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Alan Wheeler
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I was happy to return to this Food For Thought Forum and see old friends still posting here. It seems some magicians have NOT stopped thinking too soon! I dropped by because I was remembering some conversations from years ago. Once, I remembered, as Tommy was posting about the "logos," I tried to bring in the Bible passage about the Word in the beginning. I cannot recall the discussion exactly, but at some point Jonathan Townsend wrote, "You are so close."

The discussion was likely about the perennial issue that often used to raise its persistent head, "Is magic real?" Some folks--such as Whit Haydn--would argue that magic must be impossible or outside reality for the magic effect to register as a miracle. Others argued that magic was magical in the sense of a sunrise or smile of a child, having real effects in the human heart. I think some mentalists may have argued that magic re-enacts or works alongside something real. Please forgive me if I have oversimplified or misstated any of the positions; I am just reminding myself that there were diverse and strong opinions on the matter.

To give further food for thought, I want to share a YouTube video about the archetype of the magician. It's easy to see from the many movie references that what is very real for some people can be used as entertaining fodder or meaningful theme. For me this is down to the storytelling or presentation side of magic rather than the effect proper--although the idea of overlap or liminal space is interesting to me.

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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Dr. O
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Thank you for sharing that video. Looks like I will be adding several books to my stack of things to read. Lots to think about...
Alan Wheeler
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The thought just came to me that magic's meaning is the subtext of our performances.

For Penn and Teller, the magical assumption is simply that the tricks are amazing and entertaining.

For some mentalists, the assumption is that something real is being re-enacted or displayed. It's a different argument being made and supported by credibility, logic, and emotion.
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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funsway
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You, tricks can be amazing and entertaining, and a re-enactment of something real can have a profound impact.

But, if your objective is to be a magician and create the conditions under which magic is expected and appreciated, it is another matter.

Perhaps with today's audience of multiple-choice mentality and stunted imagination, a "must be magic" response is no longer possible.

For me, this is not a "subtext of performance" - it is the reason to be creating new effects and performing and appreciating life in a special way.
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weirdwizardx
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I believe that if certain type of magic plus mentalism, could be seen as real.
WitchDocChris
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Traditional mentalism is real.

I think all the mystery arts offer an opportunity to create a space where the audience can genuinely test their limits of reality safely. It can create moments of genuine wonder. However, I feel many, if not most, performers are either scared of that and thus unconsciously avoid it (It's just a trick, folks!) or they don't believe in the potential themselves enough, or are too lazy, to create that space properly.
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weirdwizardx
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I agree with you. I think that as magicians our goal should be convince the public of something real happening.

And make them think with your effects, What is real? What is not? What is reality?
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Nov 13, 2019, weirdwizardx wrote:
I agree with you. I think that as magicians our goal should be convince the public of something real happening.

And make them think with your effects, What is real? What is not? What is reality?


I disagree. Our goal is to present an experience of the impossible, like a Twilight Zone story that is actually happening to them. The presentation can be humorous, scary, eerie or contemplative.

The idea is to create a theatrical experience that is more direct and impactful than a story being presented for their consideration. This is a story they are thrust into and actually experience in real time. They are not just onlookers, they are participants and "witnesses."

They should not be convinced that it their experience is "real"--only that they can't come up with any other explanation. They "know" that their experience isn't true, they just can't explain it any better than if it were a real experience of the impossible. They know the experience isn't "real" because of its framing as a "magic show."

If it is totally convincing, it is no longer an entertainment, it is charlatanry.
critter
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If I could do real magic I wouldn't be multiplying sponge balls with it.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
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Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Nov 26, 2019, critter wrote:
If I could do real magic I wouldn't be multiplying sponge balls with it.


Depends on your story. A real magician might have a number of reasons to do sponge balls. When the judge asked George Burns to prove he was God in "Oh, God" he did a card trick. I often find people stop too soon in their thinking about backstory. Finding a story that would explain a "real" magician doing sponge balls in a restaurant could be very interesting. A real magician might have all kinds of weird little tricks. Imagine a Dr. Who like character, who needs to get a child's trust or keep him calm. A "real" magician is likely to be flaky and off beat.

