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Topic: Supernatural or Skill
Message: Posted by: Black Magic (Aug 26, 2005 07:50PM)
After reading and replying to the thread on the religious conflict and all the black magic talk I think it would be interest in seeing how we present our magic.

As I said in my response, I present my magic as a matter of skill. I feel it is important to have people comfortable around you and also have them feeling like they always want to be around you whether you are doing magic or not. With that in mind, I refuse to present my magic as "magic". I am in touch with reality and I am mature enough to distinguish the difference between being talented and being gifted. Many magicians may not like the fact that I'm a big show-off but that's the reason we perform to begin with, to show off what took you forever to master. I like to see laughter and smiles. I want people to feel like a kid again when they see my routine. And they can't feel that way if they think I have supernatural powers. And any magician that does try to scare their audience, I think you need to grow up! Gregory Wilson is my favorite magician, that is, second to myself, and he has never scared anybody but gets his point across as a seasoned magician and if you haven't noticed, he's a show-off also. So, how do you present your's?
Message: Posted by: Samuel (Aug 26, 2005 08:22PM)
Kind of a combination, as both skill and magic.

The reason for magic, is to leave the spectators wondering *how in Gods name is that possible???*, and the reason for skill, is so that most people can fall back to the ol' *hand is faster than the eye*. It also functions as a safety-net, in case I get caught, i'ts still just skill :)

Do you really think of yourself as your favourite magician? That seems very cocky...
Message: Posted by: Black Magic (Aug 26, 2005 08:33PM)
Of course. I think everyone should think of themselves as their favorite magician. Be a man, have some dignity. Take a picture of yourself, autograph it and hang it up next to your Houdini poster. Better yet, take a picture with David Copperfield, sign it, and send it to him. It's all about you. I will if I get the chance.
Message: Posted by: Samuel (Aug 26, 2005 08:38PM)
IMO, your more of a man if you acknowledge that others is better than you - because there is people better than you. It's all about beeing realistic.

If you were to do that picture thing, you'd just come off as offensive. Very few likes to be sent garbage without asking for it ;)
Message: Posted by: Black Magic (Aug 26, 2005 08:48PM)
I never said I am better than anyone. I simply said I am my favorite magician. I enjoy watching others and I alwayz learn things from other magician. You seem like you don't have confidence in yourself. Say guy, it's all about you! Okay, I probably wouldn't send David Copperfield my autographed picture of me and him but I would hang it next my autographed picture that's next to my Houdini poster. In fact, any picture like that I will sign and hang it up. Be a man! Sign your own autograph!
Message: Posted by: Samuel (Aug 26, 2005 08:54PM)
My confidence is very good, thank you very much :) But there is a big difference in confidence and cockyness. Magic isn't about me, it's about the spectator. It's the spectators reactions who get me going. If they hit me and scream because of a effect, I'll show them another better effect. If they laugh and say "Ok, you are good", that's all right. If they don't want to be shown any more, I walk.

Oh, by the way - I get the spectator to sign the cards, I don't do it myself :P
Message: Posted by: Black Magic (Aug 26, 2005 09:03PM)
Right, signed cards? Picture? They have nothing to do with one another. But if you see a connection, you get the wink and the gun. All I'm saying dude is put yourself first. I admire others but I'm first on MY list. And if you don't put yourself first, that's you. Happy magic to you and those that watch you.
Message: Posted by: Samuel (Aug 26, 2005 09:13PM)
Likewise, Black Magic :) Everyone's different, you know :)

Btw, the 'sign'-thing was a joke, nothing more :P
Message: Posted by: Great Domino (Aug 26, 2005 09:49PM)
This was a great question until somebody took it personally.

I work for a lottery corporation and I enjoy using the random odds/ coincidence theme. This engages the spectator and empowers them.

Dominic
Message: Posted by: scorch (Aug 26, 2005 10:04PM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-26 22:03, Black Magic wrote:
All I'm saying dude is put yourself first. I admire others but I'm first on MY list. And if you don't put yourself first, that's you....
[/quote]

I dare you to name five famous card magicians who share this self-aggrandizing attitude with you. It is one thing to be a self promoter, it is quite another to believe your own marketing rhetoric.

I know of no truly successful person, magician or otherwise, who would hold this attitude. To the contrary. The greatest magicians tend to be quite humble and fully acknowledge other masters. If you think it's all about you, maybe there's a reason you are not famous. Because you don't understand a fundamental truth about art. It truly isn't about you, it IS about your audience. Putting THEM first will create far more success for you than a lifetime of puffing yourself up.

What's more, truly confident people don't feel a need to put themselves first, or to exort others to "be a man" and do likewise.
Message: Posted by: LiquidSn (Aug 26, 2005 10:13PM)
I for one like to do magic that isn't "scripted". I don't do magic as a job. I feel that doing it as a job limits what you can do with the spectator. for one.. you can't **** them off. which is something inherrent with magic. either they love it or it frustrated them to hell. I not saying go around and **** people off, but I find it interesting that something as trivial as magic can break any mental barrier. physics, psychology, religion, and many others. It strikes at their logic, and either they go crazy and enjoy it or they get angry or shut off. To me, magic is about showing people that life isn't about a simple line to the end. contradictions happen. but I never say there is real magic, and I don't go tell people that they should live meaningful lives or be a guru. anyone who thinks there is real magic is stupid.

