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Allan-F
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Toronto, Ontario
131 Posts

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I just thought I'd air out a couple of quibbles I have with some of the advise I keep reading on doing bizarre magic and mentalism. These are pieces of advise that may work for some, but that I think don't always make sense as general principles.

Quibble #1: It is said that, for True Realism, you must use props that look genuine and ancient. It is often recommended that you age your paper, display a handwritten Book of Shadows, present artefacts that look genuinely ancient, etc.

I keep reading stuff like this, and I don't really get it. I am reminded of Ortiz's comment in Strong Magic about not thinking it is "realism" when you do gambling routines in an old Mississippi riverboat constume. I have to ask myself: what would a real magician, working in the ancient tradition but living in the modern world, have on hand? His Book Of Shadows would not be ancient, although it might be done in an ancient style to some extent. The paper would not be yellowed with age. He would not be particularly likely to have on hand actual ancient artefacts. To me, this is overdoing it. These things smack of theatrics. Of course, there is, and should be, an explicit theatrical element to ceremonial magic--any Wiccan or Rosicrucian will tell you this--but a real magician working in an ancient tradition would no more have actual ancient props than a modern gambler would be dressed in a nineteenth century riverboat costume. A real magician would have ancient spells written up in computerized Book of Shadows, not handwritten, which is impractical in this day-and-age--and certainly not soaked in tea!

Quibble #2: It is said that, for True Realism, you must not spend time proving yourself with overt conditions the way you would in regular magic, since that will create an atmosphere of challenge and smacks of prestidigitation, which is understood by everyone present to be fake. A real mind-reader/wizard would not have to display his hands empty, etc., and these things just raise suspicions. A real wizard or mindreader would simply act on his powers.

Okay, there is obviously a valid point here--a real magician probably wouldn't display his hands empty in the same way a prestidigitator would. But it seems to me that when stringent conditions greatly strengthen a traditional magic effect, they will also strengthen the same effect transferred to a bizarre context, and that it is shying away from one's responsibility to drop it as "over-proving" or to suggest that a real magician would not need to do such things. Also, it seems to me perfectly reasonable to suppose that a real magician would want to prove that he was not a trickster. Think about it--if you were a true magician, capable of truly supernatural effects, would you not be as concerned as any prestidigitator in imposing the conditions necessary to rule out trickery? At least in some situations you would be (ok, granted, not all). Certainly, one may need to find subtler ways to do some of it, but without this proving, many effects really lose their punch. And although sometimes subtlety is called for, at other times it seems to me that explicit proving--even perhaps overtly showing one's hands empty--may be called for. It also seems to me that when a subtler means is called for in bizarre magic, then usually the same change to the routine in a more traditional context would also be an improvement.

One more thing: it seems to me that when you do have to do explicit proving, like openly and intentionally showing hands empty, that the appropriate thing to do in a bizarre context is to just go all out and make it even more explicit than in regular magic. Make a big deal about how it is important to you that those present not suspect you of trickery--display your hands, have your hands examined, make a big production out of it--or else make it subtle. Anything in between, like casually but with clear intent showing your hands empty, smacks of prestidigitation.

I keep saying "it seems to me" because these are the observations of a complete neophyte to bizarre magic. So I'm quite willing to accept that I may be totally off-base here, or that I may have over-interpreted what I have read thus far in the bizarre literature. In any case, I would be interested in hearing your response.
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
kingmedia
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Colorado
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For me, I never make a big deal of showing my hands empty or calling attention to my props or presentation. My costume is subtle (no robes or pointy hat here!)and my character, an eccentric historian and collector, has ancient relics, antiques and old letters to illustrate the unique properties of the stories I tell.
My character doesn't present the effects to show his ultimate command over the universe. He revels in the wonderment of the magic along with the spectators.
Personally, I don't think that bizarre magick, storytelling magic, whatever you call it, should be presented any differently than any other kind of magic.
But that's just me.
magus
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Huntington Beach, Ca
668 Posts

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Hmm- good points-
I think a "real" magician would have old and new books and props, some would reflect the modern study he does and some would have curio value. Foe instance- as a "fake" magician, I have some collectibles, and some of the "latest stuff", both are valid.
Nothing stands as an ironclad rule, if you do the same thing the same way under the same rules- it could be a very strong theme, or boring, like everything else- it depends on you.
crappy deium-



what a lousy day to be seized



thaumometer-



a device for measuring a magical field
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