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

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funsway
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For me Magic has always been a form of persuasion, and all the components of preparing a good speech can apply to creating a good magic routine.

we persuade the audience that:

strange props are normal to the setting

magic is limited to the trincks we do

a plausible lie is evidence of the improbable

that things considered impossibly are a matter of perspective

that the laws of physics have exceptions

etc.

most of all, we persuade the audience that we are the best person in this place and time to demonstrate the realities of awe and wonder; and to tell lies about what they saw.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
Merlin Wolfstone
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JT,

This is a reference to James Joyce, found when exploring one of the greatest literary contributions of our time.

Best regards,

MW
magicalaurie
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Quote:
Posted: Apr 28, 2006 9:32am
----------------------------------------------
Quote:
On 2006-04-27 22:01, Whit Haydn wrote:
"No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plow down sillion Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion..."
--Gerard Manley Hopkins

Hey! John-Boy read that poem to his mother for her birthday. Smile Lovely, Whit. Smile


...gash gold-vermillion...
Pop Haydn
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Josh Riel
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I don't have that poster yet Pop.
Magic is doing improbable things with odd items that, under normal circumstances, would be unnessecary and quite often undesirable.
Pop Haydn
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The Recitations poster? I sent you a pm.
weirdwizardx
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Subgenre of theatre where a performer will resolve a problem in a way that is not possible according to the frame of reference of the participant.
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Jan 24, 2021, weirdwizardx wrote:
Subgenre of theatre where a performer will resolve a problem in a way that is not possible according to the frame of reference of the participant.


Would this definition not include every instance of Deus Ex Machina in a play? Every Vampire movie? Every Twilight Zone episode?
weirdwizardx
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On Jan 25, 2021, Pop Haydn wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 24, 2021, weirdwizardx wrote:
Subgenre of theatre where a performer will resolve a problem in a way that is not possible according to the frame of reference of the participant.


Would this definition not include every instance of Deus Ex Machina in a play? Every Vampire movie? Every Twilight Zone episode?


Lets best think of frame of reference as possible.

It is not possible that a guy gets stabbed and then has a clean hand.

Tho it is possible to see a movie where the protagonist uses wizardry to kill the vampire.
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Jan 25, 2021, weirdwizardx wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 25, 2021, Pop Haydn wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 24, 2021, weirdwizardx wrote:
Subgenre of theatre where a performer will resolve a problem in a way that is not possible according to the frame of reference of the participant.


Would this definition not include every instance of Deus Ex Machina in a play? Every Vampire movie? Every Twilight Zone episode?


Lets best think of frame of reference as possible.

It is not possible that a guy gets stabbed and then has a clean hand.

Tho it is possible to see a movie where the protagonist uses wizardry to kill the vampire.


How then, do we distinguish what we do from what Harry Potter does in a movie?

What is the difference between a magic show and a depiction of magic on stage or screen?

I think that Magic is a subgenre of Theater, but not of Narrative Theater. Instead, it belongs under the branch Presentational Theater.

Narrative Theater enacts or tells a story, and has conventions that enable it to go back and forth in time and place. The audience "suspends disbelief" and allows themselves to imaginatively participate in the story. They vicariously experience the emotions and experiences of the characters in the story. When Peter Pan and the children fly, the audience experiences flying through the characters' joy and wonder.

Presentational Theater consists of those forms of theater that happen in real time--sideshow, strong man, surgical demonstrations, technological exhibitions, variety arts, etc., etc. Magic is a form of entertainment that is presented in real time. The "story" is created for the spectators by the performer, it is the story of what they "witnessed" and the story that they will tell later to friends and others: "I saw this guy, and he took a half dollar and put it in a beer bottle!"

In a magic show, the audience is given the convincing experience of the impossible. They don't react vicariously, but in real time to their own experience of the impossible. Our job as magicians is to create this experience for the audience, and help them to remember and tell their experience in the way we want them to...The better the presentation, the more convincing the experience. We want to create the story for them that we want them to tell. We need to help prepare them to answer any objections to their story they might encounter and be able to answer them.

