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George Ledo
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Oh, man, my brain hurts from all this. Smile Especially on a Saturday morning...

I still have to get back to my question about the vanishing 747, but, for the moment, let me see if I can understand this in my own terms.

The first Harry Potter movie. They're outside in broom-flying class. Harry says "up" and the broom flies up into his hand.

In the context of the story, that's magic: a "force" or natural phenomenon that exists in their world and that they accept. They don't have to try to understand how it works: it's magic, and that's what it is. They're at Hogwarts to learn how to use it.

Now, if I were to do this broom thing on stage in the standard "magic show" style, I'd have to show the audience that there are no threads, magnets, or something else to make the broom jump into my hand. My task in this case would be to "prove" that I'm doing it by magic because there are no "physical" explanations.

But that assumes that I want the audience to "believe in magic."

As I see Whit's definition, however, the performer's task is not to make the audience believe in magic, but to get them stuck between knowing that there's no such thing as magic but seeing no other explanation.

So I'm seeing two different things here (both of which have been discussed above): there's magic a la Harry Potter, and there's this "theatrical form of entertainment" that gives the audience an experience that makes them go home wondering what the heck they've just seen.

If I remember my magic history correctly, the old-timers like the Herrmanns, Kellar, Thurston, Dante, and others, wanted their audiences to believe they were doing real magic. I never watched any of these guys, but Blackstone Sr. did come across this way the couple of times I saw him on TV. Then we seemed to go into the era of "watch what this box can do." Hmmmmm...

I need another coffee...
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Jonathan Townsend
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George, folks

Consider if you will the distinctions between our shared (supposedly objective) world and the worlds of story.

There are however many areas where what we know is incomplete and what we believe is vague. These are the "soft" places in our maps of reality. The places where tiny things don't act like normal things, where fast things act strangely. Places where a dark night elicits fear and we wonder if the thing that used to live under our beds has moved into the closet and its spawn might be hiding in our cupboards and bureau drawers.

Then there is the fact that the imagined world of one person need not resemble in shape, color, texture... the imagined world of any other.

Three worlds and more.

Consider then, that a magician is one who moves things between those worlds.

In Whit's terms, a magician opens a door between an imagined world and the shared world of the performance, then keeps his foot in to allow things to pass between those worlds and perhaps offers the audience a peek into an imagined world, all the while making sure nothing else from that world seeps in and that the audience stays in their world too.

Seems ecological to me.

What do you think?
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kregg
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If I said "Up" to command a broom, it wouldn't be necessary for me to prove anything. I did it!
Most of the audience will assume that there are strings from above.
However, they will probably watch everything from that point so intently, their head will probably hurt like George's.
POOF!
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Quote:
On 2006-05-13 05:57, tommy wrote:
Jack

Not all magicians play the part of a great magician which is why not all magicians are great. What is really sad is you do not understand that.



No. I understand that, and it is completely irrelevent to what I am saying. One does not have to play the part of a great magician, to be a great magician. There are countless roles which can make one a great magician, that are not the role or character of a great magician.
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[quote]On 2006-05-13 12:54, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
In Whit's terms, a magician opens a door between an imagined world and the shared world of the performance, then keeps his foot in to allow things to pass between those worlds and perhaps offers the audience a peek into an imagined world, all the while making sure nothing else from that world seeps in and that the audience stays in their world too.
[/quote

What a wonderful way to put it, well done!

Kregg
POOF!
George Ledo
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Okay, but after seventeen pages of deep thinking, I for one need to put all this into simple terms as they apply to a modern "idealized" performance style.

The old masters -- Kellar, Thurston, etc. -- presented their stuff as real magic. Yes, they did it on stage, but their whole personality and presentation was focused on "I'm a wonder-worker. Look at my posters: I get my advice from little gremlins."

Then we moved into the "Okay, so you don't believe in gremlins. Fine, so now look at what I can do by myself" era.

Recently, it seems we've been in the "Lookit what this box can do" period.

Now we're trying to move forward. I think I'm reading that Whit proposes we put the focus back on the performer: "I'm the one doing this. I'm going to tell you a lie with a wink and a smile, and then send you home wondering what the heck you just saw."

Granted I'm in theater and that colors my thinking patterns, but, if I were a director describing a role to an actor, I would have to explain things in simple, concrete terms. Just like when I discuss a set design concept with a producer or director and we use simple, clear, common terms that we can both agree on. Then I do a sketch that clarifies the visual concept we've agreed on, and that's when they "sign on the dotted line."

