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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » The mystery of effects (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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tommy
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Sensible explanations take from, while nonsensical explanations add to, the mystery of effects.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
funsway
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Mostly, agree, and might add "often passes one's 'screen of logic' where reason does not."

Getting an audience to accept a weird story is easier than making them think - and American's, at least, are being conditioned not to think.

One might generously note that scientist keep coming up with stories that seem more nonsense than sensible, not to mention politicians and marketers. (coning up with?)

Yet, does not a magician sell a new logic rather than override a traditional one? One that, "makes sense" on the magical tour bus?
So, maybe the term "nonsense" is not best here. When they buy the bosh it makes perfect sense - in fact, eliminates any mystery and leaves "must be magic."

Is not the job of the performer to eliminate mystery by providing a plausible explanation/alternative for the generally inexplicable event?

"It can't be magic, but no other explanation serves?" Mystery begs to be solved. I don't want by audience to solve anything - just wallow in the awe&wonder.

Please note that there is a big difference between having anyone think that I "do magic" as opposed to creating conditions under which they remember magic as having occurred.
Often this entails a story line that would make no sense outside of context, does take the blame away from me.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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WitchDocChris
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Quote:
On Dec 23, 2018, tommy wrote:
Sensible explanations take from, while nonsensical explanations add to, the mystery of effects.


I disagree completely.

In my experience a nonsensical explanation is ignored, because it's clearly nonsense. This drives the audience to look for method which immediately removes all mystery. An explanation that's just this side of plausible makes the performance more believable and thus generates more emotional investment, which creates a greater potential for mystery.
Christopher
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tommy
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It is a mystery to me how driving the audience to look for the solution to the mystery immediately removes all mystery.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
WitchDocChris
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Because if all they are doing is trying to figure out the method, you are not presenting a mystery you are presenting a puzzle. Puzzles are not magic.

But an experience which seems to take them just beyond what they understand as real is mysterious, and something they can think about and re-experience in their minds for years to come.
Christopher
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Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
tommy
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What the audience will find as it naturally looks for a rational explanation for an impossible magic effect, is that there is no answer. The only explanation the audience will be left with is the one given by the magician. If that magician’s explanation defies logic then it will add to the mystery of the effect. A completely plausible explanation for a mystery will not add to its mystery but clear it up.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
funsway
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On review, I find some resistance to this use of "mystery" in relation to performance magic. I think I see tommy's point, but ...

A magician says he will demonstrate something considered impossible. Then he does. No mystery involved - only honesty.

He admits to using subterfuge, guile, trickery, sneaky methods, physical skills, and psychology to accomplish this end. No mystery.
Part of the psychology is providing an interesting story as a reason for the inexplicable phenomenon other than magic,
while subtly supporting the idea that only magic can be the cause. And deflecting reasoned analysis, of course.

It does seem that often a silly but plausible explanation is more readily accepted than a "close to truth" one,
but that does not suggest that any mystery is involved. It is the performer's task to make sure that no mystery exists.

A mystery suggests that a solution is desired and sought. If the spectator expects magic to occur and it does, there is no need to seek a solution at all.
An rational contemplation should occur before the effect is presented, and sometimes during the effect in a multi-phase routine.
But the "garden path" is to subvert any rational reconstruction, not to create a mystery.

Maybe I am alone, but I do not want mystery in the magic effects I perform. I want astonishment against an expectation that magic will occur.
I guess mystery is better than puzzle and confusion and skill demonstration, but I do not accept "mystery of an effect" as a universal concept.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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WitchDocChris
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Quote:
On Dec 24, 2018, tommy wrote:
What the audience will find as it naturally looks for a rational explanation for an impossible magic effect, is that there is no answer. The only explanation the audience will be left with is the one given by the magician. If that magician’s explanation defies logic then it will add to the mystery of the effect. A completely plausible explanation for a mystery will not add to its mystery but clear it up.


This is the exact opposite of my experience, both from the perspective of seeing shows and the feedback I get from my audiences.

Magic defies physics, not logic.

