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Topic: The mystery of effects
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 23, 2018 07:09PM)
Sensible explanations take from, while nonsensical explanations add to, the mystery of effects.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Dec 24, 2018 03:47AM)
Mostly, agree, and might add "often passes one's 'screen of logic' where reason does not."

Getting an audience to accept a weird story is easier than making them think - and American's, at least, are being conditioned not to think.

One might generously note that scientist keep coming up with stories that seem more nonsense than sensible, not to mention politicians and marketers. (coning up with?)

Yet, does not a magician sell a new logic rather than override a traditional one? One that, "makes sense" on the magical tour bus?
So, maybe the term "nonsense" is not best here. When they buy the bosh it makes perfect sense - in fact, eliminates any mystery and leaves "must be magic."

Is not the job of the performer to eliminate mystery by providing a plausible explanation/alternative for the generally inexplicable event?

"It can't be magic, but no other explanation serves?" Mystery begs to be solved. I don't want by audience to solve anything - just wallow in the awe&wonder.

Please note that there is a big difference between having anyone think that I "do magic" as opposed to creating conditions under which they remember magic as having occurred.
Often this entails a story line that would make no sense outside of context, does take the blame away from me.
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Dec 24, 2018 08:24AM)
[quote]On Dec 23, 2018, tommy wrote:
Sensible explanations take from, while nonsensical explanations add to, the mystery of effects. [/quote]

I disagree completely.

In my experience a nonsensical explanation is ignored, because it's clearly nonsense. This drives the audience to look for method which immediately removes all mystery. An explanation that's just this side of plausible makes the performance more believable and thus generates more emotional investment, which creates a greater potential for mystery.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 24, 2018 11:22AM)
It is a mystery to me how driving the audience to look for the solution to the mystery immediately removes all mystery.
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Dec 24, 2018 12:44PM)
Because if all they are doing is trying to figure out the method, you are not presenting a mystery you are presenting a puzzle. Puzzles are not magic.

But an experience which seems to take them just beyond what they understand as real is mysterious, and something they can think about and re-experience in their minds for years to come.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 24, 2018 03:07PM)
What the audience will find as it naturally looks for a rational explanation for an impossible magic effect, is that there is no answer. The only explanation the audience will be left with is the one given by the magician. If that magician’s explanation defies logic then it will add to the mystery of the effect. A completely plausible explanation for a mystery will not add to its mystery but clear it up.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Dec 24, 2018 04:04PM)
On review, I find some resistance to this use of "mystery" in relation to performance magic. I think I see tommy's point, but ...

A magician says he will demonstrate something considered impossible. Then he does. No mystery involved - only honesty.

He admits to using subterfuge, guile, trickery, sneaky methods, physical skills, and psychology to accomplish this end. No mystery.
Part of the psychology is providing an interesting story as a reason for the inexplicable phenomenon other than magic,
while subtly supporting the idea that only magic can be the cause. And deflecting reasoned analysis, of course.

It does seem that often a silly but plausible explanation is more readily accepted than a "close to truth" one,
but that does not suggest that any mystery is involved. It is the performer's task to make sure that no mystery exists.

A mystery suggests that a solution is desired and sought. If the spectator expects magic to occur and it does, there is no need to seek a solution at all.
An rational contemplation should occur before the effect is presented, and sometimes during the effect in a multi-phase routine.
But the "garden path" is to subvert any rational reconstruction, not to create a mystery.

Maybe I am alone, but I do not want mystery in the magic effects I perform. I want astonishment against an expectation that magic will occur.
I guess mystery is better than puzzle and confusion and skill demonstration, but I do not accept "mystery of an effect" as a universal concept.
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Dec 24, 2018 07:31PM)
[quote]On Dec 24, 2018, tommy wrote:
What the audience will find as it naturally looks for a rational explanation for an impossible magic effect, is that there is no answer. The only explanation the audience will be left with is the one given by the magician. If that magician’s explanation defies logic then it will add to the mystery of the effect. A completely plausible explanation for a mystery will not add to its mystery but clear it up. [/quote]

This is the exact opposite of my experience, both from the perspective of seeing shows and the feedback I get from my audiences.

Magic defies physics, not logic.

If your performance does not have an internally consistent logic, which is reasonable enough to seem like it just might be true, people will dismiss it as tricks. If it's close enough to what people accept as reality, they accept it as possible. If you give an explanation that's clearly illogical and nonsensical, they will dismiss it as the nonsense it is and assume it is tricks.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Dec 24, 2018 09:49PM)
It was Andy at the Jerx who posited that the most effective presentation gave an explanation that seemed improbable but had a little possibility of being true. Then you close the door by disproving that possibility.