I guess what I am saying is that magic should be random events that happen. why do people 3 years down the road come up to you all of a sudden on a chance meeting still remember a double lift trick? its not becuase it "moved" them or anything like that. It was just a moment in their life that they can't explain. (unless they went and figured it out) Your mind has a funny way of needing to solve everything.

I feel that magic is like laughter. laughter is a very strange sound. But it is usually our only escape from reality.

anyways, this probelly doesn't make sense so game on.

Tony C.
Message: Posted by: scorch (Aug 26, 2005 10:16PM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-26 20:50, Black Magic wrote:
Many magicians may not like the fact that I'm a big show-off but that's the reason we perform to begin with, to show off what took you forever to master.
[/quote]

That certainly isn't the reason I perform. Just because it took me a long time to learn something is not enough reason to perform it. And certainly the audience doesn't care about how much I practiced something (other than to assume I don't have a life if a try to impress them with a bunch of hotshot cuts and long distance spinners). I perform because I love the sense of wonder and amazement that only truly strong and artistic magic can provide. And I love the sense of theater and self-expression that can be carried around in your pocket for a few bucks. I love that a deck of cards is so symbolic and reflective of the human experience. For me, the sense of amazement is what I'm after. That's so much more powerful than merely being "impressive."

When I was a kid I used to be more impressed with flourishes and shows of dexterity. But nowadays I think a lot of flourishes ruins the effect of magic. When I do an ace production, it amazes people and they can't for the life of them figure out how I do it. When a flourisher does an ace production, it just looks like just another flourish. Yawn.

On the other end of the spectrum, I don't like all of the goofy hocus-pocus and cliched "magical" gestures and such of the magicians who like to present it as real magic, like they had magical powers or something. I think that's old school, and a little embarassing. I prefer to have the spectator come to the conclusion that it has to be magical, based on the strength of the effect.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Aug 26, 2005 10:23PM)
I think I like card guys to say look at these cards they are magic. That is hardest magic to find and the best. Look at me I am a magician is easier. I think it is much easier still to say look at how skilled I am. The latter is not not magic at all I don't think.

An example of the best is “The Excusive Coterie” -Erdnase-
An example of the worst is “Dealing all the Reds” -Me-

In “The Excusive Coterie” the magician appears to do nothing but tell the story and the cards seem to do all the magic themselves.

When I Deal all the Reds, the cards do nothing and I just show off. There is no magic in that. Even if I could in fact deal all the reds from a shuffled deck it would still only be a demo of skill.
Message: Posted by: Cain (Aug 26, 2005 11:40PM)
My own persona -- my "character", if you will -- is that of a fumbling (sometimes mumbling) dude who happens to either have a pack of cards on him or is drawn to one in use. My "act" is usually prefaced with the warning: "I'm not very good." It's all an expectations game! During a transposition I attempt to experience the magic with the spectator. "This feels very weird...." I'll often ask aloud what the spec is thinking, "how did that happen?"

The thing is they know it's all an act by the second or third trick, when I again admonish them: "Well, I probably won't be able to pull this one off because it's really difficult and I'm not very good...." "Oh, you said that last time!" *puckish grin*

My second trick is usually, if I'm using my own deck, Red Hot Mama, so in the second phase, where their new pick is supposed to turn red, I play it out like I really messed up. Then as I'm nervously looking around in embarrasment the red card previously cast aside catches my eye and I say, "no". "[i]No[/i]" as if I don't want it to happen, and incoherently mutter "that's impossible." Sometimes I'll look at the card myself, sigh, and then slowly turn it over.

Now, as a diehard supporter of the James Randi Educational Foundation I can say that I never want to leave the impression that I am acutally doing "real" magic (a contradiction in terms). Kids have said, "He's a wizard", asked me outright if I'm witch, and one young woman memorably remarked, "you're the devil." Thankfully she was joking, but I think it's a matter of responsibility to quickly dispel the myths. Unfortunately, you'd leave a much, much stronger impression if people left guessing, wondering whether or not it's real. But in my opinion this is wrong. Just leave them mulling over the method, which is actually the case with most people. Not too many people (in my experience) are superstitious enough to believe that I have actually sold my soul to the devil.

Nevertheless, on your initial approach you should make it seem magical. Don't say, "yuk, yuk, yuk, I'll bet you I can read your mind." Reading someone's mind is serious business; it's invasive. So you have to ask in a very serious manner, "Is it alright if I try to read your mind?" soulfully gazing into the spectator's eyes (preferably a woman).
Message: Posted by: prospero (Aug 27, 2005 12:56AM)
I pass it off as something mysterious. I lead them into a state where they repeatedly tell themselves that it's only sleight of hand, but cannot believe what they're witnessing, so they convince themselves that there must be a supernatural explanation.
Message: Posted by: scorch (Aug 27, 2005 10:37AM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-27 00:40, Cain wrote:
Unfortunately, you'd leave a much, much stronger impression if people left guessing, wondering whether or not it's real. But in my opinion this is wrong.
[/quote]

That opinion seems like a very odd sentiment for a card magician. It certainly is self-defeating, to have to pull your punches and back away from having a strong and memorable effect on an audience. Why do you think it's wrong? Just because it's factually incorrect? Do you go around and tell lots of little kids there's no Santa Claus just because there isn't?

