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tommy
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Are all artists illusionists?

It seems to me.

An illusion is a distortion of reality.

Paradoxically an illusion can be an illusion of realism, many illusions are such. For example; A life like portrait is an illusion of realism.

The illusionist in the art of magic creates the illusion of magic. Magic of course is not how things are in reality; in realty someone or something never moves mysteriously from place or condition to another.

The illusionist creates his illusions out of material physical stuff of the real world, which include words by the way. Obviously no art can exist without the materials of the real world. The stuff of illusion is material of the real world, that is craftily twisted into that form that gives the audience the distorted view of reality which we call the illusion of magic.

All artists are illusionists. so it seems me and Plato.


Now putting that side issue aside and returning to question; What is it that causes people to seek art and entertainment as a diversion from the realty of their everyday lives? IMHO The world is a terrible place! I think the people are disillusioned with their every life and of fearful way it is. However they can go to see magic, the movies and so on.

Its just what the Dr ordered. Smile

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZB587tneWU
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Michael Kamen
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It makes a bit more sense when you lump entertainments together as you do above Tommy. You offer a perspective and an opinion. It does not, I am sure, describe a sole reason people seek entertainment. At the same time there is, I am sure, some truth to it (even if only say 1-3%).
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tommy
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I am sure you will tell us what you think the other 97% - 99% of it is then?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
funsway
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As I aluded to earlier, the biggest draw to entertainment is boredom. Gone are the day when people had lifetime careers from which they drew intrinsic pleasure. Gone are the days when people could entertain themselves with reading, music and hobies -- not to speak of raising children interactively. More and more people work in jobs that give little satification, produce little of value -- with a mijority working for govenment in siome fashion. Thus, when they go home they have little to share with familiy and friends except complaints. SInce they have lost the capacity/training to entertain themselves they seek vicarious entertainment on TV, sportsbars, sporting events, movie theaters, swap meets and garage sales -- and occationally legitimate theater, concerts, opera, museums art. art shows.

Magic fits in there somewhere, and a growing percentage of diners are willing to accept table entertainment. To the extent that one might say that people avoid solving problems at home and seek escape from drudgery we might include "fear" as a motivator. Few people plan on going to a magci show at the expense of sacraficing something else of importance. However, I see swhow like Whit's new Review as a source of family entertainment that could be an alternative to other "escapes." Is this an escape "From" reality or and escape "to" reality?

I believe that a proper survey of American attitudes would have people vote for their fictional escape activities over their "essential" tasks of job, family obligations and even education. This should mean that the opportunites for a magician to gain popularity and success is on the increase -- but I fear that what Americans consider to be "good magic" has been reduced to spectacular and sensasional over having a migic experience.

So -- boredom leads to a desire for entertainment -- leads to "being entertained" -- leads sometimes to performance magic.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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tommy
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Can people find things to do that are exciting in everyday life rather than pay to be entertained to kill thier boredom?

Yes! Many things: They could go and rob a bank.

So why not do that instead of going to the movies and watching a film about a robbery?

Could it be that the real thing is dangerous but the illusion is safe?

Thus the boredom argument is refuted and now null and void.


The opportunities for pleasure and entertainment in Imperial Rome were varied and many. Theatre, sumptuous banquets, the Circus, and the gladiatorial combats provided both wealthy Romans and the poor with diversions from everyday life.

Entertainment has always been, a diversions from everyday life.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
funsway
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Quote:
On 2010-08-26 12:27, tommy wrote:
Thus the boredom argument is refuted and now null and void.


Huh! Nothing you said refutes it at all. People can also choose to take an on-line course, read a good book, play games with their kids, take up painting or sculpture -- but they choose instead to seek vicarious entertainment -- not out of fear, but becasue they find daily responsibility and work -- boring. Don't take my word -- spend some time on Internet research. People don't avoid these pursuits out of fear -- only laziness and a desire to do something different than what they did all day (boredom).

