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Whit Haydn
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Interesting. The drinking the water bit would be a fake skill like the cherry stem, or a strong man stunt.

Ventriloquism does not produce a dilemma, so it is not Theater of the Dilemma, but it is an illusion and it is part of the Theater of Deception when done for entertainment.

Ventriloquism could also be used outside of theater for producing voices in a seance for example, or making a religious idol speak.

The ventriloquist creates an illusion that the audience knows is an illusion, but strives for such conviction of reality through the use of character and personality, that the audience finds itself believing in the reality of the character even when they know it is a dummy.

I find this very similar to magic in its complexity, but really different. The audience is convinced of the reality of the character through suspension of disbelief, but this suspension of disbelief is almost forced through the power of the illusion.
cinemagician
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Quote:
On 2006-05-23 19:35, Whit Haydn wrote:

I find this very similar to magic in its complexity, but really different. The audience is convinced of the reality of the character through suspension of disbelief, but this suspension of disbelief is almost forced through the power of the illusion.


Hmmn... it is sort of a special case. Although there is no "dilemma" we might be selling the vent short by describing what he does as only "theatre" or "acting". But I guess that is essentially what it is.

What is similar about the ventriloquism example above (with the glass added in for a kicker) and any good magic performance is that both can encorporate all three catagories into their performances to varring degrees.

Err..I think?
:)
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

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saxmangeoff
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That is interesting. To further muddy the water, I remember "back in the day" watching Jim Henson on various talk shows (you know -- well some of you do -- shows like Michael Douglas and Dinah Shore). Jim never made any attempt to be a ventriloquist. He moved his mouth the same whether it was him or Kermit talking. Yet the illusion that Kermit was somehow a real being was VERY strong, because Jim infused him with so much personality. I would say it probably qualifies as acting (a specialized form of acting, for sure). But it also made for a darn good illusion, even though I wasn't deceived for a second.

Geoff
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Bilwonder
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I find it a bit awkward using phrases such as "Theater of Dilemma."
It creates the image (for me) that each "Theater" is a completely different arena in a way that confuses the overlapping. Correct me if I'm wrong.

There is deception in the "Theater of Dilemma," agreed?
And there is deception in the "Theater of Deception," also of course.
It seems you have a "Theater" inside a "Theater" or some version of deception as a "sub category" of itself.

May I suggest a clarification?
That inside the "Theater of Deception" (this arena of entertainment) is the "Artifice of the Dilemma." I would make this distinction because it seems we are using this as a stratagem within the "Theater of Deception." Or as you put it, "differentiate between the various approaches."

This of course should lead us to give some label to the other categories also under the tent of "Theater of Deception" at some later point.

The outline may appear something like the following:
I. Theater of Deception.
A) Artifice of the Dilemma
Here you listed:
Quote:
Psuedo-Magic, Psuedo-Science, Psuedo-Alchemy, etc. are all genres


B) Artifice of the "Non-Dilemma" (for now)
Here you listed:
Quote:
Fire-Eating, Blockhead, strong man stunts, mind-reading--any sort of theatrical presentation that involves the Art of Deception--are also part of the Theater of Deception. They do not create the dilemma...


I still see the term "magic" as useful (no mater how vague) because it references something to the spectator. There can be no "psuedo magic" without "magic" as a reference point. It doesn't matter if we agree on specifics of what this may be, it is only important that it refers to something in the spectators way of thinking.


Quote:
To eliminate or even weaken either side of the dilemma is to move into a different kind of theater. It may still be theater, may still be art, might even be called magic, but it is not "Theater of the Dilemma."


I think I understand what you are outlining here, but it raises some questions.
Even though AS a performer you can make some clear distinctions in these kinds of presentations, are they really a "different Theater" if they both "may be called magic," both "contain deception" & both are "still theater?" I can see why you may choose the word "theater" because you feel they are not on the same "stage" but as we build an outline the overlapping terms are confusing I think. The point is not to use the terms I've given, or ever in this order (You could rename levels further up in the outline), but make some further distinctions.
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cinemagician
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Geoff- Those clips of Jim Henson with his early protoypes of Kermit are very special, even mesmerizing. I did not remember that he moved his lips. Jim Henson was definately in a class of his own.

I like Bilwonder's term "Artifice of the Dilemma"...
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
Whit Haydn
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I am not sold on any of the names for the categories. They are just what developed as I was describing them. That is why I asked for suggestions. But Artifice doesn't really describe the total art form of Theater of the Dilemma. The Dilemma is considerably more than an artifice. It is the goal and the purpose of this type of presentation. Theater of the Dilemma covers everything from close-up card magic to giant stage illusions. The Artifice of the Dilemma is just not broad enough.

