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

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JackScratch
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Well, I suppose that is something then.
tommy
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Does a performer have to actually belive in magic to present it well, and, in fact, to present it as magic?

I would say it helps. Here is one reason.

http://www.nightingale.com/pa~product~Ps......2344.asp
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
LobowolfXXX
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Quote:
On 2006-05-04 02:02, Whit Haydn wrote:

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.




Chicago surprise would be one of my favorite set of notes even if it didn't include the effect. A collection of some of your Café postings, organized by thematic point, would be on the short list of best magic theory books, IMO.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
Dave V
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I think that's what he has in mind. It's no secret that he's discussing all of this to help solidify his thinking toward his next book. It won't be a carbon copy of what's written here, but I'm sure we'll recognise some of his theories.

I'll be first in line, money in hand, when that happens.
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-05-07 16:11, tommy wrote:

Does a performer have to actually believe in magic to present it well, and, in fact, to present it as magic?

I would say it helps. Here is one reason.

http://www.nightingale.com/pa~product~Ps......2344.asp


To quote a lyric:

No no no no no no no no no
You never heard it from me! (* anyone want to impress me and PM the source? )

The actor MUST not believe in the drama. They need to do their job and make the drama happen FOR and INSIDE the audience.

The character of the magician likely does believe in the magic they use in performance BUT that is a useful tool in the process of acting, call it method or the system, but still is impertinent to the performance. Why? Well to start with the persona of the character need not be anything like the persona of the actor.

A better equation would be along the lines that the performer should believe in THE VALUE OF their product(the show as entertaining for the audience) so their enthusiasm for the material will help both the audience and their bookings.

:)
...to all the coins I've dropped here
tommy
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Thanks Jon. I think there I was seeing magic as the product that the magician sells.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Patrick Differ
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Dave, I'm second in line for the book, unless I can trick you out of first place.

And another thing... it took me an entire hour to read page 11 of this thread. Why are you guys going round and round on lies and truth? What gives? Give your definition of magic and get on with it. Please.
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
JackScratch
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Patrick, have you actualy been to a forum before? Besides, the definition we are arguing about now is one that refered to magic as a lie. We are still on definitions.
Patrick Differ
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Quote:
Patrick, have you actualy been to a forum before?


Your air of assumed superiority means nothing to me.
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
JackScratch
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Nothing to do with superiority. More to do with the round and round thing being status quo for any forum.
Whit Haydn
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It seems to me, that if anyone is interested in discussing the issues that have been raised by my proposed theory of magic, that we should begin at the simplest and most basic part of the theory. The whole thing stands or falls on this.

If we agree that the essential ingredient of any magic trick is 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, then we can leave that and move on to the next step of my theory, which concerns the creation of the dilemma.

If we are not agreed on this, then we need to reach an understanding of our differences, so that we can see why our understandings and beliefs about magic have led us in different directions.

It is useless to talk about any of the other things in my theory if we can not agree on this, since my whole theory is based on this single realization.

So I will be very interested in discussing and hearing various viewpoints on this one single topic, until we get some kind of resolution, but I don't think I want to discuss things further if no one wants to stick to the specifics.

Does anyone not agree with the central premise?

I will restate it:

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.

Can you give an example of a trick that does not intentionally contain such a logical fallacy?

Then we would have something to discuss. Put up or shut up. Smile


Posted: May 8, 2006 3:50am
---------------------------------------------
BTW: This discussion so far has already been very valuable, if not to anyone else, at least to me.

I have been forced by the objections and discussions above to reword my basic statement of my theory--the new formulation is the one stated in my last post.

This is a great help, and I think a great improvement.

Thanks to everyone.
Bilwonder
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Awaking from a late nite Café dream coversation with Whit...this is all I can remember...


Bilwonder: Does any one have a description of San Jose..

Whit: Do you know the way to San Jose? I'm working on a map to show the way. It's just one big left turn followed by a series of Right turns.

Bilwonder: That's a great map! But what is San Jose?

Whit: It's the place at the end of the big left turn and series of Rights.

Bilwonder: What can you tell me about the place though.

Whit: It's a twin city where ping pong is popular. But what's important is it the place at the end the big left turn followed by a series of right turns.

Bilwonder: I think I know the place. It sounds familiar. I think I stumble onto through a patch of woods...

Whit: No, that's not the same place. You can't get there through the woods. The only way to get there from here is one big left turn and then a series of rights...