Magicians often take "magic" too seriously and ponderously. A real magician might like sleight of hand and silly tricks and jokes as much as a non magician. He may use it as a cover for his real magic. He may be more fond of trickery than of his magic, because the one took work and effort, and the other he could always do without effort.

Real magic can be limited, forbidden, dangerous to unleash, subject to difficulties and all kinds of things. I can't think of a trick that I couldn't justify doing as a "real" magician.
critter
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Like Gandalf's fireworks.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
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critter
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That is a good point. I think from a perspective of being in social work it would be really cool to just be able to conjure up food and rent money for people who need it. OTOH, I've skipped medication refills and lived on potatoes to buy magic books or a special coin so who am I to say what's a priority.
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Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Nov 27, 2019, critter wrote:
Like Gandalf's fireworks.


Or smoke rings.
Pop Haydn
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Let's imagine a "real magician" of limited powers suddenly thrust into the 21st Century. He might need an off the grid type of income in order to have a place to stay and food to eat.

He could use his ability to do three card monte, using his mental powers to move the pea since he had no skill. Maybe he would do a little magic show for tips.

He might stumble into a magic shop, and learn everything he needed to know to make a living as a "magician." Bored doing the sponge balls with sleight of hand, he might do something surprising by magic. They might multiply an impossible amount.

The magic show is the only part of the story that the current spectator's are aware of--they are just on the street watching some guy do magic tricks. They do not need to know about the backstory. The backstory is there for the magician to justify what he is doing, understand his role, and present a magic show that has an interior meaning and integrity that draws the spectators in. It is how the actor inhabits his character. It is how the magician organizes and presents his magic effects.
George Ledo
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Quote:
On Nov 26, 2019, critter wrote:
If I could do real magic I wouldn't be multiplying sponge balls with it.

I happen to agree. If I could do real magic I wouldn't use it to entertain people. I would use it for something more relevant and useful in the real world. Now, what that would be, I don't have a clue.
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Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Nov 28, 2019, George Ledo wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 26, 2019, critter wrote:
If I could do real magic I wouldn't be multiplying sponge balls with it.

I happen to agree. If I could do real magic I wouldn't use it to entertain people. I would use it for something more relevant and useful in the real world. Now, what that would be, I don't have a clue.


The question is not what you would do; it is what your character would do. If you want to do the sponge balls, then you may want to justify it in your character's back story. It seems to me, if you limit the magic you are doing because of character choices, then you are letting the story choose the magic rather than creating a story to support the magic you choose to do. If you don't like the sponge balls and wouldn't want to do them, there is no need to do it. But if you would like to do them, then there are ways to incorporate their performance into the backstory.
critter
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I'm thinking of Steam Powered Giraffe now. Robots created for a war that ended and rather than being scrapped they were re-programmed to entertain.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
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Pop Haydn
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I am a fan of Steam Powered Giraffe:

Image
critter
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So IIRC Christian Chelman once wrote something in the spooky section about coming up with a story first and then the effects should follow to enhance that. Is this a different concept? I'll try to find the OP for context when I have time.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
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weirdwizardx
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Quote:
On Nov 27, 2019, Pop Haydn wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 26, 2019, critter wrote:
If I could do real magic I wouldn't be multiplying sponge balls with it.


Depends on your story. A real magician might have a number of reasons to do sponge balls. When the judge asked George Burns to prove he was God in "Oh, God" he did a card trick. I often find people stop too soon in their thinking about backstory. Finding a story that would explain a "real" magician doing sponge balls in a restaurant could be very interesting. A real magician might have all kinds of weird little tricks. Imagine a Dr. Who like character, who needs to get a child's trust or keep him calm. A "real" magician is likely to be flaky and off beat.

Magicians often take "magic" too seriously and ponderously. A real magician might like sleight of hand and silly tricks and jokes as much as a non magician. He may use it as a cover for his real magic. He may be more fond of trickery than of his magic, because the one took work and effort, and the other he could always do without effort.

Real magic can be limited, forbidden, dangerous to unleash, subject to difficulties and all kinds of things. I can't think of a trick that I couldn't justify doing as a "real" magician.


Here I agree with you
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