So you have to 1) lead them up the garden path and then 2) leave them stranded there without a map.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 25, 2018 07:58AM)
The explanation for the magic is not the magic. The word tree is not the tree.

The magic dilemma is formed by two opposites: the explanation is nonsense while the magic appears to make sense of it. All our magic performances are contradictions – logical impossibilities. The two opposites cannot both be true at the same time but there it is!

The legit magician does not leave his audience thinking it “just might be true”. The legit magician and the charlatan are poles apart.

Merry Christmas
Message: Posted by: funsway (Dec 25, 2018 06:47PM)
I fail to see where your last has has anything to do with what you posted originally.

No one posing has suggested "just might be true." We pretend at magic and proudly admit it. No mystery.

Of course, in this post you have abandoned "mystery" all together.

Whit famous "dilemma" based on a false dichotomy is not about mystery.
No words or story is required for the dilemma to exist. Can the choice of story enhance this dilemma? Possibly, but no mystery involved.


I thought you were offering something of value. Not so sure now.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 25, 2018 08:49PM)
You should have gone to Specsavers.
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Dec 26, 2018 10:35AM)
I guess I'm not understanding this thread. I don't give any explanations, plausible or not. I don't steer the audience toward any explanations. In fact, I feel that my job is to [i]remove all possible explanations[/i], thus leaving the audience nowhere to go but "magic." I don't give them a false magical explanation. I just take them all away. Is that not what makes it seem magical?

BTW, I've been away for a bit and have a lot to catch up on here. I hope everyone had a Magical Christmas.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 26, 2018 12:05PM)
“Let nothing occur without an apparently substantial cause, and let every potential cause produce some apparently consequent effect.” NM Our Magic

Even a nonsensical magical word will give some reason for the effect happening and add a little mystery to it.

See Ricky Ray performing Bosco’s cups balls:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwF1ec4Ji7Y
Message: Posted by: magicfish (Dec 26, 2018 02:23PM)
[quote]On Dec 24, 2018, landmark wrote:
It was Andy at the Jerx who posited that the most effective presentation gave an explanation that seemed improbable but had a little possibility of being true. Then you close the door by disproving that possibility.

So you have to 1) lead them up the garden path and then 2) leave them stranded there without a map. [/quote]
It actually wasn't. This concept is much older.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 26, 2018 03:02PM)
It was the Witch Doctor who said:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYgOlqinH7A
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Dec 26, 2018 03:18PM)
They build their own narrative. How much of what you show or claim gets included in their narrative depends... let's not ask if a line in an argument is persuasive before establishing the context and character of the performer.

Are you writing a script for a short monologue, a show, the story you'd like then to tell others, the inner experience script you'd want them to have during a show? Different stories.

While anything is possible, the challenge to make everything you'd like happen at the same time and place remains open.

Everything you will see is unbelievable. Every claim incredible, and everything I'm telling you is a lie. ;)
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 26, 2018 05:10PM)
Our magic happens in the context of the real world, as opposed to a fantasy world where it would not be a mystery - nobody wonders how Peter Pan flies.
Message: Posted by: Emory Kimbrough (Dec 26, 2018 05:43PM)
If I read the same essay that landmark did, there was a different point made. The essay used Masuda's WOW gimmick as an example - This looks *somewhat* like a protector sleeve for baseball cards, but not exactly like one. If you try to make the audience more accepting of the WOW gimmick by calling it a card protector, you'll instead *arouse* their suspicions: "Hey, wait a minute, you say that's a card protector, but it doesn't quite look like any card protector *I'VE* ever seen."

But if you try to sell the WOW gimmick to your audience as a highly advanced teleportation technology, you'll decrease their suspicions: "Very funny, pal, that thing you're so insistently claiming to be advanced technology is obviously just a stupid little plastic sleeve."

So, if any prop's appearance is not quite fully ordinary, sell it up as (absurdly) more than it really is; don't try to sell it down as less than it is.

