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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Periods & styles of Magic » » When did "illusion" became "magic" (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

leonardoglass
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Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil
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Hi, everyone!
I was reading about magic history and some came upon my mind: when did "illusion" became "magic"?

In another words, in the beggining of magic era, our art had another names: pretidigitation, legierdemain, physical amusements, natural magick, etc... Whos was the first who made the equivalence between our art of illusion, with the ancient religion priests (the 'mags')?

In portuguese, my first language, this diference is less evident. We have two words: "mágica" for the entertainer art and "magia" for the sobrenatural/religious one. So, in portuguese at least, this difference is less evident, once we had differente words, for differents things (although, many times both words being used as synonimous). That's the reason this doubt was born in my mind.

Thanks for all the help!

Sorry for any misspelings.

Greetings from Brazil!
friend2cptsolo
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I think some of this invisible wall was broken just before turn of the century. This was the time period when electricity was being introduced to the world and with it A LOT of changes begin to happen. Houdini spent some time debunking psychic phenomena this was part of what you are talking about. Also before him you had Robert Houdin bringing magic into the PARLOURs of the elite, this was a presenting MAGICK and ILLUSION as trickery and show. He used gears and pulleys and mechanical things people did not know much about. The same is said now when NEW MAGIC is just high tech gadgets.
Your question reads like at what moment did this change in audience perception take place.... well it cannot be one moment but a series of events. As technologies began to spread and understanding of the workings of those technologies Magical beliefs faded.
I would say though when the world began to see planes and gas powered cars and the electric lights could be a crucial turning point or shift in view point.
leonardoglass
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Quote:
On Sep 23, 2016, friend2cptsolo wrote:
I think some of this invisible wall was broken just before turn of the century. This was the time period when electricity was being introduced to the world and with it A LOT of changes begin to happen. Houdini spent some time debunking psychic phenomena this was part of what you are talking about. Also before him you had Robert Houdin bringing magic into the PARLOURs of the elite, this was a presenting MAGICK and ILLUSION as trickery and show. He used gears and pulleys and mechanical things people did not know much about. The same is said now when NEW MAGIC is just high tech gadgets.
Your question reads like at what moment did this change in audience perception take place.... well it cannot be one moment but a series of events. As technologies began to spread and understanding of the workings of those technologies Magical beliefs faded.
I would say though when the world began to see planes and gas powered cars and the electric lights could be a crucial turning point or shift in view point.


Thanks for the answer.

In the old HBO series "Carnivale", the serie's mythology says that the turning point from the magic age, to the modern age was "when the sun burst", in a apology to the nuclear bomb... I think that the 1930's was really the end of an era, and the beginging of another.

But my question was intended to be a little more pratical (maybe the fact of I not being fluent in english may be the cause of this misinterpretation). What was the first "book/panphlet/poster/whatever" in which the word "magic" appeared in a modern way?

I did some researches and the farest I could go was a book in 1867 by Professor Hoffmann called "Modern Magic". I haven't read it yet, but I think that's the "turning point" in the way the world start to see "illusions" (as an entertainer form of art, not a supernatural thing).

Am I in the right path, or I missing something older/different?

Thanks for all the help!!
friend2cptsolo
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I think you are right about the book but as far as the way the world started to see things as trickery could be older

1584 - Reginald Scot publishes The Discoverie of Witchcraft a book designed in part to counter the activities of persecutionists, but at the same time revealing many conjuring secrets of the day. Magic and witchcraft were still linked, and many copies of Scot's book were burnt in the early 17th century.

While yes in this instance both witchcraft and magic are still linked it also lays out a thought of trickery.

In the early 1700s Isaac Fawkes, English Magician, presents magic at fairs as "Dexterity of Hand".
HenryleTregetour
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I am not sure if this is what you are asking.

But with regards to Scot's book, there was what might be considered an "illusion" rather than a "magic trick;" it is also described and illustrated in Hocus Pocus. I am speaking of the "Decollation of John the Baptist." It was an illusion featuring a table in a room on which lay a decapitated body. Also on the table was the victim's head next to a brazier with sulfur: the head exhaled smoke. HP reads: "neither when you have given entrance, permit any to be meddling, nor let them tarry long." So the Decollation was a static illusion in which people were let in a room, viewed the scene, and then left. Milbourne Christopher states that this illusion was viewed in the mid-sixteenth century. Other illustrations include one from the first half of the sixteenth century in The Oldest Trick (about cup and balls--correct title) and in the Fall of Hermogenes (1565) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.