"Entertainment has always been, a diversions from everyday life." So true! The difference is that in times past people sought wasy of entertaining themselves -- joining a singing group, playing tournament bridge, taking a class at a community college, tec. Today many folks don't want to "do things," they want to watch other people do things. Fortunately, magic can be one of those things --

but fear isn't even in the decision mix.
"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
Bill Hallahan
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The idea of a "fear of reality" as being the root of why people like magic bothered me. It sounds negative. I wrote a long post a couple of days ago refuting that idea, but I put it aside. I didn't find my own arguments convincing.

Then today I recalled that in an older topic, I wrote that magic invoked astonishment, which is a specific form of surprise, and that I thought that astonishment was an evolutionary mental reaction to the unknown geared towards directing attention and aiding survival. Part of that reaction involves fear.

When astonished, we focus to understand our environment. Our attention is fully engaged. Magic creates the thrill of being astonished in an environment that is known to be safe. Many people like the thrill of being astonished.

By the way, the necessity of being fully engaged for magic is both a detriment and and advantage when compared to other arts. You can enjoy music playing in the background, you can browse paintings and look away anytime you like and then look back later. The painting will still be there. Even for regular theater, it's usually possible to miss many details and still follow the story. For magic, they audience must be fully engaged most, if not all, of the time if they are to be astonished.

Astonishment leads to paying close-attention, which leads to learning and retaining information. Magicians create strong memories.

So, after two days of thinking about it, I think that Tommy is partially correct. I think it's fear of non-reality that is suppressed because of a known safe environment that makes people like magic.

Of course, not everyone goes to see a magic show to be astonished, but I think that's why most people go.
Humans make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to create boredom. Quite astonishing.
- The character of ‘Death’ in the movie "Hogswatch"
Jonathan Townsend
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One step past Duchamp - and the arguments about simulacra:

About fifty years ago
Form took flight from function
To build itself a new glimmering world
Of freshly minted words and fractal detailed images.

Form has since been adopting the unwary
To live in a virtual paradise
Where the lost can share the dreams of the venal
And the wise are only seen from afar outside.

for those who missed it the first time.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
tommy
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People can also choose to take an on-line course, read a good book, play games with their kids, take up painting or sculpture --

Yes. However it seems to me; Smile

A book is a lovely thing— a garden stocked with beautiful flowers, a magic carpet on which to fly away to unknown climes. —Sidney Greenstreet

What is a good book but an escape from reality?

What is playing games with their kids but an escape from reality?

Creating paintings and sculptures is creating illusions. Might as well say or take up magic.

Take an on-line course and that comes with the fear of failing.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Bill Hallahan
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Tommy, just because those things can be an escape from reality doesn't mean they always are.

Each of those things is a part of reality. If the book is about reality then you're not necessarily escaping reality.
Humans make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to create boredom. Quite astonishing.
- The character of ‘Death’ in the movie "Hogswatch"
Whit Haydn
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C.S. Lewis once wrote about how we often mistake the merely familiar for the real.

We may spend an afternoon in deep thought about our lives, our souls, and the nature of man and God, and then step outside, get a breath of a bus exhaust, hear a siren, and then we think we are back "in reality."
Michael Kamen
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Quote:
On 2010-08-26 11:13, tommy wrote:
I am sure you will tell us what you think the other 97% - 99% of it is then?


Well, no, I would not without data to support it. I am not arguing for any particular percentage. I agree with Bill Hallahan that you may be partly right. If we consider "astonishment" a subset of a fear response, as I think Bill was suggesting, the part becomes a bit larger perhaps, and I would look to neuroscience to confirm or refute that. I simply do not know.
Michael Kamen
tommy
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Quote:
On 2010-08-26 20:00, Bill Hallahan wrote:
Tommy, just because those things can be an escape from reality doesn't mean they always are.

Each of those things is a part of reality. If the book is about reality then you're not necessarily escaping reality.



