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Rudy Tinoco

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Hi Everyone, Michael Breggar shared a cool article about magicians being the first purveyors of “fake news”. You can read it here: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-magicians-are-the-original-purveyors-of-fake-news-they-cant-help/

In the article, David Ben says something regarding the 8 basic magic effects...

“...the tricks – the effects – magicians perform today are essentially the same because, like notes on a musical scale, there are only eight basic effects. The first four are the ability to make things disappear and reappear; to transform a person or object into something else; to make a person or object pass through or penetrate something; and to suspend the law of gravity. The remaining four effects are based on purported psychic phenomena: divination, clairvoyance, telepathy and telekinesis.”

In the Trick Brain, Fitzkee lists 19. I wonder how he came to conclude that there are only 8 basic effects. For example, he leaves out restoration and sympathetic reaction. I bring this up because I actually use Fitzkee’s list when preparing a show. It helps me keep from being repetitive.

For example, as I was preparing for my last show in Portland, I could have performed Pit Hartling’s “Chaos”, Harry’s “Color Gathering Plus”, Duvivier’s “Card in Bag”, or the sympathetic card routine that I learned from the Ontology Project. I love each one of these and think they’re very strong, but I only chose to perform one of them because they are all very similar in effect: The cards are hopelessly mixed up and then brought back into order.

I think that the presentation can make them seem like different effects. For example, the sympathetic card routine seems very magical because I don’t seem to even touch the cards and they order them selves. With an effect like Harry’s, “Color Gathering Plus”, I could play it as me putting them in order by using my skills with sleight of hand. “Chaos” could be played as the result of a certain strange mathematical principle that I have no control over. So, I could have potentially used all three. I chose not to.

Instead, I chose to do one prediction, one translocation, one sympathetic reaction, one gambling routine, and one effect that creates a strange and amazing coincidence.

These types of lists are very helpful. Anybody else here use them?

Anyway, I didn’t want to disrupt Mike’s thread about the article fake news and thought it would be better for me to create a separate topic regarding Fitzkee‘s list.

Rudy

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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Rudy

Using Fitzkee's list for this purpose is a great idea.  I sometimes select routines for a performance so that I don't demonstrate the same "power" more than once.  For example, Triumph demonstrates the power to make cards turn over without anyone seeing them move.  Twisting the Aces demonstrates the same power, so I wouldn't do both of these in the same set.  I wrote about this in another thread recently - sorry my brain is foggy this morning and I can't remember which thread it was!  But the example I gave there was that Ambitious Card and CAAN both demonstrate the power to magically place a particular card at a particular place in the deck.  I think that if you want to do both of these in the same set, it's best to combine them - using CAAN as the climax for AC.

This thinking came as a result of performing for some friends a while ago and realizing afterwards that I had chosen two of my favourite routines that were both basically versions of ACAAN - different presentations, different methods, different conditions, but underneath it all, the same.

I also try to avoid using the same procedure in different routines in a performance.  So I won't do two routines that both involve the Gemini process, or both use the Business Card Prophecy move, Paddle move, etc.  (And I won't do ANY routines that involve the Hot Rod Force, ack ack.)

Fitzkee's list - classifying routines by effect rather than "power" - may be a better way to go.

Thanks for bringing up this topic - it's a very good way to think about structuring a performance.
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Alan Smithee

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Reply with quote  #3 

Ben’s article is interesting though I’m not sure where he got the eight musical notes business from. He’s wrong there.

Lots of people have disagreed with Fitzkee, usually about the “high” number of 18, but, as Rudy notes, that’s what makes the subject and the lists interesting. Well, in part at least.

Depending who you read and who you talk to drama/fiction/whatever is the same and there are only seven (sometimes eight) plots. Worked and re-worked to ensure that it’s not always the butler wot did it.

Presentation can and does change things. How many variations are there of the original Zig-Zag Girl? Sawing in half? “Out Of This Universe” and “Out Of This World” are essentially the same, inasmuch as reds and blacks are separated, but they stand tall as independent effects.

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #4 
Rudy, this is another great example of thinking about your magic.  Thinking about the performance as a whole.  You give a great example regarding the desire to avoid repetition.  Repetition that is planned can be a good thing.  Repetition that happens without thought can be disastrous.

I'm going to copy a link to a series of lists.  Roberto Giobbi has published several articles on lists of effects and themes relating to playing cards.  This link includes those as well as thoughts from some other important figures in magicdom.

I see great value in analyzing how you build a set of effects and making sure that it all makes sense and adds up to providing the greatest impact.  Even the order of tricks can impact the overall strength of a routine.  

Anyways, here's the link.....

http://geniimagazine.com/wiki/index.php?title=Card_Magic_Classification#Giobbi.27s_Basic_Effects_of_Card_Magic
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Alan Smithee

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


I'm going to copy a link to a series of lists.  Roberto Giobbi has published several articles on lists of effects and themes relating to playing cards.  This link includes those as well as thoughts from some other important figures in magicdom.

Anyways, here's the link.....

http://geniimagazine.com/wiki/index.php?title=Card_Magic_Classification#Giobbi.27s_Basic_Effects_of_Card_Magic


Puts Fitzkee's piddling 18 in the shade!

