Do you Suspend Disbelief?

Jun 18, 2019
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Suspension of Disbelief is a popular and commonplace concept in magic.

But I keep contradicting myself on this topic.

For example, I want magic to be so much more. I WANT to have it stand for something, and I know it's possible, seeing that others have inserted stories in magic effects before me and made it believable (hint: they used better stories than '2 black jacks which were robbers').

But at the same time I feel so stupid. It's just a coin disappearing. Even a child knows that the 90% of coin magic out there can be solved by saying that it is in the other hand (basically, it's NOT where the magician says it is).

Or, it's just me finding out what their card is. Why should I pretend I found out the soul mate of another card!

Does anybody else here feel this duality?

I want people to believe me, yet not leave thinking magic (Harry Potter style) is true, yet I want to make magic be emotionally important to the audience, YET I don't see the point sometimes.

When you guys perform, how do you think of the concept of suspension of disbelief?

How do you use it (or 'violate' it) in your performances?

I'm excited for your replies!

:)
 

WitchDocIsIn

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Sep 13, 2008
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Suspension of disbelief is an aspect of engagement.

When folks hear that they should put a story into their performance, they do tend to see that as "2 black jacks are robbers", but that's not really it. I think it would be more clear to say the performance needs a narrative.

The way I build a piece is that I start with the story I'm telling. Usually I'm inspired by some old myth or legend, or some 'unsolved mystery' I read about and I try to think of ways I could make that happen. Or I literally write a story and then sort of fill it in with ways to emphasize parts of the story or provide ways for the audience to be a part of it.

An example - I have a program I call The Anne Seance. It's the most theatrical program I do - more of a play that some audience members are directly involved with, and others just observe. I wrote Anne's story out (which I may or may not actually write up as a pitch-book style merch thing), and then I wrote the story of the actual seance performance. It was only then that I picked which routines would actually go into it. The entire thing is quite emotional and designed to engage both the sitters on stage and the audience watching from the seats in the story as if they are part of Anne's ongoing story. I play the part of an almost bereaved, active participant in her story and through me they are peripherally involved as well.

When you hit a certain level of theatricality in a performance, people stop looking at it as a pile of methods presented one after the other and start looking at it as an experience to share.

Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants is a good example of this. Through that series of tricks he's taking you on a ride through history. His unique set of knowledge and presentation style is intriguing and instantly engaging - he talks about stuff we've only heard hints and whispers of as if he spent his whole life with those people (and in a way, he did).

The video I've referenced before, Krabat by Adam Weiss, is another example. In that video he is taking you through the memory of his favorite book and giving you a chance to feel the way he felt when he read it as a child.

Both of these are wonderful examples of a theatrical experience that draws you in regardless of the routines being presented.
 

RealityOne

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My goal is suspension of belief.

As in "Forget what you believe to be true and come with me on a journey..."

I want magic to be so much more. I WANT to have it stand for something.

What does for "stand for something" mean? It means that the audience has an emotional reaction to your magic that is more than admiring the seeming impossibility of what you have done. The best example is the first 8 minutes of the movie Up! Every adult that watches that sees a combination of their lives and their parent's lives. They reflect, even for a moment, on what is important in life.

But, everything doesn't need to be the same sentimental type of emotions. I am working on a needle swallowing routine that has a monologue about how my day went with various puns (the people who needle you, waiting on pins and needles, those pricks you have to deal with) as I drop needles in a glass and then wash them down with some wine. The reaction I'm aiming for is a nervous laugh that is the result of the juxtaposition of bad puns and the macabre idea of swallowing needles - the feeling that this shouldn't be funny but it is.

I have a card to bottle where I use a story about how I got into magic which is really about my Uncle Jim... who "used to commune with the spirts... if you know what I mean" (I say as I pantomime drinking from a pint sized gin bottle). "He would go downstairs every night, sit in his Lazy Boy chair and study old texts on magic... we all knew he was just trying to get away from Aunt Bertha." I tell about what "would have been his most famous magic trick... but there was one problem.... it didn't work." The routine is to evoke a laugh at a funny story that explains where the magic came from.

