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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Definition of "Magic" (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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kregg
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Quote:
On 2006-05-04 23:00, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
I was there when the song was first performed
And honestly thought he was singing
"Art's filthy lesson falls upon deaf ears"


Wasn't it; "Whit's filthy lesson falls upon blind eyes."
POOF!
Whit Haydn
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Bilwonder:

"I believe "magic" DOES exist, IF we define it in a way that recognizes a transformational state of mind. I believe the magician imitates what nature already does. From the magic of mirages to quantum physics, in a Jungian way we mirror the universe in our heads. It is this same magic that finds it's way into the magician's hands."

Perhaps you could explain this statement more precisely. As it stands, I don't think this is true at all.

What the magician really models is intentional fraud and deception, something that only occurs in nature among creatures with a high degree of self-awareness.

What other part of the universe in our heads are magicians modeling for the world?
tommy
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Magicians do not imitate what nature already does but imitates nature turned on it's head I would have thought.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Dannydoyle
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Whit, I am glad we understand that. I for one do not really want to debate it as I feel magicians in particular get too heck bent on the "theory" and generally lose why they are THEORISING in the first place.

Your ideas seem to be consistant and concice. Congradulations. You are on a small island among magicians.

Weather I agree with them or the need for them, I certianly respect them as well as the work. In the end that is all we can really ask.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Jonathan Townsend
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What some are calling theory is a useful way to codify observations made in reality and to formulate hypotheses to test in reality. Most people know the ideas as "scientific method". Smile
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Whit Haydn
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Bilwonder said:
Quote:
"Yet, I firmly believe in what I'm saying about defining magic, even no one else here seems to understand what I'm saying. Perhaps our art can be reduced to a syllogism. Is this syllogism unique to magic? Should it be entered into logic books as the "Magic Syllogism?" If not, then we share a table with other arts in this matter and it is not the definition of "magic " in itself. Magic is in the state of mind it produces. Other things can produce this state of mind. Magicians have used drugs in some cases to produce the results of "magic."


I think the attempt to "prove" to the other that something that is not true (and that everyone knows is not true) is, in fact, true; happens only in our little branch of theater--magic--and not in any other form of theater.

Every magic trick contains such a valid but untrue syllogism. There are none without it.

This is the defining difference that separates magic from theater.

It is in understanding the nature of this, and what it does to the mind that we understand "why" we might find this activity valuable and useful.

The simple way to shoot down my theory, whose entire construct is based on this little realization, is to show that there can be magic tricks performed by magicians for other's entertainment that do not include any such false argument at its core. Show me a trick that does not in fact attempt to CONVINCE the other that something that is actually or apparently taking place is happening for a reason that is in fact not the reason--a false cause.

Then we can debate whether these presentations--these exceptions--are actually magic, or something else. I believe they are not magic, but something else.'

If I am right, we have for the first time, a possible model for how magic begins to do what it does in the minds of the spectator. I don't believe I have explored all the myriad directions a full-blown theory of magic might take us, but I do feel that I have discovered a sort of starting place--a description of what we do that can give us all a common ground upon which to build our understandings of the nature and purpose of our art.

Magicians may have used drugs in the attempt to re-create what magicians do for the mind, I think such attempts are bound to fail, as I think attempts to use drugs to achieve the blessings of meditation will fail. The special state that the mind is placed into by the magician happens in few other disciplines (cosmology, quantum physics, math) and is not something that drugs can emulate.

Danny:
Quote:
"I for one do not really want to debate it as I feel magicians in particular get too heck bent on the "theory" and generally lose why they are THEORISING in the first place."


I find the opposite is true. Most magicians today refuse to discuss theory. They don't take it seriously enough. As you do, they think it is unimportant. I find that the guys in my generation who are still around usually do take theory very seriously.

I listed many of the names in magic who take theory, and discussions of theory seriously. I don't know any great magicians who don't. I am convinced that the helter skelter and confused manipulations and contraptions that abound in magic today are the result of artists attempting to create without having a clear vision of what it is they want to say.
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Whit your right it IS important, I don't think I debated its even necessity.

BUT I think it gets to convoluted and everyone gets stuck in the "I am entitled to my opinion" thing.

Clearly any art has a theoretical background and HISTORY that is necessary for its continued development. Problem is too many armchair philisophers. Problem is concentrating too much on it. Problem is finding a personal theory that fits your beliefs, instead of letting history prove things for you.

I guess "little bit of knowlege is a dangerous thing" after all.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
tommy
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“I think the attempt to "prove" to the other that something that is not true (and that everyone knows is not true) is, in fact, true; happens only in our little branch of theater--magic--and not in any other form of theater.”

