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Allan-F
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I am moving this from the introductions area to here, which I hope is the right place (and that I've done it the right way; someone let me know if not--I'm new here).

Quote:
Philemon wrote:
Personally, I feel that magic, science and philosophy are all one and the same. Smile

Philemon,

I have at lot of sympathy for this point of view, so perhaps I will take this opportunity to respond, and in the process explain some of the issues surrounding the re-defining of my magical identity that I spoke of.

I am currently teaching high school physics, chemistry and math and going back to school for a Ph.D. in philosophy, specializing in metaphysics (philosophy of quantum mechanics, ultimate nature of reality, etc.).

There are obviously many ways this material can tie into magic, which I see as a way of bringing people to the point where they question their grip on reality. This can actually be therapeutic--whether actual belief is achieved or not--and help people in thinking about philosophical and metaphysical issues, as it can break down emotional barriers set up by one's rigid adherence to everyday common-sense (something that one MUST learn to do in order to do any kind of metaphysics).

I also, in spite of being a hard-core sceptical science type, have a great deal of empathy for those who are into New Age and mysticism--Tarot, ritual magick, etc. I don't believe in these things--although being a sceptic I keep an open mind--but I see people who believe in them as not too different from me in terms of what they are after--an understanding of who they are and what this great vast universe really is. Although an atheist, I am what one might call a "spiritual" atheist, and I actually belong to a church (I am a Unitarian). I use the word "spiritual" here in the broadest sense of the word, as I don't believe in anything supernatural--magick, God or gods, or anything else of that nature, although I keep an open mind as I said. I also think there are people who call themselves psychics and magic(k)ians who are genuinely doing something amazing and beneficial, if not supernatural. Like Kreskin, I believe in "extremely sensitive" perception as opposed to "extrasensory" perception (although I have to recognize that others may view the same phenomena differently).

So somehow in all this, I think there is a performance character for me, one that is in keeping with who I am, and what my more general interests and goals are. I think I could play a certain kind of wizard quite effectively. Not a guy in flowing robes into mysticism, but not a scientist doing parapsychological demonstrations either. Something somehow in between. More like a nerdy science guy who got into metaphysics and quantum mechanics (all true) and fell from there quite naturally into spirituality (also true) and discovered that all that ritual magick, Tarot, etc. actually has a scientific base, a tangible and believable rationale (almost true--or at least close enough to play without feeling like I'm really acting). I might perhaps exude the feeling that I am almost surprised that such superstitious-seeming things actually seem to work, that they actually (to my surprise) tie into a more scientific way of thinking. I think I could play this character well, because this character is ALMOST me. It is me PLUS a little bit of twisting of reality.

At least these are my thoughts on my character at this point. I'm not saying that I would necessarily play this character to the hilt in every performance situation, nor that it would all be explicitly laid out to the audience like that in every situation. But this is the character that I would build in my mind and use to develop my act, and this will of course come out in all kinds of different ways, sometimes more explicitly than others.

If anyone has any thoughts on this, whether I'm going in a good direction or whether there are things I should be aware of in going this route, please let me know. I had pretty much developed this general plan, and done quite a lot of research and development on it, before I discovered this whole "bizarre magic" thing--and realized I may be reinventing the wheel (not necessarily a bad thing). Are there currently any bizarre magicians who play a character similar to what I describe?

Any ideas or thoughts welcome!
Allan-F

"What can be thought of or spoken of necessarily IS, since it is possible for it to be, while it is not possible for NOTHING to be." -- Parmenides
Zodiac
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I have one phrase "Gear your presentation as such and you will be seen as such." I'm trying to develop a character as a "wild talent" some one the complete opposite of what your character might be. But I'm quickly finding out that effects need to be redifined, re pattered, or invented in the rare cases. Smile
What's on your mind?
Philemon Vanderbeck
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Allan,

I definitely think you're on the right track with your thinking there.

