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kregg
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Quote:
On 2006-04-30 01:24, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
....magic lies between the horns of belief and knowlege.


Nice phrase Jonathan.
POOF!
Bilwonder
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"Poetry is the finest branch of magic"
Friedrich Schlegel (1790)

Magic is neither a lie nor the truth.
Magic is the everlasting (and unsubstantial) flame that burns at the edge of each individual's sense of limitation. It offers the gift of momentary intellectual humility, so that it may resurrect into greater pursuits. To conceal in order to reveal is not a lie. The magician deliberately exposes blindness by exploiting limiting presumptions. The magician never exploits the person (at that point he becomes a mere cheat or liar). Words like "Magic," "Art," Truth," "Lies," are in the realm of subjective experience, not scientific (or "authoritative") definitions. You may ascribe magic to the help of Spirits...but once spirits become common place they are no longer "magic." Magic then become how humans create these "miracles" without the aide of spirits. The conundrum goes on though the context changes. Here are a few quotes I think express some of what I'm attempting to say. There is a place where the magi and the spectator's sense of magic meet.


"Nothing but what astonishes is true."
— Edward Young, Night Thoughts (night IX)

"A desire to make a choice of some kind...
I am concerned with magic, awe and wonder, with ontological insecurity. "
—Michael Sandle


"We wake, if ever at all, to mystery"
--Annie Dillard

"To be matter of fact about the world is to blunder into fantasy
- and dull fantasy at that, as the real world is strange and wonderful."
—Robert Anson Heinlein


"Be careful how you interpret the world: It is like that."
—Erich Heller
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bishthemagish
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Quote:
On 2006-04-30 00:44, Patrick Differ wrote:
Definition of "Magic", by Patrick Differ.

One of my favorite subjects when teaching Literature involves discussions regarding the author's purpose. What was the author's purpose? Why did this person write this story? For the money? I doubt it! Why did they do it? What did they want? Different reasons and ideas always pop up and out of the most unlikely students, and when they do, I always share the smile of discovery with them.

Substitute "author's" purpose with "magician's" purpose (or "artist's" purpose) and definitions become clearer and easier. I believe that when you define magic, you describe your purpose...what you want magic to be.

It's the tip of the iceberg. It's the start.

That is interesting because when I said magic was not a lie I was the just about the only one posting that. Maybe, it could be the way we do it. Because when it is done for the entertainment for an audience at an agreed upon time.

Speaking artist - they seem to have a need to get something out. Magic artists seem to also have a need to do it. Set a deck down next to a card magician and they will pick it up and then start to toy with the deck. Painters paint - sculptors take to the hammer and chizzes.

Some may think that magic is a lie because it is a trick and the magician is trying to deceive the audience.

Others are entertained and mystified by the painting on the stage and the effect it has on them in their own imagination. It depends on how they and we look at it.
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George Ledo
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I think Patrick's definition gets at the core of something very important: when we understand why, we are more like likely to care. Or not care.

In my own case, I can say that probably 99% of the card tricks I've ever seen leave me with a "why bother?" feeling. For that matter, probably 85 to 90% of the magic I've ever seen leaves me the same way. It may be flawless, it may be astonishing, it may be technically perfect, and it may be beautifully staged, but I still can't understand the why.

A lot of recent movies are the same way. Donna and I call them "WFV movies," meaning wait for the video to come out. Good casts in some cases, good photography, good special effects, but so what? Where's the story? Why should we care about the characters and what they're doing? There's nothing there.

I don't believe magic is a lie "just because" what we're seeing isn't real. The "Mona Lisa," the "Pieta," "Guernica," the works of Rembrandt, Turner, Botticelli, and so forth aren't "real" either: they're interpretations of how the artist saw something, and they touch us. Those who like the work of Thomas Kinkade feel the same way. Those cottages aren't real either, but they evoke a feeling, a reverie, that touches those who like his work.

The funny thing about art -- in this case, painting -- is that it's so easy for someone to look at, say, a Rembrandt, and say, "it's just a dark painting," or an El Greco and say the characters are stretched out of proportion, or a Picasso and say the nose is on the wrong side of the head. Ever walk through an art museum and notice the other visitors? It's fascinating. Try it sometime.

