided the answer I was hoping for. I deeply appreciate your effort, and surely many other who read this as well.

regards
Andy
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erlandish
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Dominique,

Great analysis. Thanks for putting that up.
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ASW
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The Ortiz book drew on (and greatly expanded) a number of concepts from a number of different magicians, including his own.

I think ultimately readers will find Ortiz's book more satisfying than the Ascanio book, as a single read through. The thing that was disappointing about the Ascanio book was that it was very repetitious. This is not the fault of the book per se, since it compiles a number of short essays and interviews in which Ascanio posited, and then later recapped or slightly expanded on his thinking. Repetition in this case is unavoidable.

Thus, while Ascanio had a number of great conceptions (and some definitions of concepts that were already understood but not always elucidated) the majority of his published thinking, if edited cold-bloodedly, could be distilled into a much shorter book. Or indeed a booklet. We need the exisiting book though, as a compilation of his writings in one place - it's essential for completists. It's really just a shame that he never sat down and wrote one major book on his theory.

Less appealing about the Ascanio book is that there's a lot of self-aggrandizement in Ascanio's book, especially in the interviews, but also in his own self-referential writings. He was never backward in coming forward in acknowledging his brilliance. I suppose I can live with that, but it gets tiresome. (I'm not here speaking of references to his own tricks, which Ortiz also utilises to support his concepts and choices).

Some of the above may be blasphemy to Spanish-speaking magicians, just as any rational non-hagiographic critique of (the undeniably great) Roy Walton's effects is heresy to any Scotsman.

The distinction Ortiz makes between miracles and puzzles may not be new to readers. But the real point of that segment is that most magicians might understand a bald statement of that distinction, but don't appreciate it or demonstrate it in the practice of their magic.

Anyway, this is not to engage in a heated debate with Dominique. I just think that if he rereads the book he will realise that while it stands on the shoulders of giants, much of its brilliance throughout comes from the author.

Best,
Andrew
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Dominique
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Quote:
On 2007-03-23 04:03, Andrew Wimhurst wrote:
The Ortiz book drew on (and greatly expanded) a number of concepts from a number of different magicians, including his own.

I think ultimately readers will find Ortiz's book more satisfying than the Ascanio book, as a single read through.


I agree with you. Though for the one who has never heard about the Ascanio's concepts, despite the repetitions, Ascanio Magic volume 1 may be still a great discovery.

Quote:
The thing that was disappointing about the Ascanio book was that it was very repetitious. This is not the fault of the book per se, since it compiles a number of short essays and interviews in which Ascanio posited, and then later recapped or slightly expanded on his thinking. Repetition in this case is unavoidable.

Thus, while Ascanio had a number of great conceptions (and some definitions of concepts that were already understood but not always elucidated) the majority of his published thinking, if edited cold-bloodedly, could be distilled into a much shorter book. Or indeed a booklet. We need the exisiting book though, as a compilation of his writings in one place - it's essential for completists.
It's really just a shame that he never sat down and wrote one major book on his theory.


Yes.
In fact my first Ascanio's book was "The Black Days".
All the concepts are in it, and are illustrated by the routine itself.

This book is a model in my opinion because of its method in teaching magic. But, the concepts are very shortly explained and may be some longer explanations et examples may help.

I think that D.Ortiz does extend some Ascanio's ideas with more deeply analysis (one example : the fact that part of the dirty work may happen after the climax).

Quote:
The distinction Ortiz makes between miracles and puzzles may not be new to readers. But the real point of that segment is that most magicians might understand a bald statement of that distinction, but don't appreciate it or demonstrate it in the practice of their magic.


Yes : the Ortiz' distinctions between deception/betrayal and "something you can't explain/something inexplicable" are very usefull.

Quote:
Anyway, this is not to engage in a heated debate with Dominique. I just think that if he rereads the book he will realise that while it stands on the shoulders of giants, much of its brilliance throughout comes from the author.
Best,
Andrew


My point was just the fact that Designing Miracles does clearly "stand on the shoulders of giants" for major concepts which come from mostly Ascanio's theory, but this tree doesn't must hide the forest of all the other clever insights of the book.

For this reason Designing Miracles is really a book which deserves to be deeply studied because Designing Miracles must be put in practice (I insist) : it's a usefull tool box we must think of as we think about sleights or gimmicks.(and I do reread it currently Smile )

But, Designing Miracles does not exempt one from the reading of Ascanio's theory in my opinion. The short "The Black Days" may be however as you say enough to understand them.

(and sorry for my bad english : I don't know the magic trick which would make me write english as I read and understand it)
Cordially,
Dominique
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Thanks for your response, Dominique. Your English is excellent and your points are well understood. I know from personal experience how hard it is to learn a second language - and I respect anyone who makes the effort.

I think we are in agreement in all regards. As I said, I think the Ascanio book is an essential purchase for anyone serious about theory. As I said, I wish Ascanio had sat down and written a major book on the theory of magic.
Whenever I find myself gripping anything too tightly I just ask myself "How would Guy Hollingworth hold this?"