But at this point, if everyone understands the overview or map the way it is explained, we can move on. We can revisit this later and re-arrange and rename the categories. The important thing is to see how all the other ways of presenting deception can be described in relation to how they handle the deception and the dilemma, and by reference to the intent and purpose of the performance.

There is a big difference between the goal and methods of the magic that is not in the Theater of the Dilemma. It may be that the two types of presentations could be presented by the same performer on the same stage and in the same show. But still, the goals and rules of each presentation are completely different.
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Whit,

One thing could you clarify here. I'm sorry if this has been addressed in some way.

The Theatre of the Dilemma places the spectator in the situation: There is no magic/ there is no other possibility. The tension between the two is the experience you look for in the spectator's mind to call it the kind of magic that conjurers do..

But what happens if I see a beautiful levitation effect, and just go home with, "that was beautiful." And I'm happy with that. Have I experienced magic? Has the performer performed magic. In other words what if I don't feel I'm experiencing a DIlemma?

Jack Shalom
Bilwonder
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Quote:
Artifice doesn't really describe the total art form of Theater of the Dilemma. The Dilemma is considerably more than an artifice.
It is the goal and the purpose of this type of presentation. Theater of the Dilemma covers everything from close-up card magic to giant stage illusions. The Artifice of the Dilemma is just not broad enough.


Artifice may not be a good word, but I still think we need another term somewhere in this outline to differentiate sub-categories as I mention before. It especially make talking about the role of deception confusing as it is a sub category of itself.

Is there a part of the "Theater of Dilemma" that is NOT contained in the "Theater of Deception?" If so, then it suggests we must have such a thing as Dilemma without deception. If the dilemma is completely contained in the "Theater of Deception" then they are the same Theater. We need to rename one or the other.

You mentioned needing a "broad term" for "Theater of the Dilemma," but I'm not sure why. I don't understand the relevance of mentioning "close-up" and "giant stage illusions." Nothing suggests a different category for these venues in our outline so far (is one coming?). The same strategy is applied to all. Perhaps the multiple meanings of the word "Theater" is being part of the confusion. I simply chose "Artifice" because it seemed to contain many of the concepts discussed (synonyms such as "art, device, plot, stratagem, white lie, deception, net...")

Quote:
"The Dilemma is considerably more than an artifice."
Is this not another way of saying "The Dilemma is considerably more than 'a valid syllogism with at least one missing or untrue premise.'"
If so, how?

Sam Sharpe did not write with the same precision as Whit on the formulation of the Dilemma, but he seems to describe the same kind of logical formula in "Neo-Magic."

"The only logic applicable to conjuring seems to be that of Unity and Consistency...Things should happen on the post hoc, propter hoc principal: there must be an apparent cause for every effect...Without such consistency, conjuring feats can never be convincing...we may formulate the rule: The magic of an effect is in inverse ratio to the logic, provided it is consistent...

"...but these principals do not hold good when effects are presented as being due to supernatural forces. The impression of some obscure agency at work is best induced when results happen without causes at all...A mere suggestion is enough to create a suitable atmosphere...The true artist never explains. A suggestion starts the imagination; an explanation stifles it..."

"...Supernormal powers are not necessarily supernatural powers: they are simply powers sufficiently beyond normal understanding and ability to make he who has mastered them APPEAR to be a magician to the unenlightened..."

Does any of this suggest a new term we can use?


Quote:
The important thing is to see how all the other ways of presenting deception can be described in relation to how they handle the deception and the dilemma, and by reference to the intent and purpose of the performance.


I agree, but unless we map out a term (even just temporarily) for each of these "other ways of presenting deception" we may run into a lot more semantic confusion.
billswondershow.com
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I like the term Theater of Dilemma.
However, supposition seems more suitable that artifice.
POOF!
Whit Haydn
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I think you are overstating the problem.

First off, as I said, these categories are all new to me, having just sort of created them on the fly during this thread. I am not married to them, and have said I am looking for better names for the categories.

But also, they are not really that important to the theory, just a sort of overview or map of how the Theater of the Dilemma relates to legitimate theater, and to charlatanry and con games.

I don't want to get stuck here with housekeeping chores. I think we should go on to the theory itself, and then come back and revisit these categories and look for better ways to name and organize them.