I have a routine using worry stones that talks about prayer. I start with a pop singer (who says worry is useless), quote a Russian agnostic (who says prayer is like asking God that 2+2 equals five), turn to a Dutch Theologian (who says prayer doesn't change God but changes the person who prays) and explain how my mother taught me to pray (ask God for the strength, courage or knowledge you need). I end the routine by having the spectator reveal that the four worry stones in her hand have now become five - "and just maybe, if you pray the right way, two plus two could equal five." It is a bit more intellectual... challenging the audience to think about worrying and prayer.

I have my egg bag routine which is the story of a little girl named Margarite who lived in Nazi-occupied France. I open that routine by talking about the stories my mother used to tell me when I was growing up that taught me courage, perseverance and values. I explain that this routine is for her. The crack in my voice when I say that is genuine. Through the story, Margarite learns that people sometimes are not what they seem and that there is a magic her wishes.

Eugene Burger talks about "texture" in magic shows. To me that means utilizing a variety of props and plots but also to have different emotions conveyed through magic. The emotions I try to evoke go from whimsicality, to humor, to sentiment, to suspense, to unease, to the intellectual to the arcane. However, it is important to get your audience to trust you before you do something that is very emotional.

Developing performance pieces (a term from Larry Haas's book Transformations) that make the audience feel something isn't easy. First off, many effects just can't carry the weight of a strong presentation. John Bannon's B'Wave is an amazing effect, but to try to put a powerful presentation with it would ruin it. Other times, it is difficult to find a presentation that goes with the effect. I've been brainstorming presentations to go with Kainoa Harbottle's Victorian Coins for more than six months with nothing that I like. I also think that it is a lot harder to develop presentations for card tricks and coin tricks than with other effects. The other problem is that it is too easy to come up with a presentation that is trite or overly emotional -- "think of this card as someone you love."

When you guys perform, how do you think of the concept of suspension of disbelief?

Part of it is to start with strong magic and strong methods. The problem with "just a coin disappearing" is that there is nothing more. What is the point of that? For the audience to figure out where it went? For the audience to be impressed by your skill? A Three-Fly routine or a coins through table routine is stronger because it shows where the coins go. That is step one.

Step two is to answer "why?" Why does the magic happen? Why should the audience care? My coins through table routine (which can be found in Bobo's) is based on times in my life where I had to confront challenges and do what seemed to be impossible. The presentation started out generic - when you are under pressure (press on coins), feel like you are in a glass bubble and everyone is watching you (under a shot glass). It has evolved into personal stories of challenges and talking about what helped me to do the impossible (advice from parents, faith, friends, etc.).

The desired result is a synergy between the magic and the presentation. Both have to be strong enough to be interesting on their own but they need to work together in that the magic needs to illustrate the story and the story needs to explain the magic. When I talk to people who have seen my magic, they refer to the presentation pieces I perform by saying, the one where you talked about [insert presentation] and did [insert effect].

So if you do that right, how does it affect the audience's belief? I think that a good presentation engages the part of the brain that wants to figure out how you did what you did. It is my special effects theory - when you are watching a good movie, you know that it is an actor and special effects, but you are so wrapped up in the plot you don't care about how they did the effects. If your focus as a magician is on the props, the audience's focus will go there two. If your focus is on entertaining, the audience will focus on being entertained.

There is one more element at play here -- consistency with character. Take Harry Potter. In the final scene with Voldomort, did Harry acquire new powers, learn a new spell or act in a way different than his character acted throughout the books? No. Contrast that with the last Star Wars movie, the Rise of Skywalker where an untrained Jedi can use the force in ways that my mentor Yoda could not ("heal with the force one cannot") and where Palpatine survived because of a Horcrux and had to get Harry's blood to return to a corporal body (or something like that). Your character needs to tie your show together. It is easier for me to talk about life's lessons because at age 52, I've experienced a lot. As a teenager, you really can't talk with experience. But, you can talk about stories from your parents or lessons from your grandparents.