Even the most recognized works of art can be ignored by those who just see them at a superficial level. So where does that leave magic?????

Actually, I'd love to see Sister Wendy do one of her museum tours and talk about magic tricks and illusions the way she talks about art. What in the world would she say? Smile

Oh, and BTW, before someone says, hey, George, magic isn't like painting: magic is a performing art... I still feel the same way. We can say fiction is a lie, songs are a lie, music is a lie, dance is a lie, and movies (even those based on true incidents) are a lie. All those attractions at Disneyland are a lie.

Well, if magic is a lie, I'd say magic is in good company.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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tommy
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Good question Whit. I don't know the answer.
In film we know the secrets of camera tricks, that the difference I think. If I saw a film that showed something magical that could not be eplained by camera tricks then it would be close to magic I think. That is my first thought.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Patrick Differ
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Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2006-04-29 11:36, bishthemagish wrote:
Could presenting magic as real that is working strong and the audience buys into the performer and what they do?

In the book the magic of believing the book talked about ESP and used Dunninger as an example as to ESP - could be real. That is that he wants to believe that it is real he buys into the lie so to speak.

Could perhaps doing magic as entertainment people - the public might buy into the lie or accept the suggestion - even though the performer is not suggesting that it is real? They could be suggesting to some that it is - just by doing a show?



I think Bish, that we are not responsible for people choosing to believe in magic, spiritualism, ESP or anything else as long as we do not deliberately attempt to convince them that these things are real and that our demonstrations are proof--the magician always leaves the Question Mark foremost in the minds of the spectator.

If the magician is incompetent, he may fail to erect and support both sides of the dilemma. If the audience assumes that he is telling the truth and that the demonstrations he has produced are actual proof rather than some sort of sophistry and deceit, then he has failed as a magician and become a conman and charlatan to some degree--it would be the same whether through intent or through a lack of artistry.

If he fails on the other side of the dilemma, and the audience sees through the trick or is able to come up with some sort of solution to the problem that seems to make sense, or they get caught up in theatrical elements of the presentation and "suspend disbelief" and neglect to apply any critical faculties to the argument of the trick, then they are able to slide off the horns of the dilemma with no problem and no magical effect is produced.

The artist remains Sphinx-like and enigmatic, not wanting to let the audience off the horns of the dilemma on either side--"There is no such thing as magic/There is no other explanation."

The magical effect of wonder comes from this dilemma, and without the cognitive dissonance and the mind's demand for equilibrium, the magic would have little artistic effect.
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Quote:

Their is no lie. Magic is not lieing. Using the word "lie" in reference to magic is incorrect. Magic is no more a lie than "hamlet".


I really wish more performers understood this concept.

To ask if magic is real, is to completely miss the reason we do it. Or more importantly, the reason people pay to see it. A fantastic point JackScratch
You have cut to the heart of the matter.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2006-05-01 17:56, Dannydoyle wrote:
Quote:

Their is no lie. Magic is not lieing. Using the word "lie" in reference to magic is incorrect. Magic is no more a lie than "hamlet".


I really wish more performers understood this concept.

To ask if magic is real, is to completely miss the reason we do it. Or more importantly, the reason people pay to see it. A fantastic point JackScratch
You have cut to the heart of the matter.


I don't think it is true. Hamlet is not a lie. We know that it is not really Hamlet, but an actor playing Hamlet. No one really dies. They pretend to. It is the first thing we teach our children about theater--it isn't real.

The magician says, "I can make this woman float in the air without the use of wires" and then puts a hoop around her to "prove" it. The magician's statement is a lie, and his demonstration and all its trickery and deceit are meant to support that lie and prove that what is actually untrue and impossible is actually true and possible.

How is this not a lie? Only in intent.

I think there are many kinds of lies, and that not all of them are the same morally. To say something nice about another person's outfit, even if insincere, may be a lie, but it is meant and serves as a nod of acceptance and approval. In that sense it is a true communication.

A lie to the authorities in Nazi Germany that might protect a Jewish family from deportation to the concentration camp is not a "bad" lie, but rather a good one.