So magic can use narrative theater and its techniques in the service of creating the experience of the impossible, but the theatrical elements must serve the needs of strong Magic.

In Theater, Magic serves the story, and the rules of strong Magic are sublimated to the needs of the story.
weirdwizardx
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I do agree in some points.

Now, Im not sure that I understood the differences you gave between presentational theatre and narrative theatre. They mean pretty much the same by what I understood.
Now, that's not where Im going.

I think that what we do differences us from Harry Potter because you are watching the film with other idea of what is possible and what not. On a film everything can happen, there is no “absurdity” as Tommy mentioned sometime. But, in the real world, fiction and reality become one thing, and the absurd of what is possible according to the spectator and the act that is playing out make up the absurdity of magic, which, by the way, can exist on film thinking about it. David Blaine specials for example.

But well, my main idea is that spectators have x frame of possibility. Magic happens when y is attribuited to a performer and is outside of x.
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Jan 25, 2021, weirdwizardx wrote:
I do agree in some points.

Now, Im not sure that I understood the differences you gave between presentational theatre and narrative theatre. They mean pretty much the same by what I understood.
Now, that's not where Im going.

I think that what we do differences us from Harry Potter because you are watching the film with other idea of what is possible and what not. On a film everything can happen, there is no “absurdity” as Tommy mentioned sometime. But, in the real world, fiction and reality become one thing, and the absurd of what is possible according to the spectator and the act that is playing out make up the absurdity of magic, which, by the way, can exist on film thinking about it. David Blaine specials for example.

But well, my main idea is that spectators have x frame of possibility. Magic happens when y is attribuited to a performer and is outside of x.


How is that helpful in creating a magic routine? How does one prove that y is outside of x?
tommy
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I think it helps if the audience attributes the magic to David Blain as opposed to David Blain’s film editor.

I also think to cover one eye and not the other is absurd on its face, but I also think attributed only has one eye.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
tommy
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Magic is not the day, nor is magic the night. Magic is the day and the night: The Twilight Hours. Magic is the relationship between two equal and opposite forces. In Our Magic, the magic is the relationship between, it is but it cannot be, the relationship between incredible fiction of the entertainment and the credible facts of the experiment. Relationships, like magic, cannot be known directly but only inferred. This is why it impossible to answer the question of what is magic? One can describe its parts, i.e., one side of the dilemma and the other but not what is itself. Imagine if the Earth was so flat that the North and South Pole became one and somebody asked what is that? The scientist cannot deal with synthesis because the rational mind is polar by nature, things have to be this or that, true or false and so cannot be a magic dilemma. As a scientist what love is. It is a relationship between a man and women, it is created by this and that, negative and positive forces. But what is it itself? Didn't I just tell you? No!
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Pop Haydn
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I think you mistake the presentation for the fantasy side of the dilemma. The dilemma is made up of the impossible assertion on the one hand, and the knowledge of the audience that it is impossible. If it is impossible for a human to float in the air, and the magician floats a lady in the air--even it nothing is said--it is magic. When the examined coin goes into a bottle, the dilemma is Coins can't pass through solid glass/A Coin just passed through solid glass. The "bosh" or presentation is dressing for this. It helps to do a number of things. It does help set the imagination of the witnesses in a particular fantastical direction: "Did you know that it was possible to cause molecular vibrations in different sorts of material in order to make them permeable?" "Ether makes one feel as if they are floating, watch the effect of ether on someone particularly susceptible to it..."

