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George Ledo
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I'm really curious about something...

There have been a number of threads here over the past year or so on the subject of magic as an art form and as entertainment, and why magic is this or that. A lot of times members have said things to the effect of, "Well, that may apply to art, but it doesn't apply to magic," or "Well, that may apply to other forms of entertainment, but it doesn't apply to magic." From several of these discussions, I've gotten a distinct impression that a number of members here feel that magic is a world in itself, where nothing else applies.

And I'm interested in why they feel this way. Not being the least bit sarcastic here -- I'm really curious.

The fact that we are unique in dealing with secrets? I can't buy that one. Have you ever watched the coaches during a televised football game? They cover their mouths when talking on their headsets to prevent somebody from lip-reading them. Catchers at a baseball game? They cover their right hand with their glove when signalling the pitcher.

So, why is magic so different?
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RandyStewart
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Quote:
On 2006-04-10 17:03, George Ledo wrote:
From several of these discussions, I've gotten a distinct impression that a number of members here feel that magic is a world in itself, where nothing else applies.


The only time I've seen this to be true is among a paying audience who've purchased a ticket to see a 'magician' perform.

I also read but stayed out of the 'art form' vs. 'entertainment' discussions. The last time I saw that topic I never even opened it. Even if the participants reached a consensus (that would be a neat trick!) it would have no impact or effect on what I do, why, or how. I was too busy practicing my magic or whatever each of those debaters would have it called. I wonder how many of the initial 'flesh wounds' gave way to a blood bath. I was practicing regardless of the outcome. I turned out to be serious when I said I retired from that debate.

As to whether it belongs in or fits into the rest of the world, some will always view it as a nuisance, some will go to any length to see it performed, and others don't care one way or another.

When my stepfather saw me do a triple hand cut with a deck of cards, he starred nonplussed and said: "Only people in prison and pool halls do that sort of stuff"...Well I couldn't smartly tell him to just view it as signs of a misspent youth as I was still in grade school. His view later changed when his friend complimented him on having seen me work with a deck of cards. Not sure what he told Dad but it rubbed him the right way. Oddly enough he became, to this day, my biggest supporter.

Because I don't live in a culture where my performance promotes me to village medicine man, I'm labeled an 'entertainer'. Performance artist would better. I've traveled a little and although I feel some cultures accept it more readily than others, I've yet to be among people who reject it and even have a place in their culture, myth, and entertainment and social arenas.

Unfortunately there's not enough time, even in a very long lifetime, to educate or beat into a public's definition such a consensus. They'll still refer to me and others as 'magicians' and occasionally with a self doubting look 'musician'. Yeah, I've had that happen once and is especially funny when I don't play any musical instruments.

I personally would like to have my magic habit seen and referred to as an 'art form' that fits into the rest of the world. That world would be anywhere there is a stage and a paying audience and yes, occasionally for friends/family just for fun.
George Ledo
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Good response, Randy, especially the part about keeping out of the line of fire! Smile

Maybe my initial post wasn't very clear (sorry about that), but what I meant to say was, why does it seem that so many members here feel that things that apply to the rest of the world don't apply to magic? Besides the "that works in singing and dancing, but not in magic" stuff, we also have all the discussions on ethics ("Is it okay to knock off someone's trick if I modify it just a little?"), and similar things.

Honestly, I think a lot of these questions could have been settled in a second at the office coffeepot or water fountain if they applied to some other field besides magic.

Am I the only one who's reading this into these posts? Should I just do what Randy did? Smile
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Jaz
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Categorizing things can get pretty weird sometimes.
The largest category would likely be entertainment.
That covers an awful lot of sub-categories. Theater, movies, music, sports, etc, etc.

Break magic down into categories and you get bizarre, geek, mentalism, sleight of hand, etc, etc.

Each are unique in thier way but all are a part of our world.

People can call magic what they want. Art, craft, trickery, the work of Satan or whatever.
Jonathan Townsend
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Are we talking about commerce in magicdom? About the ecology of magic in our larger society? We are getting close to IP rights in our larger society.

Is it consider okay to do mimicry of other actor's performances?

What about to perform playright's scripts without permissions?

My feeling is that magdom is lacking some useful conventions that exist in some places outside. Perhaps it's MORE and not less that we need of some things here.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
bishthemagish
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It all depends on the way that YOU look at things and the way OTHERS look at things.

What IS Magic?

A word for unexplained Science?

What storybook wizards do from Merlin to Harry Potter?

Part Of Campfire ritual?

