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funsway
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I have rarely been as “ethically distraught” as with the opening paragraph in the January Genii article “Easy Come.” The implication for “proper behavior” for magicians and citizens in our culture are profound and disturbing.

“Master coin magician David Neighbors has so little regard for the laws of physics, if he ever met Stephen Hawking, he’d probably just punch him in the face.”

One of my first reactions was concern over Dave with whom I have had many private exchanges of ideas over recent years. How insulted he must be over the suggestion that he would be less than polite and humane with a stranger and/or a person with disabilities. Dave says he is unawares that these words have been printed on his behalf.

So, what are some of the ethical problems here?

· support of the idea that violence is a proper response to having “little regard” (later “distain”) over an opinion.
· the idea that physical violence (criminal assault) is appropriate action upon meeting a stranger.
· the concept that an individual physicist is responsible for the laws of physics, and should be held accountable for some personal options about them.
· that physical actions against a paraplegic is appropriate at any time.
· that feigned attitudes of a “pretend character” should translate into actions in the real world.
· that performing magicians should adopt a lower standard of social behavior that a common citizen.
· that practicing the art of magic should lead to a lessening of character and ethical standards.
· that “distain for the laws of physics” is an appropriate theatrical approach to performing, especially if this means distain for a person. Is “distain” ever appropriate as part of a magic presentation?

If you, as a magician, want to pretend to challenge the laws of physics, would it not be rational to applaud the efforts of physicist who provide a foil for your approach?

In case the implications for the ethical misconduct suggested by Genii is not clear, here are some analogous situations for a magician.

1) you have a problem palming an English Penny because it has no edge, so you plan on punching the Queen in the stomach should you ever meet.

2) you purchase a second-hand DVD, but the described tricks do not make you famous, so you plan to shoot Jay Sankey at the next convention.

3) a volunteer spectator does not give you the admiration and applause you deserve, so you slam her and toss her off the stage.

4) your kid does not follow in you footsteps as a magician and says he thinks it is a silly way to interrupt valuable cell-phone time. So, you beat up a strange child in the park or clobber a pregnant woman to show your “regard.”
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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stempleton
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Obviously this author's statement was not meant to be taken as literal, although I agree it certainly lends itself to possible attack. I'm sure it was just the writer's attempt at emphasizing the performer's ability, and not suggesting Mr. Neighbors' attitudes towards the disabled, standards, etc. That aside, if the performer feels an apology/explanation is warranted it should be forthcoming.
mastermindreader
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It's called hyperbole. It's hard to believe that anyone would take it literally. "Kicking Hawking in the face" is obviously a metaphorical reference to Neighbor's magic apparently defying the laws of physics (which is exactly the impression that magic ought to give).
Michael Baker
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Woe be to the magician who kills his audience. In the meantime, I'll go back to eating that chicken that's so good it'll make you slap your mama.
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funsway
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Quote:
On 2012-01-03 13:24, mastermindreader wrote:
It's called hyperbole. It's hard to believe that anyone would take it literally. "Kicking Hawking in the face" is obviously a metaphorical reference to Neighbor's magic apparently defying the laws of physics (which is exactly the impression that magic ought to give).


you seem to miss the essential issue (suprising for you). Hyperbole could be achieved in many ways -- with many references and metaphorical examples. One's choice of words infuences how other people think and make decisions. Physical violence against a person is a learned behavior -- supported and trained by the use of such language and the tacit support of such usage. The magic effect can serve as its own metaphore -- giving the desired impression without any reference to violence or disrespect for another person. Why would you condone such behavior?

No - this crude reference has nothing to do with "defying the laws of physics." If the author did not know any better, the Genii editorial staff certainly should. I certainly never said the statement should be taken literally. It is the suggestion that personal assault on a stranger is a justified expression of one's views about physics that is the problem. It is also irrational. On meeting a renouned scientits you should say, "Thanks for making the laws of physics popular to strengthen my magic presentation in defying these laws."

Besides, Stephen Hawkings' life is a demonstration of real magic at work -- a defiance of many laws of life itself. Certanly a poor choice for a metaphore.
"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
FrenchDrop
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Quote:
On 2012-01-03 16:37, funsway wrote:
No - this crude reference has nothing to do with "defying the laws of physics."

Of course it does. It's not a crude reference -- it's a metaphor. If it had nothing to do with defying the laws of physics, the author wouldn't have named the most famous living physicist. That wasn't a coincidence. If it was about David Neighbors literally having a proclivity for visiting physical violence on helpless people, he'd have simply said "David Neighbors is the kind of man who would punch a quadraplegic in the face."