Not quite the same as the original topic of this discussion, but a useful related point.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Dec 27, 2018 12:29AM)
They have a narrative. They are watching your show. They see what you have. If you say something that sounds incongruous they will look at you.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB-NnVpvQ78 (skip the ad)
So, what is it?
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 27, 2018 07:52AM)
Whether the audience goes along with what is offered or logically questions it depends on whether it is offered as fiction or fact.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Dec 28, 2018 05:34AM)
[quote]On Dec 27, 2018, tommy wrote:
Whether the audience goes along with what is offered or logically questions it depends on whether it is offered as fiction or fact. [/quote]

once more I am intrigued by the "flavor" of what I think you are offering, but have a problem with how you frame it.

neurobiologist disagree. The subcortical processes that determine whether or not information is considered in a rational manner (higher cortex)
is a complex of many functions including perceived credibility of the presenter -- but also experience with similar information,
prejudice, dogmatic conviction, emotional state, setting, etc. How the information is "offered" is a minor factor.

but, perhaps you can explain further ..

do you mean a truth offered as fiction or a falsehood presented as fact? Or a believed falsehood stated as a truth?

Also, an audience (many observers) has a different dynamic that a single individual, but has no "logical function."
The demonstrated reaction of one observer may influence others but may be a lie itself.
...

I have often reference the "Azevedo Experiment" in which a number of magic effects were demonstrated to students.
Each had an offered explanation. At the end the students were told the explanations were correct but wrong for the effect presented.
Each was given a list of effect and a list of the explanations to match up.

No one got them all correct! The presented truth or falsehood of the explanation did not support ant logical analysis.

Besides, when I say something like, "Since these two coins have been together in my pocket they have an affinity sort of like magnetism nut less understood,"
am I telling a truth or a fiction? Does an observed consider this to be true or fiction? Do they go through any rational process either way?

I feel they have heightened expectation either way (go along with) with no need for evaluation at all - they wait in excitement for more evidence.
Now, if you mean do they later consider the story line if an attempt at reconstruction - possible. But that is not "go along with."

If they logically accept the three Furst Principles, they will go along with whatever I present.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Dec 28, 2018 06:43PM)
[quote]On Dec 24, 2018, WitchDocChris wrote:
[quote]On Dec 23, 2018, tommy wrote:
Sensible explanations take from, while nonsensical explanations add to, the mystery of effects. [/quote]

I disagree completely.

In my experience a nonsensical explanation is ignored, because it's clearly nonsense. This drives the audience to look for method which immediately removes all mystery. An explanation that's just this side of plausible makes the performance more believable and thus generates more emotional investment, which creates a greater potential for mystery. [/quote]

When I was a mere lad, eons ago! Dariel Fitzkee authored a trilogy about magic. They were rather heavy reading for a teenage magician, but, I decided that if I was going to me a magician, there was more to magic than Abbott's Catalog!

Fitzkee described nineteen EFFECTS. Quite simply, an EFFECT is/was WHAT THE SPECTATORS PERCEIVED. That definition, has served me well for almost 3/4 of a century. I already knew what a PROP, TRICK, GIMMICK, FEKE, ETC, WAS. I'm happy to know what an EFFECT, is.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 28, 2018 08:57PM)
By mystery I mean the secret: something moves mysteriously from one place to another. How? That is the mystery of it! If the magician in his presentation gives a nonsensical explanation as to what caused the thing to mysteriously move from one place to the other, it will add to the mystery. That is to say be more baffling than if he gives a more rational expiation. To rationally explain magic, if it were possible, would be to kill it. The same is true of nonsense. That is no coincidence -do you know why?
Message: Posted by: funsway (Dec 29, 2018 06:35AM)
My objections to linking "mystery" with what happens when astonishment results in "must be magic" are already noted.

So, I look to the posited idea that the level of nonsense of an explanation impacts the observer's appreciation of the magic effect.
This is certainly a possibility in some effects, but hardly a universal truth for all magic. Even throwing in the word "baffling" does not help.
I strive for astonishment with all possible explanations eliminated before the fact. I have failed if they are only baffled.

On another forum tommy just posted, "The magic effects alone do not call upon the imagination but rather on the rationale."
Since the "effect" happens in the observer's mind I resist any claim that anyone knows what goes on in there with certainty --
but, what of wonderful effects in which no explanation is provided at all?

An example from my Medieval Camp Strolling days. The audience has a basket of objects from which to select items with which I will perform a magic effect.
They know I am a magician and are expecting a demonstration of seemingly impossible things. A man selects a red ball and tosses it to me.

Without a word, I toss it back and forth, then 'accidentally' drop it on the table where it bounces. I hold it at my left fingertips and wave my wrist.
The ball changes to white! Another shake of my wrist and the 'ball' tumbles down into a white scarf.
I now say, "A white handkerchief -- a good choice!" I then do a magic effect with the handkerchief.

I would suggest that the "imagination' of each spectator was alive and well and that there was no mystery as to what had occurred.
Yes, some may have wondered how the ball turned white, but that was quickly lost in the greater astonishment of the morph into a handkerchief.