Same thing I did during nine years with a high-profile architectural firm working on corporate and government jobs: "So, Mr. CEO, in five words or less, just what the heck are you trying to accomplish here? Why did you call us?" Of course, I always said it in different words, in a very professional, friendly, helpful, collaborative way, but that's what it came down to, and it worked beautifully.
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Whit Haydn
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I don't think that people in the 19th Century took magic any more seriously than they do today. Magic was a very popular parlor room hobby for both boys and girls in the early 1800's. Magicians were considered entertainers, and people argued long and hard over their methods.

The style with which magicians of the golden age (1890's--1920's) presented themselves, as heros (Houdini), adventurers (Carter), wizards (Germaine and Blackstone) and so on were derived from the popular culture, and were suited to the themed presentations on stage.

It had nothing to do with the audience's "belief" in the reality of their magic.

Those sort of presentations died because of the shift from large traveling shows in theaters and tents to smaller shows in Chatauqua circuits and nightclubs. The shift in venues required different ways of presenting magic. But in all of the books of the 19th century it is evident that magic was presented with a lightness and sense of humor that we should not forget. The game is the same.

Anyone that wanted to convince people he had strange and unusual powers that could bring wealth, fame and followers in the 19th Century was able to do that without any trouble. The magicians didn't, because that is not what they were trying to do.

The charlatans are still around today, and people are every bit as gullible toward spiritualist mediums and faith healers as they ever were.

Magic is different from the other branches of the Art of Deception. It is a theatrical art whose goal is the entertainment and/or enlightenment of the audience. It does not seek to really convince anyone of the "truth" of its claims.

For people to have final conviction about magic either way would destroy it as a phenomenon that can draw audiences and cause interest and controversy.

The goal of Mesmer was to bind followers and patients to him, to take over their lives and assets, to become a cult figure. That is not entertainment, and his goals do not include any desire to enlighten or entertain others, but rather to take advantage of them.

The goal of Houdin, Kellar, and other magicians of the 19th Century was to entertain people with a sophisticated, charming, and thought-provoking art--not to convince anyone that they were real.

I think too many performers fail to see the multi-layered theatrical experience that is magic.

By looking at it so one-dimensionally, (the Performance of Magic is to convince someone else that the magician has magic powers) we fail to see the myriad possibilities for play, mischief, serious philosophical commentary, role-play, and story-telling that magic can offer.

When you tell a child about Santa Claus, at one age, it is all believable and real. The child just accepts the whole thing and it is beautiful to see them living in that world that is so unlike the one we know as adults.

As the child gets older, the story must change. He now knows enough about the world to realize that Santa and the reindeer don't register very well with the world he is learning is "real."

At this point some really lame parents will trie to "prove the lie" to the child, to keep him in "belief" (and infancy) so that they can continue to enjoy the game. They will hire a commercial Santa to come to the house, or leave "evidence" of Santa's visit. When this same thing is done in another way, it can be fun and play. If it is done with the intent of changing the child's thinking and belief, it is aggression and abuse.

For when the kid finally does understand that Santa wasn't real, and that his parents had conspired with others to "lie" to him and keep him "one down" in a state of ignorance, he will resent it and problems will arise from the experience.

On the other hand, if the parents help re-frame things for the child to fit his new understanding of the world, they can help bring him into the adult world:

"I don't know if Santa is really real or not, son. I lot of people believe he is, a lot of people believe he's not. I like to believe he's real. Hey! I have an idea! Let's get something really nice for mommy, and make her think it is from Santa!"

This is the sort of complex mix of truth and falsehood, and the concern for the welfare of those for whom we are responsible that should be involved in the artistic pursuit of magic.

Our job as real artists is to understand and make the many fine distinctions that keep our art from falling into disrepute by becoming either one-dimensional and boring, or becoming a form of charlatanry that is not concerned with the effects we have on the audience.

Great artists should know the difference between the different needs and abilities of the people in our audiences--whether through age, culture, or intellectual development--and keep those in consideration as we try to entertain and enlighten without burdening and harming our audiences.
George Ledo
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Quote:
On 2006-05-13 15:58, Whit Haydn wrote:
The style with which magicians of the golden age (1890's--1920's) presented themselves, as heros (Houdini), adventurers (Carter), wizards (Germaine and Blackstone) and so on were derived from the popular culture, and were suited to the themed presentations on stage.