The idea of discovering the 'science' behind 'magick' is a great one and I look forward to seeing what you develop with it.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
Lee Marelli
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Obviously you have grasped a key point that unfortunately not enough of those who desire to practice our art fail to grasp,i.e., it is necessary to determine who your character will be and to develop that character.
When you do that, you will begin to recognize which routines will work for you and which do not fit you.

The closer your character is to yourself and in particular your beliefs, the more chance it will succeed with your audience.

For example, if you do not believe in ESP and you portray someone with those powers, I can assure you that you will not be accepted by your audience. This is because you will reflect this disbelief in your false character.

One thing you should consider in you character development is who will be your audience? How would you like them to see you? This can also help you in your character development. Hope this helps.
"Mentalism is a state of mind." Marelli
Michael Peterson
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I would recommend going here to check this out- http://www.online-visions.com/other/0209bdc.html

It is about character development & there is character development worksheet to help you along.

I hope this helps Smile
Allan-F
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Quote:
On 2002-03-13 12:08, Ichazod wrote:
I would recommend going here...
It is about character development & there is character development worksheet to help you along.

Thanks, Ichazod! Interesting article. The worksheet is pretty basic, but still quite helpful.

I very much agree with the author that a character needs to be developed in greater detail than what comes through directly in performance. This will give the impression that there is more under the surface than meets the eye (because, in a sense, there is). You may think you can be convincing by only dealing with what is actually on display, but you will fail. If your character actually is superficial, people will pick up on that and your character will not seem real.

This is the reason, for instance, that J.R.R Tolkien was so successful. He created a world that was a whole order of magnitude more complex and detailed than what the readers ever actually encountered. And the readers could tell that this was the case.
Allan-F

"What can be thought of or spoken of necessarily IS, since it is possible for it to be, while it is not possible for NOTHING to be." -- Parmenides
Allan-F
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Quote:
On 2002-03-13 00:52, Marelli wrote:
The closer your character is to yourself and in particular your beliefs, the more chance it will succeed... if you do not believe in ESP and you portray someone with those powers, I can assure you that you will not be accepted by your audience.

I think I agree with the spirit of your post, but surely, you overstate the case, no? Surely, I do not have to actually believe in "real magic" to be a performance magician! I certainly don't believe in magick or ESP, yet I don't think this means I cannot play a magician or mind-reader. The trick is, as you say, to find a character as close as possible to your own identity, so that you can be believable. Or perhaps this is all you really meant to say?

I do think there are a few (very rare) people who are just great character actors, who have a natural gift to be able to simply put on whatever character they want. Such people obviously have more freedom in building their character. But I am not such a person. Worse, my natural acting ability is really very limited, and without a convincing character that is already quite close to my actual identity, I am not even able to pull off simple moves and sleights without looking guilty!
Allan-F

"What can be thought of or spoken of necessarily IS, since it is possible for it to be, while it is not possible for NOTHING to be." -- Parmenides
Peter Marucci
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Allan,
Looking at the direction you are heading, consider the halo.
That appears in art up to about the 16th century.
The more "spiritual" a figure was, the more defined the halo was.
Equate this to the idea of aura.
Perhaps, 500 years ago, the auras of others, who attained a high degree of spirituality (or of something) was more clearly defined and more visible to others.
Today, Kirilian (sp?) photography claims to be able to show the aura.
What if it exists?
What does it mean?
Have we lost the ability to see it?
If so, are we devolving, rather than evolving?
Questions. Questions. Questions.
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Allan-F
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Quote:
On 2002-03-15 14:19, Peter Marucci wrote:
... consider the halo.
That appears in art up to about the 16th century. ... Today, Kirilian (sp?) photography claims to be able to show the aura.

Peter,

An excellent suggestion! Kirlian photography does tie together medieval mysticism, angels and halos, on the one hand, and modern science with its high voltage devices on the other.

