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kregg
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Fellow magicians, we could start a new topic on lies alone.
Why is it that most people assume that lies are always a bad thing?
Lies aren't always bad. Sometimes they save people from disaster, they entertain, they get kids to eat their peas and they can be used to protect fragile ego's.
Honestly, lets defend our craft and lie for the greater good of all that is true... or false.

Magically,
Kregg
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bishthemagish
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Could it be?

When a con man does 3 card monte or the shell game on the street the tosser, the mob and the mark all take part in the lie together?

And when a magician does it for entertainment in a show they all take part in the lie together but there is no scam to the scam. They are put on the horn's of the bull in both cases?

But for the magician the result is entertainment.
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chrisrkline
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I have wondered about the relation between the pure con of the shells and the non-con aspect of the magician's version of the shells.

Just speculating. (I understand that the psychology is much deeper and the minute we think we have figured it out, the con will still outthink us.)

It would seem in the street shell con, the cons do not want the marks to believe they are being cheated (unless they do it in such a way that the marks believe they can catch the cheating) and the con would definitely not want them to wonder if it were all just real magic (or sleight of hand.) When the pea is not where the mark believes it should be, he still has to believe the pea is under the same shell it started under (I would think it would end the betting if the mark believed the con secretly moved the pea. (?)) The mark simply believes that he didn't watch closely enough. I guess that the only way to get a mark to continue betting is for the shell operator to convince the mark that he is always just one bet away from solving the problem. The mark, it seems, must "know" the solution to why the pea seems to always be in the wrong spot ("I did not watch close enough!")

But in a magical demonstration of the shells, if it is called magic, there has to be a Haydn Dilemma (my term Smile ). That means there has to be some moment where there is no solution other than magic, which the spec does not see as a solution. The spectator is surprised that the pea is not in the expected place. Wouldn’t it be necessary in the magic version of the shell game for the pea to have moved from one shell to another in a mysterious way? But for magic to happen there can't be a solution (even a wrong one.) It can't be, "Well the magician just moved too fast," or "I wasn't watching close enough," or " He cheated with sleight of hand,". All of these might cross the spectators mind, during the performance—some inadvertently, some with the definite guidance of the magician—but in the end, if it is magic there has to be a moment when magic is the only solution—but there is no magic.
Chris
kregg
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If one can't tell a magician from a huckster, they'd better not buy a house.
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Bilwonder
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Kregg, my sentence was perhaps unclear when I wrote of "red herrings." Perhaps I lead you down the wrong road....

My subject was not lies, but how any "explanation" effects "performance magic." I said there are 2 ways to explain: The "red herring" and the actual truth. Either can be used to achieve the paradoxical experience, but to work neither must be believed. I believe what we call "magic" is creating that paradoxical experience where the mind is in two worlds at once. Whit has called this "the lie," while I say this is only a means to an end. The experience is broader than the magicians art, but the experience is central to it.
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chrisrkline
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Yes, Kregg true...

But what is the connection. The con wants you to bet. You won't bet unless you believe you can find a solution to the problem. The pea is put under one shell and moved around. It must stay under that shell, you just have problems keeping up with the shell. If the con moves so fast you can't follow, then you won't bet. If the con seems to use sleight of hand to "move" the pea, you won't bet (unless you believe you can catch the cheat.) You must believe there is a solution, and that you are smart enough to find it--which is exactly what the con wants.

In a magic rendition, for it to be magic, something has to happen that has no exlanation, or at least the stated explanation ultimately must be obviously wrong. The magician can propose all sorts of explanations that "seem" to explain the effect, and might even be the right explantion in one phase of the routine. But by the end, something needs to happen that is mysterious--usually the pea moves from one shell to another--but the obvious explantion that the magician used sleight of hand has to be "proven" wrong.