Thank you!!!!!

"...derived from the popular culture..." -- what a thing to remember!
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bishthemagish
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Interesting in reading this new page of a very long thread how what IS real magic just slipped through the fingers. it is interesting that magicians and masters of magic don't seem to know the difference between story-book magic and real magic.

What IS magic is written in the pages of this thread.

Looked for it can not be seen.

Listened for it can not be heard.

Felt for, it can not be touched.

When I was performing at fairs and festivals for a week of shows I had people leaving me a Bible on the performing stage in hopes that I would read it and give up my Hypnoticmagic ways.

Suggested reading as to what is real magic the book "The magic of believing" by Claude Bristol.
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cinemagician
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Glen, I've read Bristol, Chopra, Dyer, Hill and others... they present some plausible concepts of "real magic".

But Guys, whether magic is real or not is not really the topic of this conversation...and would best be discussed in another thread such as..."Do you believe in real magic?"
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

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Whit Haydn
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What IS real magic, Bish? Is it different from what we do when we make a coin disappear? How many different meanings can the word magic have? Why do we keep using it in such an amorphous and meaningless way?

Let's do an exercise. We will describe an effect from one of my programs. It is not a magic trick. No magic is used or harmed in its construction and presentation. Magic is never mentioned. Please do not use the word "magic" at all in discussing it:

"First, the performer borrows a dollar bill from an audience member. Then, tears off a corner and hands it to a volunteer, pointing out that bills all have differing serial numbers. Next, the performer tosses a volunteer a couple of lemons, from which they select one and hand it back to him.

"Now, the performer introduces his amazing scientific invention, the Teleportation Device! As he touts his invention's tremendous powers (while the audience snickers), he wraps the volunteer's torn bill in tissue paper and affixes it atop the Device's antenna.

"Next, he begins to adjust the many fine settings on the device. Strange noises­­, beeps, and buzzes begin to emerge. He aims the Device at his volunteer's lemon, announcing that the teleportation is about to take place (by this point, the audience is certain that the performer is completely whacked)!

"As he takes aim and adjusts the knobs, the weird noises get weirder. Suddenly, FWAP! The wrapped bill on the end of the antenna bursts into flame and completely vanishes! The performer confidently announces that the deed is done as you cut open the lemon FREELY selected by your spectator, revealing that inside is a torn bill which the spectator confirms is his: the shape and serial number are a spot-on match!

"But wait! Not satisfied that the audience is convinced, the performer does a second exhibition of the Teleportation Device's amazing powers! If this is really science, and not some cheap trick like Cold Fusion, the experiment should be repeatable under test conditions!

"The performer asks another spectator to take the original torn, burnt bill and sign it. Next, he opens a carton of fresh eggs and invites them to select and hold one.

"Placing the wet, crumpled bill atop the antenna's clip IN FULL VIEW this time, he operates the controls and aims the antenna at the egg your spectator is holding high in the air. FWAP! Another explosion, the bill vanishes, and he announces the teleportation has taken place.

"He cracks the egg open and dig around inside with a surgeon's hemostat. Slowly, he pulls out what appears to be an extremely gooey, torn bill, obviously singed about the edges due to the explosion.

"Little by little, his audience's wonder builds as it becomes clear that the bill is the EXACT SAME bill that has been in front of the audience the entire time! It even­­ has some writing on it--­­the spectator's own verified signature!"


Now here is an effect that under MY categories in the "Theater of Deception" would be considered "Fake Science"--something equal to, and virtually identical to, "Fake Magic."

It is identical in every respect to a magic effect, except that the theme, trappings, and false conclusion of the argument are wrapped in the terms of science and technology instead of magic.

The cause is attributed to the electro-magnetic forces emanating from the device, which is actually functioning sort of as a magic wand.

So here is a great routine to look at and dissect and try to understand what it is that is being presented to the audience, and what the performer is trying to accomplish, without the loaded and nearly meaningless term "magic."

We should not use the word "magic" unless it is clearly defined in its context. Since this seems to be impossible to achieve on the forum, and everyone resists any attempt to reach an agreement on how we will use the term so that everyone is on the same page, let's just abandon the word altogether.

I have performed the routine described above hundreds and hundreds of times. The audience does not notice any difference between this and the other "magic tricks" in my show. The only difference in my construction of the routine and any other magic routine is that the theme and lie are science related rather than introducing the term magic or allowing people to suppose it.