As a final point, not everything I perform has a well developed presentation. If I'm casually performing for family or friends or other magicians, sometimes the presentation is just about the effect. However, for me, if I'm doing a more formal show, the presentation should be more polished and thought out.
 
Jun 18, 2019
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The video I've referenced before, Krabat by Adam Weiss, is another example. In that video he is taking you through the memory of his favorite book and giving you a chance to feel the way he felt when he read it as a child
And I thank you immensely for pointing out that video to me. It's the best video on magic I've ever seen!


When you hit a certain level of theatricality in a performance, people stop looking at it as a pile of methods presented one after the other and start looking at it as an experience to share.
Thanks a lot! I think I understand what you mean now. :)


The problem with "just a coin disappearing" is that there is nothing more.
So what you mean is that even if I dress up a coin vanish with a story, chances are the effect will sound cringeworth and fall flat on its face?

So if you do that right, how does it affect the audience's belief? I think that a good presentation engages the part of the brain that wants to figure out how you did what you did. It is my special effects theory - when you are watching a good movie, you know that it is an actor and special effects, but you are so wrapped up in the plot you don't care about how they did the effects. If your focus as a magician is on the props, the audience's focus will go there two. If your focus is on entertaining, the audience will focus on being entertained.
I love this theory and have used it myself too. The only hitch I hit is that the director/film maker doesn't care whether we end up realising it was indeed CGI, but we care if the audience realises a coin was palmed.
 

RealityOne

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So what you mean is that even if I dress up a coin vanish with a story, chances are the effect will sound cringeworth and fall flat on its face?

It is harder with a more simple effect. My effect with worry stones (where four worry stones becomes five) is an example of how it can work. I also do an effect from Larry Haas's Gift Magic where a small plastic star appears in my hand. The presentation is about making a wish and the star just appears when I close my hand and reopen it. I can do a French drop, retention vanish or even make a coin appear in the same manner as the star or the worry stones, but I don't think it has the same impact. Why? Because a coin vanish or appearance seems like a magic trick. Even more so with cards.

The only hitch I hit is that the director/film maker doesn't care whether we end up realising it was indeed CGI, but we care if the audience realises a coin was palmed.

But does a filmmaker care if you are entertained? That is the key. If you start with a strong effect, have natural handling and are entertaining, it works. Focus on being entertaining. Even if they guess the method (which they will be less likely to do), you have still entertained them.
 
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I heard a great comment on this from somewhere (if you know where it's from please remind me) which is that magic is like a pulling a chair from under someone. You lead them down a road based on false assumptions to the point where they think the card is still in the deck, and then you show the card is in the box, and so you pull the chair from under them, and they are left floating midair, experiencing a moment which, according to their logic, is impossible.
I think this is what you should aim for. Of course, a ten minute performance isn't going to be all amazing moments - you need pacing, and parts where you are telling a story, parts where smaller magic moments come together into one big routine, but, I think that as magicians we should aim to leave our audiences with at least one big magic moment which they will remember. An illusion so convincing that when you do the impossible, 'pull the chair from under them', they will remember it forever.
 

WitchDocIsIn

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So what you mean is that even if I dress up a coin vanish with a story, chances are the effect will sound cringeworth and fall flat on its face?

It can be challenging to dress up a simple thing with a meaningful story, but not impossible. A friend of mine, Rob, almost made me cry with a performance that used a gimmick that's in most old magic sets. It was during a competition at a convention, and as soon as he reached the climax of the routine I thought, "Welp. He won." And he did.

It's a matter of approaching things sideways. Don't think about the method or what other people have done with it - break it down to what is being shown, and what could be expressed. Or, the way I prefer doing things, think of what you want to express first and then think about methods that can be used to do so.