The dilemma IS separate from the argument or syllogism. There are false syllogisms and other logical fallacies involved in all the Theater of Deception. They do not involve a dilemma.

The Theater of Deception is meant to cover all types of performance presentations that involve deception--the selling of a lie. Some of these may involve a syllogism, some may not. But all of them share the same purpose, and that is why I identify them as "theater." They all seek to entertain, edify, or communicate in some way. The "nearly the same" presentation, for the purpose of selling, convincing, creating followers, etc. becomes something else--charlatanry or a congame, not theater.

The Theater of Deception includes all sorts of deceptions from walking on glass, optical illusions, blockhead, fake juggling, etc. These all involve deception and many involve the false syllogism, but they do not have the dilemma.

If they create the dilemma, then they belong in the category of the dilemma--Pseudo-Science, Pseudo-Magic, Pseudo-Alchemy, etc. So the Theater of the Dilemma is simply one of many possible categories in the Theater of Deception. It contains all the forms of presentations of the syllogism that are intended to construct the "dilemma."

The dilemma is "more than the valid syllogism with one or more untrue premises."

The charlatan creates a valid syllogism with one or more untrue premises. He does not create the dilemma.

The conclusion of the argument and the horns of the dilemma can be very different.

One of the horns of the dilemma may be deduced from the conclusion of the argument, the other one is set up in the presentation and performing circumstances of that presentation--"This isn't really magic, look at the way he is winking at me." "This isn't really magic--he is a magician and sleight of hand guy. Still..."

The conclusion of the syllogism might be, "He was able to cause the coin to disappear by just clicking his fingers."

The inference of that conclusion is, "There must be such a thing as magic. There is no other explanation for how that coin disappeared."

So one side of the dilemma could read either, "There is no such thing as magic/"
or as "There is no way that clicking his finger could have made the coin vanish/"

One statement of the dilemma would be "There is no such thing as magic/There is no other explanation." Another way of stating the dilemma, (arising from the exact same syllogism) is "There is no way that clicking his fingers caused the coin to vanish/He didn't appear to do anything else that could have made the coin to vanish."

But see, here we are discussing the dilemma. The second part of the theory. Maybe this is where we are meant to be. Let me begin laying out the theory from the start.

Please do not quote Sharpe or M&D or Nelms now. They are all both saying similar things and different things. I do not need them to support my arguments. They will only confuse things at this point. Do not assume you understand what I am saying until I have finished. Do not draw other theories into the discussion until you can see the distinctions that I am making.
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Sorry Whit,

I'm only trying to map what you have given so far.
I didn't mean to confuse things with Sharpe. Just looking for a way to deal with the "Theater in a theatre" dilemma. Perhaps I'll imagine a "Multi-Plex or "A Castle of Deception" and we are ignoring the other "Parlors" for now as we enter "The Theatre of the Dilemma."

I don't want to us to bog down in "house keeping," but I want to make sure I'm following what you've given so far (because I'm NOT sure of some what your saying). If I were to Venn Diagram what you have given so far. Could we label the three circles "Theater," "Deception," & "Dilemma?" And you wish us to focus on where the three meet?
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Whit Haydn
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No. As I said, they are sort of intersecting circles, sort of a continuum line. If not helpful, let us just abandon them. They were meant to give a sort of overview or outline of the terrritory. If they confuse you, let's drop them for now.

You are confused because you still do not understand the "Theater of the Dilemma."

All the other categories are based on that one. They are set up in relationship to that.

Let us describe the Theater of the Dilemma first, and then maybe those other categories will be more clear.

As I said, you are trying to understand things in the wrong order. Let me lay out the theory, and if I say anything that you don't understand, ask about it. If I tell you I will come back to it later, then I will.

You will drag this presentation back into confusion if you insist on dealing with these things before we have explained the basic theory.

As I said, none of these categories is important to the basic theory. They were just sort of meant to help you understand what area we are working in.

Let us just save your questions, new ideas, names for categories and input from Sharpe, M&D and others for later, okay? Just try to understand things as I am laying them out, without reading ahead or trying to help me flesh things out.

We have had 24 pages of that, and I have yet to make any statement of the theory beyond the first sentence.

If you follow me, I appreciate when people let me know it, if you disagree, save it for later. If you have a question about something that I have said, and need clarification, then ask it. But let us not get in a discussion about every little thing I say.

I don't need help formulating the theory. Just let us get through things one step at a time. Don't try to read ahead. Don't assume you know where I am going. If you need a concrete example of something, just say so, and I will try to give you an illustration.

