On a Definition of Magic

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MohanaMisra, Dec 19, 2019.

  1. No matter how much we speak about magic being ''oh-so-undefinable'', I think it's time we took a stand and defined it as exactly what it is, because if we don't know WHAT an art form is objectively, we would not know WHAT to do!

    However, magic being an art (in some hands at least, as it should be, as per me), the definition is subjective, true.

    So everybody is allowed to have different definitions of their own, WITH THE CONDITION THAT the definition itself must be objective (basically, it means that you can't say that magic is ''the art of astonishment'' because the next question is, what is astonishment?).

    Magic to a very large extent is an intellectual art form, and I think it deserves a scientific definition, even if the definition differs from person to person (because though intellectual, it is an art and subject to the fancies of the artist in question).

    So, what is your definition of magic?

    Mine would be (and please point out flaws in it if you want to...):-

    Magic is an art form which can seemingly achieve feats, big or small, not allowed by ordinarily known laws of Scinece and can truly achieve the goal of arousing various emotions in the viewer's mind, in the spectrum of temporary amusement to a long-lasting and heart-tugging awe.

    Now you define, please? :D
    It's Magic Sam likes this.
  2. laws of Science*
  3. Magic is a collection of skills which can be used to create art.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  4. Magic is an experience that I share with others to create entertainment, a moment of wonder and a suspension of belief in reality.

    Magic must be shared with others, like all art. It's how I prefer to connect with people.

    It must be entertaining or it's just a puzzle. I apologize to those that just enjoy puzzles. But, not really.

    And where it differs from some other art forms, it hints at a reality that is impossible to the everyday brain. Unless you are a kid at heart and you BELIEVE. I say 'some art' because great dancers blow me away just like magic.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  5. Magic is proving that what isn't, is.
  6. Noicee...

    But (and I'm doing this purely to broaden my own idea of magic, and also of others, if I so flatter myself...)

    Acting is a skill, directing well is a skill, producing, scriptwriting, shooting (the video kind, not the other more disastrous kind, lel) are all skills.

    And they create art (again, in good hands) which is a beautiful (in different senses of the word) MOVIE.

    I know a magician is an actor playing part of a magician, and that a good magician ultimately needs to be a good writer, director, manager, producer and today even a great videographer all at once.

    But is magic exactly like a movie? We don't mind people finding exactly how the Jurassic Park was made, and there are specific behind the scenes videos and stuff for movie fanatics. But with magic, there is a certain sense of secrecy, no matter what.

    Then if magic is a collection of skills, how would you say it differs from a movie? (objectively speaking, again, I'm trying to keep emotions out of this as much as possible) [insert thinking emoji]
  7. Really objective, you, no sarcasm O:)

    However, while a suspension of belief is easily understood, what do you mean by entertainment and wonder?

    A card rising to the top thanks to a DL is creation of a moment of wonder for my friends who have no idea how it is done.

    But not for me.

    Does that mean the performer is a magician for them, but not for me?
  8. How does it then differ from some of these worldwide scams though?

    [insert thinking emoji]
  9. Entertainment, by the book is when someone feels amusement or joy. When I do magic, I feel that my audience has been entertained when they express joy. When they smile or laugh. When they want to see more or say 'do it again'. Do you feel like your magic is entertaining and how do you know from your audience?
    Wonder is more difficult. For me it is tied to the suspension of belief and the feeling of joy. And many other things for different people. It's such a personal thing and not the same for everybody. One reason I enjoy performing for young people under 10 is because they have a quicker path to wonder. They have not been influenced by as many experiences of reality and opinions of others with closed minds. To feel wonder you have to accept that you do not know everything. I don't mean intellectual wonder, when your friend says, "I wonder how she did that." It's more emotional. Something like, "I wonder if she really used magic?" Like I said difficult to express objectively.
    And do I feel wonder? Not often from watching a magic performance. It's harder for me to suspend belief.
    But checkout Tina Lenert

    This performance live made me feel wonder. If you ever have a chance to see her and Ardan James together don't pass it up.
    Finally, I felt wonder at myself, "How did I do that?", when after watching my second performance in the hospital, a young girl gave me a hand made Christmas card and a hug around the knees. One of my best days.
  10. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
    -- Arthur C. Clarke

    Just going to throw that out there. Curious to see what you'll make of it!
  11. not bringing down your style of magic...(it does require guts to perform for kids, no joke. More than half the magicians here won't dare doing that, and neither would I tbh...power to you *takes off an imaginary hat to @It's Magic Sam )

    But if they don't know the difference between real world and magic, how do you perform for them even? I mean, what happens in that case? Because some most ordinary events of the day can also become miracles for them kids, sp what are you doing as magic? And if they don't know its impossible how do they appreciate the magic? [insert thinking emoji]

    (This question is off-track the actual one, so I'll understand if you don't bother answering it...was just curious, haha).

