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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Am I the only one who gets tired of the terminology? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Iris Caraway
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I kind of understand magicians using the jargon of their trade like a lawyer or a doctor might for theirs (why yes, I do put entertainers in the same category), but does anyone else ever get tired of the brand name-dropping? Or even the infamous "tricks" vs "illusions" debate raging since the dawn of humanity -- I have a tendency to call them tricks, myself.
scottds80
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I'm fine with it personally. It happens in every fraternity.

There's nothing wrong with the distinction between "Tricks" and "Illusions" because there is a difference. An illusion is specifically a visual trick, while "trick" is a more broad term.

Many card & mentalism tricks don't get named "illusions" because they have nothing visual about them. The trick is all in the psyche. Sometimes "mind illusion" gets used and that's cool.
However, something like sawing a woman in half is named an "illusion" because it is completely visual magic.
Yes, they are all "tricks" as you like to label it, but some people like to be more specific. Smile
"Great Scott the Magician", Gippsland
tomsk192
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Quote:
On 2011-11-17 21:49, Iris Caraway wrote:
I kind of understand magicians using the jargon of their trade like a lawyer or a doctor might for theirs (why yes, I do put entertainers in the same category), but does anyone else ever get tired of the brand name-dropping? Or even the infamous "tricks" vs "illusions" debate raging since the dawn of humanity -- I have a tendency to call them tricks, myself.

The *effect* of a *trick* is that it gives the *illusion* of etc.

Simple, no? Apparently not. It all has to become jargon, and so context is needed to see WTF anyone is actually saying anymore. It is the defeat of language at the expense of jargon.

You're not the only one who feels this way, Iris Caraway.
tomsk192
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(They're all tricks, I agree.)

said the actress to the bishop
bowers
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Children do tricks.
magicians perform miracle illusions.lol
todd
Mr. Woolery
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I finally bought a copy of Henning Nelms' Magic and Showmanship. On page 4, he defines his difference between tricks and illusions.

"(W)e shall call anything a 'trick' which challenges its audience to discover how it was worked. We shall reserve 'illusion' for those feats which actually convince the audience."

So, in that case, he notes that sawing a woman in half should be done as a trick. If done as an illusion, it would actually convince people that the saw was ripping through flesh and bone and all the fun is gone. On the other hand, something as simple as the floating match could be an illusion if you can convince people that you really do use the power of your mind to make it float.

-Patrick
Mr. Woolery
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Sorry, I got interrupted by my daughter who recalled a promise from earlier so I didn't get to finish.

The terminology is actually fairly important because proper words really do make a huge difference in communication. If I just call everything a trick, it is sort of like calling all written materials books. So magazines, manusripts, lecture notes, booklets, and even books all get jumbled together. Not super confusing, but less precise and therefore less accurate.

My issue is when we don't really have a standardized definition for a common term. For example, "effect" is often used where "trick" would be more appropriate. As in "I do four effects in my set; linking rings, Mongolian Pop Knot, cups and balls, and Hovercard." In each case, the effect is what the audience perceives as I do the trick. They see me cause steel rings to melt through each other. They see me cut a rope and cause it to join back together. And so on. But if I just name off the tricks I do (especially if I use the marketed names), I'm naming off tricks. If I tell people what they will see me do, I'm describing effects. And if I tell them I will use powers that they will believe are real, I'm promising illusions.

That kind of terminology is part of having a discussion that we can all understand. It might help to put up a glossary somewhere, but I'm not sure most folks read the stickies, so maybe it wouldn't help all that much.

What I'm really tired of is a list of someone's repertoire that is all the brand names instead of telling me what he does. I don't buy every new DVD from Ellusionist so I don't know what a lot of the tricks are called, even if I recognize the effect. This is especially annoying when someone says "Can you help me structure a show? I do Electric Silk, Stigmata, The Haunting, Super Brain Fry, Atlantis, Jupiter's Downfall, I Hate David Copperfield, Glorpy, and Spinning Out." Now, if a potential customer came to you and asked what sort of magic you do and you just gave him a list like that, he'd go somewhere else. If you want to communicate, tell me that you do several very visual cards tricks, an animated handkerchief, a ring and string trick, and whatever the heck the others are. Then ask me to help put it together coherently.

That's the kind of terminology I am sick and tired of reading.

-Patrick
tomsk192
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Quote:
On 2011-11-17 23:36, bowers wrote:
Children do tricks.
magicians perform miracle illusions.lol
todd

I don't tell a child or a grown up what I'm actually doing at any point. But in magic literature, for any sentient being? It's a trick, surely.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I will now perform the Effect/illusion/Trick which is called...."
tomsk192
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Or am I not getting it? Is the word "trick" too lowly for what is, in fact, a trick? Perhaps when Darwin Ortiz does a trick it is not a trick, but rather strong magic.

No, wait..

When Darwin Ortiz does a trick it is...

