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Whit Haydn
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It would be good to leave Nelm's and the others out of this. Let us start from scratch.

Nelms is probably the closest in understanding to what I have to say, but since he is coming from a different angle and does not have a systematic approach, it is better to not use his tools to understand this theory. After this is laid out, then you will see just how much Nelms said was right. In fact, I think a lot of the differences in Nelms when compared to Maskelyne and Devant will make more sense when seen from within this theory of magic.

Remember, the principles of magic don't change. It is what it is. Whatever has worked in the past will work in the future. I am not claiming to have discovered anything new, just a new way of looking at it.

We are simply trying to describe it as clearly as possible, so that by having a deeper understanding of the art, we can make even better art.
cinemagician
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O.K. no more about Nelms Fitzke or M&D for now.

Anyone else still here?
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
Patrick Differ
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You bet.
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.
The Great Dave
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This one comment from the early days of this thread has been very influential on my approach to thoughts on presentation... Thanks to all of you for your valuable contributions.

Quote:
On 2006-01-04 10:56, Clark wrote:
Speaking of "inside the craft" definitions. Asconio had the best definition of magic that I have heard.

"Magic is the difference between an initial situation and a final situation, and the missing causal link between."

He pointed out that many magicians focus all attention on the climax of the routine, but few give proper focus to the initial situation. For example any color changing pack is only as good as the audience being absolutely satisfied that the pack was a different color in the first place. When reading Asconio's definition one can't help but give thought as to how the performer would help the audience convince themselves (as apposed to trying to convince them himself) that the deck was a certain color in the first place.

Point being his definition helped me think through my routines in greater detail.

Best,
Clark





Best Wishes,
Dave
Academy of Magical Arts

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Jonathan Townsend
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Theater of the dilemma?

Okay, how do you get them into theater as opposed to having them believe they are in some other place? What needs to be true of the venue, the persona of the performer and the way the performance is introduced?

The theatrical frame of reference has some serious presumptions we probably need to recognize.
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Patrick Differ
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Quote:
Okay, how do you get them into theater as opposed to having them believe they are in some other place?


If you're on the subject of the actual use of the word "theater", I offer this. I understand this use of the word 'theater' to similarly mean 'realm.' And since 'theater' is such an interesting choice of words, it introduces the idea of an actual stage.
This is really neat stuff because, from sheer experience, I've learned that I must 'set the stage.' Whenever I haven't properly set my stage for magic, my work has fallen short. I really, really have worked on setting the stage properly, and when I have, I can then invite them to attend.

Quote:
What needs to be true of the venue, the persona of the performer and the way the performance is introduced?


It has to be a showing. The persona has to, in so many words, say that it is so a showing. The way the performance in introduced is really out there. So much depends on everything, and I doubt your way is the same as his or her way or the same as mine.

Neertheless, the stage must be set, and the magician must make the invitations and introductions.

I believe that this applies to all venues except one, that one being the display of "guerrilla" magic. Hit and Run magic works better without introductions of any sort. And achieves entirely different results.
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.
Jonathan Townsend
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Whit, does it make sense to discuss the necessary setups for the kind of theater you are discussing?
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tommy
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This discussion reminds me of:


What the Tortoise Said to Achilles
by Lewis Carroll



Achilles had overtaken the Tortoise, and had seated himself comfortably on its back.
“So you’ve got to the end of our race-course?” said the Tortoise. “Even though it DOES consist of an infinite series of distances? I thought some wiseacre or other had proved that the thing couldn’t be done?”
“It CAN be done,” said Achilles. “It HAS been done! Solvitur ambulando. You see the distances were constantly DIMINISHING; and so –”
“But if they had been constantly INCREASING?” the Tortoise interrupted. “How then?”
“Then I shouldn’t be here,” Achilles modestly replied; “and YOU would have got several times round the world, by this time!”
“You flatter me – FLATTEN, I mean,” said the Tortoise; “for you ARE a heavy weight, and NO mistake! Well now, would you like to hear of a race-course, that most people fancy they can get to the end of in two or three steps, while it REALLY consists of an infinite number of distances, each one longer than the previous one?”
“Very much indeed!” said the Grecian warrior, as he drew from his helmet (few Grecian warriors possessed POCKETS in those days) an enormous note-book and pencil. “Proceed! And speak SLOWLY, please! SHORTHAND isn’t invented yet!”
“That beautiful First Proposition by Euclid!” the Tortoise murmured dreamily. “You admire Euclid?”
“Passionately! So far, at least, as one CAN admire a treatise that won’t be published for some centuries to come!”
“Well, now, let’s take a little bit of the argument in that First Proposition – just TWO steps, and the conclusion drawn from them. Kindly enter them in your note-book. And in order to refer to them conveniently, let’s call them A, B, and Z: –
(A) Things that are equal to the same are equal to each other.
(B) The two sides of this Triangle are things that are equal to the same.
(Z) The two sides of this Triangle are equal to each other.