[quote]
On 2005-08-27 00:40, Cain wrote:
Not too many people (in my experience) are superstitious enough to believe that I have actually sold my soul to the devil.
[/quote]

Yes, well, I don't think that it's our responsibility as magicians to weaken the effect of our magic and make it seem less astonishing just so that stupid people can maintain their superstitions.
Message: Posted by: funny_gecko (Aug 27, 2005 10:46AM)
Black magic seems to be saying that he has self confidence.. I will say it in a differen way.
I look in the mirror in the morning.. I don't think I am ugly... I Know there are "better" looking people out there ( due to the medias eye of beauty ) but still I don't have to feel ugly just cause they are better looking. idf he said he was better than all other magicians then he would be cocky but simply he is saying have confidence in yourself and don't give yourself limits...
Message: Posted by: Black Magic (Aug 27, 2005 10:56AM)
Gecko, maybe I jus don't have a way of saying things. Thanx guy!
Message: Posted by: funny_gecko (Aug 27, 2005 11:10AM)
Hey I can hear you out I understand yha.... just sometimes its hard to understand when your reading cause you cant recieve the emotion they said it in.
Message: Posted by: Cain (Aug 28, 2005 12:51AM)
On 2005-08-27 11:37, scorch wrote:
[quote]That opinion seems like a very odd sentiment for a card magician. It certainly is self-defeating, to have to pull your punches and back away from having a strong and memorable effect on an audience. Why do you think it's wrong? Just because it's factually incorrect? Do you go around and tell lots of little kids there's no Santa Claus just because there isn't? [/quote]

No, I do not inform children about the nature of Santa Claus. Do you know why? Because I'm confident they'll learn and accept the truth eventually. If children grew into adults without outgrowing this fanciful myth, then yes, I would tell them.

[quote]Yes, well, I don't think that it's our responsibility as magicians to weaken the effect of our magic and make it seem less astonishing just so that stupid people can maintain their superstitions.[/quote]

I do not view it as part of my responsibility as a magician. Rather, it's my responsibility as a person. Sometimes people need assurances that it is not real. I feel obligated to tell the truth. See for instance the thread on Criss Angel's levitation in the Secret Sessions forum.
Message: Posted by: Samuel (Aug 28, 2005 04:21AM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-28 01:51, Cain wrote:
I do not view it as part of my responsibility as a magician. Rather, it's my responsibility as a person. Sometimes people need assurances that it is not real. I feel obligated to tell the truth. See for instance the thread on Criss Angel's levitation in the Secret Sessions forum.
[/quote]

Why do you think it's your responsibility to shatter illusions that can keep people thinking and become even more and more intrigued when they forget more and more of the handling in the effect? Why ruin something that might be peoples only chance of escaping this reality and see something that's truly impossible?

There is nothing wrong with believing that magic is real! Truly, you should believe that the magic is real yourself when you perform, the magic will gain a lot by that! If it could hurt to believe that magic was real, then I'd tell - but it doesn't hurt...

Kind of with God - I believe in God! But if I KNEW that he didn't exist, I wouldn't go tell people this, because that faith is a very good thing to have :)
Message: Posted by: ziatro (Aug 28, 2005 04:53AM)
If you present your magic purely as a feat of skill then I think you are missing the whole point of magic. From a personal standpoint, all the skill that is used to perform an effect should go unnoticed by the spectator, who should be wrapped up in the presentation and personality of the performer. Let's be clear on this; very few spectators believe you are doing real magic, they generally know that it is trickery. But if you perform with a real love for your magic, and a genuine fondness for your audience, they will be left with an unforgettable memory. Surely this is the real magic.
Message: Posted by: Jaz (Aug 28, 2005 06:21AM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-26 20:50, Black Magic wrote:
After reading and replying to the thread on the religious conflict and all the black magic talk I think it would be interest in seeing how we present our magic.
As I said in my response, I present my magic as a matter of skill.
((deleted))
So, how do you present your's?
[/quote]

There are two ways I present card tricks.
One mini-act is a gambling theme so I make no claims of the supernatural.

Other card tricks may involve rising cards, torn and restored, prediction, etc.
Again I make no claims but prefer to let spectators decide.
Message: Posted by: Francis Cambridge (Aug 28, 2005 06:22AM)
If I had any supernatural powers, I don't think I would go anywhere near a deck of cards. Skill all the way! Cute chilies gecko.

Camby
Message: Posted by: Samuel (Aug 28, 2005 07:47AM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-28 07:22, Francis Cambridge wrote:
If I had any supernatural powers, I don't think I would go anywhere near a deck of cards. Skill all the way!
[/quote]

And then you have all the other venues of magic :) Matches, rubber bands, straws, ropes, rings and so forth.

The reason for using cards (and these other objects) is to do magic with something that the spectators can relate to. If I had supernatural powers, I'd show it with everyday objects, not special bought and crafted objects :)
Message: Posted by: scorch (Aug 28, 2005 11:47AM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-28 01:51, Cain wrote:
I do not view it as part of my responsibility as a magician. Rather, it's my responsibility as a person. Sometimes people need assurances that it is not real. I feel obligated to tell the truth.
[/quote]

Given the purist nature of your stated views about "the truth," and the fact that magic absolutely relies on deception, are you sure you have chosen the right art form for you? When you force a card on a spectator, do you tell them that you are forcing a card? After all, that is "the truth," isn't it?