The patter is important for framing and assigning meaning to the event, and to engage the imagination of the audience in the fantasy that the impossibility generates. It helps the audience to suspend disbelief and "go along" with the experiment. But the patter is not the essential element of the dilemma. The essential element is the audience's knowledge that what is shown is in fact impossible, and yet the convincing demonstration that it is possible. This generates wonder--on one hand wonder about how this impossible thing might actually have been accomplished, and on the other hand what would it mean if this impossible thing were possible? So the fantastic element is contained within the experiment itself. What would it mean if I could pull coins out of the air? What would it mean if I could float or become invisible? The meaning in magic comes from within the effect itself. What is the meaning of this? What would it be like if I could become invisible? The novel the "Invisible Man" addresses the fantasy possibilities. A magic trick that "proves" it possible for a man to become invisible makes the question more pressing and immediate.

In a sense, patter has the function of limiting the fantasy of the audience. Rather than opening the possibility of ghosts, or spirits, we may want to present the fantasy in terms of science.
tommy
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Yes, Pop, I think, that is quite correct.

I think I was thinking on a slightly grander scale. I was thinking, that the audience knows that the magician is not a real magician for a start, that he is just playing. I was thinking that the audience also knows that the magician’s assertion is fiction and that, if true, the assertion would be impossible. I was thinking that if the magician proved his fictional assertion true, then it would, by inference, prove true the whole of the fiction: that, among other things, it would prove the fantasy magician was real! Yet, at the same time, the audience would still know it is all fiction. I was thinking, that would be something of a dilemma.

Apart from that, I was just thinking, what if Uri Geller, without saying anything, performed a levitation a month after he had convinced millions of TV viewers that he really had supernatural powers and wondering, would that be magic, but not our magic?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Feb 12, 2021, tommy wrote:
Yes, Pop, I think, that is quite correct.

I think I was thinking on a slightly grander scale. I was thinking, that the audience knows that the magician is not a real magician for a start, that he is just playing. I was thinking that the audience also knows that the magician’s assertion is fiction and that, if true, the assertion would be impossible. I was thinking that if the magician proved his fictional assertion true, then it would, by inference, prove true the whole of the fiction: that, among other things, it would prove the fantasy magician was real! Yet, at the same time, the audience would still know it is all fiction. I was thinking, that would be something of a dilemma.

Apart from that, I was just thinking, what if Uri Geller, without saying anything, performed a levitation a month after he had convinced millions of TV viewers that he really had supernatural powers and wondering, would that be magic, but not our magic?


It could be charlatanry, or it could be "Our Magic." The distinction comes from the intent. If the performer wants to convince people he has "special" powers, but only does so for entertainment--not to take advantage of his followers--it is Our Magic taken to the edge--like much mentalism. The dilemma is weakened in this type of performance. The performer doesn't want to create the dilemma, rather he wants to weaken one horn--"There is no such thing as magic EXCEPT in this case..." The dilemma is then often restored by a nemesis--someone who challenges the charlatan as Randi became for Geller, or Houdini and the Spiritualists.
tommy
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All art is lie. To appreciate something as art one must be aware it is lie. The audience is aware the entertainment side is a lie and thus the audience appreciate the entertainment as art. The entertainment appeals to the heart not head. The audience suspends their rational for the entertainment not the magic. The magic to all intents and purposes is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The magic in effect is science and for that reason we call it an experiment. The experiment is not our magic; a charlatan can perform the same experiment. What makes our magic our magic is the entertainment - the known lie. If a fellow simply performs a magic experiment the audience have nothing to tell them it is art, a lie, fiction; all they would have is true facts in effect. Magic without fictional entertainment is like a technical drawing. Magic with fictional entertainment is like a drawing that evokes the imagination. Magic is not our magic we make magic our magic with known lies.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Pop Haydn
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"Guerrilla Theater" developed in the 60's as a propaganda tool. Actors would set up an explosive scene in public, that appeared to be really happening--drawing the full attention of the crowd--and then end with an unfurled banner, chant, or other surprise "message."

When the tools of the actor are used to send a message, commit a crime, sell a product, etc., etc., then it is not art that is being made. It is the same with magic.

There are risks and benefits of weakening the frame.
tommy
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All art is propaganda. I will say the main message of our magic is not everything is what it appears to be.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
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