There are obvious ways one could incorporate patter about auras, backed up by the evidence of Kirlian photography, into one's presentation. More ambitious would be to actually purchase some Kirlian photography equipment. Perhaps one could take a picture of the spectator's hand before and after a Tarot or other cold reading. Or better yet, use it as a tool in palm reading. Or one might photograph props that have gone through some kind of magical transformation. These are just rough ideas. One would have to be careful it didn't become just a big toy that gets in the way of the magic. But there are definitely some possibilities here.

Prompted by your suggestion, I did a little surfing for info on Kirlian photography. It seems that there are many factors affecting the appearance of the "aura". Some of the factors are not controllable, others depend on the subject's state of mind (such as humidity and the force with which they push on the photographic plate), while still other factors may be controllable by the magician. So there may be potential here for using such photos (instant polaroids could be used) in a performance situation. Of course, if all you really want is the registering of the spectator's mental state, there are cheaper and more appropriate lie-detector-type machines that are more appropriate.

Just some ideas; nothing concrete. Peter, do you know anyone who uses Kirlian photography , either actually or just in their patter?

BTW, here are a few links for those interested (the first link sells some reasonably priced equipment--be careful, some sites were advertising "low cost" equipment in the thousands of dollars):

http://www.imagesco.com/catalog/kirlian/kirlian.html
http://www.kirlian.org/
http://skepdic.com/kirlian.html
http://www.theness.com/pseudo.html
http://www.imagesco.com/articles/kirlian/01.html
http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articl......phy.html
http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRela......ian.html
http://www.geocities.com/lemagicien_2000/kfpage/kf.html
http://www.williamjames.com/Folklore/ANATOMY.htm
Allan-F

"What can be thought of or spoken of necessarily IS, since it is possible for it to be, while it is not possible for NOTHING to be." -- Parmenides
Peter Marucci
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Allan,
I don't know of anyone using Kirlian photography in an act, nor do I use it (although, given the possibilities, I probably should! <G>).
It was just an idea I came up with while reading your post.
Might be worth batting around and seeing what can be done with it.
Might make for an interesting presentation.
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Sir T
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Hello,
Last year, I had to sit through a philosophy class. The professor was by far the worst, I have ever had! I had fun when she, used an example on perception, of what will happen if a needle touches a balloon? Naturally, it will pop. Well, not extactly, not if you have a sharp oiled needle, it will pass right though the balloon, which I just happen to have....HEHEHE, so much for a dull class that day! Through her whole class, all I could not help thinking, was, man I have a trick for that!

I see you more as a mentalist, cold reader type, rather then a rabbit out of your hat. I would take a moment to check out the 13 steps to mentalism, you may find, this suits you rather well.

If you wanted to be a more modern wizard per say, I would add in some spoon bending and some PK stuff, mentalism and PK would go rather nicely with your background.

Just me,

Kevin Smile
Sir T
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I was going through some of my files, I came across this:

Magic in History and associated links

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~rchaffer/magic.html

I think you will find some useful information here, in your quest for infomation as it relates to pseudo-science and the occult and magic.

Kevin
:kitty:
thelastdoctor
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Allan,

Didn't the bulk of "Science" start out as Magic? And Magic as Science?

It seems from your posts that you have the character nearly to the surface. Keep examining your beliefs. They will lead you to who you can become as a performer. After all you weren't born an adult...

What do you hear yourself saying late at night when all of the "real" world stuff is done and the last bit of stout is gone?

What questions do you ask yourself about your beliefs?

I agree with the advice of others here wiser than I, you need to believe, if not wholly then enough to "sell" yourself.

But then again....

Just start performing... as yourself...take the uncomfortable bits of you away and you'll find the character that lives inside you.

Best of luck and keep us informed.

