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Socrates

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"Controlling and directing an audience's perception, attention, and memory are major skills of the magician's craft" - Gary Kurtz

The language we choose can be used to massive advantage in controlling and directing people's perception. Most of us are aware of the importance of the scripting of our magic, but how much further can we take it?

Dani Daortiz is well worth studying if you wish to discover the way language can be used in magic. Mentalists are of course more wordy but this doesn't necessarily mean they have any more understanding of the power of words.

I like the way we can present a simple trick as a miracle by using certain labels to frame our work. Words, along with body language are some of the most powerful tools we can master when it comes to magic.

"Magic happens not in the hands of the performer, but in the minds of the spectators." - Brother John Hamman

Our words allow us to delve deeper into the mind of the audience, and that is where the magic happens as the previous quote states.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #2 
Socrates, I do not present any mentalism effects, but I hope you'll indulge me as I think this is a great subject.

I think many magicians, and not just beginners, don't realize how powerful words can be in the presentation of magic.  In an essay I put together for a new website I urged beginners to not only practice the mechanics of the trick, but to work out their patter.  The two go hand-in-hand.

We've discussed here on the forum how verbal misdirection is possible.  A performer can describe events and twist reality to enhance the effect.  The magician "recaps" what has occurred but embellishes, or outright misleads, but does so convincingly, and in the end, the spectator gives more credit than is due.  

So count me a believer!
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #3 
Socrates - The quote from Gary Kurtz reminds me of how good his monograph "Leading With Your Head" is. It is jam packed with insights into direction/misdirection as well as insights into important things to think about for the performance of magic. It is solid gold. Unfortunately, I believe that it is difficult to find.

Mike
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RayJ

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I figured I'd offer one example of how you can increase the (seeming) impossibility of a situation with your words.

Let's say you show a spectator a fan of cards and ask them to remember one.  The fan might consist of a handful of cards.  Later, when you summarize the situation, you say "you are thinking of a card, one out of 52 possible selections, right?"  They will tend to agree, and by doing so, giving you credit for a greater outcome than if you said "you are thinking of a card, one out a group of six that I showed you, right?"

Might not be the best example, but it was the first one that came to mind.  The point is the actual situation isn't really how you describe it, yet they will tend to agree and if they do, psychologically it increases the impact of the effect.

You can downplay how much you touched the cards, shuffled them, etc.  Even asking the spectator to cut the cards "as many times as they want" is a sort of psychological ploy because in reality nothing much is changing whether they cut one or ten times so long as they are single, complete cuts.  But in saying it, you seemingly elevate the difficulty for yourself.  They don't have to know that all you have to do is cut to your key and it didn't matter how many times they cut.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #5 
Good example Ray.

Kurtz embellishes this idea by pointing out that if you nod your head, you're more likely to get agreement. You're sort of leading the witness so to speak. After they have repeatedly cut, you can nod as you say, "So you shuffled the cards and ...." and hopefully get them to also nod in agreement. This is very Tamarizian i.e. creating a false reality i.e. making them agree that they shuffled when in reality they only cut.

Mike
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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
Good example Ray.

Kurtz embellishes this idea by pointing out that if you nod your head, you're more likely to get agreement. You're sort of leading the witness so to speak. After they have repeatedly cut, you can nod as you say, "So you shuffled the cards and ...." and hopefully get them to also nod in agreement. This is very Tamarizian i.e. creating a false reality i.e. making them agree that they shuffled when in reality they only cut.

Mike


That's beautiful!  So your mannerisms plus your verbiage help to deceive.  Good stuff!
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #7 
The following page with Tamariz gives us some more clues:

http://www.aaronfishermagic.com/juan-tamariz-card-magic/
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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Karim
I think the most elegant proof of the power of even a single word is outlined in Kenton Knepper's Wonder Words, specifically the section on the word "because".

I actually used this as an element in a lecture on what I termed "sticky words" (words that carry with them strong connotations that affect how we see the world).  One example is the word "impossible".