You still have not explained why you feel this obligation to blunt the effect of your magic by assuring them that it is not magic (a rather odd confession for a magician, seemingly). Why are you so sure that the audience "need assurances" like that? Did they tell you? It seems rather presumptuous for you to define for your audience what their needs are.
Message: Posted by: Cain (Aug 28, 2005 06:02PM)
[quote]Why do you think it's your responsibility to shatter illusions that can keep people thinking and become even more and more intrigued when they forget more and more of the handling in the effect? Why ruin something that might be peoples only chance of escaping this reality and see something that's truly impossible?

There is nothing wrong with believing that magic is real! Truly, you should believe that the magic is real yourself when you perform, the magic will gain a lot by that! If it could hurt to believe that magic was real, then I'd tell - but it doesn't hurt...

Kind of with God - I believe in God! But if I KNEW that he didn't exist, I wouldn't go tell people this, because that faith is a very good thing to have :)
[/quote]

It's difficult to explain the dynamics of my performance vis-a-vis my ethics in this medium because, as I said earlier, any "warnings" crucially depends on the world view of the spectator. For spectators who presumably know there is a clever secret and ask, "how do you do that?" I answer with a wolfish grin and say, "Magic." For others who think they have actually witnessed a miracle, or believe in miracles, then yes, I will "shatter" their illusions, "pull" a punch, and say, "there's no such thing." And I would go around telling people there is no God -- if it did any good. However that sort of prosylitizing is, I think, highly ineffective.

People already believe that what they're seeing is "impossible" -- but most know it's not impossible; it's an illusion. If somebody does not know it's an illusion, then you should make an effort to tell them.

Scorch writes:
[quote]Given the purist nature of your stated views about "the truth," and the fact that magic absolutely relies on deception, are you sure you have chosen the right art form for you? When you force a card on a spectator, do you tell them that you are forcing a card? After all, that is "the truth," isn't it?[/quote]

Well, that's easy. If people know it's a trick -- that deception is employed -- then you don't need to tell them you're forcing a card. Most people already know magic relies on deception. It's OK to lie when people know (implicitly) that it's part of the game. It's not OK for people to genuinely believe that Criss Angel really can align "mind, body, and spirit" in order to levitate. That's ********.

[quote]You still have not explained why you feel this obligation to blunt the effect of your magic by assuring them that it is not magic (a rather odd confession for a magician, seemingly). Why are you so sure that the audience "need assurances" like that? Did they tell you? It seems rather presumptuous for you to define for your audience what their needs are.[/quote]

Well, I don't legislate for others. If they don't want to witness an effect, that is fine. But I cannot contribute to an utterly corrupt and obtuse worldview -- one that believes in "real life" miracles.
Message: Posted by: scorch (Aug 28, 2005 07:32PM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-28 19:02, Cain wrote:
People already believe that what they're seeing is "impossible" -- but most know it's not impossible; it's an illusion. If somebody does not know it's an illusion, then you should make an effort to tell them....If they don't want to witness an effect, that is fine. But I cannot contribute to an utterly corrupt and obtuse worldview -- one that believes in "real life" miracles.
[/quote]

That's a rather arrogant judgment to have for somebody who purports to not "legislating for others."

I guess you're not understanding me. You keep repeating your assertions in different ways, and I get it. That's your opinion, and you're certainly entitled to it. What I'm curious about is why you think these things. But what I'm asking for is for you to substantiate these assertions. Don't just keep repeating them using different words. You haven't explained why you feel your views are superior and represent "the truth," such that the sense of wonder that you ultimately deny your audiences (and that most of the rest of us are actually striving for in our performances) is somehow an expression of a "corrupt and obtuse worldview."
Message: Posted by: Lord of Illusion (Aug 28, 2005 09:27PM)
[quote]
So, how do you present your's?
[/quote]

As magic. I never liked the "just look what I can do" style. Don't forget, what we do is a theatrical art, not just an exercise in knuckle busting.
Message: Posted by: Cain (Aug 28, 2005 11:41PM)
[quote]That's a rather arrogant judgment to have for somebody who purports to not "legislating for others."[/quote]

Two reactions:
First: Not at all! Second: upon further examination, the above sentence makes little sense (the characterization doesn't seem to follow from the assertion).

[quote]I guess you're not understanding me. You keep repeating your assertions in different ways, and I get it. That's your opinion, and you're certainly entitled to it. What I'm curious about is why you think these things. But what I'm asking for is for you to substantiate these assertions.[/quote]

I should hope it is unnecessary to explain why a belief in miracles -- especially with regard to the parlor tricks performed here -- is irrational.

[quote] Don't just keep repeating them using different words. You haven't explained why you feel your views are superior and represent "the truth," such that the sense of wonder that you ultimately deny your audiences (and that most of the rest of us are actually striving for in our performances) is somehow an expression of a "corrupt and obtuse worldview."
[/quote]

Well, we could instill a great sense of wonder by perpetrating a great hoax against a naive and unwitting segment of the public. Cult leaders are surprisingly adept creating illusions -- illusions so strong that even the charlatan falls under his own spell. But in our hierarchy of values, we ought to prize critical thinking above fanciful unthinking.

Do you really want to leave grown adults with the idea that mind-reading is possible? ESP?? The ability to levitate oneself? In the moment this may have the effect of creating child-like wonder, but it contributes to a culture that runs anathema to Enlighentenment values; a culture that essentially infantilizes persons by reinforcing what I earlier described as an obtuse worldview.

Are you familiar with psycho surgery? So-called mediums who claim to speak to dead relatives? Palm readers? Those claiming these powers are vampires who prey on perfectly decent people. Are you comfortable with people believing that someone like David Blaine is "not real." Or Uri Geller, or Criss Angel for that matter?