The Last Doctor
?who?
:stout:
The Last Doctor
?who?:stout:

I’m always looking for the perfect pint or sugar free Jelly Babies...
Allan-F
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Quote:
On 2002-03-20 15:32, thelastdoctor wrote:
Didn't the bulk of "Science" start out as Magic? And Magic as Science?


There is certainly at least some truth to that, but I think it is overstated. In my opinion, the most we can say for sure is that there are definite connections between magic and the development of science. But I do not believe, as you may hear some say, that in the early days of science, there was little distinction between a magician and a scientist. I think however there was perhaps less than there is now. The biggest reason for the connection is that science and philosophy were closely tied to medicine, which was in many ways considered a kind of magic. But for many of the earliest scientists--whom I take to be the Greek pre-Socratics--there is really no reason to call them magicians. It is not even clear exactly where their science came from. One can speculate about ties to pre-existing mystical traditions, but there really seems to have been a new way of thinking, born in Miletus, that moved away from mysticism in a very dramatic way, and it really is a bit of a mystery "where" it came from. One can of course come up with all kinds of different coherent stories, but I really think that while one could argue a continuity with religion, magic and mysticism, one can just as well argue that science was simply born in ancient Ionia, from where it seems to have sprung, like Athena from Zeus's head, already largely distinct from religion and magic.

Thales, Anaximander and Parmenides (see my sig) all seem to be clearly rationalistic science types. Those who claim otherwise are, I think, kind of stretching it. Pythagoras, however, had obvious religious and mystical associations tied into his philosophy, although I think you would call him a religious leader, not a magician (although who really knows, since like most of the pre-Socratics, we know so precious little about him).

Empedocles, on the other hand, seems to have been equally a magician, preacher, physician, philosopher and scientist, and I agree that in his case there seems to have been no strong dividing line between these different disciplines. He is thus the favorite example for the "early science as magic" advocates. As a scientist, Empedocles invented the idea of the four elements--Earth, Air, Fire and Water (a response to the paradoxical rationalism of Parmenides). He came up with a very sophisticated theory of evolution by natural selection (survival of the fittest), along with a naturalistic cosmology. But alongside all this, he had an elaborate theology of man's salvation from a fallen state. He performed miracles--or claimed to--including controlling the elements, healing the sick and communicating with and raising the dead. How integrated his magic and religion were with his science is not totally clear, but I think it is reasonable to presume they formed a single cohesive system. He claimed to be a god, and legend has it he died when he jumped into a volcano to prove his immortality. He seems to have had a rather dramatic personality, travelling always with an entourage, wearing purple robes and carrying a golden staff.
Allan-F

"What can be thought of or spoken of necessarily IS, since it is possible for it to be, while it is not possible for NOTHING to be." -- Parmenides
Allan-F
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Quote:
On 2002-03-20 15:32, thelastdoctor wrote:
you need to believe, if not wholly then enough to "sell" yourself. ... Just start performing... as yourself...take the uncomfortable bits of you away and you'll find the character that lives inside you.

Excellent advise, I think. As I said in an earlier post, I do really see magic as a way of confronting people with the arbitrariness of their own conceptions of reality, and I really do believe this is a necessary precursor to doing metaphysics, which is itself necessary to doing science. I also have found from personal experience that Tarot reading, performed with no deception at all, has great power for people and will be perceived by some as magic no matter what you claim about it. The same goes for magic ritual and spellcasting.

I grew up watching Kreskin on TV, and I have to say I like his general approach, which is to be completely honest in what he says for those who wish to look at EVERYTHING he says in DETAIL, while giving the whole thing such a mystical and "genuine" tone and feel, that those who really insist on believing--along with those who are not paying that close attention--go away swearing that he is not only real but that he claims to be so. I don't feel I want to be as much a mentalist as Kreskin, but I like this aspect of the way he balances scepticism with belief. I also see myself, however, as being a bit more explicit about the use of trickery. But I don't want to simply use the "psychology rationale", that I am simply picking up on subtle cues and using clever principles of psychology. I want to be a wizard not a psychologist.