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Andy the cardician
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Andrew and Dominique,
a great discussion - thanks for the sharing. Very useful for me . . .

Andy
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aiturran
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Great discussion.
I was totally unaware of that Ortiz's book.
I share with his vision of magic, as I'm not much into the concept "magic for magicians", as I think of magic as a way to create illusion and fantasy, and when it's well created, can fool and wonder magicians and people.
The best example that Ortiz always cited was Fred Kaps, which until this day, is an example of what a magician should be.

I've also read Ascanio's Volume 1. As some of you say, maybe his theory and concepts could be summarized in a booklet much smaller, but I enjoyed reading the book on its entirety and soaking myself on Ascanio's philosophy, and absolutely enjoying the interviews and conferences, always being analytic and not taking it as the absolute truth.

Ortiz and Ascanio are one of the best magic thinkers I've read, on my personal experience, as they've analized and concluded many of the most important subjects in magic in a way that I mostly agree.

I hope I can get Ortiz's book soon, I love his analysis and his concept of magic.

Amazing topic, thanks to everyone that gave such a thorough analysis to the book and making a comparison to Ascanio, as both books make magic grow more and more.

Antonio
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Andrew and Dominique,
Many thanks! I thoroughly enjoyed that.
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Very good incites here. Great to see opinions discussed in a gentlemenly fashiion.
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Dominique
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As I read again "Designing Illusion" I was thinking about the "critical interval".
This laps of time is in D.ORTIZ' words the time "when an audience expects the method to happen".

Or course the idea is to displace the "dirty work" either before or after this "critical interval".

However, for my own use, I would slightly change the definition of this interval from :
"the time between the last view of the initial condition and their first view of the final condition" (Designing Illusion page 46)
to :

"the time between :
1)the moment the audience knows/guess what the outcome of the trick will be and
2)the moment the audience does eventually accept the final condition as a proof of the phenomenon"

I think indeed that in a well known effect (like sawing a woman in half) or in an illusion wich includes repetition of a same effect (Lavand's three bread crumbs : pure magic), the horse of the reason (in Tamariz' words) will try to lead the spectator toward the rationnal path sooner than the moment the audience does actually see what the magician will state as "the initial condition"

(the magician goal is precisely to deceive the audience about what was the real moment they did see the initial condition in order to make them make a false assumption about this moment - Al SCHNEIDER's theory)

On the other hand, at the end of some tricks, sometimes some spectator needs to touch by themselves, to examin - more than just watch the "final condition"- a card, a coin to convince themselves that what they've just witnessed was real magic. Even if they don't, in concret terms, take in their hands the proof of the phenomenon, this is the moment (in Al SCHNEIDER's words again) when the audience makes its decision about if they were deceived or not.

And the magician's work is also to make this surrender as sweet as possible : too many times magicians think that their work stops just when they produce the final condition ; the audience needs sometimes some help to feel the magic emotion (even in the simple fact of not watching to them as they try to backtrack the clues to the method and have to accept to be "fooled" for their own good - again Al SCHNEIDER's piece of advice).
And this short period may to be also included in the critical interval to me.
Cordially,
Dominique
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I think there's a confusion of ideas there. If I understood the 5 steps correctly, Al Schneider's final step is one where the audience has to decide for themselves whether or not they were fooled -- many factors can alter this, some of which are outside the magician's control. Ortiz's idea is more from the standpoint of deliberately containing when the audience perceives the magic must have happened. This is (for the most part) more within the magician's control -- he can take advantage of when audiences normally believe the trick to have started and when they think it's finished. If there is some sort of cleanup required, it can be done during a relaxation period after the revelation, at which point everything can be examined and everyone's happy (and Al Schneider's 5th step can be satisfied), but that revelation generally defines the end of the critical interval, which is more about defining when most audiences are going to be at their most alert, and when they're most likely going to bust you if you do something even a little bit fishy.

Assuming I understood both Schneider and Ortiz correctly, that is.
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Andy the cardician
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Erlandish,
I share your opinion. Schneiders 5th point is critical, as the spectator decides on the magic. I personally do not like the word fooled. At that point he will choose to accept the magic and the related amazement or to refuse it (along with loathing the performer . . . a strong word)

Andy
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Dominique
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My point was just to say that there're in fact two "last view of the initial condition" : the "real" one and the "fake" one ; one in the inner reality of the trick, one in its outer reality.

To me the critical interval does start with "the last view of the initial condition" from the audience's point of view, that's to say this critical interval starts (ideally)in the outer reality with the fake last wiew of the initial condition.

But what does make an audience decide that it is the initial condition ? Of course the magician's acting who "tells" that the trick is just starting (when all the "dirty work" is ideally already done). But I think the moment the audience knows/guess what the outcome of the trick will be(even if their guess or what the magician said about the comming end does eventually not happen because the trick has a total suprising ending) is what makes the audience think that the trick is just starting.

