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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Definition of "Magic" (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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cinemagician
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O.K.

"Psuedo-Magic, Psuedo-Science, Psuedo-Alchemy, etc. are all genres of the Theater of the Dilemma."

Presumibly, the terms, "Psuedo-Magic, Psuedo-Science, Psuedo-Alchemy" are grouped together as to allow for a wider range of examples to desribe "what we do".

However, I think that some might find the terms, "psuedo-alchemy" and "psuedo science" initialy misleading.

When I think of those terms, I instantly think of things like phrenology, dowsing and magnetic bracelets; rather than performers who would use these concepts for the basis of their show; or as premises for presentation (such as your transportation device).

Cinemagician
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Whit Haydn
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Those would be very similar, but not part of the Theater of the Dilemma. The Theater of the Dilemma is defined by the creation of the dilemma. The Teleportation Device is Psuedo-Science. The Chemical Printing of 100 bills is a con game. The lack of a dilemma, and the purpose of fleecing someone instead of edifying them both distinguish the two.
cinemagician
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Yes I understand.

I'm just saying that using those terms at the begining of the definiton could be misleading because most people would not imediately think that those kinds of phenomena could be utilized in a presentation that holds to the dilemma.


For the sake of discussion-

What if we were to replace them with the terms, "illusionists" or "sleight of hand artists"

(personally I dislike these terms and feel that they can serve to weaken the dilemma.)
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

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Jonathan Townsend
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What would happen if the teleportation deviced looked a little more "sharper image" and you told folks you stole if from a travelling stranger?
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cinemagician
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Same thing. Ony in this case the dilemma is framed more in terms of a demonstration of "psuedo-technology".

OR, maybe if you really laid it on thick (in a board room of a sky-scraper, surrounded by Japanese investors) you might actually convince someone that it really worked

In this case- it's a con. Without intent for the delima it ceases to be performance art and becomes a con.
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

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Dave V
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Quote:
On 2006-05-20 17:27, cinemagician wrote:
In this case- it's a con. Without intent for the delima it ceases to be performance art and becomes a con.


Very good!
I think that brings us back to Whit's way of thinking that we don't convince them so hard that it's "real" so we can keep them firmly in the middle of the two horns of the dilemma.
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Whit Haydn
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Exactly. What separates a con game from a theatrical performance is the intent--art or entertainment vs. geeting hold of the subjects money. There is no dilemma in a con game. A person is sold a false reality, and the level of conviction is intended to be high.

To sell someone the story in a con, you don't want any questioning--you don't want to encourage thought--it gets in the way of getting the money.

In the Theater of the Dilemma, you want to instigate creative thought by putting the subject on the horns of the dilemnma. The only real difference between Psuedo-Magic and Psuedo-Science is the nature of the lie that is proven--the conclusion of the argument.

One claims the "cause" of the impossible event is magic, the other claims that it is electro-magnetic oscillation that warps space and enables teleportation. This sets the theme and story environment, the presentation details etc. for the presentation.

But essentially, Pseudo-Magic and Pseudo-Science are the same art form with just different dressings.

Take Pseudo-Spiritualism as an example. The Spirit Cabinet can be used for entertainment, not intended to be "believed" putting it under the Theater of the Dilemma. Fraudulent-Spiritualism might attempt the same exact phenomenon, but for a different purpose and with no intent to create a dilemma--they want conviction.

This Fraudulent-Spiritualism would be under the Theater of Deception, but not under the Theater of the Dilemma. It is different in purpose and in the way it handles the dilemma.
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Yay!

Clearly I see the differences between the two Theaters. The Theater of Deception is a much broader one, also inclusive of all cons, swindles, and bunco, and the stories my kids try to tell me when I catch them doing something naughty.

Performance Magic, the stuff I do, is in this theater but deserves its own classification, that being the Theater of the Dilemma. Performance Magic deserves this distinction because it specificaly invites the viewers to think critically about the Dilemma and try to resolve it. And that's not the same as trying to solve it.
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Bilwonder
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Just checking if my circles are straight.
Cons or part of the "Art of Deception" but outside any umbrella of the "Theaters?"

And I find the following a bit confusing.

