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Kenn Capman
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So according to Drew there is a morality play inherent in magic.

What is message of the Linking Rings? How about Cups and Balls? How about WTF? Hippity-Hop Rabbits?
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Whit Haydn
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How is magic different from a morality play, Drew? What distinguishes magic from other forms of live performance? Is juggling magic? Is standup comedy magic? Is a Harry Potter movie magic? Is anytime we tell a story about a witch magic? Is magic "identical" to these other forms of expression?

If so, then the magic that we practice is just a form of special effect or transitional device. If you only want to depict a believable representation of the existence of magic--a simulcrum--so that the mind's eye can be expanded with the possibilities of magic, then I think you can do that on a much grander scale and with a lot more effectiveness in literature, stage and film.

Why pick our puny special effects and compare them to CGI or other film and stage effects? Nowadays it is easy to create stage effects much more convincing than can be done by magic--as long as you do not have the need to "prove" to the audience that what is happening is "really happening" right now.

And even if I grant you the broad definition you want, you have not included the other types of magic that I have in your definition--it needs to be broader. What do you call Fraudulent Science, Fake mentalism, and so forth? When these are presented as entertainment, without the intent of charlatanry, I think they are the same form of entertainment as "Fake Magic."

I think you seem to object to the statement that "there is no such thing as magic?" That is not a philosophical statement, but the creation of the thing you call limitations. The important thing is that the spectator can not shake the possibility that what he has just been shown isn't really what it appears. The dilemma can be formulated many different ways, as I have said in my posts above: "There is no such thing as Teleportation" or even "This particular guy is not doing real magic." That is something we can discuss, but this is not the time. That comes next.

If you can think of a performance piece of magic (something that you, or I, or someone that calls himself a magician might do) that does not contain this false syllogism, then lets talk about that.

You said: "First of all, I have never seen a magician attempt to honestly "prove" anything." I find that hard to believe. Why does a magician show his hands empty, put a hoop over a girl, have a sword examined, have a deck shuffled, etc., etc., if he is not trying to prove something? You said that if someone sees something, it is true for them--I find that not so. I often question the evidence of my eyes and other senses, and even my logical brain. Only a naive idiot would go through life accepting as true everything that is demonstrated to him. Fraud and deceit may be uncommon in nature, but among my fellow men, it is way too common.

Would you say that there is no difference between someone seeming to pass a test of ESP abilities by cheating, and one who passes the test without cheating?

I find your statements very amorphous, grandiose, and so far, rather inapplicable.

I do not make rainbows, or mirages, or many of the other examples you spoke about from nature.

Let's talk narrowly about what it is we (magicians) do. Otherwise it is useless to talk at all. You are confusing people by not being precise and considering one thing at a time.

If the statement of the central argument is confusing--and I don't believe it is--then help me restate it so that it is clearer. If it is wrong, tell me where. I am willing to discuss my theory with you one on one, step by step.

But if you only want to talk about your theory of magic, then let us drop off talking about my theory and discuss yours.

For that, you will need to start with the minimal definition, or description of what it is that you think we magicians do, that is distinct and different from other forms of theater. If we are not different, then the study of magic as a separate thing is meaningless. We should all study writing, drama and film, or special effects, etc. What is it that you say defines our work?

Anyone else, that wants to carry on and get deeper into my theory--it eventually explains a lot about the best ways to accomplish certain things--just tell me whether you can accept the first central statement. Once we are agreed on that, we can move on.

Perhaps, Drew, it would be better for you to start a new thread concerning your ideas about magic. I am not trying to push you off this thread, or take over this thread, but I have already committed a lot of time and work to posting the basis of my theory here, and would hate to have to start from scratch (my pardon) somewhere else.

Your theory sounds very encompassing, Drew. I hope to see the magic that comes out of it sometime.
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Quote:
On 2006-05-08 03:16, Whit Haydn wrote:
Magic is the special branch of performance art that is distinguished by the conscious attempt to create in the mind of the spectator, by act or words or expression, a formal logical argument (or syllogism) which is valid but whose premises are untrue, thus seeming to prove something that is not true.


Perfect!

Kregg
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JackScratch
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On 2006-05-08 13:59, Kenn Capman wrote:
So according to Drew there is a morality play inherent in magic.