So let's just talk about what we actually do in front of and for the audience in a trick like this, without bringing in the word magic at all.
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Mr. Haydn, The more I read about your theories of magic,the more I tend to view them through the eyes of Henning Nelms. I don't have the time to dig through the entire book but a few points- (I promise not to use the "M" word for the rest of this post)

I. Here is part one of what I'll term the, "Henning Nelms Paradigm" -


1.) The performer claims some specific, supernormal power and makes this claim as impressively as possible.

"Now, the performer introduces his amazing scientific invention, the Teleportation Device! As he touts his invention's tremendous powers (while the audience snickers), he wraps the volunteer's torn bill in tissue paper and affixes it atop the Device's antenna."

2.) He then indicates that the [primary] purpose of his performance is to demonstrate the power.

"Next, he begins to adjust the many fine settings on the device. Strange noises­­, beeps, and buzzes begin to emerge. He aims the Device at his volunteer's lemon, announcing that the teleportation is about to take place (by this point, the audience is certain that the performer is completely whacked)!"


3.) He provides this demonstration and it appears to prove his claim.

"Little by little, his audience's wonder builds as it becomes clear that the bill is the EXACT SAME bill that has been in front of the audience the entire time! It even­­ has some writing on it--­­the spectator's own verified signature!"

II. The second observation I wish to site here here is the difference between an "Effect and a Phenomenon"

The EFFECT of the above routine is one of TRANSPORTATION, (although Fitzkee called it "trasposition" (#3), oddly he never used the word transportation (to me a transposition means two objects switching places with each other.) Other's could perhaps debate that the effect also contains a pennetration (I'd say their wrong but...)

The PHENOMENON- which was another constant in all of the routines/ examples in Nelms's Book- is the introduction and description of the teleportaion device. The "phenomenon" was to indicate the supposed means by which the effect is occuring. (or in my own words "plausible B.S.")

I only bring this up because I remember that we argued over Henning Nelms over a year ago and I believe if you review the book, you will see instances where you and Nelms are using different terms and examples to say some of the same things.

Whit-

Check out the first effect in the book, "Strong Man's Secret". It's essentially a cut and restored rope effect that is presented as a more plausible carnival stunt instead. Admittedly it is a trick but one without apparent means.

It seems to serve as an excellent example of a "valid sylogism with with one missing or untrue premise"

I never used the "M" word! Smile

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Whit Haydn
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I do agree with Nelms about a lot of things.

It is just that I disagree with him on so many other important things.

It will just confuse things to bring in other writers right now.

It is the confusion of terms that previous writers have had that forces us to look for a new theoretical foundation for magic.

Do you see the relationship between the description of a theatrical event such as the Teleportation Device routine and a magic presentation?

Is the use of the term "magic" really that important? Can't we do practically the same thing without using the term magic?

If that is so, are all these discussions abuot the "reality" of magic and "real magic" sort of beside the point?

It is like studying the real science and technology of teleportation in order to present the Teleportation Device.

Whether a force called "magic" actually exists or not, is irrelevant to the performance of magic.

The performance of magic (just as the performance of fake science, fake alchemy, or fake math) is actually a game of sophistry that is played with the audience.

It is a game in which the performer engages the audience in a game of lying, in which he attempts to prove something that the audience "knows" is not possible.

Once proved, the audience still "knows" that the proof is somehow faked, but they can't find the answer to it--they can't see any way it could have been faked. This creates a dilemma in their heads: "That was not really teleportation/It couldn't have been anything but teleportation."

The creation of this sort of dilemma is the very nature and purpose of the art.
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Not everyone who wears a cape and perfoms the impossible is a magician.
Dispite his powers of levitation, flying, xray vision, and more, I never heard Superman referred to as a magician.
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bishthemagish
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Quote:
On 2006-05-13 19:26, cinemagician wrote:
Glen, I've read Bristol, Chopra, Dyer, Hill and others... they present some plausible concepts of "real magic".

But Guys, whether magic is real or not is not really the topic of this conversation...and would best be discussed in another thread such as..."Do you believe in real magic?"

Bristol gives Dunninger as an example that ESP could be real. That part of the book is the only flaw in the book. But the other parts are wonderful. And Bristol was fooled by Dunninger working strong so it wasn't his fault.

Magic looked at from the point of view of being real has everything to do with what magicians do. And everything to do with the description of magic and what it is. Even if the magician does not believe in magic. Because it is partly what the magician believes but also what the audience watching the magician believes. That has a direct effect on how a person will use his or her imagination while watching a magic effect and how they will interpret that effect in their own mind and in their own belief system of their subconscious mind.

