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cinemagician
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It is difficult for me to find a hole in Whit's definition /assertion that "magic is lying".

Certainly though, lying is not always magical.

Ever since I was 14 and came accross Magic and Showmanship, I have always tried to present my magic within the "Nelms framework."

Which at it's most basic is:

1.) The performer claims some specific, supernormal power and makes this claim as impressively as possible.

2.) He then indicates that the [primary] purpose of his performance is to demonstrate the power.

3.) He provides this demonstration and it appears to prove his claim.

There is some difficulty however, with trying to present your magic within the narrow space of the "supernatural" context. Some of the effects, routines and props we use only serve to undermine this effort.

Whit's definition allows for a much broader concept of what we can accept and consider to be "magic". He sights some great examples, such as the psychological direction/ deductive reasoning angles utilized by Derren Brown and others. Even Kreskin, at times, filpped the letters E.S.P backwards to P.E.S. Phenomena Scientifically Explained- the lies were still there- but only different.

It is interesting to consider why the the term "magician" is often replaced with terms such as, "Illusionist", Mystifier, Sleight of hand artist, Prestidigitator, Mentalist, charming cheat etc.

Is it so the performer can create a character and presentaional style synonomus with the title he gives himself. OR is he really just, "Dodging the Magician".

In my oppinion, it is much more difficult to sell the idea of magic under the "supernatural" context I mention above. Sometimes, it seems, that the performers who use the above titles are really just lazy and would rather settle for being percieved as one who does something akin to magic, but admitedly not really magic at all (at least by the definitions I cling to, mentioned earlier in this thread).

Nerver the less Whit's definition seems bullet proof. Here are some quotations that come close to diproving it. When you win in apoker game, don't you want to know what the other guys was holing even though he folded?---


Thurston said, "I wouldn't deceive you for the World."

Andruzzi Said, "What man knows he calls Science, What he has yet to learn he calls Magick,
Both are real!"

Dr. Harlan Tarbell on the Magi, “…sometimes illusion was used to teach truth and truth was used to teach illusion." A sentiment resurected by Kenton Knepper.

Magic may be lying, but lying is not very magical. More important than the lies we tell the audience are the lies that we induce them to create for themselves.

Enjoying this thread-

Cinemagician
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2006-05-03 10:25, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Magic is as much a lie as it is to believe you were here before you blinked.

Same lie. A lie of continuity and causality. To reflect upon that lie with which we live and cope is a uniquely human characteristic. We invent stories and enjoy how we and others relate to those stories. All lies of course as we can't truly prove we were here even a few moments or a blink or a sneeze ago. Sure we can believe we remember from back when... but that too is a lie, just one we like to live with. Same lies as our belief in our knowledge of what is behind us at this very moment. We don't and can't know yet we have our lie and don't need to check it but every so often. And so we, and our pack of lies live on in relative comfort. And we have an art specifically designed to reflect that truth to our sensibilities. To remind us that we live among lies and that the truth of most matters eludes our direct perceptions and will often surprise us.

Most people can enjoy that reminder when it's offered as a treat.


Gee, that is just worth reading again, Jon. Thanks.
cinemagician
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Yes, reminds me of this quote- gleaned from Steinmeyer's Hiding the Elephant

"The conjurer demonstrates that things are not always what they seem. Therein lies his philosophy.

Colonel Stodare
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
Bilwonder
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"No; we have been as usual asking the wrong question.
It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing.
The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful? "
--Annie Dillard



The original post asked:

"What's your best definition about the art of "magic"? ...when someone asks you "what is magic?", what do you answer?"

Whit responded
"Magic is a valid syllogism with at least one missing or untrue premise."

I have said that this describes what magicians do, but falls shy of a definition.

One way to illustrate this is to reverse the definition: "A valid syllogism with at least one missing or untrue premise IS MAGIC." The trouble is not that performance magic contains lying, but that he has equated magic with lying. Whit has at great length explain how performance magic contains a lie, be it verbal or visual. However, lying itself does not produce magic, Therefore magic and lying are not the same.

I think Whit has touches on what real magic is when he speaks of creating "cognitive dissonance" and forcing a " reverie of wonder... concerning both sides of the dilemma..."

As I mentioned before, the end of magic is to produce " ontological insecurity." But that is not magic in itself. Magic is a human experience of transformation. The magician agitates a spectator's blindspots to awaken them to this kind of transforming wonder. The magician is not a "liar" in the strictest sense because the spectator accepts he is to be completely skeptical of all the magi presents. The spectator knows he will be lied to in the context of a "game" (In other words, it is a TRUE statement the magician makes by saying up front, "I will demonstrate a lie").