You've taken a simple joke far too literally. I could understand if you said the joke was in poor taste, but to insist it's not a metaphor, that it's meant literally, and that a reference to Dr. Hawking has nothing to do with physics...that strikes me as going light-years out of your way to be offended.
"A great magician has said of his profession that its practitioners '… must pound and rack their brains to make the least learning go in, but quarrelling always comes very naturally to them.'” -- Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
funsway
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I never said it was not a metaphor -- just not a metaphor for the distain of the laws of phsyics. Please explain exactly which law of physics you think it is a metaphor for. It could be a metaphor for dislike of the profession of physicist I guess. Look at the more common phrase, "a slap in the face." That is a metaphor for indignity or disrespect as in, "This paragraph is a 'slap in the face' to all magicians." (opinion) To say, "I'll slap him in the face," or "you should have slapped his face" are not metaphors. These are statements of intent.

The focus of this thread is "ethical considerations." The author made certian ethical considerations in selecting his words, and Genii made ethical considerations in editing. Neither were made with the knowledge or approval of David Neighbors -- or Stephen Hawkings. I personally think these ethical judgements to be wrong. You see it as a "simple joke."

To paraphase the above the author could have said, "Dave Neighbors is the kind of performer who makes a mockery of the laws of phsysics." Why the metaphor attempt at all? Why a joke? Why a reference to violence against a person? Why Hawkings instead of Einstein or Madam Curry or Newton? Choices were made.

Hopefully each magician will consider his/her choice of words in what they say to audiences. For me, any reference to violence is a poor ethical choice.
"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
FrenchDrop
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Quote:
On 2012-01-04 02:58, funsway wrote:
I never said it was not a metaphor -- just not a metaphor for the distain of the laws of phsyics. Please explain exactly which law of physics you think it is a metaphor for.

Why would I do that? It's irrelevant. The quote isn't about disdain for any specific law of physics. The quote refers to "the laws of physics." Plural.

In fact, it's not about disdain for anything -- or anyone. Have you never heard the phrase "defies the laws of physics"? It's a figure of speech. Something that appears impossible is said to "defy the laws of physics." It's very much applicable to the works of a talented magician.

The quote is a play on that figure of speech. The implication is that so much of David Neighbors' magic is so inexplicable -- so much of it appears to defy the laws of physics -- that the man himself must have very little regard for the laws of physics. In fact, he has so little regard for the laws of physics, he might just punch a physicist in the mouth if he met one.

That's it. That's all there is to the quote. It's hyperbole. It's meant to be humorous, because a writer's job is to entertain, and many people find humor entertaining.

I find it hard to believe that you truly believe the writer literally meant that, if David Neighbors met Dr. Hawking, he would literally punch the man in the mouth. On the other hand, I don't see how you could find the quote so upsetting unless you do believe the writer meant it literally. It's puzzling.

Let me ask you this: If someone says "It's raining cats and dogs," do you believe domesticated animals are literally falling from the sky? Smile
"A great magician has said of his profession that its practitioners '… must pound and rack their brains to make the least learning go in, but quarrelling always comes very naturally to them.'” -- Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
The Burnaby Kid
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I humbly submit that we should not say "it's raining cats and dogs", because obviously if either cats or dogs were to fall from the sky at any great height needed to establish rain, then (a) they would probably not survive the impact, (b) it would create an offensive mess of gore, and (c) the damaged umbrellas would create a spike in new umbrella sales and I sold all my stock in that last year and to see all that money go in somebody else's coffers would make me sad.

There've been some ridiculous things posted on the Café, but this one takes the cake.

Oh, and I humbly submit that we should not say "takes the cake", because (a) that might be a felony depending upon whether or not the person or thing taking said cake is also in ownership of it, and (b) excessive rhymes are annoying.
JACK, the Jolly Almanac of Card Knavery, a free card magic resource for beginners.
TStone
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And starting two threads on the same topic?
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......m=226&10
Dr. Climonds
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Best post ever!!!

I think you're on to something Funsway. I think all metaphors, analogies, similes and comedic exaggerations should be eliminated from our discourse.

Well done sir!
funsway
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On 2012-01-04 06:01, TStone wrote:
And starting two threads on the same topic?
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......m=226&10


Yup -- one is restricted to Genii itself and its questionable editorial decision to allow such a reference. The issue here is whether such writing is professional and supportive of the art of magic.

The second adresses the ethical implications of a reference to violence as a solution to anything, including making a point about "laws of physics" by assaulting a physicist.

I am interested in the various views offered here -- including yours. I am a writer and wish to better understand what is considered "acceptable" bounds of illusion and metaphor in presenting a concept. The job of a writer is not always "to entertain," but to provide material in a factual manner that will impact a reader in a predictable manner.