If your performance does not have an internally consistent logic, which is reasonable enough to seem like it just might be true, people will dismiss it as tricks. If it's close enough to what people accept as reality, they accept it as possible. If you give an explanation that's clearly illogical and nonsensical, they will dismiss it as the nonsense it is and assume it is tricks.
Christopher
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landmark
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It was Andy at the Jerx who posited that the most effective presentation gave an explanation that seemed improbable but had a little possibility of being true. Then you close the door by disproving that possibility.

So you have to 1) lead them up the garden path and then 2) leave them stranded there without a map.
tommy
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The explanation for the magic is not the magic. The word tree is not the tree.

The magic dilemma is formed by two opposites: the explanation is nonsense while the magic appears to make sense of it. All our magic performances are contradictions – logical impossibilities. The two opposites cannot both be true at the same time but there it is!

The legit magician does not leave his audience thinking it “just might be true”. The legit magician and the charlatan are poles apart.

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

Tommy
funsway
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I fail to see where your last has has anything to do with what you posted originally.

No one posing has suggested "just might be true." We pretend at magic and proudly admit it. No mystery.

Of course, in this post you have abandoned "mystery" all together.

Whit famous "dilemma" based on a false dichotomy is not about mystery.
No words or story is required for the dilemma to exist. Can the choice of story enhance this dilemma? Possibly, but no mystery involved.


I thought you were offering something of value. Not so sure now.
"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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You should have gone to Specsavers.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
danaruns
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I guess I'm not understanding this thread. I don't give any explanations, plausible or not. I don't steer the audience toward any explanations. In fact, I feel that my job is to remove all possible explanations, thus leaving the audience nowhere to go but "magic." I don't give them a false magical explanation. I just take them all away. Is that not what makes it seem magical?

BTW, I've been away for a bit and have a lot to catch up on here. I hope everyone had a Magical Christmas.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
tommy
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“Let nothing occur without an apparently substantial cause, and let every potential cause produce some apparently consequent effect.” NM Our Magic

Even a nonsensical magical word will give some reason for the effect happening and add a little mystery to it.

See Ricky Ray performing Bosco’s cups balls:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwF1ec4Ji7Y
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
magicfish
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Quote:
On Dec 24, 2018, landmark wrote:
It was Andy at the Jerx who posited that the most effective presentation gave an explanation that seemed improbable but had a little possibility of being true. Then you close the door by disproving that possibility.

So you have to 1) lead them up the garden path and then 2) leave them stranded there without a map.

It actually wasn't. This concept is much older.
tommy
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It was the Witch Doctor who said:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYgOlqinH7A
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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They build their own narrative. How much of what you show or claim gets included in their narrative depends... let's not ask if a line in an argument is persuasive before establishing the context and character of the performer.

Are you writing a script for a short monologue, a show, the story you'd like then to tell others, the inner experience script you'd want them to have during a show? Different stories.

While anything is possible, the challenge to make everything you'd like happen at the same time and place remains open.

Everything you will see is unbelievable. Every claim incredible, and everything I'm telling you is a lie. Smile
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tommy
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Our magic happens in the context of the real world, as opposed to a fantasy world where it would not be a mystery - nobody wonders how Peter Pan flies.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Emory Kimbrough
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If I read the same essay that landmark did, there was a different point made. The essay used Masuda's WOW gimmick as an example - This looks *somewhat* like a protector sleeve for baseball cards, but not exactly like one. If you try to make the audience more accepting of the WOW gimmick by calling it a card protector, you'll instead *arouse* their suspicions: "Hey, wait a minute, you say that's a card protector, but it doesn't quite look like any card protector *I'VE* ever seen."

But if you try to sell the WOW gimmick to your audience as a highly advanced teleportation technology, you'll decrease their suspicions: "Very funny, pal, that thing you're so insistently claiming to be advanced technology is obviously just a stupid little plastic sleeve."

So, if any prop's appearance is not quite fully ordinary, sell it up as (absurdly) more than it really is; don't try to sell it down as less than it is.

Not quite the same as the original topic of this discussion, but a useful related point.
Jonathan Townsend
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They have a narrative. They are watching your show. They see what you have. If you say something that sounds incongruous they will look at you.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB-NnVpvQ78 (skip the ad)
So, what is it?
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