Bilwonder: But I'm sure it's the same place. Describe it a bit more..

Whit: I did. It's the place at the end of the big left turn and several right turns. The place isn't as important as how you get there. The place doesn't even really exist.

Bilwonder: Ah..it doesn't exist? How do I know when I've got there?
Whit: It's the place after the big left turn and a series of rights. The place actually exists, but you can't get there from here. We are only talking about how to get there from here.

Bilwonder: What about that ping pong place you mentioned? That place sure sounds familiar. Isn't that where I used to go as a child...

Whit: Stop chasing rainbows. There is no other road to get there. If you didn't take this road, you must be in some other place. You want to prove my road is no good, then just find another road.

Bilwonder: I think your road is fine. I just thought the place sounded familiar and I was looking for a better description of it.

Whit: You just have to know that if you take another road you won't arrive in the same place. You can take a bus, a car, a bike or any form of transportation you like, just stay on the road...

Bilwonder: To where?

Whit: Don't worry about that. The place doesn't really exist (except perhaps behind the science lab...but you can't get there from here)! Let's not keep repeating ourselves!

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

Whit, you didn't respond to my last posts examples of "the magic of unexpected phenomena" and the examples I gave there. I'm sure we can think of others. Of course magicians enhance such phenomena to extend the effects, but this doesn't exclude it's raw power.

If you begin with the definition that magic does not exist, you will never arrive there.Patrick raised an interesting question by focusing on the "ping pong" effect needing the strength of "two walls" (i.e. "magic" vs "logic").

I keep saying that "magic" happens at the spectators sense of limitations. Jonathon calls this a "meta" experience which makes a lot of sense to me (although I don't fully understand all he may mean by it). If we recognize that 'magic" is real as a transformational state of mind, then we can take people there. If we think "magic" exists only as an appendage to another world view (spiritism, occult, psychic phenomena, Voodoo...etc) we begin to destroy the "ping pong" effect by giving an explanation. Only an explanation that can not be accepted will suffice to bring people into a "magical" state of mind" (for lack of a better word).

For example, many Christians already hold to a supernatural world view. There is no "ping pong" effect if you prove the supernatural to them. This is not where their sense of limitation lies. If you wish to create the "ping pong" effect in someone with an already supernatural world view, you have to understand what they think is not possible. In the case of the Christian, they do not think "mere" humans can do certain things without the aid of a good or evil spirit. In this case you need to first find a way to establish you do not use "outside help" (or as Danny Archer puts it "I work alone"). The 'ping pong" effect here begins and so does the transformational state of mind that begins to question it's sense of limitations. If all of us could have whatever we wanted with the snap of the fingers, we would all gather to see the magician who whose birth defect left him powerless, yet still created miracles. We would expand our minds in wonder trying to grasp such a thing.
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tommy
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“If we agree that the essential ingredient of any magic trick is 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, then we can leave that and move on to the next step of my theory.”

I think I would agree if you could explain "with that" the difference between a trick and “magic” trick for me.

Trick: a cunning or deceitful action or device; "he played a trick
on me"; "he pulled a fast one and got away with it"
[syn: fast one]
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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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.

Bilwonder:

What part of this don't you agree with?

There is of course much more to magic than this, and that is what is to be built on this foundation.

But this is the distiguishing element that separates magic from all other art forms.

I do not believe this occurs in any other form of art, and I think it is inevitably a part of any magic presentation.

Otherwise, the magic that we perform would be indistinguishable from a theatrical or literary depiction of magic such as would be found in a Harry Potter movie or book, a stage production of Peter Pan, or a cartoon of Wendy the Witch.

None of your above post is very helpful in this particular discussion.

Only if we stick to discussing one point at a time can we avoid going around and around as you suggested that we were doing.

If you agree with the formulation above, let's move on. If not, why?