Readers of Euclid will grant, I suppose, that Z follows logically from A and B, so that any one who accepts A and B as true, MUST accept Z as true?”
“Undoubtedly! The youngest child in a High School – as soon as High Schools are invented, which will not be till some two thousand years later – will grant THAT.”
“And if some reader had NOT yet accepted A and B as true, he might still accept the SEQUENCE as a VALID one, I suppose?”
“No doubt such a reader might exist. He might say, ‘I accept as true the Hypothetical Proposition that, if A and B be true, Z must be true; but I DON’T accept A and B as true.’ Such a reader would do wisely in abandoning Euclid, and taking to football.”
“And might there not ALSO be some reader who would say ‘I accept A and B as true, but I DON’T accept the Hypothetical’?”
“Certainly there might. HE, also, had better take to football.”
“And NEITHER of these readers,” the Tortoise continued, “is AS YET under any logical necessity to accept Z as true?”
“Quite so,” Achilles assented.
“Well, now, I want you to consider ME as a reader of the SECOND kind, and to force me, logically, to accept Z as true.”
“A tortoise playing football would be –” Achilles was beginning.
“– an anomaly, of course,” the Tortoise hastily interrupted. “Don’t wander from the point. Let’s have Z first, and football afterwards!”
“I’m to force you to accept Z, am I?” Achilles said musingly. “And your present position is that you accept A and B, but you DON’T accept the Hypothetical –”
“Let’s call it C,” said the Tortoise.
“– but you DON’T accept
(C) If A and B are true, Z must be true.”

“That is my present position,” said the Tortoise.
“Then I must ask you to accept C.”
“I’ll do so,” said the Tortoise, “as soon as you’ve entered it in that notebook of yours. What else have you got in it?”
“Only a few memoranda,” said Achilles, nervously fluttering the leaves: “a few memoranda of – of the battles in which I have distinguished myself!”
“Plenty of blank leaves, I see!” the Tortoise cheerily remarked. “We shall need them ALL!” (Achilles shuddered.) “Now write as I dictate: –
(A) Things that are equal to the same are equal to each other.
(B) The two sides of this Triangle are things that are equal to the same.
(C) If A and B are true, Z must be true.
(Z) The two sides of this Triangle are equal to each other.

“You should call it D, not Z,” said Achilles. “It comes NEXT to the other three. If you accept A and B and C, you MUST accept Z.”
“And why must I?”
“Because it follows LOGICALLY from them. If A and B and C are true, Z MUST be true. You can’t dispute THAT, I imagine?”
“If A and B and C are true, Z MUST be true,” the Tortoise thoughtfully repeated. “That’s ANOTHER Hypothetical, isn’t it? And, if I failed to see its truth, I might accept A and B and C, and STILL not accept Z, mightn’t I?”
“You might,” the candid hero admitted; “though such obtuseness would certainly be phenomenal. Still, the event is POSSIBLE. So I must ask you to grant ONE more Hypothetical.”
“Very good, I’m quite willing to grant it, as soon as you’ve written it down. We will call it
(D) If A and B and C are true, Z must be true.

Have you entered that in your note-book?”
“I HAVE!” Achilles joyfully exclaimed, as he ran the pencil into its sheath. “And at last we’ve got to the end of this ideal race-course! Now that you accept A and B and C and D, OF COURSE you accept Z.”
“Do I?” said the Tortoise innocently. “Let’s make that quite clear. I accept A and B and C and D. Suppose I STILL refused to accept Z?“
“Then Logic would take you by the throat, and FORCE you to do it!” Achilles triumphantly replied. “Logic would tell you, ‘You can’t help yourself. Now that you’ve accepted A and B and C and D, you MUST accept Z.’ So you’ve no choice, you see.”
“Whatever LOGIC is good enough to tell me is worth WRITING DOWN,” said the Tortoise. “So enter it in your book, please. We will call it
(E) If A and B and C and D are true, Z must be true.
Until I’ve granted THAT, of course I needn’t grant Z. So it’s quite a NECESSARY step, you see?”
“I see,” said Achilles; and there was a touch of sadness in his tone.
Here the narrator, having pressing business at the Bank, was obliged to leave the happy pair, and did not again pass the spot until some months afterwards. When he did so, Achilles was still seated on the back of the much-enduring Tortoise, and was writing in his notebook, which appeared to be nearly full. The Tortoise was saying, “Have you got that last step written down? Unless I've lost count, that makes a thousand and one. There are several millions more to come. And WOULD you mind, as a personal favour, considering what a lot of instruction this colloquy of ours will provide for the Logicians of the Nineteenth Century – WOULD you mind adopting a pun that my cousin the Mock-Turtle will then make, and allowing yourself to be renamed TAUGHT-US?”
“As you please,” replied the weary warrior, in the hollow tones of despair, as he buried his face in his hands. “Provided that YOU, for YOUR part, will adopt a pun the Mock-Turtle never made, and allow yourself to be re-named A KILL-EASE!”
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
tommy
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All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