    But you're speaking for yourself, somebody aware,to a huge extent, of how (frankly, simple and disappointing sometimes XD) magic works?

    Anyways, I get your point O: - )
  12. True true...!

    I think it was Garett Thomas who said that art (or entertainment, forgive me, my memory's down) is anything *not* done for survival.

    But that's the same as saying brilliant music or dancing, is magical.

    I'm talking about a tangible definition of magic as an art...
  13. He didn't say they don't know the difference between real world and magic, but just that they have a quicker pathway to wonder. They have a very clear picture of what's possible in the "real world" and what isn't, and in some sense they have a pretty closed mind: When something happens they can't explain with what they've experienced so far, they deduce it can't be explained rationally at all, therefore it's not possible and therefore it's magic.
    Adults (and teens, even), on the other hand, are more open to not knowing something: "I don't know how he did that, but I know it must have a rational explanation."
    This means that kids are quicker than adults to believe that something is just not possible in our world. I like to talk not of a suspension of disbelief, but of a suspension of belief: The belief that everything we experience must be explained by laws of science. The belief hat everything we experience can be explained by laws of science. The belief that what we are experiencing right here and now can be explained by laws of science.
    And that's the moment we can feel true wonder.
  14. Yeah, I agree with @Scodischarge and hinted that there is 'other magic' like skilled dancers in my first reply. But, as you say, you are talking about performing magic as an art. We could start a whole new thread on that topic, interesting too. That screen name is curious...
  15. You are correct. And you must have performed for that age group to know. You have a better explanation for what I was trying to say, thank you. If it can not be explained by laws of science by either group, young or adult, it must be magic. And sometimes they feel wonder.
  16. I found the quote I was looking for; "Magic is the illusion of impossibility." Darwin Ortiz
  17. Maybe, magic is the enjoyment of the illusion of impossibility.
    It's Magic Sam and Gabriel Z. like this.
  18. All the time reading this discussion, I've had the feeling that something isn't right. I somehow disliked the topic immediately, even though objective, rational definitions are usually just the right thing for me to be enthusiastic about! At last, I've been able to put my finger on what's not sitting right with me.

    I absolutely love the sense of wonder I get from beautiful magic, and I cherish these moments, which are probably going to get ever rarer as I learn more about our wonderful art form. I get the feeling that the closer we get to finding (or trying to find) a rational, objective and scientific definition for this art, an art that builds on somebody accepting something irrational, subjective and unscientific - in short, something that simply can't be real - as reality, the more I as a magician will lose the capacity of feeling this wonder. When magic becomes little more than an extension to science to us, how can we be able to feel this?
    In effect we're doing what I described before: Instead of accepting the surreal - or maybe even superreal? -, we try to put it into a shape that fits the narrow confines of our mind. And letting go of these confines -- isn't that what all art, especially this one, should be about?

    I don't want to put an end to this discussion in the least. I understand that, if a clear enough definition is given, it might well help us to entertain more effectively, to make this wonder in other people's minds even clearer.
    However, in this case I'll decide selfishly: I don't want to lose what I love so much about magic.
    You want to continue pursuing a definitive answer, more power to you. But consider what's stated above, because once you lose this ability, you'll never be able to regain it.
  19. Personally if you asked me what the definition of magic was 6 years ago before joining Theory11 I would have told you it's people who wear top hats and do tricks with cards. Something to that effect. However, views change and circumstances change.

    What if I told you that magic is the ability to help others out, to influence them positively. To help them see things in a new light and while doing that bringing a little joy into your life as well. How about five years of recording yourself performing different sleight. I have at least 100 videos on my Facebook page since I started my venture with card magic.

    Let's put this into perspective I suffer from a mental disorder known as Schizophrenia. I take medications: Abilify, Paxil, Keppra(Because I also have seizures) And also lithium. If I don't take those pills I'm a real mess. Not to say that I'm not already but that's beside the point. I take the pills in order to have a baseline of functionality....

    If I thought like most people I would never have found a true love for magic and most importantly take time to nurture it. I would have given up after the first few negative thoughts that came into my mind. Moreover, knowing this is what keeps me engaged looking for the next trick or sleight to show people.

    Magic is all around you, just look around and see it!!
  20. Yes, that's the paradox. The more I learn about the illusion of magic the harder it is to reach that feeling of wonder when I watch other magicians presenting their magic. But, don't you feel enjoyment and a satisfaction when you see that moment of wonder on the audience's faces. It's not the same as experiencing it yourself. But I still want to spread the feeling to anyone who will accept it. And to learn more about our art, to be better at it also makes me feel good. As long as there are people like @Gabriel Z. who believe "Magic is all around you, just look around and see it!!", I'll keep doing it.
    Happy Holiday's everyone. Talk about magic!
    Gabriel Z. likes this.

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