That was around 15 years ago now.  The because study (Langer, Blank, & Chanowitz, 1978) has been somewhat entering public knowledge with even articles about the study coming out on it 40 years later!  Here is one such (based on a reference the author read in a book): https://www.execvision.io/blog/power-becauseand here is another:
https://jamesclear.com/copy-machine-study


For people who don't want to go to the articles, here's a quote about asking people FOR THE EXACT SAME THING, just SLIGHTLY changing the wording:
  • Version 1: 60 percent of people let the researcher skip the line.
  • Version 2: 94 percent of people let the researcher skip ahead in line.





Fascinating stuff.  Thanks for sharing that.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
The following page with Tamariz gives us some more clues:

http://www.aaronfishermagic.com/juan-tamariz-card-magic/


Thanks for including this, I hadn't seen it.  Some very interesting things in there.

On a related note, I've seen several magicians mimic Tamariz with the "Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle" thing.  
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #10 
Juan Tamariz is a good study. I agree with Mike, Leading with your Head by Gary Kurtz is an extremely informative resource. There is much to learn in that small booklet, but it is difficult to come by nowadays.

We can learn so much if we decide to take the time - our words, like our actions are powerful, and with the correct attitude we can accomplish much in the art of magic.

Wonder-Words by Kenton Knepper is quite expensive and it was recommended by Docc Eason at one time, he also recommended the Gary Kurtz booklet quoted above, and Harry Lorayne's Magic Book... lots of great resources available to those who wish to delve deeper into the fascinating world of words and audience attention control.

Here's another example of Juan Tamariz at work:

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #11 
"What has been one of the main elements, then, in producing your effect? The Power of Suggestion, which led the spectator to believe absolutely without question that things were what they seemed because you suggested to him that they were." - Harlan Tarbell

This illustrates the most important point of utilizing words and body language in magic... the power of suggestion begins within the mind of the magician, it is important for us to act in accordance with our words because our words are obviously important when it comes to creating magic.

Ray mentioned the power of the recap ploy. Ian Rowland has named this ploy "reprising with gold paint" in his book 'The Full Facts of Cold Reading" and it is extremely powerful due to the malleable nature of memory especially when used in conjunction with a little time-misdirection.

Another thing to consider is how we choose to label our actions, or those of our audience members... we can create the audience we desire with our attitude, if we wish to have a calm and cooperative response then we only need behave in this manner ourselves. We can also create a challenge scenario with our words and actions, which can also be used to our advantage. Pit Hartling has written a small essay on this in his book 'Card Fictions' that is worthy of your time... Chan Canasta used such concepts to his advantge in his shows, and his work is another worthwhile study.

There is so much we can learn about the power of language and suggestion that is directly applicable to our magic and daily life - if we only dedicated as much time to our study of language as we did sleight of hand then magic, and mentalism would be all the better for it.

p.s you can find the essay 'Inducing Challenges' by Pit Hartling at the following link: http://www.card-fictions.com/card-fictions.htm - just scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll find it there free of charge.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #12 
I love that expression, "reprising with gold paint"!  What a perfect way to visualize what you are doing with your words.  The greatest impact of an effect generally comes at the end.  Not always, but usually.  Being able to help build that moment through your words, you are in effect, "gilding the lily" in order to add that extra degree of difficulty.  So "gilding the lily" is akin to "reprising with gold paint" in my mind.

gild the lily

Fig. to add ornament or decoration to something that is pleasing in its original state; to attempt to improve something that is already fine the way it is. (Often refers to flattery or exaggeration.) Your house has lovely brickwork. Don't paint it. That would be gilding the lily. Oh, Sally. You're beautiful the way you are. You don't need makeup. You would be gilding the lily.
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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
Good example Ray.

Kurtz embellishes this idea by pointing out that if you nod your head, you're more likely to get agreement. You're sort of leading the witness so to speak. After they have repeatedly cut, you can nod as you say, "So you shuffled the cards and ...." and hopefully get them to also nod in agreement. This is very Tamarizian i.e. creating a false reality i.e. making them agree that they shuffled when in reality they only cut.