For example :
1) a spectator choose one card ; you say that the goal of the trick will be to lost this card in the deck in order to later find it by magical means ; you take it face down and secretly change it ; you lay "his/her card" (a dummy in fact) on the table.
is weaker from this perspective than :
2) a spectator choose one card ; you take it face down and secretly change it ; you lay "his/her card" (a dummy in fact) on the table ; you say that the goal of the trick will be to lost this card in the deck in order to later find it by magical means ; (you may even casually take a look for youself at the face down card on the table as you patter and miscall the card, because you force the card onto the spectator in first place)

I mean if you do an "ideal" trick where all the "dirty work" is done even before the audience think that the trick have started, why you should not repeat the same trick in front of this same audience ? It's because knowing the outcome of the trick, the critical interval would be naturally extended during the second performance of the same trick.

That's why tricks whith a same effect repeated over and over are so hard to design.
Tricks like the René LAVAND's 3 bread crumbs or Slydini's Helicopter Card are good example of this kind of construction.
From a dramatic point of view this repetition goes against the law of crescendo : so usually the conditions will seem to become more and more impossible in order to keep the audience's attention, and the first reason of these more and more "impossible" conditions is because the critical interval seems from the audience point of view going larger each time the effect is repeated.

In his Ultimate Aces Assembly, through three repetitions of the same effect, John MENDOZA for example leads in fact his audience to ask themselves precisely about what they take for their "last view of the initial condition" (because the audience has "learned" what will be the outcome of the trick). And just as they wonder if this face down card is really an ace, the magician does actually show us the face, destroying a solution in his spectors' mind at the precise moment this "false" solution was occuring to them.

I think that symmetrically at the end of the trick what does mark this end in the spectator mind (and so the end of the critical interval) is less that their first view of the final condition than their own decision about if the trick was or not convincing.

I remember a famous magician doing a mutliple card to the pocket, and card to the wallet in the pocket. The card was signed with a sticker on its face.
At one moment the magician pretended to show that the card had magically travelled from the deck to his pocket : he showed (flashed in fact, very quickly) the card from his pocket, his finger casually masking the part of the face of that card where the signature on the sticker was supposed to be, and put again the card into his pocket (to make it travel back magically from his pocket to the deck). This short view of the card (a duplicate card of course of the one he has forced on the spectator) was an incomplete proof and some spectators did understand that the magician was not able to show more of the face of the card. This "first view of the final condition" was not convincing enough and eventually failed in its part of the first view of the final condition.

That why I believe that the end of the critical interval is decided by the audience : is this view of the final condition is convincing or not of the effect ?

(Andy : my use of the word "fooled" was a deliberate ironical reference to the interesting discussion about it in D.ORTIZ's Desingning Illusions)
Cordially,
Dominique
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Quote:
On 2007-04-09 03:13, Dominique wrote:
To me the critical interval does start with "the last view of the initial condition" from the audience's point of view, that's to say this critical interval starts (ideally)in the outer reality with the fake last wiew of the initial condition.


I think it's going to depend on the effect. For instance, sometimes we have to sign cards or allow a prop or apparatus to be examined before the effect starts. I think the moment such an examination happens, the audience is put on a heightened alert, and this will happen prior to the "last view of the initial condition". Of course, since sometimes it's best to kill suspicion before it begins (for both dramatic and fooling purposes), sometimes you have to do it -- that's why the glass box is examined before Copperfield actually flies, for instance. If the conviction is not strong that the box is solid, or that the ties around my hands and feet are tight, or whatever, then you run the risk of the situation that Schneider describes when the audience says, "Oh, I guess I made a wrong assumption."

Quote:
I think that symmetrically at the end of the trick what does mark this end in the spectator mind (and so the end of the critical interval) is less that their first view of the final condition than their own decision about if the trick was or not convincing.


Well, again, it seems like you're talking about two different things. An audience member decides that he was fooled upon reexamining what he perceived happen. However, when he's trying to determine exactly what happened, his recollection will go up until the point that the perceived magic has taken place and is completed. If you do a trick with a signed card to a hat (say as the climax to an ACR, for instance). You do all this great magic with the ACR (they have no choice to believe the effects), and then you demonstrate that the card has disappeared from the deck, you take off your hat to show a card inside, then the faith that's been built will cause people to think "How did he do that?" when you're actually not finished yet -- you do your move, reach inside and pull out the signed card. The signed card convinces them that it was their card, but they're mostly convinced anyway the moment they see the card face down in your hat -- assuming Darwin's theory is correct.

I agree that your card to pocket example (which I've seen elsewhere, I think on Daryl's Card Revelations?) is less strong than it could be, but there are better examples of the principle at work. Jay Sankey's got a good one in the 0$ Bill Switch, Tommy Wonder's ACR works with the principle, Dai Vernon's Travellers works partially on the principle, several coins-to-glass routines operate on the principle, and so on...
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Andy the cardician
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Quote:
On 2007-04-09 03:13, Dominique wrote:

(Andy : my use of the word "fooled" was a deliberate ironical reference to the interesting discussion about it in D.ORTIZ's Desingning Illusions)


Thanks Dominique - got it now . . .
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