Except for maybe the political theatre.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Bilwonder
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Thanks Whit for getting back to some other parts of my questions. I've been away performing and just came back to reply to you. Rather than contend with you, I'm in agreement with how you've mapped out for magicians, "a model for how magic begins to DO what it does in the minds of the spectator." My contentions are more about the focus of definition.



Gleaning from Whit's past posts here, I have edited them into a kind of multiple choice of what magic "is." I've tried not to do violence to the meaning in arranging it so you can see how I perceive the focus in the multiple layers of the definition. I know each is somewhat out of context as they were "stripped" to be concise.

a) Magic = a lie, (told with a wink and a smile)

b) Magic = a lie + a syllogism to prove the lie. Nothing else needed.

c) Magic = a syllogism (valid with at least one missing or untrue premise).

d)Magic= a game of deceit (based on foisting a false or invalid syllogism...in such a way that they can not find the error...).

e) Magic= to insult the intelligence of the audience by making firm assertions of some things that the spectators know for a fact are not true, and then proving them...

f) magic= the science of proving the untrue.

g) Magic = a puzzle which is meant to be insolvable.

h) Magic= reality in quantum physics.

I) Magic= This little irritating grain in the mind... A kind of mental burr under the saddle of the brain...by the magician's deft insertion.

J) Magic= cognitive dissonance producing the reverie of wonder.

---------------------

I think Whit admits that his syllogism of the coin vanish would not be magic in an age where teleportation was common place. He would still succeed in deception, however, it would only be hiding his backward technology. Somewhat similar to Tellers demonstration of using many slights to a null effect of magic (even though deception occurs throughout).

I contend the magic happens only at the point where it meets the spectators sense of limitations. This varies from person to person and age to age. Of course a "trick" involves a lie and a syllogism to prove it, but it only becomes magic when it meets and challenges the spectator's sense of limitations in an "engaging" way. If they don't "engage" the problem, there is no "magic" either.

Whit has disavowed (a) Magic is a lie. And (b, c, f) I've just discussed above. (d) recognized that a syllogism with a false or missing premise IS invalid and does put this in the context of a game. (e) I would say "assault" rather than "insult" (It's more of a "challenge" not a "put down") and would focus on their sense of limitations rather than intelligence. (g) True, but by itself, a puzzle I can't solve is not magical, but just frustrating. We all know none of our puzzles are "unsolvable" That is an illusion.(h) was just a note of what Whit considered real magic. And (I & J) the last two, I considered he was closer the real definition of magic, but in context he did NOT directly connect as magic, but only a result.

How does the magician imitate nature? Of course he pretends not to. He pretend to "defy" nature. However, I believe he actually imitates it. In general because I believe that, in as much as we are a product of the universe, nothing we do is alien to it.

Nature has been tantalizing our blind spots from the beginning of ages. We experience magic long before we experienced the "magician." We have stood in fear and awe the the unexplainable and have been transformed by it. When nature has tip her hand, we have learned a few tricks. Some laughed that they were taken in by such simple tricks of nature. They may claimed there never was "magic." Others saw in this the power of magic was real and continue to be in awe that such simple tricks could bring it about.

The desert offers me some water, then magically makes it vanish. I've learned to bend light to make things vanish or appear. A lizard's tail taught me the value of misdirection (how many tricks can you name where this applies...). Poggendorff, Zöllner, Hering discovered there illusion, he didn't invent it. There is no use in saying these are different because we "know" how they work. In many cases we still don't, and even if we do now, there was still the initial experience of 'magic." The "false assumption" basis for magic is tied closely to natural illusions. All natural illusions exist because we make false assumptions. Camouflage, Mirage, Motion, The speed and nature of light, lightening and fire, Rainbows, Birth "defects," are a few of natures culprits we fall "victim" too producing "magic" to our senses.

You make a couple of distinctions that I don't think necessarily play directly into the definition: Intention and veracity. You may say that the magic of nature and the magic of a magician are distinct because of the nature of deceit and intention. "The magician firmly holds the door shut." But in reality the spectator is complicit with the magician in this matter. The magician only enables the spectator to fool himself.

You said, "'What the magician really models is intentional fraud and deception, something that only occurs in nature among creatures with a high degree of self-awareness."
Indeed, human have a unique capacity for art or "modeling." I would say there is a difference even between "modeling" fraud and "committing" fraud. The magician models fraud without committing it (because of he context of the game).However, I don't think we should focus on intention as defining magic.

Magician or not, any illusion is created by a kind of "logic fallacy." We extend the wrong kind of "memory map" onto a visual stimulus we receive (or without the stimulus in the case of hallucination). Some times we "can't believe our eyes" when it's not an illusion at all, but just unexpected phenomena. There is no deception or illusion in this last case.
billswondershow.com
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain
tommy
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Magic is: Deceiving those who know they are being deceived.