I might introduce dozens of threads on issues related to ethics and magic performance. You are not obligated to respond ulness youo believe your experience adds something to the theme. I am perhaps flawed in today's society by feeling that there is more to life than fooling people with cards or coins. Isn't an unnecessary reference to personal violence also a flaw in our society?
"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
Dr. Climonds
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Quote:
On 2012-01-04 08:59, funsway wrote:
I am a writer and wish to better understand....


...the English language?

Quote:
Isn't an unnecessary reference to personal violence also a flaw in our society?


But what you don't seem to get is that Acer ISN'T actually advocating that Neighbors physically harm Mr. Hawkings. He's saying his material is so good, so ridiculous that it violates the laws of physics. And who is the leading physicist right now? Dr. Hawkings. So Mr. Neighbor's magic is SO GOOD that it's tantamount to punching the leading physicist in the mush.

You say you're a writer, that should be blatantly obvious. If you don't get it, than you can no longer call yourself a writer. From this day forward, you are forbidden.
The Burnaby Kid
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Quote:
On 2012-01-04 08:59, funsway wrote:
The job of a writer is not always "to entertain," but to provide material in a factual manner that will impact a reader in a predictable manner.


The only reader that is being impacted in an unpredictable manner here is you, Funsway.
JACK, the Jolly Almanac of Card Knavery, a free card magic resource for beginners.
Mr. Mystoffelees
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Beg to differ.

Of course, the statement in question seems to be hyperbole. But even hyperbole can reflect the underlying moral fabric of a society. To says it is "raining cats and dogs" is intrinsically different than to say it is raining "murdered children".

Where we are today could well be at least partly because of what we tolerated yesterday. Could "Bevis and Butt-head" have ANYTHING to do with the lack of social grace and courtesy we live with now?

It was a poor thing to say. More so given the possibility that it reached print after careful thought and the scrutiny of editors. To me, it is more that just "kidding"- it is a finger pointing to the future.

Funsway is not alone on this one.

Jim
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Steve Friedberg
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On 2012-01-04 03:22, FrenchDrop wrote:
Let me ask you this: If someone says "It's raining cats and dogs," do you believe domesticated animals are literally falling from the sky? Smile


Of course I do. In fact, this morning I stepped in a poodle.
Cheers,
Steve

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The Burnaby Kid
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On 2012-01-04 10:39, Mr. Mystoffelees wrote:
Funsway is not alone on this one.


Well, that's a shame, because Funsway's attitude here is both sad and offensive. The writer looked at Stephen Hawking and saw a great physicist, and used that view of him as the basis of a joke.

Funsway looks at Stephen Hawking and sees a cripple, and is using that view of him as the basis of phony manufactured outrage.

It's shameful, both to project on the writer an intent and insensitivity that is non-existent, and at the same time reduce a great scientist and a wonderful contributor to humanity to somebody who needs defending from what amounts to an innocuous turn of phrase, all because he's stuck in a wheelchair.

If the joke had been about Isaac Newton instead, then Funsway would have said nothing. That should give him some pause, and if he had any decency, he'd reflect upon the irony of that.
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Mr. Mystoffelees
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Quote:
On 2012-01-04 11:06, Andrew Musgrave wrote:
Quote:
On 2012-01-04 10:39, Mr. Mystoffelees wrote:
Funsway is not alone on this one.


Well, that's a shame, because Funsway's attitude here is both sad and offensive. The writer looked at Stephen Hawking and saw a great physicist, and used that view of him as the basis of a joke.

Funsway looks at Stephen Hawking and sees a cripple, and is using that view of him as the basis of phony manufactured outrage.

It's shameful, both to project on the writer an intent and insensitivity that is non-existent, and at the same time reduce a great scientist and a wonderful contributor to humanity to somebody who needs defending from what amounts to an innocuous turn of phrase, all because he's stuck in a wheelchair.

If the joke had been about Isaac Newton instead, then Funsway would have said nothing. That should give him some pause, and if he had any decency, he'd reflect upon the irony of that.


Point well taken, Andrew. I need to go back and re-read all the posts, which I will do. Thanks for pointing out your view.

Meanwhile, I nominate Steve Friedberg for "funniest post of the year". Of course the year is distressingly new...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Dr. Climonds
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Meanwhile, I nominate Steve Friedberg for "funniest post of the year".


NOoooooooo! That'll only encourage him!
Tom G
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Anyone can be as sensitive as they want about anything, but I would have had to work toooo hard to think
that David Acer was promoting violence on Stephen Hawking. Promoting David Neighbors coin magic, yes.
Many times over the years at conventions and lectures I've heard the phrase, "punched in the face/stomach"
as a response to the effect a trick had on them-nothing new. I think Andrew Musgrave's posts should make it
to the "sister" thread.
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