On a Definition of Magic

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

  1. Yeah, a little off track. But we could have a good discussion, start a new thread. I'll just say this, I think children 10 to teens are the toughest audience and most critical of my magic. They spend the most time watching magic on the internet. If they like your magic you can please any audience.
  2. True...it might require a different thread XD

    I am so sorry if you disliked this topic that much though, @Scodischarge , I promise that wasn't my intention. (^_^)

    I think, as the OP, maybe my question wasn't clear enough, maybe I didn't manage to put it out for anybody as clearly as I should have, but I wanted the definition of magic as an art form. I *believe* magic is all around us, but that is not the magic as an art form I was talking abou--well...anyways, maybe this thread has run its course, eh.

    But before just stating that, I'll attempt to rectify my mistake and clearly mention WHY I had started this so very hideous topic (as per some :D no offence).

    Jamy Ian Swiss mentions this, and I quote...

    “What does the word magic mean to you? Perhaps there is an initial glib response: To do the impossible, to create an illusion. Uh-huh. But what does that mean? Why are you doing it? And why, for that matter, should anyone be interested?”

    He says its a tough question to answer, because...

    “After all, there is no absolute definition, is there? You have the freedom to define it yourself. But you also now have the responsibility to fulfill that demand. As with definitions of any art, they can be opportunities, a burden, or both.”

    I was hoping for most people who read this thread to come up with an absolute definition FOR THEMSELVES so that they should know WHAT they are supposed to do. In hindsight, maybe then I mustn't have questioned anybody's definitions because if you can achieve what your definiton implies without any problem, all power to you.

    I must admit though, the idea of a definition for magic has been projected more as a burden here than as an opportunity (which I was hoping for).

    And, well, no sarcasm or offence intended but I genuinely feel sad for anybody whose joy of magic is hindered due to them knowing the method (do I sound salty? Man, I promise I don't intend to T_T). Having performed magic for 8 years (not much, as compared to thousands of others, I know) I still feel the wonder.

    What's ridiculous is that even if I understand/detect a sleight here and there in somebody's performance unintentionally, even that doesn't prevent me from enjoying the performance.

    What's EXTREMELY ridiculous is that when I practice magic myself, alone in a room, and I realise that the card my imaginary spectator had seen in the beginning is now 'magically' the card sitting on the table since the beginning of the trick, I STILL feel the wonder and get a huge kick out of it, as if what happened was magic notwithstanding the fact that I might have spent months perfecting the method and sleights.

    Ridiculously, I feel an unexplainable amount of joy even when I know EXACTLY what has happened, I am sure Penn and Teller would agree, lol.

    However, I do realise that for some people the wonder gets extinguished and I'm genuinely sorry and also, I feel lucky now XD

    Jamy has also mentioned something about why children can't experience magic well, which I won't quote here, simply because its so raw that it might not suit a public forum where of course many like performing for children XD.

    Again, I view magic as a more intellectual art form and yes...I do view it as an extension of Science, an art form which is very scientific BUT always a few steps ahead of known Science. I personally don't find any joy in thinking that somebody believes I really made the coin appear, genuinely, with powers (or Accio). To me, that's boring because it

    a) Moves past the realm of honest lying into...well...deliberately making the audience believe a lie (i.e., I have magical powers).

    b) It doesn't make sense. If I had real magical powers I wouldn't find out what their card is. I'd find out their passwords and stuff, rob them dry and move on to conquer the world.

    If an audience member thinks:- (after the trick has finished)

    “How did the card change? Must be some sleight...but what sleight? She didn't touch the card...oh wait, she did shuffle them...but then I shuffled them too...are there magnets? Oh silly me, where would she apply the magnets even...does she have an accompl--but I am the only person watching the trick! Does she have duplicate cards? But I chose my card myself...was I meant to choose that card? But I changed my mind...GOD IS IT REAL MAGIC? No no...there must be SOME explanation...But what? WHAT? But it looks like MAGIC...is it REAL? OH MY GOD HOW DID SHE DO IT?”

    [of course the human brain typically takes a second to think all of the above]

    To me, that way of thinking is engaging myself in a battle of wits, and if I have played my cards right (excuse the pun) the battle won't be about them winning or losing, but about whether magic is real or not.