Basically, by Theater I mean any presentation for which the purpose is entertainment, art, education, or communication. If the purpose is propaganda, or taking unfair advantage of someone (con game, charlatanry), or some other cause, then many of the same rules and skill sets might apply, but it is a con game, charlatanry, a swindle or some other such thing rather than Theater.

So The Theater of Deception is a branch of Theater--it is totally contained within the field of Theater. Within the Theater of Deception, the goal is always entertainment, art, and communication of feelings, etc. If the goal is something else, it is not theater. The same actions when used for entertainment and art, can also be used for other purposes, as I tried to show with the cherry stem example.

I can falsely prove that I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue. It is "Theater" if my purpose is to entertain and pass the time. It is a swindle if used to win a proposition bet. It is not Theater of the Dilemma, because no dilemma is created. We want the people to believe that I can really tie the stem with my tongue.

The Theater of the Dilemma is totally contained within the Theater of Deception, but there are other sorts of categories within the Theater of Deception that do not involve the Dilemma--for which creation of the Dilemma is not the goal. The fake strongman is demonstrating fake skills that he does not have, but strictly for entertainment value. If he used the same demonstrations to apply for a job requiring great strength, it would be a swindle, not Theater.
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The reason for the categories, is that once we start looking for ways of making distinctions between theater and con games and magic by looking at the very most basic differences in purpose and goals, we see things in a much different light.

We see some things going together in ways not understood before.

I think the "Art of Deception" which contains everything involving the intentional deception of another for any purpose, whether theater or theft or con game or religious cult, contains the skill sets that are commonly used by con men, magicians, actors and thieves.

Acting, makeup, costuming, lighting, cgi, special effects, pyrotechnics, sleight of hand, pick-pocketing, etc., etc., are all skill sets (some of which rise to the level of an art) that belong to the category of the "Art of Deception".

Theater may or may not belong wholey within the "Art of Deception," but it certainly shares many of the tool sets used in the "Theater of Deception" by Ventriloquism, grind shows, strong men stunts, Mind Reading, and in the branch of the Theater of Deception known as the "Theater of the Dilemma"--pseudo-magic, pseudo-science, etc.

But it also shares skill sets with those of "Arts of Deception" other than Theater such as the Big Con, the Short Con, pick-pocketing and other theft, charlatanry, etc., all of which use acting, sleight-of-hand, makeup, etc.

By defining the purposes of an art, we can make useful distinctions between art forms that influence what tools we use, and how we go about using them, but also we see how theatrical performers, con men, thieves, and charlatans might all use a skill set like acting to accomplish their purposes.

So we can see how we share certain things in common with all of these arts, and can see why a skill like "acting" might be as useful to us as it is say to any con man, and why both the magician and the con man might find talking to a professional actor, or studying the art of acting might be valuable in their own work.

By looking at what performers do who work within the Theater of the Dilemma, we will have a better handle on understanding what someone else, who calls himself a magician, but who does not seek to create the dilemma might be doing. If his goal is to convince someone else that he is actually a magician, he is a charlatan.

If his goal is to present a depiction of what a magician would be like, or what magic would look like if it is real, he is like an actor playing Peter Pan on stage, or the character Harry Potter casting a spell in the movie with the aid of CGI.

These categories are meant to be descriptions of what is actually being done, not criticisms or judgements. Here we can only talk about well done or not well done con games or magic tricks--whether the goal was accomplished. The ethics are a different thing. These descriptions just help us separate the skills of magic from the various different aproaches to magic and the many cultural, religious, philosophical, and metaphysical meanings of the word magic. We want to use terms that are not loaded and fraught with meanings we do not intend.

Any magic performance can be described in terms of these categories. Most magic shows fall within the realm of the Theater of the Dilemma, but not all. Some might be purely theatrical or film presentations of "magic" without the desire to convince someone that they are watching real magic happening now in front of them.
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I am not thinking in terms of a building when I use the word Theater. I am thinking in terms of genres (Guerilla Theater, Improv Theater) or perhaps better, schools of theater--like the "Theater of the Absurd" or the "Theater of Reality."

Maybe that helps.
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I don't know what is magic, but I like it...
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Our "realm" of engagement is theatrical.
We are offering our personas for a time to others... scripted transactions.. props.. but NOT necessarily on a stage.

But we can use the stage/theater model to good effect. There is something called the proscenium arch which normally bounds the pretend world of the story and the audiences place from which to view... as if they get to watch a mini world in a fishbowl.