Really?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Michael Kamen
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What does not escaping reality look like to you Tommy? Is there any human activity that you would describe that way, other than crouching in a corner full of fear?
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funsway
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I can agree with your examples, Tommy, that some people do use books or playing games as a escape from "something," and of by "reality" you mean what the ordinarily do when not seeking wentertainment, then sometimes the are escaping from "that relaity." But we cannot agree on what "reality" means amongst ourselves -- so how can we assume that an unknown spectator is escaping from anything, no less his personal view of reality?

But I am excited that none of your examples had fear as the reason for the escape!

I used to play a lot of tournament bridge, and for many high level players the game is their reality. To compete at that level is an escape INTO a reality more rational, more intuitive, more challenging than anything found in mundane realities. For many it's just a game -- a diversion -- or even boring. So, one man's escape is another's reality --and neither is motivated by fear.
"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
tommy
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They were not my examples they were yours Ken. That you put up as examples of real life. I merely questioned whether they were in fact real life.

If you accept that are escapes then it does not mean they are not escapes from fear of reality. So don’t get too exited because they are escapes from the fear of the reallity of life as we know it.

With the exception of the last of taking a course, which seems to me to be part of the reality life. The realty of going to school to try and achieve and all of that is full of fears. The fear of failing exams has caused kids to hang themselves.
“In yet another grisly reminder that we need to reduce exam-related stress, at least 10 children committed suicide across the state over Thursday and Friday………..”
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Michael Kamen
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Tommy,

Fear, love, pain, pleasure, rage, empathy, astonishment, humor, . . ., all are a factor in our subjective and shared realities.

If one models motivation to be entertained in terms of fear, as I think you are saying, how does that inspire one's performance? What performance choices does it help you make? I am interested in the practical ramifications of your thinking, in terms of performance.
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Ok, Freud discusses illusion and denial as defense mechanisms against fear. However, Freud cites religion as an illusory construct not the performance of illusion.

Magic is only comparable to movies, novels, etc insofar as they all serve as entertainment. As Teller suggests, "Magic is the UNWILLING suspension of disbelief." The audience is compelled to question the deception. How? Are his sleeves rolled up? Is it an ordinary coin? In a fantasy text, like the bible for instance, you purposefully suspend your logical faculties to enjoy and derive meaning from the story.

"Does mankind like illusions because it fears reality?"

This is an almost totally useless question because it is already largely accepted that escapism is an element of entertainment. To extend the idea specifically to the performance of illusion does nothing to isolate the essential qualities of magic. Not to mention the way 'fear' and 'reality' have been bandied about like punctuation. The question lacks precision. Ergo the answers are varied and sloppy.

What does fear have to with entertainment? If fear is simply a mechanism dealing with traumatic events stored in muscle memory, very little. Is fear a secret desire? Well then art and entertainment take on significance becoming sinthomes which mediate our most taboo desires. Is the fear an existential neurosis which is a fear of the mundane that slowly draws us nearer to death. Then art and entertainment become relevant as the only vestiges of meaning an indifferent universe. Could different forms of entertainment satisfy those things differently?

For my money, the performance of magic in its purest abstraction is the continual expression of a perpetual metaphysical contradiction, present in everything from eastern ontology, to quantum mechanics, to the language we use (expressed most susccintly in Derrida's Of Grammatology).
tommy
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Michael

All I'm doing is looking into the question with you fellows.

Lets suppose, just for the sake of argument, that man is living in fear of living life. That our audience is an audience of people who have lost their sense of adventure. They are here at the show seeking comfort in a quite safe and secure little corner, so to speak, but at the same time to live a little adventure, albeit through the illusion or the story if you please. Then the magician being aware of that would not only know what the customer wants but also what he doesn’t want. The magician would consider what they live in fear of, having done so would let the audience know they can do here what they fear doing in life, its ok! The audience can, for example, for next half hour, believe in magic here, without the fear of being ridiculed.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Michael Kamen
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If that is your end game to this line of thinking Tommy, I think it has led to something useful.
Michael Kamen
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