You lead them down a road based on false assumptions to the point where they think the card is still in the deck, and then you show the card is in the box, and so you pull the chair from under them, and they are left floating midair, experiencing a moment which, according to their logic, is impossible.

There is an important difference between "impossible" and "magical".

It's very easy to end up with a sort of mental blue screen moment where someone is thinking, "That's not possible. But it happened." The thing is, if the emphasis is just on the thing that seems to be impossible which just happened, then the only logical conclusion to reach is, "It's a trick." But if the emphasis is on the experience of the performance rather than that one impossible seeming moment, then you can reach a truly magical experience.
 
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Jun 18, 2019
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There is an important difference between "impossible" and "magical".
Could you please elaborate a bit more on it? It is not only interesting but I also think it might end up answering my original question effeciently!


Why? Because a coin vanish or appearance seems like a magic trick. Even more so with cards.
I have talked about this before and I can't help asking again, no matter what, as a rule of thumb, card tricks happen to be weaker than other kinds of magic, right?


I heard a great comment on this from somewhere (if you know where it's from please remind me) which is that magic is like a pulling a chair from under someone. You lead them down a road based on false assumptions to the point where they think the card is still in the deck, and then you show the card is in the box, and so you pull the chair from under them, and they are left floating midair, experiencing a moment which, according to their logic, is impossible.
That's really something great you've given me to ponder on! I personally think the magic should be like a roller coaster, and the 'climax' itself be like that part in the ride where it plunges down! :)
 

WitchDocIsIn

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Could you please elaborate a bit more on it? It is not only interesting but I also think it might end up answering my original question effeciently!

Just because something seems to be impossible, doesn't mean it's going to be perceived as magical.

If something is merely impossible, it will inevitably become a puzzle. Because impossible is meaningless, really. If we witness something that seems to be impossible, but we just watched it happen, then it is a very short hop to think, "Well, I must have just missed something."

When something is truly magical, the audience doesn't look for method. They just revel in the experience. Derren Brown has several good examples of this. Like his Nested Box/Ball of Yarn routine, where the engraved coin ends up inside a ball of yarn, inside a locked box, which is also inside another locked box. This is a classic of magic but the way Brown presents it turns it into a moving story where we feel connected to him, and the volunteer gets an extremely personal moment, and the whole crowd is allowed in on that.
 

RealityOne

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I have talked about this before and I can't help asking again, no matter what, as a rule of thumb, card tricks happen to be weaker than other kinds of magic, right?

It is interesting that you referred to them as card "tricks." I think the word "trick" signifies something other than strong magic. It is common knowledge that people can do tricks with cards. As a result, most card tricks come across as skill. That may be why magicians like card tricks a lot more than laypeople -- we are intrigued by the skill involved.

In my opinion, it takes something more to make a card trick strong magic. That something more could be an additional object (such as a card to bottle or using a hole punch) or something beyond shuffles and deals (like burning a card or tearing a card) or something unexpected (reveals of different colored backs or blank cards or an Omni Deck). Sometimes, it is the presentation that adds the something more. I do a wildcard routine where I talk about how I met my wife (and don't even mention the cards).

Another issue is that many card tricks are tedious. If it takes three deals, spelling five words and two mistakes to find my card... I get to the point where I don't care if you find my card... OK, I do care if you find my card because otherwise you will continue to shuffle, spell, etc. until you find it and I just want it to end. Others are too simplistic - it is hard to give a powerful presentation to a card under glass routine. Yes, it is a fun routine but nobody is going to assign any meaning to it other than a being a trick you did when they weren't looking.

But, there are lots of ways to disguise card tricks. Wayne Houchin has a great routine called Houdini's influence which uses pictures of the last deck of cards that Houdini used in a performance. Jim Steinmeyer has a version of the Piano Card Trick using fruit. Chris Philpott has a great Out of the World using French Postcards. Max Maven has a bunch of mental magic effects that are dressed up card tricks in his book Prism.
 

