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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Definition of "Magic" (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Liquid
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What's your best definition about the art of "magic"? Just for curiosity Smile Because people tend to talk a lot about magic but when someone asks you "what is magic?", what do you answer?
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JackScratch
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I kind of have two answers.

1. Magic is the use of ones will to cause things to happen. (this is a quote of Aliester Crowley, yes it refers to a different magic, but I feel it applys to both equaly well. Actualy I feel they are pretty much one in the same.)

2. Conjouring, Entertainment useing feets that are believed impossible.
Jonathan Townsend
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I lean toward Jack's number one above, though also use the following:

The impression given/sentiment held when an otherwise surprising or inexplicable event manifests at the will of the performer. IE a feeling generated by a seeming act of will that affects reality.

Magic is something that happens in stories. It's a literary device that allows the teller to develop metaphors.

I suppose we could also add in some "inside the craft" definitions like...

An invalidated social construct whose participants oft confuse seeming clever with entertaining.
A great way to spend much time and money on things nobody else wants to hear about.

A time proven way to delude the naive that secrets somehow equate to prestige.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Clark
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Speaking of "inside the craft" definitions. Asconio had the best definition of magic that I have heard.

"Magic is the difference between an initial situation and a final situation, and the missing causal link between."

He pointed out that many magicians focus all attention on the climax of the routine, but few give proper focus to the initial situation. For example any color changing pack is only as good as the audience being absolutely satisfied that the pack was a different color in the first place. When reading Asconio's definition one can't help but give thought as to how the performer would help the audience convince themselves (as apposed to trying to convince them himself) that the deck was a certain color in the first place.

Point being his definition helped me think through my routines in greater detail.

Best,
Clark
“The key to creativity is in knowing how to hide your sources.”
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madmanmike1
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Magic (as it relates to magicians) is the ability to create an effect that is incongruous to the action that was created to the initial situation.
"it's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide!"
Whit Haydn
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Magic is a valid syllogism with at least one missing or untrue premise.
Michael Baker
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Quote:
An invalidated social construct whose participants oft confuse seeming clever with entertaining.


Assuming you have already universally defined what is entertaining...(Yes, I do understand toungue-in-cheek comments).

To the "inside the craft" definitions of, Magic is:, I add the following reality takes:

A highly precise method of socially pigeon-holing one's self.

A pathway to the arts that enters through the kitchen.

Validation for an ill-fitting suit.

An example of extreme polarization with much of the world.

A construct that develops an acquired ability to endure hours and hours of the best and the worst of its fruits with equal enthusiasm.

In general, I think I'll enjoy watching this thread. It will be like watching someone try to nail Jell-O to the wall.

~michael
~michael baker
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Vandy Grift
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Quote:
On 2006-01-04 12:21, Michael Baker wrote:

In general, I think I'll enjoy watching this thread. It will be like watching someone try to nail Jell-O to the wall.

~michael


Or sewing buttons on to a custard pie.

Funny stuff there Michael.

Vandy
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Liquid
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Isn't some "magic" missing in MAGIC? I mean, people always refer to magic as tricks. And not as a beautifull art, as a sentiment, as MAGIC...!
I Think this is magicians fault, bad performers fault. Many of us concentrate too much on the mechanicals of the effect and less on the magic itself.
All your defenitions are great, we just have to teach them to our audiences Smile That's the hard work, so the real magic can speak Smile
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JackScratch
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What it will be is a semantic discussion. The most painful variety.
cinemagician
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Liquid, thanks for starting such a great post.

I feel it's important to at least think about this and allow it to run as an undercurrent throughout your performances. The answer could be almost anything.

I remember Whit Haydyn saying something to the effect of "Magic is lying".
At first I disagreed with him, but then when I thought about it I really can't disagree, although that's not the definition that "works for me", It probably helps to keep him in character. Having watched his performances on his site, he makes several refferences to the above(often to great comedy effect)in almost all of his routines.

Webster's Dictionary defines magic as: 1 a: The use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces. b: magic rites or incantations 2 a: an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source b: something that seams to cast a spell : ENCHANTMENT 3: the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand.