The spectator accepts, I believe, in order to have the experience of transforming wonder. A lie does not bring about transforming wonder. However, the demonstration of a lie can. They also know the more they are critical, the greater the experience will be if the magician succeeds. They want the magic to succeed despite their opposition. Magic is to produce a state of "wonder" that is beyond "wondering how" or "why." It is to be in touch with our perceived limitations and the possibility of transcending them.


"Wonder is not a Pollyanna stance,
not a denial of reality;
wonder is an acknowledgment
of the power of the mind to transform."  
Santiz Christina Baldwin


Whit has once also acknowledged that this same kind of "magic" is wider than our art when he said," In quantum physics magic is absolutely real, and conundrums and dilemmas even more perplexing than ours most be swallowed whole practically on a page by page basis."

Which is why I have said his definition falls short and should not be restricted to merely the conjuror's methods.

This is important as Whit has said, "If you know more precisely what you are trying to accomplish in the spectator's mind, and understand what is needed to make that happen, then your chances of succeeding are much better."
If we work to produce the effects of a lie, rather than the effects of wonder, we will miss the magic.
billswondershow.com
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain
Dannydoyle
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Can I simply add that I feel any and I mean ANY definition of "magic" that does NOT include the audience and them being entertained falls painfully short in my eyes.

I seem alone on this island, but really we claim to be thinking about how this affects them, but we leave them out of our definitions.

Any performance without the audience is "theory" only.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
cinemagician
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And if a tree falls in the woods...

A definition of the term magic as it applies to what we do and thoughts concerning a performance philosophy are two separate things.

But, you are right, the magic can't exist without a perceiver - the audience/ spectator or what have you.
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-05-03 20:20, cinemagician wrote:...But, you are right, the magic can't exist without a perceiver - the audience/ spectator or what have you.


I don't know about that.

It seems to me that we have lots of magicians who believe real audiences think it cute for a guy to take out a purse and play with his coins or expect folks to look at quaint, stilted and highly stylized actions as somehow "naturalistic".

There's been some research on virtual audiences and how they affect behavior. I wish more in magic would keep their virtual audiences awake and astute.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
onezero1
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The definition of magic?
Check out The Golden Bough by James Frazer.
Once we were kings...
'though it stands to reason that a samurai should be mindful of the Way...it would seem that we are all negligent.
Dannydoyle
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Now through all our great thought, and pontification and "theory" we are almost below mimes.

How the mighty have fallen.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
chrisrkline
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Quote:
On 2006-05-03 17:46, Bilwonder wrote:


"No; we have been as usual asking the wrong question.
It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing.
The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful? "
--Annie Dillard



The original post asked:

"What's your best definition about the art of "magic"? ...when someone asks you "what is magic?", what do you answer?"

Whit responded
"Magic is a valid syllogism with at least one missing or untrue premise."

I have said that this describes what magicians do, but falls shy of a definition.

One way to illustrate this is to reverse the definition: "A valid syllogism with at least one missing or untrue premise IS MAGIC." The trouble is not that performance magic contains lying, but that he has equated magic with lying. Whit has at great length explain how performance magic contains a lie, be it verbal or visual. However, lying itself does not produce magic, Therefore magic and lying are not the same.


You are commiting a fallacy here. At no point does Whit equate magic with lying. His statement that magic is a valid syllogism containing at least one missing or untrue premise does not imply that all sylogisms that contain missing or untrue premise are magic. Surely you know that? In anycase, a missing or untrue premise in a syllogism does not itself imply a lie at all. It is just that in magic we resort to a lie to prove the false syllogism.

It is much easier to debate the straw man that Whit supposedly equates magic with lying, then it is to argue the point that lying is simply an integral part of magic.

Lying is necessary to magic, but it is not sufficient. I don't believe Whit has ever argued it was.
Chris
cinemagician
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Jonathan, Virtual Audiences?

Are you saying that some lax performers assume that the audiences are experiencing "magic" when really they are just observing a series of actions in which no magic ends up taking place?

Are you saying the performer is fooling himself my making assumptions as to how others are perceiving the given demonstration?
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
Jonathan Townsend
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The term virtual audience comes from psychology research started in the late 1980s.

And yes... my guess is that some have very strange internal audiences when they internally test their works.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Dannydoyle
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Can we get an AMEN for the brother with the psych background?

It relates to your "inner monologue".

It is also a direct cause of what comics call "laughing ears".

This is when a comic comes off stage saying, man I was killin em, when in reality they stunk.