Magic is a lie, but it is a lie told with a wink and a smile, with the question mark all over it. The magician doesn't want to convince the audience the lie is true--he wants them to believe that it is false. He just doesn't want them to be able to prove that it is false, or even be able to imagine how it could be false. It is a game, which when played correctly creates a story that is something the spectator will remember for the rest of his life.

For magic is not a puzzle to be solved. When a riddle or puzzle is presented, it is a challenge to the intellect, but most often directly to the creative (inductive) reason.

Puzzles are solved by inventing the solution, and the brain generates thousands of "what ifs" and other possibilities to solve it. Deductive reasoning will not lead to the solution--great puzzles demand lateral thinking. But the form of a puzzle is that when the puzzle is offered, that everything in the puzzle is true and factual, and that everything needed to solve the puzzle is presented. The spectator is meant to actually solve the puzzle or admit defeat. When defeat is acknowledged the expectation is that the answer will be given.

Magic is different. It is a puzzle which at its best is meant to be insoluble. There should be no expectation that the spectator will eventually arrive at even a possible solution. If he gives up and wants to be told where his brain went wrong, the magician refuses to give him the solution, and instead continues to make the impossible claim--"It is magic." It is a lie. So how is it that we expect the spectator to react to this, and how do we frame this as a positive and pleasant experience?

If you intend to actually convince someone that you have magic abilities you are a charlatan, and if you try to prove that magic exists on the basis of contrived evidence, you are a liar and deceiver.

But the same lie, told with a straight face and laughing eyes is very different. It is the wink and the twinkle that makes magic a multi-leveled, intriguing, valuable and adult game.
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Again I am not going to debate the symantics of it.
I grow weary of these endless discussions that further nothing but our own opinion of ourselvs.

I don't believe for a second people will reach any conclusion right or wrong. Only the conclusion that Hopefully, they were entertained.

Basically we do magic to entertain people, not to lie to them. We create "illusion" in the same way a theater production of "Hamlet" does. Hopefully again with the intent of entertaining those patrons who are kind enough to give us their hard earned money.

The symantics of it I will leave to the greater thinkers.

I for one will stick to entertaining those who are kind enough to turn over money to see me.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Dave V
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Debate it or not, that's your choice. As this is the "Food for Thought" forum, I will continue to come here and see what some of these "greater thinkers" have to say.
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
Whit Haydn
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Danny Doyle:

I don't think it is just a matter of semantics. It is the attempt to define what it is we are actually trying to accomplish as magicians. It isn't just different ways of saying the same thing. There are many entirely different paths that we can follow, some more productive than others. How do you decide whether to parade or hide your skill in performance unless you have a vision of what it is you want to create?

If you say there is no lie in magic, then you are relegating magic to an undifferentiated branch of theater that includes magic, special effects, fantasy and story. Without a lie, magic must depend upon the audience suspending disbelief and being carried away by a "theatrical presentation" of magic. There is no longer any difference between Peter Pan flying and the Princess Karnac. No hoops needed, folks.

However, it seems to me that film and literature can provide the identical sort of fantasy and much more believably and on a grander scale than any magic show.

This is not a trifling matter--not "just" semantics. The theatrical presentation of magic is a viable one, and I don't mean to say it isn't worth pursuing. It is largely the model of Maskelyne and Devant in "Our Magic."

I have a different way of looking at magic, and am simply putting it out for others to challenge and question. I don't expect people to agree with me--I want them to give me better insight into what I am trying to express.

It helps me to see how clearly I am expressing my thoughts before I write my book. I don't mean to get into any kind of ego fight, I am simply interested in the subject. I expect people to try to pick apart my ideas and argue with me. I don't know if I have the best way of looking at magic theory or not, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about it, and a lifetime devoted to the performance of magic.

You said that all that is important is that the audience is "entertained." I think that if we can figure out what it is that is actually happening in people's heads when they are being "entertained" and how one goes about creating that mental state, the easier our job of "entertaining" will be. I am simply asking "What is it about magic that is entertaining, and why.?"

If there is no need to lie, there is no "secret." You can do a little explanation of your performance afterwood, like a technician explaining the special effects. This in effect was the attitude of Maskelyne and Devant.