That seems simple enough doesn’t it? It is, until someone asks what is “man“? What is “Mortal”? Define them! How are we to apply the rule that applies the rule? It results in a kind of Ad infinitum argument such as we have here. At some point we must agree if we are to move on.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Whit Haydn
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What you are agreeing to, Tommy, is simply to agree on the definition for the sake of the discussion.

That syllogism is valid and true. It doesn't matter what the definitions are for it to be true, only that the statements are true and the form valid.

All humankind dies at some point.
Socrates is human.
Socrates will die at some point.

There is no ad infinitum here.
tommy
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There should be no Ad infinitum here if we use a bit of common sense. However I could say Socrates is a man, men have ideas and souls that live ever and therefore the essence of man is immortal. What is a soul? Yadda Yadda. and so it goes. Your argument is quite simple to understand but becomes confusing when guys want to argue over the word “is” for example and then over rules they used to arrive at that definition and then the rule that applied to that rule.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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Tommy, kindly define common sense. Preferably in concise cogent language.

Whit, how do we make sure we get the audience into the right theater?
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tommy
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Why?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-05-22 05:58, tommy wrote:
Why?


That tact works on TV shows though marks a student.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
tommy
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Common sense tells us Achilles won the race. Interpretation tells us he did not. Now your asking me to interpret common sense. Why should I step into the same trap as Achilles?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
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The problem with common sense is that it is occasionaly common, it is occasionaly sense, but it is almost never both.
tommy
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Smile
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Bilwonder
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Quote:
Whit, how do we make sure we get the audience into the right theater?


While waiting for Whit's reply, I suggest a two drink minimum as the first step. "A wink and smile" doesn't hurt either.

I think the audience may only need the cue of "theatre" to seperate us from cons. This can be done with a few mixed messages in our presentation.

WHICH theatre probably only matters to us in mapping out our presentation.

Whit, Is this close?
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Whit Haydn
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Yes. We are calling it theater simply because its purpose is to entertain, edify, and/or communicate emotion rather than say, convert people to a cult, empty their wallets, sell them a car or convince them that they can conquer the workplace if they conquer fear by walking on hot coals.

It is the intent of the performer--what he is attempting to accomplish--that creates the right theater. The intent of the performer of the Theater of the Dilemma is to create the dilemma. That is why he constructs his argument. To convince people of something that is known to be untrue.

This is the same whether on a huge stage, television, or in one-on-one close-up.

I use the word theater to indicate that the purpose of the performance is entertainment or art. The Theater of Deception would consist only of performances whose goals are entertainment or art.

This would include the Theater of the Dilemma, as well as all other presentations of deception (trying to convince someone of something untrue) that are done for the sake of entertainment or art.

If it is done for another reason, it is no longer theater, even if done on a classic theater stage.

For example, the trick tying of a cherry stem with the tongue (using a second already tied stem) can be Theater of Deception when it is done for entertainment. It is not Theater of the Dilemma, because the lie being told is not unbelievable. The audience may be surprised by the fake skill, but they end up accepting that the performer can actually do what he claimed. There is no dilemma.

This is a kind of charlatanry, but done for entertainment so it would be considered "theater."

When done to win a proposition bet, it would no longer be theater but rather it would be out and out cheating.

When done to impress a potential date with one's highly evolved and highly skilled tongue, it would be charlatanry.

The skill sets and psychology are very similar, but there are subtle differences in the way things would be handled when tying to win the bet as opposed to just showing off a silly trick.

By making such distinctions, we are more likely to analyze the best way to approach either goal.


Posted: May 23, 2006 5:02am
------------------------------------------------------
This talk of Theater of Deception and Theater of the Dilemma is all new to me, just having arisen out of this thread as a sort of overall map of the concept.

The Theater of the Dilemma would be theater by its very nature. Its goal is to create the dilemma--to give the spectator an emotional and intellectual experience.

This is necessarily art--it is hard to imagine any other use for such a feat if not art and entertainment.

To eliminate or even weaken either side of the dilemma is to move into a different kind of theater. It may still be theater, may still be art, might even be called magic, but it is not "Theater of the Dilemma."

The art that I practice is that of the "Theater of the Dilemma." I used to call this simply "magic," and called anything else charlatanry or "theater." I have come to realize that there are many people in the world of performance magic that do other types of theater (which they call magic) than mine.