Quote:
Fire-Eating, Blockhead, strong man stunts, mind-reading--any sort of theatrical presentation that involves the Art of Deception--are also part of the Theater of Deception. They do not create the dilemma the same way as in the Theater of the Dilemma.
Why are these "outside" the Theatre of the Dilemma" if they create a dilemma (but only in a different way). Shouldn't they more properly be a different portion of the same circle?
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Jonathan Townsend
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Let's explore the distinctions before we start lumping okay?

whit? would you clarify?
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Chevrie
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Clearly it all depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.
Lonnie
Jonathan Townsend
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Lonnie, keep you epistomology in your holster for now.
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Whit Haydn
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Hey, Lonnie!

I meant they do not create a dilemma. They have an argument to make, like to prove a special skill--tying a cherry stem with the tongue--which the audience accepts as possible. If done strictly for entertainment, it is a part of the Theater of Deception. But it is not part of the Theater of the Dilemma--no dilemma is created.

None of this is really part of the basic description of magic, but rather an overview of how things fit together. We will find it much more clear as we begin defining the Theater of the Dilemma.

The main point is, that every sort of approach to magic can be described in this way. The Theater of the Dilemma is just one approach to performing magic, but I think it is the most important and predominant. There are more theater-leaning approaches, and more charlatanry-oriented approaches, and they can each be described and compared using this map.
cinemagician
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I feel a bit like Lieutenant Columbo here but...

"There's just this one little thing that bothers me"...

I find it really awkward that terms like, "pseudo-science" and "pseudo-alchemy" are used in the basic definition.

These (to me) are elements or subsets of the presentation, not catagories that should stand on their own. They are the phenomena behind the effects.

You are not wrong to list them as you have, but it's a bit odd to me.

Like holding the deck in my opposite hand...

Or typing with one eye closed... Smile
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

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Dave V
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I take all these "Pseudo's" more as a "for example" rather than an all inclusive list. I think for now I'd be just as happy without any of the "pseudo"-examples. It certainly makes the definition shorter and would stop any complaints or confusion over the specifics of the terms.
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Whit Haydn
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None of this is part of the basic definition. This is just an overview of the terrain. It helps people to understand more precisely what we are talking about.

Only the Theater of the Dilemma is of interest to us for the time being. The basic definition does not really need to include those "genres." They are probably all the same thing, just dressed in a different costume.

But Pseudo-Science is different from Fraudulent-Science. Pseudo-Science is done for art and entertainment, and creates the dilemma. Fraudulent-Science seeks conviction of its conclusion, not doubt, and seeks monetary award.

The point I want to make clear is that Magic is just one of several theatrical dressings that the Theater of the Dilemma can take. It is certainly one of the most versatile. But what the magician is attempting to do is at heart exactly the same thing that the performer creating Pseudo-Science is doing.

What we need to discuss is the Theater of the Dilemma.
tommy
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Every sane man can do logic.
Magic proves illogical arguments to man.
Therefore: Magic drives men insane.

Or

Magic: The insane driving the sane to the nut house.

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

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ASW
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Quote:
On 2006-05-19 15:17, Whit Haydn wrote:

I am just about ready to start writing a book that I have been working on for more than thirty years. I have published pieces of the theory in various books over that time, including the Chicago Surprise and the School for Scoundrels Notes on Three-Card Monte, and have received a lot of interest, discussion and debate from others in the field...

It's about time.
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kregg
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Quote:
On 2006-05-21 02:43, cinemagician wrote:
I find it really awkward that terms like, "pseudo-science" and "pseudo-alchemy" are used in the basic definition.


A pseudo-alchemist should issue disclaimer's and have some knowledge of what not to mix. But, should not offer his snake oil for public use. Using it in a performance makes it theater.

When Tony Curtis played Houdini he wasn't really an escape artist, though he did perform Houdini's escapes on camera as an actor.

The use of "pseudo" seems appropriate to our topic and fits into Whit's definition.

I perform manipulations as a pseudo-magician. Had I'd thought of this years ago, I'd have written this book.

Kregg
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cinemagician
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Kregg, I understand. I learned to think of "psuedo-science" etc. as what Nelm's calls the phenomenon (the preseumed means for how the effect it achieved).

Whit has made himself clear above, and he is NOT WRONG.

It's just kind of a "flip flop" for me to consider it as Whit has outlined it out above.

It just a minor point. I'm anxious to hear more from Whit.
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
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