Mike


Creating a false reality using just words is the perfect way to describe the art of Tamariz [smile]
This cunning attitud helps the magical effect to seem more and more impossible.

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Zero

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Reply with quote  #14 

Some reading on this subject that I find to be of particular note;

The Alchemical Tools - Paul Brooks (yes-settings and verbal techniques, and much about the tools of perception),
Cold reading - Ian Rowlands ((already mentioned but brilliant) not only techniques for understanding perception and how compliance can build the illusion you need to perform but also excellent verbal procedures for dodging misses or adding extra things to hit on during your revelation and as stated, how to reframe and recontextualise previous actions)
Influence - the psychology of persuasion - Robert B. Cialdini, PhD.
Designing Miracles - Darwin Ortiz (always relevant to any discussion)

A couple of books that deal with structuring choices;
Phasma - Phendon Bilek Ecrof - Ross Taylor
both give you a place to learn and apply structures that force objects and provide simple tools of pressure, sustain and release to assist in the layering of the effects you build.

The tools that we use in regards to timing/pressure forces such as the 'stop force' are the same that exist in any propless effects, the guiding of attention and focus, of actions, words, perception, Attack, sustain, Release, or the application of precise tone to garner a response. They should all be part of any magicians wheelhouse.

I also feel that how we order words, the precision, the tone, which words we choose are vitally important. Not just to reframe our effects and to give our character a congruence with the effects we perform - but because it will assist in how well we can accomplish those effects. It's what makes it possible for one performer to do something With the same methods and techniques that another cannot. Deep understanding of who we are and how we do things will open up some doors, but close others.

The final chapter of Corinda is an excellent chapter on this, how you dress changes how you are perceived (internally and externally), how you act, and in turn, what you can perform and also get away with in terms of technique.

It has always bothered me that magicians won't learn things about these topics just because it's "mentalism". That doesn't mean it's not for you to learn and apply these things elsewhere in your magic, it's all one school of techniques. Mentalism itself is a matter of perception. The tools you learn through learning how to present "mentalism" are the tools that allow you to perform a card trick as 'magic', or as 'mind-reading', defined by their presentational process and less by the methodological process (you looking at their card, you sneaky bastard).

While I know this thread is mainly concerned with verbal language and the properties and techniques that are often underutilised, I think the field of perception in magic as a whole is fascinating and how we use communication (verbal or non-verbal) when performing in relation to how we present magic is the stuff that pushes our understanding of what we are doing further and allows us to gather a better sense of what it means to show magic.

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zero

Some reading on this subject that I find to be of particular note;

The Alchemical Tools - Paul Brooks (yes-settings and verbal techniques, and much about the tools of perception),
Cold reading - Ian Rowlands ((already mentioned but brilliant) not only techniques for understanding perception and how compliance can build the illusion you need to perform but also excellent verbal procedures for dodging misses or adding extra things to hit on during your revelation and as stated, how to reframe and recontextualise previous actions)
Influence - the psychology of persuasion - Robert B. Cialdini, PhD.
Designing Miracles - Darwin Ortiz (always relevant to any discussion)

A couple of books that deal with structuring choices;
Phasma - Phendon Bilek Ecrof - Ross Taylor
both give you a place to learn and apply structures that force objects and provide simple tools of pressure, sustain and release to assist in the layering of the effects you build.

The tools that we use in regards to timing/pressure forces such as the 'stop force' are the same that exist in any propless effects, the guiding of attention and focus, of actions, words, perception, Attack, sustain, Release, or the application of precise tone to garner a response. They should all be part of any magicians wheelhouse.

I also feel that how we order words, the precision, the tone, which words we choose are vitally important. Not just to reframe our effects and to give our character a congruence with the effects we perform - but because it will assist in how well we can accomplish those effects. It's what makes it possible for one performer to do something With the same methods and techniques that another cannot. Deep understanding of who we are and how we do things will open up some doors, but close others.