Something in league with the DEVIL?

A Theater art?

An entertainment?

What IS A Magician?

I can only answer this from my own point of view. Magic and being a magician from my point of view is different from the worlds point of view. Each person watching a magician busking or a magician doing a stage show has a different point of view as to what magic is and how it should or should not fit into today's world.

To answer the question, Does magic fit into the rest of the world I would answer YES. And it has fit in going down through the ages throughout history.

Magic is not storybook magic or sorcery or devil worship. It is a science that started when science, religion and medicine were all part of the same tree of knowledge.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Glenn, folks,

Magic among magicians can be science and bringing both meaning and mystery to muggles.

To muggles it can be a thing from stories sometimes offered in real life.

To empiricists can be inspiration for novel discovery.

And to the romantic can be a doorway to hope.

But to those who seek only an abstracted "how to" it's most likely just tricks.

Magic seems something of a gem which reflects both the intentions of both the wizard and the audience.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
tommy
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I think maybe everything that makes art, art, makes magic an art.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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JackScratch
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The only truely differen't thing about magic, can also be found in the nature of logic puzzles. So in that aspect, it isn't truely unique. Unlike logic puzzles, however, magic is widely marketed, so human nature becomes a bit more of a problem. As for the rest of it, we wander into semantics. Magic is both similar and disimilar to many other art forms. If they were not disimilar, we wouldn't bother having different names for them.

The deeper question you are asking has a bit more to do with psychology. This is a deep question indeed. Magic is a very psychological art. In fact one could easily say it is all psychology. Most other art forms work to evoke emotions. We work to evoke emotions, but we also work to shift reality on a basic level. It is our job to actuly temporarily change the Newtonian rules of reality. That's the most fundamental difference between magic and any other art. Having established that difference, you then get a variety of social trends. Behavior concerning one art or another that is established in a number of different ways. An example would be a night at the opera, and the rituals one goes through before attending, but it's not a very good example. Magic, like any other art form, establishes itself, through the unique aspecs of it's effect on people, through the efforts of both it's patrons and partisipants, and even in ways we might not consider, and assumes it place in our society. We may then make observations of what that position in our society may or may not be. This is the nature of the discussions we have, were "magic is different" becomes a factor. In truth, magic is also similar, and we discuss those similarities as well.
bishthemagish
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Thanks for posting that Jonathan Townsend what IS magic to a magician and what is magic and what magic can do in the eyes and the mind of muggles are often two (and can be) many different things.
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Bill Palmer
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I'm reading George's post a bit differently than some of the rest of us, I think.

One of the things he touched on in his second post is the matter of ethics, and how certain ethical matters could be settled over a cup of coffee. Let me give an example from the mechanical side of music that might show you how things have changed over a period of about 80 years.

During the 1920's, the banjo was undergoing a series of changes. One of these was that the construction of the sound chamber was being modified to make the instrument louder, so it could be heard over the sound of an ensemble. The Vega company and the Gibson company hit on a pair of designs that had just a couple of points of similarity. Each of these items was patented, but the fellow who owned the Vega company, Charles Nelson, felt that the Gibson design was too close to the Vega design. So he met with one of the Gibson executives over coffee. He explained his case, and Gibson decided not to make any more of the offending tone chambers. There were no threats or lawsuits. It was all done with coffee and a handshake.

Gibson would have probably dropped the design, anyway. They were expensive to produce, and the solution they arrived at a few years later is now the tone chamber preferred by about 90% of the bluegrass banjo players in the world.

As magicians, we are not exempt from the laws of patent, copyright or trademark. We are also not exempt from ethical and moral considerations. When we copy without permission, we are no better than someone who Xeroxes a piece of sheet music, makes an unauthorized copy of a DVD or steals a hubcap.

And if we do perform a routine with permission, we owe it to ourselves as artists, if we are, in fact, artists, and to the person who originated the routine to modify the routine in some way to make it our own, instead of a bad copy of someone else's act.

If we do any less, we are, to paraphrase Ted Lesley, wearing someone else's clothes. In fact, we may look like the child who goes up to the attic, puts on clothing he finds in a trunk upstairs and plays "dressup" in front of a mirror.
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George Ledo
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 09:33, JackScratch wrote:
We work to evoke emotions, but we also work to shift reality on a basic level. It is our job to actuly temporarily change the Newtonian rules of reality. That's the most fundamental difference between magic and any other art.