Jonathan you are dead on man.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Bilwonder
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Chris, I understand what you're saying. I wasn't intending to create a "strawman" because I wasn't intending to debate Whit's statements. I have said I believe they are true. Like you I believe, "Lying is necessary to magic, but it is not sufficient." Nor do I believe the sylogism alone creates or defines magic either. I brushed the terms together because the aspect "lying" has dominated the discussion as a defining term. My point has been that without the "something else" there is no "magic." We must understand what that "something else" is as part of the definition of magic.
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totoybbb
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When there's a struggle between reality and what is perceived to be seen, there is magic.

For performers, this is the struggle wherein we would want to hide something from the beginning until the end of a routine. Though as time pass by, literally, we may not consider it a struggle anymore because we tend to do it in a very fluent motion. But the struggle remains that we don't want the specs to catch something.

For the spectators, this is the struggle to believe or not the things they see which are somewhat out of ordinary. The fight within their minds and hearts which will last until they can think of a "logical" proof that indeed the act was fake.

Regardz
Perception... It results to different things even in very same conditions...
Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2006-05-03 19:16, Dannydoyle wrote:
Can I simply add that I feel any and I mean ANY definition of "magic" that does NOT include the audience and them being entertained falls painfully short in my eyes.

I seem alone on this island, but really we claim to be thinking about how this affects them, but we leave them out of our definitions.

Any performance without the audience is "theory" only.


I have tested my theories on thousands of audiences. I never leave the audience out of my thinking and theory. It has taken me a long monograph in this thread to lay out the basic outline of my theory, which I have described much more fully in my booklet "Chicago Surprise." I intend eventually to write a book on magic theory.

It is not easy to reduce the subject to a simple phrase, as the opening question in this thread seemed to require, but I attempted to make as concise a description, rather than a definition, of what the magician does that is different from all other branches of theater and unique to magic.

There is a lot more to say about the relation of theater to magic, and of what it takes to frame magic as a pleasant and non-threatening attack on the spectator's reality. Theater, as I said, is the cape that covers the sword (the dilemma). I don't think simply in the abstract, but each rountine I have constructed is an attempt to give expression to my theory of magic and to at the same time engage, entertain, and delight an audience.

Whether I have managed to succeed at any of this is really not for me to decide, but you can certainly look at my work see how my theories look in practice:

http://www.whithaydn.com/video_clips.htm

I would especially recommend the routine contained there of the Chinese Linking Rings. That routine gives a very good demonstration of how to deflect the challenge, engage the audience and assign roles to both the spectator and the audience in the course of a magic performance, and at the same time construct a routine whose phases are clear, easily remembered, and as a whole construct able to vitiate any attempt by the spectator to reconstruct the method.

Danny, you keep pooh-poohing both my theory and the need for theory. Do you think the magic I do fails to live up to my theories, or fails to entertain and engage the audience? Why don't you analyze the routines I do, and see if they fail your remembering the "audience" test.

BTW: Being alone in your opinion is always brave, but it is only a good thing if your opinion is correct.

Bilwonder:

I don't think we need that "something else" for there to be magic. I never said that lying was magic. I said that every magic trick required a lie, and a syllogism or argument that proves the lie. The effect of this is to create a dilemma in the mind of the spectator, and this dilemma is the source of his mental discomfort (cognitive dissonance) and it is in the attempt to relieve this feeling that produces the reverie of wonder.

That is all that is needed for magic--it is not all that is needed to make the experience pleasant and valuable rather than stressful and uncomfortable.

"Here's a coin. It is in my left hand. I click my fingers it is gone!" = magic.

Whether that magic is entertaining, fun, and engaging is another matter. To be magic, it only has to create wonder.

Totoy:

I think that is a pretty good description.
kregg
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One thing for sure; one does not need a magician to believe in magic.
POOF!
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-05-04 00:45, totoybbb wrote:
When there's a struggle between reality and what is perceived to be seen, there is magic...


Really? I thought that also applies to news, history and opinion in general.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Bilwonder
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Syllogistic Magic
"Magic is a valid syllogism with at least one missing or untrue premise.
Every magic trick required a lie, and a syllogism or argument that proves the lie.

Let's make magic!

The lie: This car is like new!

The syllogism with an untrue premise to prove the lie:

New cars have low mileage..
This cars shows low mileage.
Therefore this car is like new!

When the car breaks down, "it's Magic" and you experience an "reverie of wonder."

(suppressed "secret" information: The odometer has rolled over twice!)

"I don't think we need that "something else" for there to be magic."

Maybe the premise was too good.
How about, "Hey bebe, This wine is just a soft drink!"
All soft drinks are sweet and bubbly.
This is sweet and bubbly.
This is a soft drink!"
And when you get home, the "magic" happens!
billswondershow.com
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain
Whit Haydn
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What is the something extra that you think is needed, Bilwonder?

"Here is a coin, it is gone." Magic, no?
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