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Jonathan Townsend
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On 2007-10-25 00:15, landmark wrote:... Why do we want to send the audience home in this condition of uncertainty? How does it help them or us? ...


I suppose we could offer them a complete set of lecture notes and citations for the material we perform and after doing the "performance" could explain the tricks in detail... though I suspect that sort of offering would elicit a different kind of experience and maybe even attract a different kind of audience.

Do actors and playwrites usually discuss in detail how they created the play and what they used and did to elicit our awareness of the characters during the performance of the play?
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Jaz
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Photius, Brian Miller and Skip pretty much echo my opinion on what magic is.

"Magic is a suspension of belief in reality."

"Magic is the process by which a person can genuinly believe in something that they know isn't true, even if only for a moment."

"Magic occurs in that brief moment of astonishment...when our inner child says "Whoa! No Way!" "
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2007-10-25 08:57, Jaz wrote:
...

1) "Magic is a suspension of belief in reality."

2) "Magic is the process by which a person can genuinly believe in something that they know isn't true, even if only for a moment."

3) "Magic occurs in that brief moment of astonishment...when our inner child says "Whoa! No Way!" "


I disagree about the above being suitable definitions of magic.
By way of counterexample, consider the following:

1 - try watching the news
2 - learn some science or about nature
3 - look at the new car ads or for cell phones or ice cream

All real and common but I hope we can agree that none of those counterexamples to the definitions offered are themselves magical.

The root question I see that has so far not been addressed is:
What distinguishes the experience of magic from the experience of the wondrous and surprising in nature or common social reality?
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George Ledo
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Quote:
On 2007-10-25 08:57, Jaz wrote:
Photius, Brian Miller and Skip pretty much echo my opinion on what magic is.

"Magic is a suspension of belief in reality."

"Magic is the process by which a person can genuinly believe in something that they know isn't true, even if only for a moment."

"Magic occurs in that brief moment of astonishment...when our inner child says "Whoa! No Way!" "

I tend to agree with this (it sounds nice), but I also see Jon's point. We need to be aware that any definiton of "magic" as we know it has to be in context and taken in context. This context is going to be arguable too Smile , but I'm going to say it should be that of a person doing "magic" for others for entertainment purposes.

As far as sending people home in a state of uncertainty, I wouldn't use the term "uncertainty" in the context of entertainment because it generally has negative connotations. When we go see a movie or a concert or a sports event, we often go home thinking about it, talking about it, and hopefully excited about it. We can still be "uncertain" about some details ("Why the ^%$$# did that idiot try stealing third base?????"), but my point in my post above was that we forget about our lives and our problems for a couple of hours and think about something else.

Why do we want to send people home excited and wondering about what they saw? Because that's what entertainment is all about. If we don't watch magic for entertainment purposes, we'll watch something else.
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Michael Kamen
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Quote:
On 2007-10-25 10:27, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
. . .The root question I see that has so far not been addressed is:
What distinguishes the experience of magic from the experience of the wondrous and surprising in nature or common social reality?


Your use of the word "magic" remains very muddled. You seem to understand the word as it applies to an inner hypothesis that humans like to hang on. However, you use the term ambiguously again and again. As magicians, we do magic. Its a craft. Its an art. Its magic when we perform, and its magic when we practice. In your sentence above, you must be asking to separate two inner experiences. Where does the practice of the art of magic fit into that?
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Jaz
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JT writes: "The root question I see that has so far not been addressed is:
What distinguishes the experience of magic from the experience of the wondrous and surprising in nature or common social reality?"

Most wonders and surprises experienced due to Earth's nature and people are explainable.
Magic comes from beliefs or lack of and when a seemingly unexplainable occurence is filtered through the imagination it becomes magic.

I have no idea what I just typed. Smile
tommy
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Quote:
On 2007-10-25 00:03, George Ledo wrote:
Quote:
On 2007-10-24 23:08, tommy wrote:
Does Maskelyne’s definition exclude performances of magic not performed for a live audience?

If a guy does the most incredible illusion in the middle of a forest when no one is looking... is it magic?

I don't know what magic is, but I think the magic of magic is getting people to go home thinking, that's impossible, but I saw it.


What if one did magic the middle of a forest when no one is looking but a camera ?
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Jonathan Townsend
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In our performing craft we apply guile and some social conventions and story themes to offer amusements which contain a simulation of storybook magic

Yes, IMHO one must have beliefs in order to experience magic. IMHO the experience of magic also requires the perception of a will in action.

To be formal and state my hypothesis: I hold that magic is a cognitive meta-experience (not a thing we perceive directly but an emotional reaction to the difference between what we are perceiving from our senses contrasted with what we expect or believe about the world GIVEN) [of] the presence of a will in action affecting the world.

In theater or film that will can be as simple as the old Greek deus ex machina where the gods intervene or as subtle as the way good storytellers communicate a moral position.