[smile]
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Mbreggar

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Reply with quote  #6 
I don't know, guys ... as a management consultant, I have learned about"economy in taxonomy". Taxonomy being the $10 word for categorization.
I suppose the "transforming of something to something else" could be a high level taxonomy for a cut and restored object. Also, "sympathy" effects (or even Out of This World effects) could be broadly defined as clairvoyance. Max Maven (as Phil Goldstein) once wrote that there are only four effects in mentalism ... the 4 that David Ben listed (That was in the first of his "Color" series books).

I suggest we don't get too hung up on how we classify. Giobbi's lists are fine but too granular for my brain. 
For routine structuring help, you may want to work with Fitzkee ... as for me, I think the broader strokes of Ben's taxonomy would produce greater variety.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #7 
FWIW, and since not many likely have the book, here is the list that Fitzkee put together.

The Nineteen Basic Effects as classified by Dariel Fitzkee: Production, Vanish, Transposition, Transformation, Penetration, Restoration, Animation, Anti-Gravity, Attraction, Sympathetic Reaction, Invulnerability, Physical Anomaly, Spectator Failure, Control, Identification, Thought Reading, Thought Transmission, Prediction and...Extra-Sensory Perception.

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Mbreggar

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Reply with quote  #8 
Ray, INGAA*, so I had to look up FWIW (= "for what it's worth")





*"I'm not good at acronyms"
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mbreggar
Ray, INGAA*, so I had to look up FWIW (= "for what it's worth")





*"I'm not good at acronyms"


Sorry!

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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


The Nineteen Basic Effects as classified by Dariel Fitzkee: Production, Vanish, Transposition, Transformation, Penetration, Restoration, Animation, Anti-Gravity, Attraction, Sympathetic Reaction, Invulnerability, Physical Anomaly, Spectator Failure, Control, Identification, Thought Reading, Thought Transmission, Prediction and...Extra-Sensory Perception.



Anti-Gravity is interesting because it's the only thing in the list that explicitly references the control of a force of Nature.  I would put Robert-Houdin's Light and Heavy Chest in this category, along with the many effects that involve levitation.

The other three known forces of Nature are electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force and the strong nuclear force.  A few years ago there was some excitement about the possibility that a fifth force of Nature had been discovered but I haven't heard much about that lately.

What sort of magic involves controlling electromagnetism?  The magic light bulb that turns on when just held in the magician's hand is certainly an example, as are radios that play when plugged into a picture of a power socket.  With a bit of a stretch, a fire-wallet could fit the category.  Anything else?

The weak nuclear force is responsible for radioactivity and fusion.  Since the sun runs on fusion I guess taking control of this force would allow us to control the light of the sun - I'm thinking of the ancient stories of magicians using eclipses to convince people of their mighty powers.

The strong nuclear force is what holds atoms together.  Taking control of this force would make us incredibly powerful - we could slice, dice and reassemble matter - that's transformation.  We could make one item porous to another - that's penetration.  We could put broken things back to their original state - restoration.  Vanishes and productions also fit - we could vanish things by dispersing their atoms into the air, and produce things by doing that in reverse - a bit like Star Trek replicators that spit out "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot" on command.

No grand conclusion here ... just musing on the nature of magic.  It's sometimes described as the violation of the laws of nature.  Seeing Anti-Gravity in Fitzkee's list started me thinking about not Laws of Nature but Forces of Nature.

Incidentally, I'm pretty sad to see "Spectator Failure" as a category of magic effect.  Are magicians really such jerks that this is a fundamental category of magic, equal in stature to Production, Vanish, Transposition, etc.?
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #11 
Unfortunately spectator failure has been a popular theme with some magicians.  We discussed the other day here a 2 person cups and balls routine where one magician "fails" or sets the other up to fail.  There is the classic where the magician hands a pair of scissors to a spectator and they cannot cut with them.  So yes, it is a thing.  Just not in my act.  Or in most of ours.
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Stevie Ray

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Reply with quote  #12 
The important take-away here is not so much how many categories exist… We can all agree they are finite. I contend the primary focus should be how these categories combine to form an effect, a routine and an act.

Being cognizant as to how the categories are combined, repeated or called back is a good exercise in creating entertainment.

Diversity is an admirable pursuit but I did see Losander do 20 minutes of levitations and it was thoroughly entertaining.

One last thought about Fitzkee’s list. When two or more of these categories combine simultaneously is an additional category created?

I swallowed a stack of razor blades and a piece of thread only to retrieve them on a daisy chain.

Then there is the simple manner of presentation and how it might re-categorize an effect… I’m not quite sure where to put Slydini’s Silks. For me, his presentation was just pure mystery not transposition, not animation... Perhaps he had reversed time?

That leaves me wondering… Does Fitzkee address the very magical possibility of time travel? There are certainly inumerable effects which use time travel as a MacGuffin… I suppose that’s where the interaction of plot, effect and presentation move us beyond the realm of the finite.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #13 
Stevie Ray, your Losander example is exactly what I was talking about regarding planned repetition. He had a theme and stayed with it and it worked.
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