In the simple routine Whit sells, that is performed by Bob Sheets, the moves are slow and simple compared to a street con (I imagine.) The first phase or two the spectator might guess they just were not watching close enough, but by the end, the pea obviously has moved from one shell to another. But there is literally no explantion. Other than magic--which we no is no explanation.
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Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2006-05-02 05:24, Bilwonder wrote:
Yes, I may tell spectators EXACTLY how I do the "magic" and NOT lie at all AND STILL FOOL THEM, because they refuse to accept it. This was one of Vernons techniques commonly used by magicians. There are few things so delightful.

That would be the lie I am talking about. Even if you tell them a truth, and they dismiss it as a lie, then they are caught in the same dilemma. They are trying to find a solution to the conflict--trying to relieve the cognitive dissonance in their heads. He says that it is done with mirrors, but it couldn't be. So how can it be done? Well it couldn't be sleight of hand. It couldn't be mechanical. It must be magic! But there is no such thing as magic...

The lie that is told is the one that sets up the dilemma. This bill is being teleported from the antennae of this teleportation machine into the middle of that lemon. The spectators think, "There is no such thing as teleportation." The bill goes into the lemon. It looks like teleportation. It is in fact the same signed bill and has the same serial number as the original. It must be teleportation! But it can't be because there is no teleportation, you know he is lying, and besides look he is laughing at our confusion!

He is lying. It is not teleportation. But if it isn't, then how did the bill get into the lemon? It could be sleight of hand, but I watched his hands and he didn't go near the lemon. It could be trickery, but the lemon is real! "There is no such thing as teleportation/There is no other explanation."

What we do as magicians is the same as we would do if we were presenting fake science, fake ESP, fake seances, fake math, and fake mega-mind demonstrations. We tell a lie, and prove it with faked evidence and inadequate controls. The result is a conundrum that the spectators are expected never to solve.

If we can accomplish the exact same task, and create the exact same dilemma using explanations other than "magic"--it is science, it is spirits, it is alchemy, etc.--without resort to the term "magic", then why do we need to keep bringing all this "magick" and "supernatural" stuff in to explain what we are doing? What we are doing has less to do with the trappings and theater of "magic" than we think.

All that is required is a good lie, told straight or funny, that the audience knows for a fact is a lie. We then prove the lie is true using experimental evidence and convincing enough controls. The audience can not find anyway that the evidence could have been faked. They know the result is impossible, and that there must be some other cause for the effect than that stated.

They just can not imagine what that might be. If the audience were to set up a scientific experiment using real and sufficient controls, the experiment would likely fail. They could prove that the effect wasn't real.

But we don't give them that chance. We create the argument with sophistry and set up controls that look good but still allow for cheating. The result is experimental evidence that proves something beyond a shadow of a doubt that is obviously not true. That is the experience of the dilemma--the Question Mark--which is the same whether the lie is about magic, science, spirits, ESP, mesmerism, animal magnetism, chemistry--whatever.

I think you will understand my point better if you get to more concrete examples.

Name a trick that you think can be presented without a lie. I will show you where the lie is.


Posted: May 2, 2006 3:38pm
----------------------------------------------
Quote:
On 2006-05-02 12:41, Bilwonder wrote:
My subject was not lies, but how any "explanation" effects "performance magic." I said there are 2 ways to explain: The "red herring" and the actual truth. Either can be used to achieve the paradoxical experience, but to work neither must be believed. I believe what we call "magic" is creating that paradoxical experience where the mind is in two worlds at once. Whit has called this "the lie," while I say this is only a means to an end. The experience is broader than the magicians art, but the experience is central to it.

That is not quite what I am saying. The "two worlds" to which the magician is gatekeeper--with his shoulder firmly holding the door shut against his own foot which is holding it open. The "magician," ("alchemist" "phoney scientist") lets no one through the door either way. The two worlds represent the dilemma, "There is no such thing as magic/There is no other explanation"--not the lie. The lie is the unacceptable and impossible "claim" that the magician makes. "She floats through the somnambulistic effects of ether." "She floats because of magic." "She floats because of the effects of these two tiny powerful magnets which I have strategically placed..." Any of these lies will be rejected by the audience, but once the magician "proves" the lie is true, they will be left in a quandery. It isn't true, it can't be true. But it must be true. There is no other explanation.