Josh Burch

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Personally I disagree. Magic requires no suspension disbelief. Magic IS disbelief.

Some of my favorite magicians such as Aussie Wind, or Penn and Teller have managed to completely remove any type of presentation in many of their effects.

With magic we get to ask ourselves questions about what we believe is true and how we come to that knowledge. Truth is among the most profound questions so we can possibly ask, I think that if we insert other silly presentations magicians more often than not dilute the profundity that comes through a simple magic trick, work card trick.
 
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It's very easy to end up with a sort of mental blue screen moment where someone is thinking, "That's not possible. But it happened." The thing is, if the emphasis is just on the thing that seems to be impossible which just happened, then the only logical conclusion to reach is, "It's a trick."

I believe that these impossible moments are what define magic. Of course presentations add a lot to performance and as you say we remember many tricks not because of the effect but the presentation. But an impossible moment doesn't lead to them focusing on the trick, or thinking it is a puzzle. A good trick is impossible for the audience to figure out, and so creates an impossible moment. The moment, and how they felt experiencing it, is what the audience focuses on. If the moment is strong enough, only hecklers and magicians in the audience will remain focused on the method. Deep down, everyone knows it is a trick - but a good effect directs their attention to the moment, not the method.
 

WitchDocIsIn

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While I don't necessarily disagree with your premise there, I strongly suspect the frequency with which is occurs is drastically smaller than most performers who go by that idea believe.

In other words - Yes, a very magical moment can be created out of something that just seems to be impossible, but in reality that approach almost never works for anyone other than the performer.
 

RealityOne

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A good trick is impossible for the audience to figure out,

If you are focused on the method, what makes you think the audience will not be?

If the moment is strong enough, only hecklers and magicians in the audience will remain focused on the method.

There is a circularity to your argument. You say that an impossible moment is created when the audience can't figure the method out but that creating an impossible moment (which presupposes they tried and failed to figure the method out) makes the audience not focus on the method. Essentially, if they can't figure out the method they won't try to figure out the method.

Deep down, everyone knows it is a trick - but a good effect directs their attention to the moment, not the method.

This is similar to Paul Harris's writing in Art of Astonishment. A moment of astonishment is usually "that was a neat trick." Shouldn't our magic strive for something more memorable?
 
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If you are focused on the method, what makes you think the audience will not be?
As a magician I approach watching a trick differently then spectators. I might have recognised some of the principles used to achieve the effect, and so inevitably backtrack to find the method. I think once you know many methods you can no longer experience an impossible moment. Almost any trick will at first seem impossible - because the spectator has already made certain assumptions. Take a retention vanish with a coin. When you first open your hand to show it empty, it seems like magic, because the spectator already assumed the coin was really placed into the hand. After a moment or so, of course they will backtrack, but if you have given thought to your tricks (in this case the other hand might have ditched the coin) then there will be nothing they can do to figure out the trick. And hopefully most spectators (although probably not hecklers who always see magic as a puzzle or challenge) will at this point just be left with the impossible moment.
There is a circularity to your argument. You say that an impossible moment is created when the audience can't figure the method out but that creating an impossible moment (which presupposes they tried and failed to figure the method out) makes the audience not focus on the method. Essentially, if they can't figure out the method they won't try to figure out the method.
Yes, I agree that looking back this isn't right. Rather a strong effect with a good method will first hit hard, and when they backtrack to no avail will firmly be established as impossible. A good method is what throws the audience off, but to a certain degree a memorable and strong climax can also retain the spectator's focus.
This is similar to Paul Harris's writing in Art of Astonishment. A moment of astonishment is usually "that was a neat trick." Shouldn't our magic strive for something more memorable?
This is my main disagreement. A moment of astonishment isn't 'that was a neat trick'. That is a moment of indifference - they don't know how it was done but to be honest they don't care. You would expect this reaction from things like a simple card location that is no that interesting. You have to make them care, whether this means doing something more impossible (like a vanish), or something that matters (like guessing a PIN code) or using a presentation or story that really captivates them. When you really are hit with a moment of wonder that you care about, you remember that feeling forever. I'm sure we all remember watching a trick that got us into magic, just from the way it made us feel.
In other words - Yes, a very magical moment can be created out of something that just seems to be impossible, but in reality that approach almost never works for anyone other than the performer.
I agree. My 'theory' is just guesswork really, and to determine the truth you have to ask spectators yourself (which I intend to do when I get to perform again). And these moments of wonder aren't all to magic. For example, Ricky Jay's 52 Assistants is largely focused on skill and story, and yet it is a truly captivating and magical experience. I was mainly talking about my opinion on the suspension of disbelief and how I like to think about it.
 