There are wide variations from those that do theatrical depictions of magic (who do not attempt to "prove" anything) to those who actually try to convince people that their "powers" are real but use their "proofs" only for entertainment and art, not for other advantage.

I believe all these can be artfully done, and can all arise to the level of high art. It isn't helpful to hijack the word magic to describe only the type of work that I was concerned with. The word "magic" in fact seemed to be nothing but trouble. I was convinced it would be possible to describe what I do and what others do as well without resort to the nearly meaningless term "magic."

But in analyzing the Theater of the Dilemma, I realized that the structure and nature of the deception (lie) and the motivation or intent of the performer's actions can both be used to describe and differentiate between the various approaches. This enables us to make fine distinctions between the requirements and purposes of various theatrical approaches without making any value judgements by the nature of the "process of categorizing" itself.

I wanted to understand the fundamental things about our art--what it is that is actually going on underneath that separates what we do from what other artists do.

By finding a way to describe what the performer is actually trying to accomplish in the structure of the lie itself, how it is different from the lie that creates a dilemma, and by the purposes for which it is used, we can more easily analyze the various methods by which we can accomplish our artistic goals, and have a better understanding on which to layer other levels of meaning.


Posted: May 23, 2006 11:34am
------------------------------------------------------
Quote:
On 2006-05-22 22:14, Bilwonder wrote:
Quote:
Whit, how do we make sure we get the audience into the right theater?

While waiting for Whit's reply, I suggest a two drink minimum as the first step. "A wink and smile" doesn't hurt either.

I think the audience may only need the cue of "theatre" to seperate us from cons. This can be done with a few mixed messages in our presentation.

WHICH theatre probably only matters to us in mapping out our presentation.

Whit, Is this close?




I answered a similar question from Jon on another thread, and the answer may apply here as well:

I think that is exactly right. For the most part, at least in European culture, the conventions of the theater allow people to understand that what they are seeing isn't "really" real, but a re-creation.

Sometimes, however, magic is presented in one on one situations or under other conditions in which the audience is not prepared for "theater."

Sometimes Fraudulent magic, or Fraudulent spiritualism could be done with the conditions of theater, but violating the audience's expectation by attempting to prove something for the sake of taking advantage of the audience--a performance done ostensibly for entertainment but actually charlatanism--Alexander the Man Who Knows would slide into that category.

There are conventions of magic in European culture that make us familiar with the nature of the game. Just calling oneself a magician raises expectations and accepted conventions about that "game" that the performer can use, play off, manipulate and question.

What I mean by the quote that the magician doesn't expect the audience to "suspend disbelief" is that although the audience may "suspend disbelief" with regard to the magician's character or story which puts him in the "dream," he must be sort of in a "conscious dream."

The spectator is encouraged to keep his critical faculties with regard to the nature of the experience, to question rather than simply accept what is going on. To treat the "play" as if it were real. This is what brings the spectator into the story as participant rather than as simply passive observer. He is not just an observor, but a witness. He "examines" the evidence and may even assume the role of antagonist.

In the theater, the spectator engages the presentation passively, with the nature of the experience contained, as you so beautifully put it, within the physical and intellectual space the mind has alloted for it.

Magic slips those bonds.

Magic presents itself as real. This is an event that is "happening now" instead of in the protected "space and time" of "once upon a time."

Imagine a magic trick created by five or six people conspiring to work together to convince a single individual of some fantastic magic effect. Run like a con game, there would be practically no limit to what those six people could create in the mind of the spectator.

There would be no theatrical conventions to protect and anchor the spectator. This puts him in a very vulnerable state, and raises all sorts of implications for the reponsabilities that arise and the ethics involved.

When done as theater, this would end up like a large practical joke, and the spectator eventually let in on everything. Or left with a great mystery, but only for its own sake--for entertainment.

Done for less friendly reasons, it becomes a real con game or charlatanism.
cinemagician
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I was thinking, how we could be best catagorize the art of ventriliquism using the above terms. I think it's a valid example because as Whit has said before, it helps us distinguish what we do versus what other performers do.

Perhaps they straddle the line between "Theater" and "The Theater of Deception" ?

On one level the audience accepts a vent's act as theatre.

On the other hand, the ventriliquist's job is different from the actor's.

During the throse of his act he is responsible for creating the illusion that the dummy can talk.

Yet, he is not trying to decieve the audience into believing that it really can talk, In this sense the vent never makes an attempt towards the "Theater of the Dilemma".

UNLESS he borrows something out of the magician's play book and picks up a glass of water and drinks it while the dummy talks.

In this case it's "Theater" which contains elements borrowed from the "Theater of Deception" and if you throw in the glass gag a bit of the "Theater of Dilema" as well.

:)
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
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