"Our Magic" was written for laymen, and as a very popular book, it exposed all of the psychological and mechanical methodology of the their own shows. Magicians were furious! Exposure! But M and D were unruffled because that was not considered wrong when understood in light of their understanding of the Art in Magic.

Magic, in my opinion requires a lie. Tell me why you think it is better to perform magic without a lie...

and what have you got against lying, anyhow?
bishthemagish
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Quote:
On 2006-05-01 18:23, Whit Haydn wrote:
Hamlet is not a lie. We know that it is not really Hamlet, but an actor playing Hamlet. No one really dies. They pretend to. It is the first thing we teach our children about theater--it isn't real.

I have enjoyed the above posting a lot and really agree with this above line. Some magicians play the part so well they play it at home. That is that magicians performances today are more like personal appearances than a play.

And most perform today as themselves rather than use a stage name or playing a part.
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Dannydoyle
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Mr. Haydn I do not wish to try to sway you or pick apart your opinion. In fact the exact opposite.

The problem I have with the path your going down, is that many many many magicians get so tied up in what they think is going on, that they fail to see what is actually going on.(not you by the way) They can't see the forest because all those darn trees are in the way.

Oh and to make a point, albeit a small one. To keep a secret, when someone knows you are doing it, is not a lie. IF you don't tell someone how a trick is done this is not really a lie now is it? Again I feel this is more of a semantic debate and not a meaningful one. More of a difference without a distinction.

"What is it about magic that is entertaining, and why.?"

You ask this. Now isn't this a wholly and completely different question than "Definition of Magic"?

as I said I get weary of pontifications by magicians who clearly have not the faintest idea how to actually entertain. They hide behind the things they read believe and say. I am not sure how this helps. Sorry I really don't want to argue.

Ya know the problem is probably as I said, I don't have one of those great minds to dissect this stuff, I will have to settle for simply entertaining people.
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If you don't tell any lie, there are no secrets to keep.
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Again greater minds than mine.

But define LIE for me. A secret is a hidden TRUTH. Sorry. To keep secrets is not to lie, it is to hold back the truth. NOT THE SAME THING.

As I said semantic. A distinction without a difference.

THIS is what occupies many magi, when they should be figuring out how to entertain people. I am not sure how this helps.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Bilwonder
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I think Whit is right on with what he says, but I also agree with what Dannydoyle has pointed out...that he has slightly sidestep the "Definition of Magic."

Magic can be called a "Wonderful Lie" that a magician tells. As Whit pointed out, it is told within the context of a playful game. This lie, however, is only a lie WITHIN the context of the game (but not outside of it because it is bracketed by the acknowledgment of the lie). We naturally react to the negative connotations of the word "lie" as it applies to magic, but it is as far from a malicious lie as sport is from war.

The magician offers the spectator a unique "experience" of the impossible with the caveat that he will deceive to do so. The spectator, in enters the experience knowing he is to be deceived. However, in this game, if the magician "scores" then BOTH "Win" this unique experience. The spectator tries to keep the magician from "scoring," not to avoid the experience of the "Wonderful Lie," but because he intuitively knows it heightens the emotional "payoff."

I dearly love Whit's precise thinking on this matter. Very practical to the art. I agree wholeheartedly with the way he delineates the aspects of the issue from the magicians perspective. However, I think he is answering a slightly different question than offering a " Definition of Magic" It is not the same to say, "the magician lies" and "Magic is a lie." It is beyond the semantics (as "E-Prime" points out, any form of the verb "be" has a nasty way of illogically equating what is not really equal).

I believe magic is an experience we have no "pigeon hole" for. As with many other words, it is a label to describe a particular kind of experience of ignorance...even blissful. Magic is the unexplained impossibility. If I give the phenomena a serious explanation of any kind (even of spirits) it is not really magical ( it may still be "spiritual," novel or frightening). Dwelling on any serious explanation can quench the "Numinous" experience. And I believe magic is about evoking that kind of experience. The experience is paradoxically unsettling and appealing. We may permissively lie to do so, but I have found the experience without the lie. Nature offers such illusions and wonderment's. I have been wonderfully fooled many times by nature, and have found some of it's marvels offer perpetual pleasurable perplexity.
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Bilwonder:

Quote:
"Nature offers such illusions and wonderment's. I have been wonderfully fooled many times by nature, and have found some of it's marvels offer perpetual pleasurable perplexity."