Suppose in your younger days you created crop circles, and these circles excited many people over the prospects of intelligent life, alien visitors. Years later you reflect on your past actions, and consider confessing that at least your own crop cricles were man-made. Now this sort of admission would surely disappoint a lot of people, sapping them of a sense of wonder that has entered into their otherwise mundane lives. Should you do it?
Message: Posted by: scorch (Aug 29, 2005 08:38PM)
Well, OK I guess I see where you are coming from, though you still have not explained why in your judgment a "sense of wonder" that you might leave an audience with, and that you flat out deny them with your disclaimer, is a "corrupt and obtuse world view." Irrational, yes. We agree. But "corrupt and obtuse?" Reductive rationalism, like any other world view, can be just as "corrupt and obtuse" when its adherents take it too far and become too convinced of their own views such that they impose them upon others.

To each his own, but from my perspective it seems that you are both: A. greatly OVERestimating the impact of great magic that at most leaves people wondering if the performer might not have some abilities that they don't understand (which is in fact the case, when you think about it), and B. greatly UNDERestimating the value of allowing an audience the benefit of whatever reaction they will have, given THEIR world view, not yours. I suppose if you want to dictate such a reductive materialist world view on your audiences at the end of each of your acts with a disclaimer, you are free to make that rather curious (for a magician, certainly) choice. I guess you will ethically "allow yourself" the indulgence of temporarily creating the illusion of "real magic" as long as you exercise the self-imposed ethical discipline of denying that very same illusion immediately afterwards? If you were giving physics lectures instead of magic performances, it obviously wouldn't seem so strange and self-defeating to me.

Again, I think you overestimate the ability of even the best magic to turn people into anti-Englightenment, irrational cult followers. I will grant you that there is too much of that in our culture, but certainly "legit" entertainment magicians play virtually no role in that. If all magicians made your choice of denying any sense of wonder to their audiences with a disclaimer about a lack of magic in the world, people would still be going to Hawaii to get their shakras aligned and wearing crystals to ward off cancer spirits. The only thing that would change would be that the performing art of magic would die a certain, self-induced death. All of the hucksters that you mentioned (and incorrectly esteem that magicians play into) would still be in business.

I'm sure there's probably more for us to agree on here than to disagree on. But it makes me think of that opening to Star Wars: "A Long, Long, Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Away." We are meant to think or imagine that the story actually took place. George Lucas didn't say "The following is a story based on Teutonic and Norse Mythology as told through Richard Wagner's operas and the Tolkien books, tweaked around by Joseph Campbell and played out by paid actors and featuring a lot of technical special effects. Please be aware that The Force is not real." After all, that would have been more "truthful" and more faithful to your sensibilities, would it not? It's fiction and certainly not truthful, but there is a tremendous value to myth and ritual (such as exists in the traditions of entertainment magic) when it is presented as reality that your uber-rational mindset cannot account for. There are more things in heaven and earth, Cain, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. (Even if card magic isn't one of those things)

Besides, it's all just fun and games. We're making cards jump into our pockets and switch places and change colors, for corn's sakes! It's not like we're spelling it "Magick" and putting spells on people and making them believe in crystals and incantations, let alone all of the X Files weirdo stuff that you referenced. Do your audience a favor and try not to take yourself so seriously...
Message: Posted by: tommy (Aug 29, 2005 09:58PM)
I am trying to think of what logic there is in telling them it is a trick and not magic: All the magic that magicians do are tricks. Therefore all magicians are tricksters.

You might as well tell then how the tricks are done if your worried about them thinking your a magician. For me tell them your a magician and then prove it to them and stop pussy footing about.

People will then believe in vanpires. Good!
Message: Posted by: scorch (Aug 29, 2005 10:31PM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-29 22:58, tommy wrote:
I am trying to think of what logic there is in telling them it is a trick and not magic
[/quote]

I am trying to think of what logic there is in somebody who is puritanical about other people not even momentarily entertaining irrational thoughts wanting to do magic in the first place.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Aug 30, 2005 06:33AM)
Maybe you can just tell them; It is an art.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Aug 30, 2005 10:20AM)
Are you suggesting that you are somehow being clever and showing off skill? Why not just use magic? Much simpler.

Honestly I can't imagine asking an audience to admire false shuffles, packet switches, false counts and how well aligned one can keep one's multiple lifts and turnovers. What sort of skill is that anyway? I believe audiences are interested in being entertained and it seems comfortable for all to show them some magic.

In performance there is an agreement between the performer and the audience that the activity is for entertainment purposes and the scope of the magic is limited to the time and place of the entertainment. No harm, no foul.
Message: Posted by: Cain (Aug 30, 2005 01:09PM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-29 21:38, scorch wrote:
Well, OK I guess I see where you are coming from, though you still have not explained why in your judgment a "sense of wonder" that you might leave an audience with, and that you flat out deny them with your disclaimer, is a "corrupt and obtuse world view." Irrational, yes. We agree. But "corrupt and obtuse?" Reductive rationalism, like any other world view, can be just as "corrupt and obtuse" when its adherents take it too far and become too convinced of their own views such that they impose them upon others.