No verbal story was told, true or fiction - yet a story was unfolding and every eye was on what would happen next to the handkerchief.
The effect alone created a heightened expectation of magic yet to come. No explanation given or asked or even considered.

....
Now, I will allow that other effects I presented with a fictional explanation might have help create the conditions under which "must be magic" occurred here.
Yet, none of the comments I received later related to "baffle," "mystery," "silly story, "how you did it," " or anything except "will you come to our camp and do some magic?"
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 29, 2018 11:08AM)
On another thread Pop said the following about Ken:

“The way you use words is very slippery and deceptive, in my opinion. You have a Procrustean approach to language, forcing it to fit your argument whether it does or not.

Conflating meanings in order to show "similarity" makes everything meaningless and useless. You use words in a way in which no one else has agreed to use them.”
Message: Posted by: funsway (Dec 29, 2018 01:44PM)
[quote]On Dec 29, 2018, tommy wrote:
On another thread Pop said the following about Ken:

“The way you use words is very slippery and deceptive, in my opinion. You have a Procrustean approach to language, forcing it to fit your argument whether it does or not.

Conflating meanings in order to show "similarity" makes everything meaningless and useless. You use words in a way in which no one else has agreed to use them.” [/quote]


Perhaps you could be specific about what word(s) cause you a problem. I could fill a book with quotes about me out of context. So, what?

Did you understand my example? What part of my reasoning did you not understand?

The issue here is your use of the term "mystery" as it applies to performance magic. Your view seems to be at odds with what other magicians have said here.
Now you shift to saying that "mystery" equals the secret behind the trick. I disagree with your view and provide evidence.
You now attempt some personal attack. Entertaining any way.

Can you please offer an actual magic effect that you performed in which the use of a wild fiction explanation created a greater magic response than when you used a
more truthful story line.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 29, 2018 03:54PM)
You are the one with the problem. You have a problem with my use of the word mystery, despite the fact that I have explained what I mean by mystery is secret. There is nothing novel about that meaning: Old French mistere "secret, mystery, hidden meaning" You have a problem with my use of the phrase more baffling and suggest that nobody uses that phrase in relation to our magic. Yet on searching, I find thousands of magicians using it here including you Ken. If I wanted to attack you I might say that shows what a dishonest little weasel you are. That would be impolite however so I will not say that. I will merely quote Pop very nicely explaining what your problem is.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Dec 29, 2018 04:18PM)
No answers to my questions, I see.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 29, 2018 05:23PM)
Your eyesight must have improved no end. Can you also now see nobody?
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Dec 29, 2018 06:21PM)
[quote]On Dec 23, 2018, tommy wrote:
Sensible explanations take from, while nonsensical explanations add to, the mystery of effects. [/quote]Verbal cues for play.
Words to accompany and reinforce the demonstration in a more musical sense.

We could digress to language by way of Alice, Humpty Dumpty and runcible spoons...but this topic is more about audience experience than matters didactic.

Yes that was a reference to Aristotle on rhetoric.;)
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Dec 29, 2018 06:23PM)
@Tommy: consonance vs dissonance ? :)
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 29, 2018 08:01PM)
:)

Speak of nonsense and it will appear.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Dec 29, 2018 09:17PM)
[quote]On Dec 23, 2018, tommy wrote:
Sensible explanations take from, while nonsensical explanations add to, the mystery of effects. [/quote]
Nonsense lets them decide how much of what they see is important beyond simply acknowledging the performance of a trick. You showed something - something happened - that's nice. The comedian talked - then the audience laughed - okay. Levels of engagement?
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 30, 2018 05:43AM)
Nonsensical actions are accepted by the audience when in keeping with the nonsense which conjurers proverbially indulge in to "explain" their "mysteries” and because nobody questions fictional nonsense such actions can be used as shade for moves. For example, one tells one's audience that one must twitch one's elbow in order to make an invisible card held in the palm of one's hand become visible: not only does that bit of nonsense work but works over and over again. With fiction, the firewall is down, which is why the propagandists and the wizards of Madison Avenue use fiction. Nonsense fiction is not just a pretty face.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Dec 30, 2018 06:28AM)
There are different levels on either side of the dilemma. The gist of it is, a magic effect can be presented essentially in two different ways, depending on what type of magician one is. There is the wizard who presents his magic in a more or less serious way and there is the conjurer who presents his magic in a more or less humorous way. The way the effect is presented changes the balance, the levels on either side of the dilemma.