That is my interpretation of what Whit is saying and that is in the context of entertainment. I am not sure if that is a correct interpretation?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
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“I think the attempt to "prove" to the other that something that is not true (and that everyone knows is not true) is, in fact, true; happens only in our little branch of theater--magic--and not in any other form of theater.”

“(and that everyone knows is not true)” That is not true!

When the spectator is told a lie he does not know that it is not true. If the magician tells the audience he will make a lady levitate it might be a lie but how does the audience know it is a lie? The magician then goes on to prove what he has said. Then they believe his lie but they do not know it is a lie for all they know it is the truth and he has performed magic.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Whit Haydn
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But there is no such thing as magic.

Bilwonder:

It is impossible to discuss this topic intelligently if you refuse to quit using the term "magic" in so many different ways. When I speak of magic, I am only speaking of the artform we have under discussion--not magick, not the magic of a sunset, not the magic that happens at the sub atomic level, just card tricks and doves.

The lie being told in that process does not have to be about Magic at all. "This is a Teleportation Device that can teleport a bill into a lemon" is exactly the same kind of lie, and the the careful proofs the exact same kind of proofs as would be seen when making a chosen card end up in a matchbox using the "power of the shadow."

I thought I had made myself pretty clear, but apparently my descriptions are just causing confusion and not being very useful. Oh, well, back to the drawing board.
kregg
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Magic and miracle tend to be given (loosely) to anything that a person has trouble explaining or lacks the information to make an accurate deduction
POOF!
tommy
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It is a matter belief if there is such a thing as magic. There is a world of difference between knowing someone is telling a lie and not believing they are telling the truth. Someone may not believe in magic but when shown they may question their beief.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2006-05-05 19:16, Whit Haydn wrote:

The simple way to shoot down my theory, whose entire construct is based on this little realization, is to show that there can be magic tricks performed by magicians for other's entertainment that do not include any such false argument at its core. Show me a trick that does not in fact attempt to CONVINCE the other that something that is actually or apparently taking place is happening for a reason that is in fact not the reason--a false cause.

Then we can debate whether these presentations--these exceptions--are actually magic, or something else. I believe they are not magic, but something else.'

If I am right, we have for the first time, a possible model for how magic begins to do what it does in the minds of the spectator. I don't believe I have explored all the myriad directions a full-blown theory of magic might take us, but I do feel that I have discovered a sort of starting place--a description of what we do that can give us all a common ground upon which to build our understandings of the nature and purpose of our art.



Bilwonder: Please come back to the subject. Rainbows are everywhere.
tommy
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If I show the company that I put the four queens on table (lie) but they believe that lie then to them it is the truth. The four queens then magically change into Aces! Where is the lie from their point of view?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-05-06 07:46, kregg wrote:
Magic and miracle tend to be given (loosely) to anything that a person has trouble explaining or lacks the information to make an accurate deduction


One of the distinctions between magic and nature is the component of the magician's will at cause. This notion connects MagicK to our craft of offering simulated magic(k).
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Kenn Capman
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Quote:
On 2006-05-06 07:28, Whit Haydn wrote:
But there is no such thing as magic.

Bilwonder:

It is impossible to discuss this topic intelligently if you refuse to quit using the term "magic" in so many different ways. When I speak of magic, I am only speaking of the artform we have under discussion--not magick, not the magic of a sunset, not the magic that happens at the sub atomic level, just card tricks and doves.

The lie being told in that process does not have to be about Magic at all. "This is a Teleportation Device that can teleport a bill into a lemon" is exactly the same kind of lie, and the the careful proofs the exact same kind of proofs as would be seen when making a chosen card end up in a matchbox using the "power of the shadow."

I thought I had made myself pretty clear, but apparently my descriptions are just causing confusion and not being very useful. Oh, well, back to the drawing board.


Whit, I've followed this thread closely and with no small amount of thought. You have challenged me, and I thank you.

You have summed it up as clearly and succinctly as anyone could.

If people will get it, they'll get it. Those who don't 'get it', will continue to throw sunshine, rainbows, and subatomic particles in your face all day.

I think you may be beating a dead horse here.
"The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents."
- Salvador Dali -
tommy
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There are none so blind as them that follow them that will not see sunshine, rainbows, and subatomic particles.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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Agreed about followers, often more like sheep or chattel than human at times.

More about how one is affected by things one sees like sunshine and rainbows.

It's the idea of and the data supporting the model of the behavior of subatomic particles that distinguishes twentieth century thinking from earlier ways of looking at the world. It's a wave in some ways and a particle in others... or as SNL put it: it's a desert topping... no it's a floor wax. Smile
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