Of course, illusions were closely associated with temples in ancient Greece and Rome. A book by Hero of Alexandria diagrams the use of pneumatics in temples. Grand scale automatons were common in medieval China as well as the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire. And Giovanni Fontana (15th century) produced a book including diagrams of several illusions.

I hope this helps,

Henry
HenryleTregetour
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I left out the most famous illusion in 16th century England--the Rood of Grace.

The Rood of Grace was a statue of Christ in Boxley Abbey. Because of its ability to open its eyes and move its lips, it became a major pilgrimage site and hence the abbey became very wealthy. When Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church and established the Church of England, he closed the abbeys and monasteries and seized their property. The Rood was seized and it was revealed to be a machine operated by the monks. It was displayed as proof of frauds committed by the Catholic Church. See http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/01/......oax.html

The camera obscura also produced illusions. Essentially, one is in a totally dark room with a very small hole in one wall. A screen is used to capture images projected by the light outside. It is described in Natural Magick (1584) by John Baptista Porta, pages 335-336 and 340. It is in Chapter 17, which describes many uses of lenses and glasses.
Dick Oslund
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"Magic" is 5%sleight of hand skills, 5%esoteric principles of science, 5% PERCEPTUAL or SENSORY ILLUSION , plus 85% psychology. I'm not a mathematician! Those percentages are merely illustrative, to make clear that PSYCHOLOGY is the major "factor".

An illusion is something that you THINK you see, but, actually don't see, or, something that you don't think you see. but, do see. Sensory illusions happen because our senses are not infallible. The senses can transmit to the brain, an incorrect "signal". E.g. The ancient "boomerangs" (an optical illusion) can appear longer or shorter, depending on their manipulation by the magician. This illusion is objective.

Optical, and aural illusions are objective, in that more than one person can experience an optical or an aural illusion simultaneously. A magician can create an optical illusion, that a group can experience, simultaneously. The "six spot", "three spot", "four spot", "one spot" card is an optical illusion created by the magician's manipulation. It's the Joseph Jastrow illusion.

Tactile, olfactory, and gustatory illusions are subjective. A magician can only "help" create a tactile illusion. (Cf. Ottakar Fischer's "Illustrated Magic" for a picture of a person touching a sphere with fingers crossed (middle finger over the index finger, with both finger tips touching the sphere. That person should feel two spheres!

Olfactory and gustatory illusions can be created by chemicals Perfume can smell like a rose. Lemonade can taste like lemon by using appropriate chemicals.

For 40+ years, I've explained and demonstrated what an illusion IS, in my school show. I used the illusion routine for Primary, elementary, middle, Jr. High, and Senior High and college audiences. I used the boomerangs, the "six spot, etc" card, and, the visible silk thru microphone stand. Note! I only told the groups that they were illusions. I did not expose the methods.

This 5 minute routine was entertaining and instructive. Teachers and school administrators felt that the students had not only had fun, they also had learned something about how their senses and minds "worked".

The routine also set the tone for the program. Students, after experiencing the illusion "demonstration", now realized that I was going to "fool them, without making fools of them! An "adversary situation" never developed!

For high schools and colleges, I also helped them experience a tactile illusion. They created their own illusion, under my "direction" by themselves!

Note! My education is liberal arts. I'm not a psychologist, so my terminology is quite "elementary"!

I explained this routine in great detail, in my book.

I hope this has been helpful. This routine was suggested to me by my old friends, J.B. Bobo, and Roy Mayer, both, experienced old professionals. Whenever I present it, I'm silently thanking them!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Bill Hegbli
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As far as what I read, it goes back to Kings of countries wanting court jesters to entertain them. Pulled from the streets performing anything to get a coin dropped for them to live on. Most likely before the what we know as the beginning of the worlds history.

As far as you title of this topic, you would have to find out when the words magic and illusion were created and used. Magic is illusion, depending on the context that it is used it. For laymen, the words mean one thing, but between magicians, the words mean totally something else.
Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

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