What is message of the Linking Rings? How about Cups and Balls? How about WTF? Hippity-Hop Rabbits?

Well removing two things I strongly believe. 1 it's not about the effects and 2. The lesson that the boundries might not be what we think they are, inherent in every effect ever created. Let's be a bit more specific.

Linking Rings - Even the unending has a transitive nature.
Cups and Balls - To have and have not. Everything you have is that others do not have.
WTF - Don't know that one, and you wouldn't be surprised what a search for it yields.
Hippity Hop Rabbits - Not very familiar with that one. Isn't it actualy a story?

@Whit - Why are you debating points seperately that function as a complete thought?

Quote:
What distinguishes magic from other forms of live performance?

Very little. Pretty much everything in life is magic. Crowley said "Magic is the act of causing thing to occour using ones will". Think about it. That's pretty much anything.What makes our magic different from the other forms? Details. Little points of style. Boundries we put with the definition of what we do for estetic reasons. Most words have multiple defenitions.

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What do you call Fraudulent Science, Fake mentalism, and so forth? When these are presented as entertainment, without the intent of charlatanry, I think they are the same form of entertainment as "Fake Magic."


If presented as entertainment, how are they NOT what we do? Why would you try to seperate things that are the same. Why do you want special words for things that are identical? Aren't you a big fan of the short con? Don't you demonstrate them for purely entertainment purposes?

Quote:
You said: "First of all, I have never seen a magician attempt to honestly "prove" anything." I find that hard to believe. Why does a magician show his hands empty, put a hoop over a girl, have a sword examined, have a deck shuffled, etc., etc., if he is not trying to prove something? You said that if someone sees something, it is true for them--I find that not so. I often question the evidence of my eyes and other senses, and even my logical brain. Only a naive idiot would go through life accepting as true everything that is demonstrated to him. Fraud and deceit may be uncommon in nature, but among my fellow men, it is way too common.


Which is of course, all part of the act. If they actualy wanted to PROVE these things, is that how they would go about it? It is a literary method to help suspend disbelief, nothing else. If he/she were honestly trying to prove it, why would they be on stage? Why would they call themselves magicians, thus disproving every proof they attempt within the confines of their performance?

Quote:
Would you say that there is no difference between someone seeming to pass a test of ESP abilities by cheating, and one who passes the test without cheating?


I would say the difference, and it is a very important difference, would be motive.

Quote:
For that, you will need to start with the minimal definition, or description of what it is that you think we magicians do, that is distinct and different from other forms of theater. If we are not different, then the study of magic as a separate thing is meaningless. We should all study writing, drama and film, or special effects, etc. What is it that you say defines our work?


For the most part, there should be very very little difference between what we do, and what any other form of artisit does. Medium should be the only thing at all to distinguish us from other artists. We should hold ourselves to the same ethical and philisophical standards as the greatest of any other art. We should strive to achieve the same varieties of divinity in everything we do. The medium gives us an excuse for another name, there is no flaw in that. Magic is not acting. Acting is not painting. Painting is not singing. The only difference between them, however, is the medium of the art. The goal is certainly the same.

Quote:
Your theory sounds very encompassing, Drew. I hope to see the magic that comes out of it sometime.


Have not the great thinkers of humanity thought in broad terms. Not to insinuate I am one, but I hope to be. If I'm going to walk that path, should I not use their roadmap? I hope to show you my humble workings some day, but like many others, I work poorly before other magicians.
cinemagician
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On 2006-05-08 13:39, JackScratch wrote:



Wow, you've realy got the soul of a poet don't you? Just because you don't understand what I am saying, does not mean I am off topic. How is magic not a morality play? What criteria of a morality play do you feel that magic does not meet? Do you know what a morality play is?

The "display of living dreams" was ment to be a pretty way of saying fantasy, just stories. Sorry, didn't mean to throw you off with all them flowerdy purty words.

[/quote]

I do understand what you are saying. And indeed the presentation of magic can encompass many of the elements you allude to and more.

The last thing I'd ever want to do is silence one's poetic voice or limit the ways in which one can express himself.