This leads to cognitive dissonance and mental discomfort. The mind tries to resolve the problem creatively--by inventing the trick. The mind tries to release the other side of the dilemma--"Maybe there is such a thing as magic"--and begins fantasizing about the possibilities. The result of this activity is a creative reverie which magicians have always called "wonder."
kregg
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I'm with Whit on this one.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Whit, you mean the horns are in seperate rooms? Cool. A mental image that is hung in a frame held up by two horns, each in a seperate cognitive frame of reference. Excellent! A room decorated by M. C. Escher. Smile
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Dave V
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Quote:
On 2006-05-02 15:40, kregg wrote:
I'm with Whit on this one.


So am I. Besides, right now my brain hurts.
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2006-05-02 15:42, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Whit, you mean the horns are in seperate rooms? Cool. A mental image that is hung in a frame held up by two horns, each in a seperate cognitive frame of reference. Excellent! A room decorated by M. C. Escher. Smile


I knew someone would eventually expose my mixed metaphors. I am relieved it was you Jon... Smile
tommy
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Cardini makes a billiard ball dance around his fingers in a way that looks impossible! Was it magic? What was the lie if it was magic? Despite the fact that I could not explain why that was magic it certainly seemed like one of the most magical things I ever seen.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Bilwonder
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Whit, I agree with all you've said. However I think all this still slightly misses the "Definition of Magic" itself. How do you answer why does the term "magic" spring to mind for what seems impossible and exactly what is MEANT by it when it is said.

Although performance magic by its nature involves deception (and therefore a "lie."), I'm curious how you frame your theory around mere spectacle "magic." If I come upon a street magician doing a massive silk fountain and producing parasols. Is he making a claim? What if I have the same response to a similar production that is circumstantial?

Say, for (a silly) example you're camping and come upon a scene like the shadows from the Austin Powers movie. You have the same experience of magic by misunderstanding the shadows. Despite the intention of the magician to use illusion, how is the spectacle of the magi and the the same spectacle found by accident different if the effect is the same on the viewer?
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kregg
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Ask every magician you meet to define magic (in their words) and every answer will be different.
If you ever hear the same answer twice - look no further, you have a consensus and have found the real definition of magic... Ta da!
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Whit Haydn
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Please make a distinction between "magic" as performing magic, and "magical" as "supernatural," "uncanny," "delightful," "enchanting," etc., etc.

The flourish that Cardini did was skillful, even amazing, but not magic. It is juggling.

Cardini could show his hand empty except for one billiard ball and then produce another billiard ball. That was magic. There are several lies here. The method depends on lying about the fact that there is more than a ball in the hand. The hand is shown on both sides, but there is a half ball shell on the ball that is not noticed. When the second ball is produced, there is another lie that is accepted and agreed to by the audience: "There are now two balls in the hand." This also is untrue, there are one and a half balls in the hand. When sleight of hand is used at this point, apparently both sides of both balls are shown, but actually the same side of the shell ball is shown twice--another lie that the audience accepts. These lies all build up the untrue premises of the argument--the valid but false syllogism whose conclusion proves the big lie.

But the big lie, the one that causes the magic, is that a hand is shown empty except for one ball and suddenly a second ball appears "from thin air," i.e., by magic. This is impossible, but apparently true since a) there was only one ball in the hand, and suddenly there are two. It couldn't have come from nowhere, but there is no place else it could have come from: magic.
Dannydoyle
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When a spectator takes a card, signs it, puts it back in the deck and then it ends up in your wallet, where is the lie there?

When a guy does card manipulations where is the lie there, the appearing cane, billiard balls with no shells, many self working tricks involve no lie, giant memory tricks involve no lie. Is this enough?> I hope so as my brain also hurts.

I guess someone would define "lie" as I asked earlier. Maybe this would make things a bit more clear.

OBVIOUSLY a con involves a lie. Use your head.

Oh and the multible selection of cards trick. NO lie. I am going to fine 14 cards. Tell me the lie there.