Currently I see myself presenting, say, a Tarot reading as a genuine exercise in self-discovery--which one may be a sceptic or "believer" towards, and still have it perform a valid function. At the same time, I could present my view of prestidigitation as a way of tearing down metaphysical barriers, but explain the valid reasons why we must follow the old traditional ritualistic ways--these will be much the same reasons of drama and theatre that would be presented by a "real" magician (theatre and suspension of disbelief is needed in magic for the same reason Dumbo needed his feather to fly; it is a placebo to get us off the ground--the real power is within ourselves). "As such," I might say, "we will be performing some very ancient and powerful rituals. While I may introduce some sleight of hand as placebo, this will be to tear down the emotional walls we spoke of, and allow the reading to really work, which is our real business. In addition, as we will be strictly following the requirements of the ancient rituals, you must remain open to the possibility that there COULD be a real spiritual manifestation at any point during the ritual. Please do not proceed unless you are willing to accept the consequences of such an event." Etc., etc. I would then go on to cast the magic circle, perform a cold reading with Tarot, and create a few manifestations along the way. These might start with something really amazing but which is still clearly sleight of hand. They would then progress, and I would end with something which might make them wonder if we'd crossed the line.

Or something like that. It may be tricky to be so explicit as to state that I will perform sleight of hand, but I think if done skillfully, it could leave the person with the eerie feeling that ANYTHING might happen, once that circle is cast. And once the circle is cast, there is no more talk of placebos. They can no longer dismiss something because they figure, "o yeah, but that last thing, that was sleight of hand, so that's what all this is"... since I've already TOLD them I will use some placebo sleights, but I've also given them every reason to watch out for something real, and to view the prestidigitation as essential ritual towards (perhaps) something "real" happening.

I've tried a little bit of this kind of patter--just moving myself gradually towards it while still mostly just doing straight magic or straight Tarot--and I find so far that it gets a very encouraging response. As long as everything I say is on some level believable to me, even if it is seriously hammed up, I think I come across as very genuine, and believers can almost look at me as some kind of guru even after I've told them I'm a sceptic!

Also, I really don't want to contribute to ignorance. I want to feel that, when someone is ready to truly listen, what they will get from me will not be mysticism, but the use of theatre to aid in their understanding of themselves and in building their metaphysical intuitions. In the meantime, they will see what they want to see, and I'm okay with that, so long as the more rational route is there for them to follow. I don't wish to be a charlatan. Perhaps I am kidding myself, and this is too tricky a dance to do without falling over the edge into one camp or the other--fraud on the one side and loss of the whole sense of magic on the other. But, as I said, very early experiments in this direction have encouraged me, and I think it is worth at least exploring this dance and seeing how well I can do with it. Besides, in the meantime, I can still just whip out my bikes and do some card tricks. I am not wed to the idea of all my magic being bizarre all the time.
Allan-F

"What can be thought of or spoken of necessarily IS, since it is possible for it to be, while it is not possible for NOTHING to be." -- Parmenides
thelastdoctor
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Excellent points!

I didn't make my statements clearly enough. It was not what the Greeks or the Chinese for that matter, called themselves, but what the common person called them or at least thought of them. People to this day believe that some level of Science is Magic. Systematic "research" was the first "magic". Research into herbs, metals or whatever began as a means to control. Whether or not it was control of nature or themselves. Benign or not. Those that could observe could rule. Some raised armies, some cast bones.

The term "magic" or "magician" has been applied to those that wanted to distance themselves from those labels. But again I'm confusing my point. It's what your audience believes you to be. That is your job, to define the perception of the lay person so that they "see" what you want them to see.

But I think you're already "there". Turn around quickly enough and you'll find "it".

The Last Doctor
?who?
:stout:
The Last Doctor
?who?:stout:

I’m always looking for the perfect pint or sugar free Jelly Babies...
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