To each his own, but from my perspective it seems that you are both: A. greatly OVERestimating the impact of great magic that at most leaves people wondering if the performer might not have some abilities that they don't understand (which is in fact the case, when you think about it), and B. greatly UNDERestimating the value of allowing an audience the benefit of whatever reaction they will have, given THEIR world view, not yours. I suppose if you want to dictate such a reductive materialist world view on your audiences at the end of each of your acts with a disclaimer, you are free to make that rather curious (for a magician, certainly) choice. I guess you will ethically "allow yourself" the indulgence of temporarily creating the illusion of "real magic" as long as you exercise the self-imposed ethical discipline of denying that very same illusion immediately afterwards? If you were giving physics lectures instead of magic performances, it obviously wouldn't seem so strange and self-defeating to me.

Again, I think you overestimate the ability of even the best magic to turn people into anti-Englightenment, irrational cult followers. I will grant you that there is too much of that in our culture, but certainly "legit" entertainment magicians play virtually no role in that. If all magicians made your choice of denying any sense of wonder to their audiences with a disclaimer about a lack of magic in the world, people would still be going to Hawaii to get their shakras aligned and wearing crystals to ward off cancer spirits. The only thing that would change would be that the performing art of magic would die a certain, self-induced death. All of the hucksters that you mentioned (and incorrectly esteem that magicians play into) would still be in business.

I'm sure there's probably more for us to agree on here than to disagree on. But it makes me think of that opening to Star Wars: "A Long, Long, Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Away." We are meant to think or imagine that the story actually took place. George Lucas didn't say "The following is a story based on Teutonic and Norse Mythology as told through Richard Wagner's operas and the Tolkien books, tweaked around by Joseph Campbell and played out by paid actors and featuring a lot of technical special effects. Please be aware that The Force is not real." After all, that would have been more "truthful" and more faithful to your sensibilities, would it not? It's fiction and certainly not truthful, but there is a tremendous value to myth and ritual (such as exists in the traditions of entertainment magic) when it is presented as reality that your uber-rational mindset cannot account for. There are more things in heaven and earth, Cain, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. (Even if card magic isn't one of those things)

Besides, it's all just fun and games. We're making cards jump into our pockets and switch places and change colors, for corn's sakes! It's not like we're spelling it "Magick" and putting spells on people and making them believe in crystals and incantations, let alone all of the X Files weirdo stuff that you referenced. Do your audience a favor and try not to take yourself so seriously...
[/quote]

The number of assumptions and speculative characteriziations herein greatly disturbs me. Contra the above straw man, I do not interrupt spectators in their moment of "oh, my god" laughter to ask, "Why are you so excited? You know it's just a trick, right?" Nor do I routinely advertise warnings before and after performance. I get a sense of what people are thinking by their reactions and adjust accordingly.

Especially in the case of card tricks there's an implicit agreement between most spectators and magicians that there is an underlying secret, a totally rational explanation. As I mentioned earlier, in these sort of situations when someone asks "How is it done?" I'll reply "What do you mean? It's magic." I virtually never attribute anything to personal special abilities, since in my performance style the magic often equally surprises me. In my style I'm (seemingly) as amazed as the spectator.

Now, when it comes to mentalism, reading a person's mind, that type of magic is not typically explained through sleight of hand. It can get under people's skin. I do not commonly take the initiative to say, "It's [i]just[/i] a trick." In the case of someone who genuinely believes, a superstitious yuppie type, I might ask, "Do you really think I would be writing card predictions on napkins rather than tomorrow's lottery numbers if I possessed true-to-life supernatural powers?"

The supernatural/skill distinction applies more to television performers like Criss Angel and David Blaine. They knowingly allow their audiences to believe that part of it is illusion and part of it is real -- in effect taking the cowardly and dishonest, "let the spectator decide" point of view. It's not as though the spectator can reach a rational position given the level of deception (made for TV editing) involved.

Magicians can make a substantive contribution to the public awareness by demonstrating illusions like psycho surgery, spoon bending, and mind reading (as in the case of James Randi's noble efforts).
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Aug 30, 2005 02:03PM)
On another thread, Bill Hallahan posted the following from "Our Magic" by Maskelyne and Devant. It was written over 100 years ago, and I think it is still very pertinent to the present discussion:

"The modern magician does not deceive his spectators—that is to say, the legitimate magician. The modern charlatan, of course, has no more conscience than his predecessors. He will deceive anybody who will give him the chance, and he will try to deceive even those who don’t; just to make sure of missing no opportunity for chicanery.

"He and the legitimate magician, however, are as far apart as the poles, in aim and procedure. A legitimate magician never deludes his audience as to the character of his performance. He makes no claim to the possession of powers that beyond the scope of physical science. Neither does he, while rejoicing in the suggestio falsi, substitute in its place the suppresio veri. That method is one frequently adopted by charlatans in magic.

"The latter gentry often refrain from committing themselves to any definite statement on the subject of their powers. In effect, they say to their spectators, “We leave you to decide upon the nature of our feats. If you can explain the methods we employ, you will know that what we do is not miraculous. If, on the other hand, you cannot explain our methods you will, of course, know that we have the power to work miracles.”

"Since the majority of people attending public performances cannot explain the simplest devices used in magic, it is scarcely likely that persons with such limited capacity will arrive at any satisfactory explanation of processes involving even a moderate degree of complexity. Consequently, the mere reticence of the charlatan suffices to convince many people that “there is something in it.” So there is, no doubt, but, usually, not much—certainly, nothing such as the innocent dupe conceives.