The final chapter of Corinda is an excellent chapter on this, how you dress changes how you are perceived (internally and externally), how you act, and in turn, what you can perform and also get away with in terms of technique.

It has always bothered me that magicians won't learn things about these topics just because it's "mentalism". That doesn't mean it's not for you to learn and apply these things elsewhere in your magic, it's all one school of techniques. Mentalism itself is a matter of perception. The tools you learn through learning how to present "mentalism" are the tools that allow you to perform a card trick as 'magic', or as 'mind-reading', defined by their presentational process and less by the methodological process (you looking at their card, you sneaky bastard).

While I know this thread is mainly concerned with verbal language and the properties and techniques that are often underutilised, I think the field of perception in magic as a whole is fascinating and how we use communication (verbal or non-verbal) when performing in relation to how we present magic is the stuff that pushes our understanding of what we are doing further and allows us to gather a better sense of what it means to show magic.



Great point in there. I hope folks take the time to read it through. I have a question. Is there a magic book, non-mentalist that DOES do a good job in the area of verbal techniques in your opinion? Tamariz maybe?

If not, perhaps someone should write one.
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #16 
Kenton Knepper has written a great deal on this topic, and his Wonder Words audio series was designed to benefit both magicians and mentalists - in fact a lot of information on redirecting the mind can be discovered in the old books like the Tarbell course, and Magic and Misdirection by Dariel Fitzkee to name just two.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is also a brilliant guide to communication that is directly applicable to magic.

Juan Tamariz has a few books, and his latest one has a section on memory distortion... some of the guys here will be familiar with it. And of course the Gary Kurtz booklet 'Leading with your Head' is an awesome resource too.
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Zero

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Reply with quote  #17 

Ray, Socrates beat me to it! I second Magic by Misdirection and How to win friends. Both great books! 

Honestly, the amount of verbal technique scattered about in books is there to be appreciated by those who look. Books on negotiations (verbal judo, never split the difference) and self-help books (anything that helps you understand yourself and how you perceive the world is going to help you understand your audience); however, I will make mention that many techniques described in one genre may be done so adequately in another. Where a book on cold reading may outline structure to build compliance to allow a palm reading - that same structure is used in negotiations or sales and is otherwise applicable to the framing of magic effects, the book's genre, in this case, is less important as what you take from them - there's no need to force yourself to read outside of your interests. 


Regarding Tamariz, I have minimal exposure to his work, so I'm not particularly comfortable recommending anything here, it's just totally outside of my knowledge.


I think equivoque should get an honourable mention at this point, even if your interest is in more traditional magic; it marries all elements that Fitzkee would simply define as "the interpretation". It is wholly classical physical interpretation performed through verbal and non-verbal communication; I do feel it's quite under-appreciated, The grandfather of propless technique and still one of the strongest things you can do with just language and some borrowed things or a good imagination.

 

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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #18 
In Spain it is said that in United States, the C.I.A. has a copy of the Tamariz's "The Magic Way" book in its personal interesting book to investigate, in Langley :-O
It may be an urban legend or not as Tamariz said he doesn't know anything about it, but he jokes as well in some interviews by saying that some politicians are really good verbal magicians, only that they don't pretend to show magic illusion with that.

Anyway, I would eargerly recommend that book to anyone interested in magic as a show.

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #19 
"The magician and the politician have much in common: they both have to draw our attention away from what they are really doing" - Ben Okri
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paco Nagata
In Spain it is said that in United States, the C.I.A. has a copy of the Tamariz's "The Magic Way" book in its personal interesting book to investigate, in Langley :-O
It may be an urban legend or not as Tamariz said he doesn't know anything about it, but he jokes as well in some interviews by saying that some politicians are really good verbal magicians, only that they don't pretend to show magic illusion with that.

Anyway, I would eargerly recommend that book to anyone interested in magic as a show.


Regardless of whether it is true, it is a reminder that we can take information from all walks of life and apply it to our magic.  That is a good lesson to learn.
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