But IMHO magic itself has only that one definition which involves the presence of beliefs, will and sensory experience which is counter to what one expects based upon ones everyday beliefs.
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Bill Hallahan
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I think you should make it clearer that the "will in-action" is causing the change in the world that results in the cognitive meta-experience. You could append something like, "that results in the meta-cognitive experience." to your definition.

Given that I know what you meant, I'm nitpicking. It seems like a good operational definition of magic.

I consider other definitions valid in other contexts, but from the perspective of a magician wanting to understand magic as an experience, and perhaps even to create it, I agree that a definition that is describing the goal is better than one that is closer to describing the means.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Bill, to be fair, I suspect that it's simpler that that.

In the text you wrote above [that the "will in-action" is causing the change in the world] there is an assertion about cause which itself needs a frame of reference. In a story? In the story someone wants you to believe? In the story you tell yourself? I feel we need to nail down the presence of a story happening inside each audience member. At a guess I suspect it's when they project themselves into that story in the "that wouldn't happen if I tried" we get that "how do I feel about that" type reaction.

The "will in action" is part of the belief or story. It's causal or non-causal relation is a factor in the story you accept about the event.

When the storybook wizard waves his wand and the horse turns into a mouse we don't feel magic. But when someone borrows your car alarm fob, clicks it and you are looking at a dog where your car was you feel something inside that deserves the name "magic"

And yes, nitpicking to find the presuppositions and hidden beliefs about a thing are a great tool to help us find the most elegant description of a thing.
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Josh Riel
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I just stopped caring about the definition of magic.....

I'm going to eat a spoonful of Peanut Butter and go make a golf ball go through a tablecloth.
Magic is doing improbable things with odd items that, under normal circumstances, would be unnessecary and quite often undesirable.
Jonathan Townsend
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COOL! Can I get some of that peanut butter?
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michaelmystic2003
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Whenever someone asks me to define "magic", The Art of Astonishment always pops into mind right away. Maybe that is simply the answer. No need for 10 pages essays on one topic... just those 5 words answer it all for me.

This further proves what a genius Paul Harris really is.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Since when is astonishment the same as magic? Consider that Jerry Springer offers astonishment to his guests and audience every day but we probably don't think of him as a magician.

The craft of bringing the joy of astonishment to people via simulated storybook magic may work as a definition of what we do tough. Smile
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Michael Kamen
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On 2007-10-25 12:40, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
In our performing craft we apply guile and some social conventions and story themes to offer amusements which contain a simulation of storybook magic. . .


Sorry Jon, regarding your basic premise, the "simulation of storybook magic" may be a personal design choice on the part of the performer/director, but it is not in any way part of a reasonable general definition of our performing art. So far, you have suggested only that we apply guile, social conventions, and story themes to offer amusements.

Quote:
On 2007-10-25 12:40, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
To be formal and state my hypothesis: I hold that magic is a cognitive meta-experience (not a thing we perceive directly but an emotional reaction to the difference between what we are perceiving from our senses contrasted with what we expect or believe about the world GIVEN the presence of a will in action affecting the world.


Its good to frame these things in ones own words, and you have done so admirably. The cognitive meta-experience of which you speak, i.e., the emotional reaction to a difference between sense perception and what we believe about the world, I would describe in the same way Whit Haydn describes it: Cognitive dissonance. That this must occur in the presence of a presumptive cause (which you describe as a "will in action affecting the world") establishes the importance of context, and the false premise that Whit Haydn has described frequently and in detail.

What else is new?
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Jonathan Townsend
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Michael, I sought to distinguish our craft from the social practices which Reginald Scot wished to distinguish from... shall we say less than laudable and possibly infringing upon the accepted practices of groups which currently demand a special social protection.

I stand by my definition of our craft (in entertaining) as involving the use of guile to offer amusements.

I'd like to read some about what you find missing in my description and perhaps counter-examples to show where I have misrepresented or omitted valid expressions of what you hold to be magical.
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Michael Kamen
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"The use of guile to offer amusements"

I am reminded of the hand buzzers and exploding cigars that used to be advertised in the back of comic books (perhaps still are).

Could be perhaps the definition of some set into which magic as a performing art (unfortunately) may be placed. As a general definition of magic I think it sets a very low bar.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Michael, from what you wrote I get the impression that the word "amusements" is a source of irritation. Is this an accurate read of your perspective?

From my side, only using that word to distinguish what we do from what conmen and false-prophets and charlatans do. Is there a better word for "harmless diversions intended to entertain and perhaps provoke some thought"?
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Michael Kamen
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No denying it accomplishes that much. Your insistence on "story book magic" as part of a general definition is a bit irritating now that you mention it. Or perhaps you were just alluding to your own design choice, and I misread you. Is that the case?
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Jonathan Townsend
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Michael, I want to stay reasonably close to Robert-Houdin and also stay away from the things that Scot wanted to save us from.

I hold that the notions of imps, the north wind... wizards, leprechauns etc are all storybook and am extending that idea to "whatever sort of willful aspect we impose upon the world as we perceive it AND any artifacts they may have enchanted or left behind during their visits".
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