Can't wait to see how I am wrong this time.
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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Thanks Whit, yes it was enchanting, that is what I was, enchanted. Enthralled captivated and delighted but it seemed more than juggling even if it wasn't.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jaz
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Lie
=A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
=Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.
kregg
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I used to do a ball roll as a warm up, until a friend suggested that I add it to my billiard ball routine, because it looked "cool."
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Whit Haydn
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Oh, Danny. It is obvious you have not been reading all my posts.

"Sign this card. Put it back in the deck. It is in the deck right? (lie) Now look over here in my wallet. In this sealed envelope. (lie) There is a card. It is your signed card. How do you suppose it got there?"

The implication of the question is that it got there by some mysterious and unfamiliar force: "magic." It could not have gotten there by any other means, because (1) It was in the deck (2) It was not removed from the deck (3) Suddenly it was in the wallet, but no one ever touched the wallet (4) It was sealed in the envelope, but the envelope must have been already sealed before the trick started, since no one could have gone near it during the trick, or had enough time during the trick to seal it (5 The Big Lie or conclusion of the argument) Therefore: the card must have vanished from the deck and reappeared in the envelope by mysterious and unfamiliar forces: magic. Is there any doubt that this last conclusion is the whole point of the exercise? Is there any doubt that this false conclusion, this lie, is exactly what the magician wants the audience to think? If it isn't, then what was the magician doing all of this for? What did he want the audience to think?

Why would a magician show his hands empty before producing a billiard ball, unless he wants to get the audience to accept the lie (my hands are empty) so that they will accept the conclusion ("Look a ball appeared from nowhere!") If this were not the case, then the magician would just reach in a pocket and produce a ball--"Here is a billiard ball." There would be no lie and no magic in that. But if the audience believes that the ball was not in the hand, and did not come from the magician's pocket or sleeve, but appeared by magic, then it is because the magician lied.

Are you refusing to take responsibility for the deliberate deception you practice?

If you do not mean to lie and decieve your audience, then tell them "I have a ball hidden in a fold of my sleeve on my elbow. Here it is!" Instead of seeming to show both hands empty and then pretending to pull a ball out of thin air.

The appearing cane: "Look my hands are empty except for this little shred of silk (lie). Poof! The silk has disappeared (lie) Now there is a solid walking cane in my hand. (lie) Therefore: (big lie or magical conclusion) The little scarf must have magically changed into a solid stick.

I think that your problem is that you only think it is a deliberate lie if you say it out loud. All of these lies can be implied rather than spoken, just as agreement does not require "You agree?"; it may simply be a look up at the spectator as if to ask, "Are you with me?" The spectator's nod is the agreement that he understands the premise (say, "My hands are empty").

Cardini's juggling of the ball is interesting to watch, skillful, praiseworthy, amazing, and many other things, it just isn't magic. You are not asked to accept anything that you know isn't true.

There are many kinds of presentations, such as comedy magic, special effects, character pieces and so forth in which the performer does not have to create a lie to entertain. It is all good fun, and good entertainment--it just isn't magic.

A magic show might contain even a preponderance of such entertaining nonsense, and it all can be funny, charming, engaging, artful, magical, and enchanting. But if it does not eventually haul the spectators on the horns of the dilemma--"There is no such thing as magic/There is no other explanation."--it isn't magic the way we mean it--the performance art in which you try to prove that things can happen which everyone knows can't happen.

Billy McComb's show was mostly entertaining and disarming nonsense, which set the audience up for a major effect like the Vanishing Bird Cage or Half-Dyed Hank. The other jokes and silly bits of business were entertaining, even magical. They just weren't magic. The closing one or two bits were intended to hoist the audience up and leave them hanging suspended between the two horns of the dilemma.

I think now, that your problem in grasping this theory is that you were thinking someone had to express a lie in words in order for it to be a lie. Ask the hall security guard if that door is the men's room. If he nods, "Yes" and then when you go through it you find out that it is a door to the parking lot that locks behind you, tell me you don't think you were lied to.
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