Is gravity real or a theory? Does gravity care if a person believes in it. Or if a person doesn't believe in gravity do they fly off into space. Does magic care if a magician believes in it? Perhaps not but it does have an effect on the imagination of the audience watching it.

Jon was right in saying the "magic effect" is whatever the audience thinks it is.

Whit from my understanding is right from his experience and his point of view. But I do not like to put words into the mouths of others because it is only a theory from one view point talking about one branch of a very large tree of knowledge.

What is magic? I already have said what it is in this thread. And I do not want to argue it for the sake of argument. I do have an open mind about theory of both magic and hypnosis.
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Quote:
On 2006-05-13 22:27, Bilwonder wrote:
Not everyone who wears a cape and perfoms the impossible is a magician.
Dispite his powers of levitation, flying, xray vision, and more, I never heard Superman referred to as a magician.

There is Story-book magic like wizards and Harry Potter, Superman, Peter Pan. Then there is Theater magic and magicians magic. And then there is real magic. And natures wonders like rainbows and sun-sets. The problem with the public and some magicians is often they confuse them all together with the "effects of magic or the "the Magic Effect" a magician might do.
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Quote:
On 2006-05-13 22:27, Bilwonder wrote:
Not everyone who wears a cape and perfoms the impossible is a magician.
Dispite his powers of levitation, flying, xray vision, and more, I never heard Superman referred to as a magician.


Actually, when superman started flying and being able to turn in mid flight, lots of folks went from mere amusement at the concept of long leaps to outright disregard for the "integrity" of the concept. He went from science fiction to fantasy right there, and with x-ray vision and heat vision... he became a magical creature. As everyone from the Renaissance on knows, the eyes don't emit radiation. Anyway Krypton went from a heavier place to a Never Never Land as the character evolved. Even in Miracleman the basic issues of just what allows characters to do what are carefully examined. No criticism of Superman or fantasy in general being made here. Just pointing out the distinction between fantasy and science fiction.
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Bilwonder, George Ledo already mentioned the Superman thing. Did you read it? This thread is getting too big for it's own good.

Earlier in this thread, Jonathan Townsend brought up the concept of virtual audiences in terms of what we do as performers.

It is scary to think about the virtual audiences we may have as Café members.

How do you think you are perceived?

Personally, I suspect that too often people do not read what I have written at all.
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Cinemagician, yes, well aware of George's comments. My comments were sort of a turn back to him. His wondering about Potter's magic and all...

My point here was that all the powers in the world don't make you a magician if the specator is given a context that fits a "world veiw." This is not about comparing the "magic" of the movies to what we do. This is about how the audience "frames" the same effect in different situations. Magic is not in "the effect" performed, but in weather of not we have a "pigeon hole" explaination for what we see. There is really no "magic" association with Superman (or even Jesus in most cases) because we have a "complete" world veiw of him (in a story book way). Harry Potter is a somewhat interesting matter. The magic of that world seems almost "technological." If there were no muggles, how magical would it be? Almost like "Star Trek" trying not to interefere with a "primitive society." If everything is a science to be learned with a push of the button (wave of the wand) or turning on the electricity...it's just another accepted ability within a tidy world view. Magic is about rocking a world view. Changing it's perameters for the veiwer. It's not about creating a "false world" for them to believe in, or give them any kinds of "answers," but magic is to "knock the stool" out from under them and not give the another one to land on. Magic exits in that moment of flight.


I think Jonathon described well "magic" and the "magician job" in a way that many of us may agree with.

Quote:
On 2006-05-13 12:54, Jonathan Townsend wrote:

There are however many areas where what we know is incomplete and what we believe is vague. These are the "soft" places in our maps of reality. The places where tiny things don't act like normal things, where fast things act strangely...Then there is the fact that the imagined world of one person need not resemble in shape, color, texture... the imagined world of any other.

Three worlds and more.

Consider then, that a magician is one who moves things between those worlds.

billswondershow.com
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain
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Science demonstrations are sometimes perceived as magic.
Pepper's ghost started life as a extraordinarily elaborate physics demonstration of the rather simple idea but the effect it had on the audience was such that they thought it was magic. On seeing the reaction of the audience it was later presented as magic.
Apart from the window dressing what is the difference. One is a demonstration and one is a performance right. But what’s the difference?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
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