Perhaps You'll Save some of these ideas for later. For the time being they are off topic.
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

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Jaz
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On 2006-05-08 03:16, Whit Haydn wrote:
Magic is the special branch of performance art that is distinguished by the conscious attempt to create in the mind of the spectator, by act or words or expression, a formal logical argument (or syllogism) which is valid but whose premises are untrue, thus seeming to prove something that is not true.


Makes sense to me Whit.
Whit Haydn
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Drew:

Ok. What distinguishes the "medium" of magic from juggling, acting or standup comedy. Define the MEDIUM of magic.
JackScratch
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On 2006-05-08 15:32, Whit Haydn wrote:
Drew:

Ok. What distinguishes the "medium" of magic from juggling, acting or standup comedy. Define the MEDIUM of magic.


That's an easy one. Our medium is the boundries of reality as percieved by our society, and the expanding of them.

Much cleaner than oils.
Whit Haydn
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"Our medium is the boundries of reality as percieved by our society, and the expanding of them."

That may be a goal of magic. It is not a description of the medium.

The medium would be the form itself. What is the form of magic? How is magic different from say a theatrical depiction of magic as in the Harry Potter movie?

What is unique about the medium of magic? How is it different from, say, an artistic medium like "acting?"
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On 2006-05-08 15:54, Whit Haydn wrote:
That may be a goal. It is not a description of the medium.


Well, no, the real discription of our medium is "Cards, Coins, Assorted props and objects of all shapes and sizes.". But somehow I don't feel that realy gets what I was attempting to say across very well. Actualy, my previous statement would realy be the goal of any art, wouldn't it? I realy don't feel that the differences between magic and, just for the sake of discussion, acting are nearly as important as the similarities. Magic is different from "Harry Potter" because "Harry Potter" is cinima. It uses film as it's medium, and all the tools associated with film. Acting is a little different. Magic has a lot more in common with acting than it does cinema. They share many of the same tools, but I suppose the biggest difference between the two would be Acting attempts to show reality, Magic attempts to change it. I know that's not realy the medium, but it is the difference.
Whit Haydn
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Those are props not the medium. Actors have props. It is not their medium. "Acting" is the medium.

The attempt to "change reality" is also a goal, not a medium. You said that the only thing separating magic from theater is the medium. What did you mean?
JackScratch
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On 2006-05-08 16:07, Whit Haydn wrote:
Those are props not the medium. Actors have props. It is not their medium. "Acting" is the medium.


Well then touche'. If you can say acting is an actors medium, why then may I not say that Magic is the magicians medium, and thus the difference?
Whit Haydn
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I can describe the medium of acting. Can you describe the medium of magic?

I am not trying to be difficult. I am trying to understand what you are saying.

I can accept that in your theory, the goal of magic is "to change reality" or to "expand the boundaries of reality."

What does that mean? What does that look like? How do you go about accomplishing that? That would be the medium.

If the only thing that separates magic from film is the goal of changing or expanding the boundaries of reality for the audience, then I don't see any distinct skills or tools for the magician to study from those of the film artist or stage actor.

In fact, I don't see that the goal itself is distiguishable from film's goal.

If this is what you meant to say, then there is no point to the discussion. Magic and Film are the same as artistic media.

You can say somdthing like, "Magic is the attempt to use coins, cards and other small props to expand the boundaries of reality for the audience." But that could also describe what an actor does as he uses his guns, swords, or other props to create a "new reality."
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No, said that part wrong., You are absolutely correct about Expanding boundries being the goal of not just movies, acting, and ,magic, but realy all art forms.

There is a flaw in what you are saying though. Screen actors act, just as stage actors do, yet they are different art forms. Not different because of what you are calling their medium, and yet we say they are different mediums. Please explain how acting is the medium of the stage, and if so, how stage and screen are two different mediums dispite using the same medium. I will then be able to clarify my position in terms we can agree upon.
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Acting is the medium of the actor. That is the medium he studies and for both technique and philosophy there are many deep and competing ways of looking at the medium for him to study.

Film acting is a slightly different medium than stage acting, but the overall philosophies of acting apply to either one. The specifics of larger versus smaller--theater versus film performances--are largely tactical rather than strategic or philosophical differences.