No, wait..
tomsk192
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Mind you, when Whit Haydn does a trick it really is magic!

No, wait..
Iris Caraway
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Quote:
On 2011-11-18 00:21, Mr. Woolery wrote:
That kind of terminology is part of having a discussion that we can all understand. It might help to put up a glossary somewhere, but I'm not sure most folks read the stickies, so maybe it wouldn't help all that much...

What I'm really tired of is a list of someone's repertoire that is all the brand names instead of telling me what he does. I don't buy every new DVD from Ellusionist so I don't know what a lot of the tricks are called, even if I recognize the effect... If you want to communicate, tell me that you do several very visual cards tricks, an animated handkerchief, a ring and string trick, and whatever the heck the others are. Then ask me to help put it together coherently.

That's the kind of terminology I am sick and tired of reading.

-Patrick

YES! This is what I mean. I simply don't have the time to run around the internet keeping up on what all the "new" tricks (/illusions/miracles) are called! After all, it's all variation anyway. It would be nice if people could communicate in off-brand terminology.

As for the sticky glossary, I am in full support. I think this would be a fabulous and super beneficial idea. Now, how do we go about getting that done? Contact Steve Brooks?
tomsk192
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Can you just imagine the flame wars regarding a glossary?

Oh!

Yes, please do it.
Iris Caraway
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Interestingly enough, I did a search. Say hello to glossary debate 2004:

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......forum=40
MagicDr
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I'm not biased towards any categorization, but it does remind me of something I read;

"Dogs and Hookers do tricks. Magicians perform illusions"
volto
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An encyclopedic dictionary of magic already exists: http://www.lybrary.com/encyclopedic-dict......441.html
It's in its third edition, just over a thousand pages. Very well researched. It's pretty helpful for some really obscure terms and effects, like "Kling Klang", "Palingenesia" and "Theophrastus Paracelsus" to pick three random fun ones. The last is very, very cool:

"Theophrastus Paracelsus
n. Effect where stabbing the shadow of an object causes the object to be destroyed. [archaic, once fairly common]
Invented (or at least first reported performed) by British conjuror Brandon, King Henry VIII's Juggler in the early 1500s when he caused a distant pigeon to drop dead by stabbing a painted bird. First described and exposed in 1584 by Reginald Scot and again in 1785 by Astley. A pet effect of Giuseppi Pinetti in Paris in 1784. A modern version is by Teller of Penn & Teller (1980s).
Named after the famed Swiss alchemist, Theophrastus von Hohenheim (1493-1541) who called himself "Paracelsus." Legend has it that he slew a rival by running his shadow through with a sword."

There are definitions of pretty much every presentation, gimmick and technique in there, and nearly every notable effect over the last few centuries.

On brand names, I think that's just the way language evolves. We can either stand on the beach screaming at the tide to stay out, or buy a surfboard... Smile
I read the other day that "Escalator" was originally the trade name of an Otis Elevator Company moving staircase. At some point, like a Hoover becoming a hoover, an Escalator became an escalator. Other good ones here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genericized_trademark . Butterscotch, Heroin and Kerosene were all originally trade marks.

I like the jargon, it's interesting to see how it evolves, and I kind of enjoy being baffled by some description that uses unfamiliar terms, new products or names of sleights I'm not familiar with. If there was ever a profession that needed a confusing private language, it's magic.
Mr. Mystoffelees
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"Invented (or at least first reported performed) by British conjuror Brandon, King Henry VIII's Juggler in the early 1500s when he caused a distant pigeon to drop dead by stabbing a painted bird."

And used to great effect by Teller in The Rose...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
BrianMillerMagic
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It seems like you're saying, "We're just arguing over semantics." It always kills me when people say that. Yes, we're arguing over semantics. And semantics are SO incredibly important. Language would lose its utility without the proper functioning of semantics. Semantics is the study of meaning. When we argue over the meaning of a word, that is semantics. But saying it's *just* semantics puts a derogatory spin on it, as if it's not worth arguing over. If we don't agree about what our statements mean, then how do we even talk?
KMFrye
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Or, as one wag once put it: "If you don't say what you mean, you'll never mean what you say."
Iris Caraway
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I think Lewis Carroll got a leg up on that one pretty early on (see Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee).

I just want to congratulate everyone on the lively debate. Honestly, I do think it's an important matter to discuss.
panlives
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Quote:
On 2011-11-17 21:49, Iris Caraway wrote:
I kind of understand magicians using the jargon of their trade like a lawyer or a doctor might for theirs (why yes, I do put entertainers in the same category), but does anyone else ever get tired of the brand name-dropping? Or even the infamous "tricks" vs "illusions" debate raging since the dawn of humanity -- I have a tendency to call them tricks, myself.


You should delve into the curious lexicon of the marketing world.

It makes magical nomenclature seem quaint and even timid.
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
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