WitchDocIsIn

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Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants is almost entirely based around stories. His opening routine is the perfect summary - The same effect done three ways. The first two are meaningless trifles, the third is a masterpiece of card magic. It's the scripting that makes that difference.

Take a retention vanish with a coin. When you first open your hand to show it empty, it seems like magic, because the spectator already assumed the coin was really placed into the hand. After a moment or so, of course they will backtrack, but if you have given thought to your tricks (in this case the other hand might have ditched the coin) then there will be nothing they can do to figure out the trick.

Something I think you are missing is this: A spectator doesn't actually have to know the method to feel like they've figured it out. If someone starts backtracking a performance to see if they can guess the method, the performer has already lost them. They will never associate that performance with a magical feeling, they will only be able to think of it in terms of, "I have no idea how they did that." That's not magic - that's a puzzle that isn't worth the effort to solve.

Personally, if I have anyone tell me "I can't figure out how you did that", I consider it a failure. I don't want the audience to ever feel like figuring out how I did it has any value or generates any satisfaction. Ideally, I want my audiences to get angry if someone tries to reveal the possible methods to them.

I think once you know many methods you can no longer experience an impossible moment.

In my experience magicians are one of the easiest groups to fool. They are always looking for the methods they know, so all you have to do is make it seem like you're using one of those methods and then do something that disproves that set of methods, and magicians will have no idea what you're doing. The easiest way to do that is to do something for real while pretending to fake it.

My 'theory' is just guesswork really, and to determine the truth you have to ask spectators yourself (which I intend to do when I get to perform again).

Spectators will rarely be fully honest with the performer. It is generally seen as rude or disrespectful to say anything that is not complimentary to someone who just did a show. What I recommend is having friends or compatriots in the audience listening to what people say before, during, and after the performance. This is what I have done myself and it has helped significantly.

Another thing to do is make friends with people who are knowledgeable in regards to theater (and magic is a bonus, but theater is more important) and have them watch your performances and give honest feedback. Pro tip: If they have nothing but positive things to say, their opinion is worthless; find someone else. No one is perfect, everyone has points they can improve, and someone who truly respects you (and knows their stuff) will be able to tell you the good and bad parts of your performance.
 
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RealityOne

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(although probably not hecklers who always see magic as a puzzle or challenge)

I'd argue that hecklers are spectators that try to disrupt your performance to draw attention to themselves. If they see magic as a puzzle or a challenge, that is the performer's fault.

You have to make them care, whether this means doing something more impossible (like a vanish), or something that matters (like guessing a PIN code) or using a presentation or story that really captivates them.

As @WitchDocIsIn said, impossible is not necessarily magical. Things like a Pin code matter because they have an emotional attachment (fear of someone stealing your money is an emotional response). Stories matter because there is an emotional response.

It's the scripting that makes that difference.

Yup.

I don't want the audience to ever feel like figuring out how I did it has any value or generates any satisfaction.

Exactly. The most I want them to think about the method is to say "If there is a method, I don't want to know."

hey are always looking for the methods they know, so all you have to do is make it seem like you're using one of those methods and then do something that disproves that set of methods, and magicians will have no idea what you're doing.