    And it is that question I want them to leave with.

    Also, another popular and pretty true idea that Penn clearly did state...

    If people believe what they're seeing in a magic show is REAL, they wouldn't clap, they would be scared and run out screaming.

    And I think that that difference...that difference between what is real and what isn't is sometimes missing in children and that is solely why I myself don't really perform for children. I don't want to get attributed to having magical powers simply because I use a thumb tip.

    BUT that was solely my explanation as to why I cannot perform for kids (I'm not ''qualified'' to, seriously. That ish required more talent, I believe, to perform for children well). I do not wish to slight anybody's performance and again, people have different ways of believing what magic is.

    I started this thread simply because I believe that performing the ambitious card (say) endlessly and getting a varied reaction from it, well, it didn't satisfy my personal quench of performing magic.

    Its true that magic as an art must not be confined, but I think we need confinements to START. After that of course we can break past them. Withou a starting point, where do we begin?

    But all that, is too much. Again, I admit it was my mistake in not clarifying my objective with this thread.

    I'm happy that everybody reading this and having written here has of course thought about magic on a deeper level and what else could I ask for? :)

    I hope everybody here can achieve what their definition of magic requires them to do (because of course, if you aren't doing what you define, then what are you even doing? XD) ! :D

    Sayonara and thanks for making me question and think about magic. As I said, I couldn't ask for more than a discussion with people who love the same art form as me. :)

  3. I'm sorry if I came across this way. As hinted in my post above, I'm absolutely fascinated by debates which try to bring rationality and science into waters usually uncharted in those regards. That is why my own apprehension surprised me at first, until "enlightenment" came at 1 o'clock in the morning (looking back, that may be a reason for it not being as clear as it should have been ... ;))

    I categorize magic into two parts: art and science. The science of magic consists of the method - the sleight or mathematical or psychological principle - of the trick. Why does it work? How does it work? This is rationality at work.
    The art of magic is what we've been trying to define in the course of this thread, this sense of excitement and wonder which is so difficult to explain and is unique for each person. This is based on pure emotion.*

    My apprehension is due to my fear of mixing those two categories: Bringing rationality and science into a field that should be purely emotional and "polluting" it. In my life I strive for making making decisions based on rationality, not emotion (a vain quest, I know -- you can never get rid of emotions having at least a degree of control in your life). Magic, however, is one of the few fields in which I cherish these moments of pure emotion.

    So, don't apologize for bringing it up. It's a fascinating topic and I'm glad you started it, if only because it made me formulate and justify this fear I hadn't even realized I had. You asked for a subjective opinion on magic and I gave you a subjective opinion on why I didn't want to give one :)
    In fact, let me thank you, because through your questioning I have gotten to know myself better.

    On most of what you wrote above I totally agree with you. What we disagree on is either trivial or purely subjective.

    *You'll probably object quite rightly that rational questions the spectator asks but can't answer - what you formulated quite nicely in your above post - play a large role as well. Personally I see the audience's rationality as hurdles on the pathway to wonder, or tests the magic is put to. Once these tests or hurdles are overcome, the specator's mind can allow him to feel wonder. So in my view rationality isn't quite part of the feeling of wonder, but comes before it.
    MohanaMisra and Gabriel Z. like this.
  4. I saw a good movie that reminded me of your post. Look this up;
    Our Magic a movie by R. Paul Wilson 2014
    Warning; It's not the answer, just more questions. But that's Magic! :)
    RealityOne likes this.
  5. Magic is the relationship between a performer who invents an illusion with a logical solution that isn't obvious for an audience who willingly, temporarily abandons rational thought to experience a moment where it feels like there is added mystery to their lives and deeper layers of meaning to all existence.
    MohanaMisra and RealityOne like this.
  6. [insert applause] (*no sarcasm*)

    My thread feels validated. Thank you.

    [insert nervous emoji]

    PS:- The last part of your definition reminds me of a quote by S.H. Sharpe...
    It is my belief that magic would be a great power of inspiration and diversion in the future than it ever has been in the past, if we really wished to make it so. But do we wish to make it so?

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