Tommy:

Your point is good, but for that reason I reformulated the statement without the loaded word "trick." There is an older meaning of trick that simply meant "a particularly handsome or clever device."
LobowolfXXX
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Quote:
On 2006-05-08 04:44, 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 agree with this formulation as a starting point; I think it goes hand in hand with the truism "Confusion is not magic" (Vernon?) The "clearer" it is that what the spectator has seen is impossible, the more magical it will seem, other things being equal. Almost all card sleights and subtleties, for example, are built on reinforcing one of three false premises:

1. I don't know what your card is. (marked deck, memorized deck, glimpse, force, etc.)

2. I don't know where your card is. (pass, side steal, crimp, shift, etc.)

3. You think you know what THIS card is, but you don't. (top change, double lift, flustration count, etc.)



I'm reminded of a situation that happened at a magic shop owned be a friend of mine. A woman in her 30s walked in with her daughter, who was maybe 5. My friend, who is also a full-time working pro, did a basic coin vanish...it floored the mom, but didn't do much for the little girl. Her mom said, "Did you see that, Cindy?! The quarter disappeared!" The little girl literally shrugged her shoulders and said, "That's why they call it the magic shop!"

It's the cerebral knowledge that what is being seen is "impossible," and the schism between that and the sensoral perception that what they've seen IS what they've seen, that creates the magic. And it's the syllogism that Whit is describing that creates the knowledge of "impossibility." A flawed syllogism leads to either confusion or non-magical alternative explanations. And if you present a valid syllogism (i.e. the conclusion must flow from the premises), then the only way to get the "wrong" answer is to include a flawed premise. By "wrong" answer, I mean logical, i.e. the card in an ambitious routine cannot be back on top of the deck. If the premise ("I'm placing your card into the middle of the deck") weren't false, their perception about the final state wouldn't be wrong. Of course, you could do a pass, but then they're buying a different false premise: 1) I'm placing your card in the middle of the deck. 2) And I'm not further manipulating the cards. 3) So your card must still be in the middle of the deck. But ploase, let's leave #2 as an unspoken premise.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
Jonathan Townsend
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Ours is the craft of realizing stories wherein magic happens. Just as actors offer simulated emotional contexts, we offer simulated magical events. Our craft is a proper subset of theater and we as performers present characters which are somehow involved with supernatural forces.
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Whit, staying in line with your re-stated/ improved version of your definition of magic (or starting point) I'm for starting a new thread on the same topic. Or when and if you feel comfortable that part one has been fairly reconciled can we start an expansion thread for "part two"?

I am particulary inyterested in re-examining all or most of the definitons offered by others.

I think I can prove that many of us are saying the same thing in regards to what magic is but are so stuck with our our "mental pictures" or "meta models" that we fail to see that many of us are saying the same thing but with different wording, and a different emotional/ retorical attachment to those ways of phrasing our definitions.

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

William Butler Yeats
JackScratch
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Quote:

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 dispute the use of the words "not true" at the end and the use of the word "prove". First of all, I have never seen a magician attempt to honestly "prove" anything. Magic is a morality play. A display of living dreams. Secondly "not true" is a very harsh way of saying it. If you show something, display it, how can it not be true? There it is, right before your eyes. Likewise, who are we to say what is "true" and what is not. True and False are like using statistics to make an arguement. Two senators presenting completely correct information that tells us the perfectly oposite things. Things that are by their very nature contradictory, and yet neither one lies. You look up the records for the statistics that they give and both are acurate. Seems imporssible, and yet it happens all the time. How? It's the elephant and the blind men all over again. Perception is reality.

There you go Whit, work with that and tell me what you come up with.
cinemagician
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Drew, Whit has already addressed these kinds of questions, as well as stated above that those who disagree with the basic premise of this argrument, should try their best to come up with an EXAMPLE of an effect or trick which proves the theory wrong.

He has also stated that this definition is basis of his theories.

I'd like to see what else he has to say. There is no point in trying to twist his words arround and bring up points that are not relevant to the definition.

He challenged anyone to sight an example. You and others are just confusing matters more by dancing arround his words and trying to form some sense out of nothing.

Magic is a morality play?

A display of living dreams?

You are off topic and confusing the issue.
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
JackScratch
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Quote:
On 2006-05-08 13:22, cinemagician wrote:
Drew, Whit has already addressed these kinds of questions, as well as stated above that those who disagree with the basic premise of this argrument, should try their best to come up with an EXAMPLE of an effect or trick which proves the theory wrong.

He has also stated that this definition is basis of his theories.

I'd like to see what else he has to say. There is no point in trying to twist his words arround and bring up points that are not relevant to the definition.

He challenged anyone to sight an example. You and others are just confusing matters more by dancing arround his words and trying to form some sense out of nothing.

Magic is a morality play?

A display of living dreams?

You are off topic and confusing the issue.


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.

I'm not confusing the issue. The issue was confused already. It came pre-confused. Don't try puting the blame on me.
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