AND

Maskeline and Devant: "Magic consists of creating, by misdirection of the senses the mental impression of a supernatural agency at work".

These are my favorite definitons and my answer, while not set in stone lies between the two of them.

Would love to hear of more...
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
Liquid
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Cinemagician,
Thank you for your kind words.
Beyond all the props, smoke & mirrors, this defenition is what really matters, don't you agree?
Why would someone spend $500 on a special prop if then, they will not be able to apply all the drama, sentiment, mistery, MAGIC? Over the years I've been looking to many performers, and rarely I see magic on their performances. Most of the times what I'm seeing is a challenge between magician and audience. One wins, one looses. How about the enchantement, the connection with the audiences? Once I've heard a TV Producer speaking about a magic star and sayng this: "He really is a bad comunicator, good magician, but bad comunicator".
I Think above all, Magic is a way of comunication with people. The effects are just tools. If someone buys a brand new levitation does that turns him into an instant magician? If someone buys a piano, does that turns him into a musician?
Nowdays I see the most of magicians buyng the effects performed by the stars like if that could make them better magicians... see what I mean?
Just my two cents
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Jonathan Townsend
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Buch of things going on here

Yes Jack, semantics is about how we define words. Till we have a suitable vocabulary of agreed upon words, we are at best inefficient.

Then we get to the offerings of Webster and Devant. Those are simply not sufficient and miss out on what distinguishes magic from humor or mere shock theater. It was nice to see words like "enchantment" tossed into the linguistic pudding as if adding sprinkles to cement would make it into ice cream.

Got magic? ( did that prompt you to conjure an image like the milk commercial? )
...to all the coins I've dropped here
cinemagician
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Yes, it did. Jonathan, Are you alluding to the fact that magic takes place in the mind of the spectator? Is this what validates your including "stories as magic" as you mention above? I don't see how the Webster and Devant definitions miss out on distinguishing magic from humor or shock theatre. Those forms of entertainment do not concern themselves with producing illusions of the impossible. Magic does (or should).

I think what Liquid is saying is that there aren't enough "sprinkles", out there, just ice cream, or worse just cement?
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
jcards01
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"Magic is the illusion which is created when a series of natural movements apparently causes an unnatural, or magical, result."
Jean Hugard

"Magic is the apparent defiance of natural laws. Before magic can become magic, the audience must know that the thing the magician
seems to be doing, is, in actuality, impossible."
John Mulholland

"The illusion of magic is an idealistic fantasy; it exists only in the imagination of the spectator."
Paul LePaul
Jimmy 'Cards' Molinari
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Liquid
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Cinemagician,
That's exactly what I wanted to say Smile I'm glad you got my point of view!
Magic nowdays it's just fast-food magic...
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Jonathan Townsend
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My feeling is that Devant presumes a deep understanding of theatrical conventions and ideas which are pretty much lost in this generation, and the Webster definition pretty much describes ice cream in terms of concrete... missing the taste, temperature and all the fun of picking flavors.

I'm not alluding to magic happining in the mind, I'm outright claiming that what we call magic is a sentimental experience that happens ONLY in the mind. What we do is induce that experience. This is a once removed or meta-cognitive experience, like finding yourself in love or those moments when you suddenly see things differently. Like finding a blooming rose bush in the parking lot on the way to the DMV. The experience has aspects of surprise and wonder, offering an implication of there being much more to the world than what one was looking at just a moment ago. Or maybe it's just my cold suggesting such things between coughs and sniffles today.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Liquid
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It's indeed a nice defenition...
I totally agree when you say that magic it's a sentimental experience that happens in mind, and if every single magician can achieve that emotional state in people, then we have a good future on magic!
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cinemagician
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That's a really good perspective Jonathan. I'll have to give it some more thought and perhaps incorporate it into the middle ground between the two quotes which resonated for me. Going to ponder it for a while- Thanks again liquid for starting this facinating post.
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
Darkwing
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Magic is the presentation of mystery and wonder.
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