That is comparing apples to oranges. The "magic" of nature is unrelated to the "magic" (performance magic) that we are discussing. While a sunset may be "magical," it has nothing to do with the performance of "the art of magic."



Danny:

Give me an example of a magic effect in which no lie is made. If you claim that the girl is hanging in the air by the aid of wires which are impossible to see in the dim light of the stage and the camouflage backdrop, then you are not lying.

If you claim that she is floating by magic, by the somnambulistic power of ether, or by any other means than wires, then that is a deliberate lie.

So what kind of magic trick can you have that is up front and honest about the means employed to accomplish what people are watching?

If you can perform a trick that does not involve creating a logical argument that is false, tell me what it is. Name a single magic trick in which there is no deliberate deceit.

I don't think you will be able to.

If you are not hiding the true means used (the secret) and implying some other cause, then there is no need for any secret. If there is no lie, there is no secret. The secret is the hidden, actual method--which implies that some other false cause is presented to the audience as the real solution. Otherwise, the magician just gives the correct method--"I am going to pretend to put the coin in my left hand and really keep it in my right so that it will look as though it disappeared."

It is wrong for you to call this discussion one of semantics, or a distinction without a difference simply because you have not thought out the definitions. This is not a question of semantics but of the very purpose and nature of magic itself.

I base all of my work on the theory of magic that I have outlined in the posts above. It drives and informs my work. It is not inconsequential, and is in fact the reason that I do so many things that seem to go against the conventional wisdom of magic theory. Most of what passes for magic theory today is totally wrong-headed in my opinion, and is leading many people astray from what I think great magic should be like.

I have defined magic as "the science of proving something that is known to be untrue is true." Every magic trick involves a lie--claiming a false cause for the effect demonstrated. Name one that does not.

My description of magic would be "the assertion and proof of something that is known to be impossible." Even if a father simply pretends to "blow out the light" in the kid's bedroom, it is a magic trick with a lie, and with "proof."

Danny, you claimed that I was making "a distinction without a difference." That would be a serious weakness in my argument. I don't believe that it is true. If you can tell me a magic trick in which there is no lie, but there is still a secret to be kept, then give me an example. Even one.
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Whit, as I said, I believe you are absolutely right about the art of magic in this regard. But I also believe there is place where the spectator's and magi's view of magic meet and that is not comparing apples to oranges.

I remember my parents driving me into Colon Michigan for the Magic Convention in the mid sixties. We thought there had been a horrible accident ahead in the road as traffic was being slowed and diverted around something. We were surprised to find it was only someone being levitated in the middle of the lane of traffic! This is not unlike the "claim" nature makes when it "offers" me water in the desert, only to magically "vanish" it. Whatever claims inferred can be subtle, indirect or a bit subjective in many cases. Many magicians create rapid "spectacle" to music that make finding a direct claim a bit evasive. No doubt, we may construct one, but the initial experience that defines "magic" for the spectator in such cases has to do with the "experience of the unexplainable."

I believe our art is based on imitating this aspect of nature - that which teases our perceptions. The difference is, we play it as a game (or art) with intention (and lie "within those brackets"). But the game doesn't DEFINE "MAGIC" itself. We are only defining how we play it as a game. Defining the game may be a more practical question, but it still slightly misses the "Definition of Magic" itself. More directly, why does this term "magic" spring to mind for what seems impossible and exactly what is MEANT by it when it is said. My point is that once ANY explanation is offered, the magic dissipates because "Magic" is the word we use for the paradoxical experience. There is however, one kind of explanation that can increase the experience rather than dissipate it, and that is one that has little chance of ever being accepted...it is only a "red herring." Yes, I may tell spectators EXACTLY how I do the "magic" and NOT lie at all AND STILL FOOL THEM, because they refuse to accept it. This was one of Vernons techniques commonly used by magicians. There are few things so delightful.
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kregg
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"...only a red herring." A lie created to mislead (fool) the reader.
POOF!
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