Interesting point. The way you said that reminds me of stand-up comedy, and I mean that in a positive way. A good comedian can get you going in one direction and then wham you with something totally unexpected: a different reality that still makes sense in context. Or he or she can lead you along a series of mini-laughs to a huge laugh at the end. He or she uses specific techniques to do it: pacing, timing, beats, facial expressions, and so on.

A "bad" comedian just recites jokes: no pacing, no timing, no beats, no facial expressions, nothing.

Even as a non-comedian, I can tell the difference -- either I laugh or I don't.
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Bill Palmer
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WOW! That's a good series of thoughts.

I worked the comedy club circuit for several years. During that time, I had a chance to work with some of the best and many of the worst. I worked with Louie Anderson before he became famous. In fact, it was about 2 months before he became famous.

He is a craftsman. And he is an artist. His script has so many neat twists and turns in it. He blindsides you with the final punchline of the script. It's ART.

And the cool thing is that Louie is a very nice guy. He is modest, kind of shy and not a braggart.
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Marco S.
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It is different because sometimes people would like to be able to do what you do and they find out they can`t. That`s why.
RandyStewart
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 11:20, Bill Palmer wrote:

One of the things he touched on in his second post is the matter of ethics, and how certain ethical matters could be settled over a cup of coffee.


Yes but some of them (and it only takes one) don't want to settle it over anything. Just an ongoing scab pickin' that I gave up on. Yep, I surrendered and went back to work doing what I do best in magic.

Sad but true.
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 17:33, Marco S. wrote:
It is different because sometimes people would like to be able to do what you do and they find out they can`t. That`s why.


Is that any different from playing a musical instrument well, sculpting stone, carving wood or anything else that requires skill and practice? I don't think so. It's possible for a person to become a "professional" magician with very little real skill except salesmanship.

There is very little in magic that a person with average dexterity cannot learn to do with a reasonable amount of practice.

What is it that any magician does that nobody else can do?
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Patrick Differ
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Magic is separate from everything else when the subject of secrets is raised. The very fact that there are secrets means that they must be guarded........or there is no magic.

Everything else remains the same. Self respect, respect for others, intellegence, creativity, communication, the arts of business, production, R and D, growth...it's all the same. That's the way we do it.

The confusion starts when the two get confused. They get confused when too much emphasis is placed on the secret and secret become the way. It ain't the secret.

Regarding those that pick scabs, fight, pouring matches....I'm with Randy. Drop 'em like a bad habit.

Magic fits in. As long as we don't let those supernatural powers control us. Where's the magic in that?
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
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Bill Palmer
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Not so.

There are many trades/crafts/arts/occupations that have trade secrets. People in the musical instrument making business have been trying for years to figure out the "secret" of the Stradivari. The real secret of Damascus steel was only recently discovered.

There are secrets in banjo setup that I had to practically pry from the people who know them in order to put them on my banjo setup web site. There are secrets that I still guard, because I was asked not to put them up.

The great painters had secrets they used to mix their own pigments.

And people have tried for centuries to figure them out.

So magic is really not all that different. Maybe the difference is that just about any doofus with a Svengali deck, a TT, a red hanky, a breakaway wand and an IBM or SAM card calls himself a magician.

It takes a lot more than that.

You need at least one book. Smile
"The Swatter"

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RandyStewart
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 21:21, Patrick Differ wrote:
Regarding those that pick scabs, fight, pouring matches....I'm with Randy. Drop 'em like a bad habit.


Yes very good idea. Don't let it bother you that they may snicker and call you 'mad'. I'll post at the Café occasionally (usually 'stage manip' forum) but will probably be spending more time in the 'NEW ARRIVALS' forum welcoming others.

If not performing or flying a kite, I'll be there like one of those retired Wal-Mart greeters. Yes, I'll meet new people, not agravate myself unecessarily, not allow some pig headed punk to pick my scabs, and through it all, still do what I think is right, what makes me happy, and ultimately have my way. Yes, that would be best for me.

Ok, let me go see what wide-eyed joyful creature has shown up at the front door.

When you can have it and eat it as well, the cake is to die for...
George Ledo
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Quote:
On 2006-04-12 17:13, Bill Palmer wrote:
There are many trades/crafts/arts/occupations that have trade secrets. People in the musical instrument making business have been trying for years to figure out the "secret" of the Stradivari. The real secret of Damascus steel was only recently discovered.

Oh, I love it when someone can put things in perspective! Smile

That was my initial question, even if I didn't state it very clearly: why do we think magic is so different from everything else in the world?
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
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