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tommy
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Magic then in and of itself is a subtext. Its very existence can only be inferred by the observation of its overt effects. Magic is never in the picture but in the inference of the picture of the effect that has no rational cause. The subtext of a magic effect is magic power. Or the will of the magician to my mind.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Michael Kamen
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Quote:
Around here I expect the average "celebrated magician in the Café" to vote for finding the selected card - as the other is simply inconceivable and who cares to learn from Shakespeare anyway? . . .


Really?
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Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On 2011-09-02 20:36, Alan Wheeler wrote:
But, surely, these three groups do not use the subtext to build up the impact of an impossible effect or to hide a secret method, do they? As Maskelyn writes, in magic, theater serves the purposes of magic.


There are other ways "to serve the magic" than build up the impact of an impossible effect or to hide a secret method. Subtext can add layers of meaning and interest to the whole procedure, and by making the character more convincing, believeable, real and three dimensional, can add to the enjoyment, interest, and remarkableness of the performance.

Maskelyne and Devant felt that the "needs of the magic" must be met FIRST, and then the needs of theater can be addressed--but they are meant to be addressed. The story that the spectator takes away of his experience of meeting the magician can be filled out with detail, multi-layered meanings and questions, backstory, acting, etc. The more "theatrical" a trick is--that is, the more lights, sounds, music and stage setting are added, the less believable and real the magic--the more it looks like a play.

However, one can use acting, script, and other theatrical devices to create believability as well. The more something is staged to look like a real demonstration of the impossible--like Mirin Dajo's exhibition--the more believable and convincing the event. Subtext can be used to make everything look more real and convincing.
Michael Kamen
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Quote:
On 2011-09-03 11:35, tommy wrote:
Magic then in and of itself is a subtext. Its very existence can only be inferred by the observation of its overt effects. Magic is never in the picture but in the inference of the picture of the effect that has no rational cause. The subtext of a magic effect is magic power. Or the will of the magician to my mind.


Tommy, I think the "magic power" is more the overtly stated cause, the more or less absurd argument put forth with the more or less proverbial wink. Subtext would be more at the level of the character's conscious or unconscious motivation.
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tommy
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Well yes I agree magic power could be the overtly stated cause.

I guess its because I don't overtly state that its magic power that is the cause when I am performing magic that I am thinking it is more sub-textual.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Michael Kamen
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That makes sense to me.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2011-09-03 12:42, Michael Kamen wrote:
Quote:
Around here I expect the average "celebrated magician in the Café" to vote for finding the selected card - as the other is simply inconceivable and who cares to learn from Shakespeare anyway? . . .


Really?


Obvious by inspection. What sort of student would attempt to discuss and adopt a notion that's well established in both literature and rhetoric without first learning how it is identified and in those fields and then how to use it in their writing... in a craft like magic where it's all about creating audience subjective interpretation? And then attempts to argue from ignorance? Got your DSM IV handy? Have another cookie. Maybe you'll find a selected card inside.

Perhaps it might be more useful to learn to write scripts that engage the audience so they will be sufficiently attentive to notice any subtext you can include.

Or do we need to discuss whether the closeup mat induce hallucinations in the same way that the stage performer's backdrop?
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Michael Kamen
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Don't feel badly Jonathan, you are not the first amongst amateurs and even many pros, to get lost in your assumptions.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2011-09-03 19:01, Michael Kamen wrote:
Don't feel badly Jonathan, you are not the first amongst amateurs and even many pros, to get lost in your assumptions.


Thanks, I retain my faith in those who seem to confuse the magic shop bookshelf with a complete library.

Any thoughts on those web pages with theater/writing discussion and exercises linked a few posts earlier?

Does anyone else's copy of "erdnase" whisper at night? Do the pages on your books sometimes go blank or all illegible - or the words rise up off the pages?

WFMO - (writing for magicians only):

What specifically would you like the audience to feel or believe (about you) about what happens when you put on your magician's hat/costume?

What specifically would you like the audience to feel or believe(about you) when you handle an object that's previously been effected by magic?

What specifically would you like the audience to be expecting or anticipating when you overtly use a magic item to effect other items already introduced?

What specifically would you like the audience to be noticing (about you) when you accomplish your magical result?

What makes all this interesting to them? What's the anticipated payoff? For a great example of this - seek out the story of the veg-o-magic (or chop-o-matic) pitch and the pineapple on the table.

What's your McGuffin? What's their path into the place where you are permitted to show them (what appears to be) magic? What's the path in and what's the signage which lets them know where they are and how to get out when the like?

What can you do in your performances to let them know what's described above without resorting to direct exposition or narrative?
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Michael Kamen
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Each of those perhaps deserves it's own thread Jonathan.
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Alan Wheeler
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Jon asks, "What can you do in your performances to let them know what's described above without resorting to direct exposition or narrative?"

WAMAET (Writing As Magician And English Teacher):


I just read what Mark Twain says about "showing verses telling": he says not to tell that grandmother screamed but rather to bring her on and let her do it--meaning, I think, that it is better to dramatize the action and let the reader experience it. Well, in one small way, this is what magic is all about, creating the roller-coaster ride in which the participant experiences the impact of the impossible--rather than being told a story or even seeing a play or film about it.