Essentially, Tamariz's theory of how to present magic.

f they have nothing but positive things to say, their opinion is worthless; find someone else.

The best critiques start out, "That was good, but...."
 

WitchDocIsIn

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I don't think "magical" has a universal definition.

"Wonder" is the feeling one gets when one sees something beautiful but not necessarily inspiring of thought or emotion. Wonder is the blank slate of a child, yes, but that in itself is not usually a feeling that leaves a super strong, lasting impression. Perhaps because it is so fleeting, as soon as anything enters that mindspace the moment is gone and impossible to truly reclaim.

I think of magical as something that gives a hint at there being something more beyond what we currently understand. It's not, "Wow, that's impossible," it's more like, "If that's possible, then what else is possible that I used to think wasn't?"

This is sort of related to the idea of the Sacred Clown. In many cultures there's a clown-like figure, perhaps the Shaman, or a trickster god, the Jester, or whatever else the particular culture came up with - that figure's purpose is to remind the people to question why they do certain things. In questioning that motivation they are reminded of what is good and right, or perhaps they are encouraged to redefine what is good and right under that examination.

I think of Magicians and Mystery Performers as a type of Sacred Clown, when done well. We remind people to think about the things we've assumed are true and question those assumptions.
 
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Just because something seems to be impossible, doesn't mean it's going to be perceived as magical.

If something is merely impossible, it will inevitably become a puzzle. Because impossible is meaningless, really. If we witness something that seems to be impossible, but we just watched it happen, then it is a very short hop to think, "Well, I must have just missed something."

When something is truly magical, the audience doesn't look for method. They just revel in the experience. Derren Brown has several good examples of this. Like his Nested Box/Ball of Yarn routine, where the engraved coin ends up inside a ball of yarn, inside a locked box, which is also inside another locked box. This is a classic of magic but the way Brown presents it turns it into a moving story where we feel connected to him, and the volunteer gets an extremely personal moment, and the whole crowd is allowed in on that.
This makes me pity the magic I watch... I should start watching better magic! :p


But, there are lots of ways to disguise card tricks. Wayne Houchin has a great routine called Houdini's influence which uses pictures of the last deck of cards that Houdini used in a performance. Jim Steinmeyer has a version of the Piano Card Trick using fruit. Chris Philpott has a great Out of the World using French Postcards. Max Maven has a bunch of mental magic effects that are dressed up card tricks in his book Prism.
Michael Skinner's ultimate three card monte?


Personally I disagree. Magic requires no suspension disbelief. Magic IS disbelief.

Some of my favorite magicians such as Aussie Wind, or Penn and Teller have managed to completely remove any type of presentation in many of their effects.

With magic we get to ask ourselves questions about what we believe is true and how we come to that knowledge. Truth is among the most profound questions so we can possibly ask, I think that if we insert other silly presentations magicians more often than not dilute the profundity that comes through a simple magic trick, work card trick.
That is very true.

It's just a bit difficult to hit that level every time with magic. Well, we try. :)


Deep down, everyone knows it is a trick - but a good effect directs their attention to the moment, not the method.
This is pretty difficult to argue with in my opinion, and that's partly the reason I think this discussion never ends. As brilliant and moving as Adam Weiss' performance undoubtedly was, I wonder if we really questioned the women what happened that day, and did so very logically (maybe throwing in a hundred dollars to jog her memory, I don't know!) wouldn't even she come to the conclusion that while the magic was mind-blowing, Adam Weiss didn't really perform 'real' magic as we think of it?

I think once you know many methods you can no longer experience an impossible moment.
On a side note, many magicians say this and I applaud you, really. As for me, even having spent almost a decade in magic (and even if I do suspect a palm or a double lift) I haven't stopped experiencing magic. I suspect that I'm lucky! :)


Exactly. The most I want them to think about the method is to say "If there is a method, I don't want to know."
Would there, by the way, be a difference between the responses "I don't want to know" and "I don't care to know" (assuming the latter was also said positively)?
 
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