"The distinguishing characteristic of the legitimate magician is straightforwardness. He makes no false pretenses, either by suggestion, implication, or reticence. This present treatise of course, relates only to legitimate magic; and therefore, our definition of the term is limited to misdirection of the sense, exclusively. We have nothing to do with fraudulent, or semi-fraudulent deception of intelligence as practiced by unscrupulous adventurers."
Message: Posted by: Bill Hallahan (Aug 30, 2005 06:00PM)
Thanks Whit, although I'd feel much better if you were quoting me! :) When that happens, you know it's time to retire! :lol:

I'm a magician. When I perform I make impossible things happen, or impossible things happen to me.

There’s very little skill displayed! :lol:

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
[quote]
In performance there is an agreement between the performer and the audience that the activity is for entertainment purposes and the scope of the magic is limited to the time and place of the entertainment. No harm, no foul.
[/quote]
I agree.

It's rare that someone in our modern society thinks that magic is "real." This usually only happens to a very young child who sees a magic show, or an adult who experiences mental magic presented as if it were real. Caring adults usually give the child the truth. Sometimes an adult will believe a mentalism performance is a real exhibition of powers, and they'll hold that belief for the rest of their life.

Doctors take an oath to, "Do no harm." Their oath is not, "I’ll do anything as long as harm can’t be proven." I think magicians and mentalists should also adopt the attitude, "Do no harm."
Message: Posted by: tommy (Aug 30, 2005 07:03PM)
I don't think it is that rare Uri Geller is a case in point. I recall him when hit the UK many thousands of smart adults really thought he was for real. It took a lot of magicians to persuade some of them otherwise. Blaine is another and he told them he was magician. Some people still think Houdini had Supernatural powers. I don't think these guys did believers any harm. You can use magic and deception to con people but your not conning anyone by just entertaining them by pretending to be a real magician. It is not doing the believers any harm at all. If that does do harm I would like to know what harm it does. Can anyone give me an example. I see it might do a kid harm if he thinks it possible to fly. It does no harm however for them to believe in Santa Clause so what is the difference. Caring adults usually give the child the truth. Oh really! So do we tell the kids Santa will not arrive this year.

Tommy
Message: Posted by: scorch (Aug 30, 2005 07:57PM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-30 14:09, Cain wrote:
Now, when it comes to mentalism, reading a person's mind, that type of magic is not typically explained through sleight of hand. It can get under people's skin. I do not commonly take the initiative to say, "It's [i]just[/i] a trick." In the case of someone who genuinely believes, a superstitious yuppie type, I might ask, "Do you really think I would be writing card predictions on napkins rather than tomorrow's lottery numbers if I possessed true-to-life supernatural powers?"[/quote]

Oh, I guess I misunderstood you. I was under the impression that if your performances were sufficiently strong to induce a spectator to speculate if you really did have some sort of supernatural ability, you would dispel it. I guess it's not that cut and dry for you, which is good news at least. Still, I can hardly see that insulting your audience (as in the above example), even for admittedly irrational speculations (which after all you yourself induced with considerably skill and effort), is any better. That example, with the "yuppie" jab, betrays your lack of respect for many, many people. I wonder how well you hide it, or if you even try to.

[quote]On 2005-08-30 14:09, Cain wrote:
The supernatural/skill distinction applies more to television performers like Criss Angel and David Blaine. They knowingly allow their audiences to believe that part of it is illusion and part of it is real -- in effect taking the cowardly and dishonest, "let the spectator decide" point of view. It's not as though the spectator can reach a rational position given the level of deception (made for TV editing) involved.
[/quote]

I hardly think it is "cowardly and dishonest" to acknowledge that the spectator has their own world view and belief system that you as a performer have no control over. This unsupported (yet again) assertion makes me wonder if you might not be limiting your own success as a performer because of your lack of respect for your own audience, in all of their wonderful irrational quirkiness and individuality that you abhor. Personally, I don't have to share my belief system with my audience to enjoy performing for them and striving to make my magic hit as hard as I possibly can.

I think Houdini seemed to understand something that you are missing about the nature of performance magic, and the difference between that and the charlatanism that you confuse with it. For him it was no contradiction to debunk the charlatans on one hand, and perform magic and present it as "real" on the other. Some irrational beliefs can cause harm in this world, and many other irrational beliefs do not. And many (such as instructive child-rearing mythology) are very useful, powerful, and positive forces for socialization. A belief in Mohammad flying to heaven on a horse and in martyr mythology has shown to be a very harmful influence taken to an extreme, yet I can hardly see what harm it is for an audience to briefly wonder if maybe, just maybe a magician can really levitate or turn the ace of spades into a joker by waving his hand over it. You have characterized that child-like open-mindedness and sense of awe a "corrupt and obtuse world view" and those performers who aim for that reaction and allow it to come to fruition as "cowardly and dishonest." What fun you seem to be having!

Actually, this thread is starting to depress me, so I will disappear from it (don't worry, it's not real magic!). I'm reading Juan Tamariz right now, and in him especially you get a sense of the joy that he takes in the art of making people "believe in miracles." I so much prefer involving myself with this kind of positive attitude towards magic and performing for people (yes, even the yuppies!).
Message: Posted by: Cain (Aug 31, 2005 04:48AM)
[quote]I hardly think it is "cowardly and dishonest" to acknowledge that the spectator has their own world view and belief system that you as a performer have no control over. This unsupported (yet again) assertion makes me wonder...[/quote]

Excuse me while I raise my bullsh!t flag. I've had just about of this tired -- ironically unsupported -- accusation that you keep faithfully repeating in the desperate hope that it will become true. I offered a clear, unmistakable reason, as I almost always do: See the final sentence in the paragraph that you quoted, and read it again for the first time. Maybe you don't think it's a [i]good[/i] reason but it is of course a reason, and I'm sorry if you cannot make the connection.