We... get to create the theatrical space my letting them know (play bow) and when they assent, we are then INSIDE that theatrical space for as long as they consent.

When they reply to "Is it okay with you if I use magic?" they are making a commitment to enter (or not) that world of pretend where peter pan flies and playing cards are playful.

But the dilemma comes quickly. We use tangible things that were present before the theatrical space was created. We and our props pass through from real into pretend, and back again freely. We offer them a ride between those worlds. We control the ride. Their dilemma comes when they try to imagine the space outside the world we show them and they find no seam between their everyday world and our pretend world. No portal beyond that of the consent they gave. How can that be?

:)
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Whit Haydn
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Thanks, Jon. I think that describes things very well.
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Boy, I'll say... that was right on the money. I got every word. Right back to it being us doing it for them.

Hoping to help move this along... my way of understanding the difference between Deception and Dilemma is to think of circles. Draw two circles on a sheet of paper. Put one circle inside the other. Label the inside circle Dilemma. Label the outermost circle Deception. Notice how Dilemma is inside Deception, but separate. We are doing Dilemma as magicians.

It doesn't matter if you we call it a circle, a theater, a realm, or a genre, or a banana, or Jim Morrison, for that matter... One circle is inside the other and the one on the inside is marked off so that we can see that what it contains is smaller, yet belongs inside the bigger one. Dilemma is a subset of Deception.

Step Two? How about "Character doesn't define the dilemma. Character reveals the nature of the dilemma through actions."
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.
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I thought of the circle analogy right away. It helped me to visualize what was a set, a sub-set, an intersecting set, and so on, without the math terms getting in the way. Some circles are totally enclosed within others. Some overlap each other, some barely touch, and some don't touch at all.
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Whit Haydn
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Exactly. Now let's move on.

I want to start by restating the first formulation:

The "Theater of the Dilemma" 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 (syllogism) which is valid but whose premises are untrue, thus seeming to prove something true that the spectators firmly believe or know is not true.


This creates a dilemma in the mind of the spectator between what he knows to be true and the strong conviction that has been created in him of the reality of something he is convinced is impossible.

It is the creation of this dilemma that defines the Theater of the Dilemma. The dilemma is created by the artist's ability to balance complete conviction of the impossible against the subject's understanding of the conventions of theater, common sense, and contextual, verbal, and visual cues(the lie with a wink) that tell him what his senses tell him isn't real or true at all.

The conclusion of the argument may or may not make up one side of the dilemma, but it creates it. "The coin disappeared when he clicked his fingers. Clicking the fingers can make a coin disappear." This is generalized into the conviction that "He used magic to vanish the coin."

The greater the conviction that the magician actually used magic, the greater the insistance of the performer that "there is no such thing as magic." The more convincing the two arguments of the dilemma, the more profound the overall effect.

And what is that overall effect?

The first effect of the dilemma on the mind is to create discomfort. Because the mind has contradictory information, nothing fits in any of the right boxes. The mind does not know how to organize the information to save it. There is a wrench in the works. This feeling of discomfort is known as "cognitive dissonance."

This feeling of discomfort is like a burr under the saddle--it goads the mind to attempt to reconcile what SEEMS like a real memory with the knowledge and experience of the world that tells the mind that the memory must be wrong somehow.

The problem can not be solved deductively, because the evidence and the controls for the experiment have been cleverly constructed using all the skills of the Art of Deception--technologies that are too advanced for the spectators to re-create on their own--to make the experiment look fair and the results unquestionable.

To solve the problem, the spectator must invent the trick. He does not have the necessary information to solve the trick from the evidence of his senses. Information is missing. He must create the trick with a series of "what ifs"--the technological "wondering" is the attempt to create a way to make it look like the effect that he has just witnessed was possible.

He must invent the trick using creative, lateral thinking. But the technology of deception may be too far advanced beyond what he can imagine for him to come up with a plausible solution. Every solution he comes up with seems to fail, and nothing satisfies. He can not even imagine how it could be possible.

So the mind pushes him to solve the dilemma by considering the other side:

"There is no such thing as magic."

Maybe magic is real? But we know it isn't, but if it were...? This leads the mind into creative fantasy and a different kind of wonder.

The mind shuttles back and forth between these horns of the dilemma, constantly being goaded and pricked to come up with solutions until it tires.

At that point the dilemma is filed unsolved in its own little box. Whenever that box is opened--say someone mentions magic--the dilemma kicks in again, and the mind is spellbound in wonder all over again.
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