I do appreciate that writing/literature and acting/drama are the greater art forms.
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Okay let's chunk up a bit (larger conceptual chunks)

I propose that we adopt the audience frame of reference and call what's in the magic books as "the effect", the story or the text. That's the answer to "what happened" when an audience member tells someone about what they saw at the show. Let's go with this model narrator as reliable and sincere in what they report and unprivileged in what they know about backstage/method type matters.

There's a related question one might ask of such a witness/narrator - "what did you find out and how" and that's where, IMHO, we can open up the topic of subtext.

What do you think?

Jon

PS -
If Whit's in agreement and amenable to this equation of magic book effect and story as told story/text maybe we can call this the "The Hayen Equation" or "Pop's Principle": What they report, the story they tell after the fact to their peers is what the "effect" was for them - this amounts to acceptance of subjective reality in our literature and our explicit intent to script or write as much of that experience as we can for the sake of our show. This brings us into parallel with literary theory/dramatic writing so we can discuss our stories (which involve magic) using the same language and tools as the playwright and screenwriter
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tommy
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He floated!
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
landmark
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Quote:
On 2011-09-03 20:37, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Okay let's chunk up a bit (larger conceptual chunks)

I propose that we adopt the audience frame of reference and call what's in the magic books as "the effect", the story or the text. That's the answer to "what happened" when an audience member tells someone about what they saw at the show. Let's go with this model narrator as reliable and sincere in what they report and unprivileged in what they know about backstage/method type matters.

There's a related question one might ask of such a witness/narrator - "what did you find out and how" and that's where, IMHO, we can open up the topic of subtext.

What do you think?

Jon

PS -
If Whit's in agreement and amenable to this equation of magic book effect and story as told story/text maybe we can call this the "The Hayen Equation" or "Pop's Principle": What they report, the story they tell after the fact to their peers is what the "effect" was for them - this amounts to acceptance of subjective reality in our literature and our explicit intent to script or write as much of that experience as we can for the sake of our show. This brings us into parallel with literary theory/dramatic writing so we can discuss our stories (which involve magic) using the same language and tools as the playwright and screenwriter

If you're going to refer to the effect as the text, then it seems to me the subtext must always be, "and that guy/gal made it happen ..." Not so sure that's so useful in guiding a performance. I think it is better to stick to the original theatrical meaning of subtext i.e. the meaning intended under the word of the spoken script.
Text: Up, up , up she floats.
Subtext: Aren't I wonderful for making this happen?
or Subtext: Oh my gosh, I've never seen such a beautiful sight..
or Subtext: How the heck did that happen?
or Subtext: Oh my gosh is she going to awaken and fall?
or Subtext: Please Lord, just for one more time before I die, allow me to share the magic with people before I break my staff in two.
landmark
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Re: Jon's questions regarding "What specifically would you like the audience to feel or believe(about you) when you handle an object that's previously been effected by magic? " and the like, most actors refer to that not as subtext, but "justification," or "endowment" of an object.

Example: A play about a Woman who ran away from her home thirty years ago, and has come back to visit her mother for the first time. She enters with a suitcase. If the actress playing her mother knows what she is doing, she will justify or endow that suitcase for example as being the very same suitcase her teenage daughter walked out with 30 years ago. The audience doesn't have to know that the actress made that choice, but it makes the playing of the scene must richer.
Jonathan Townsend
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Landmark, If I understand the issue you raised, I disagree about the "and that guy/gal made it happen" as subtext. Most performances include enough cues to put the "accounting for the magic - at cause" in the text directly by way of gestures, postures, robes, music changes... so there's little left to the imagination about "he made it happen" even if the gestures seem casual and the wand looks like a painted stick - IMHO.
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Pop Haydn
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I really like this, Jon. I think that we are right on here. The point is to write the story the spectator will tell--to make him feel like an important part of the story. He was the witness, he is the apostle. Create a story for him with a magical character that does something magical FOR HIM. Who is this character?

Look at the story that the children would tell when they are grown up about having had Mary Poppins as nanny.

Look at the story of some fearsome savage woman who meets a Time-Lord from Gallifrey that takes her on a wild journey through time, saves the universe, and then leaves her back where she came from...what story would she tell, and how would she get anyone to believe it?

Your friend travels to the future on a time machine, returns to give you a flower that doesn't exist in your world and leaves again forever...what do you make of it? How do you make anyone listen to your story?

It's a wonderful life, where you have an angel show you a different version of history...is it a dream, or aren't these ZuZus' petals?

Every person that has ever been totally bent by a magic trick is the Ancient Mariner.
Stellan
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The good magician will dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

The dance will fascinate and entertain them and the sting will have them. The story they tell will always be based around the sting, but their willingness to tell it will be based on how well they were fascinated and entertained.

The dance will rely on good subtext, the sting will rely on the clearness of the arguments of the trick.

Or have I got something wrong here?
"There is no reality, only perception."
Alan Wheeler
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Jon knows how to win me over: make a magic-book concept sound like a scientific theory or literary term! Pop's Principle! The Haydn Equation! I love it!
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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Pop Haydn
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I love the idea of Pop having a principle! Seems so unlikely, but then principles are important, like ballast. You should always keep something that you can throw overboard at the very last minute...
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