[quote]if you might not be limiting your own success as a performer because of your lack of respect for your own audience, in all of their wonderful irrational quirkiness and individuality that you abhor. Personally, I don't have to share my belief system with my audience to enjoy performing for them and striving to make my magic hit as hard as I possibly can.[/quote]

Again, here you go making the utterly unsupported accusation that I conduct my performances like lectures in "reductive materialism". This is not the case at all. Any clarifications as to the nature of my performance is in fact contingent upon the composition of the specific audience before me. Weird how that is, huh? Me tailoring my approach for the "individuality" that I "abhor"

[quote]Oh, I guess I misunderstood you. I was under the impression that if your performances were sufficiently strong to induce a spectator to speculate if you really did have some sort of supernatural ability, you would dispel it. I guess it's not that cut and dry for you, which is good news at least. Still, I can hardly see that insulting your audience (as in the above example), even for admittedly irrational speculations (which after all you yourself induced with considerably skill and effort), is any better. That example, with the "yuppie" jab, betrays your lack of respect for many, many people. I wonder how well you hide it, or if you even try to.[/quote]

Gosh, I thought I used the word "yuppie" to describe a [i]category[/i] of person. Being superstitious is probably worse than being a yuppie in my view, but I bet there's considerable overlap between the two (which is why I used both words to make my example more vivid).

[quote]I think Houdini seemed to understand something that you are missing about the nature of performance magic, and the difference between that and the charlatanism that you confuse with it. For him it was no contradiction to debunk the charlatans on one hand, and perform magic and present it as "real" on the other. Some irrational beliefs can cause harm in this world, and many other irrational beliefs do not. And many (such as instructive child-rearing mythology) are very useful, powerful, and positive forces for socialization. A belief in Mohammad flying to heaven on a horse [in point of fact he allegedly flew to heaven a board a beast known as a chimera] and in martyr mythology has shown to be a very harmful influence taken to an extreme, yet I can hardly see what harm it is for an audience to briefly wonder if maybe, just maybe a magician can really levitate or turn the ace of spades into a joker by waving his hand over it. You have characterized that child-like open-mindedness and sense of awe a "corrupt and obtuse world view" and those performers who aim for that reaction and allow it to come to fruition as "cowardly and dishonest." What fun you seem to be having![/quote]

*sigh* There is absolutely nothing wrong with people temporarily believing that a joker changed into an ace. This is exactly what appears to happen. But no one should genuinely believe that objects can change their properties in a highly specific way -- like the printing on a card -- with an innocent wave of a hand. As I have said on numerous occasions, it is usually unnecessary to explain that I do not possess supernatural powers. This would be like an eight year-old explaining to his neighbor Mrs. Dennis on Halloween that he's not really ghost. "Mrs. Dennis: It's me, Robert. I'm not really a ghost, see?" This inspite of the fact that anywhere between one-third and one-half (depending on the survey) of the American public believes in ghosts.

Context is everything. On Halloween one can walk down the street wearing a mask and brandishing what appears to be a weapon. It's part of the expectation, just as one understands the possibility of being [i]unexpectadly[/i] frightened. In magic people expect to be deceived and when a magician claims everything is on the up-and-up, completely honest, the expectation for deception intensifies that much more. However, in some cases, for one reason or another, this expectation, for a segment of the population, does not obtain. They may not know it's the last day of October, or that the performer is an illusionist.

If you want a concrete example of a detestable fraud transgressing the norms outlined above then try Mark Lewis and his "psychic" abilities.

[quote]Actually, this thread is starting to depress me, so I will disappear from it (don't worry, it's not real magic!). I'm reading Juan Tamariz right now, and in him especially you get a sense of the joy that he takes in the art of making people "believe in miracles." I so much prefer involving myself with this kind of positive attitude towards magic and performing for people (yes, even the yuppies!).[/quote]

Oh, and I don't :rolleyes: One thing is for sure: you're unbelievable.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Sep 4, 2005 03:12PM)
I think one thing I always want to get across is to make ripples in the spectators conciousness. To cause them to think "Perhaps...just perhaps there is something unexplainable beyond the fringe of my senses that I have never considered...perhaps...just PERHAPS there is real magic somewhere."
Message: Posted by: Jaz (Sep 4, 2005 04:44PM)
[quote]
On 2005-08-30 11:20, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Honestly I can't imagine asking an audience to admire false shuffles, packet switches, false counts and how well aligned one can keep one's multiple lifts and turnovers. What sort of skill is that anyway? I believe audiences are interested in being entertained and it seems comfortable for all to show them some magic.

In performance there is an agreement between the performer and the audience that the activity is for entertainment purposes and the scope of the magic is limited to the time and place of the entertainment. No harm, no foul.
[/quote]

Without saying that it's either magic or skill, if those false sleights and color changes are natural and unsuspected there will be a a sense of wonder.
Even if you do proclaim that the card demos are done with skill, such as a gambling act, there can still be a sense of wonder if done properly.
Of course it's for entertaiment!
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Sep 5, 2005 09:46AM)
What else is there..right?