Film and theater are also artistic media. When a cinematic director operates, his medium is film, and he uses an actor simply as a tool. The medium is film, and the actor is just a skilled performer to be used. The same would be true for a dancer, whose medium is dance, but who is being utilized by the director in the director's medium, film.

Some theatrical or film productions might even use a magician as a tool. In that case the rules of magic are subsumed under the rules of theater, at least according to Maskelyne and Devant. The use of magic for establishing the "Devil" in "Dam' Yankees" would be an example.

When an actor, magician, or dancer is used in a stage production or film, they must subsume some of their medium under the larger umbrella--their own personal vision and artistic needs must be limited by the needs of the overall production. The director's vision is the one that goes out to the audience. The dancer might know how to do things differently, and take the audience to a deeper place, but if it doesn't accomplish what the play's director wants, it will not be shown.

What is the medium of the magician? How does he go about accomplishing his goal? What rules of art might he have to compromise in order to subordinate his medium to the overall success of the play?

How is his true medium given greater expression on its own? What is it that he gives fuller attention to, and is able to explore at greater depth when the magician himself is the sole or controlling artistic voice?
tommy
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A picture is worth ten thousand words! By any chance have any of you guys got a picture of it?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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JackScratch
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The to say magic is the medium of the magician would be correct. Magic being, in this particular case, the reshaping of the perception of reality by visual demonstration in a manner that can be, and most often is viewed in a live setting.

Better?
Whit Haydn
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Tommy: This is Drew's picture. I am just trying to understand it myself.

"The reshaping of the perception of reality by visual demonstration in a manner that can be, and most often is viewed in a live setting."

Okay, Drew.

By "reshaping of the perception of reality," do you mean "altering" the spectator's reality in some way--convincing him that something he thought was true isn't--or do you mean something else? What?

What is "a visual demonstration?" Demonstration of what?

Take the prop and illusion device of the trick guillotine. Is its use in a play like "Tale of Two Cities" or a movie like "Two on a Guillotine" the same as its use in a magic show? Are there any differences in the way it would be presented? Do different rules apply?
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Quote:
On 2006-05-08 03:16, Whit Haydn wrote:
Magic is the special branch of performance art that is distinguished by the the conscious attempt to create in the mind of the spectator, by act or words or expression, a formal logical argument (or syllogism) which is valid but whose premises are untrue, thus seeming to prove something that is not true.


I think this is pretty good, but perhaps a bit sterile. There's a little bit more to magic than simply proving a lie. I would say it's more like demonstrating an impossibility. It's a lie to say that my car is blue. (It's red.) It's magic to turn my red car blue with a wave of my hand.

That said, I have found the "magic as syllogism" theory to be VERY helpful to me personally. I think it really distinguishes "conjuring" from "theatrical magic." When Peter Pan and Harry Potter fly, there's nothing to prove. They can fly in the stories, so when they fly, it's simply accepted. That's where the "suspension of disbelief" comes in. I think magic is more of a "confrontation of disbelief." When David Copperfield flies, he goes to extra steps to "prove" that he's flying, and not hanging from wires, or supported by a hidden platform, or whatever. Peter Pan doesn't do these things, because he doesn't need to.

So, I vote that the definition is a good one, though it might be strengthened to explain that were doing a little bit more than just proving something not true.

Geoff
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Whit Haydn
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We are doing a LOT more than that, Geoff. If you look at my earlier posts, you will see how much more I think we are doing than that.

But, we have to start somewhere, and build a foundation of which everyone can agree.

The foundation of my theory is simply the realization that this syllogism is the "distinguishing" mark of magic--(a) it does not appear in other art forms, and (b) it is always present in magic. This is what distinguishes magic from other media.

There are many direct assumptions we can make from this, that can be used to establish the goals and methods of magic.

But for the time being, we are trying to understand Drew's competing vision of magic. I would rather try and get a better handle on what he is trying to say than talk about my own theory right now. It is confusing to discuss both at the same time.

Only by taking one statement at a time, and examining and defining all the words will we know whether he is trying to say the same thing in different words or has a completely original and different way of looking at magic. Both would be valuable endeavors. I would rather pursue that as long as Drew is interested than move on with rest of my ideas.
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