Sign up Latest Topics Chat
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
ianmcrawford

Avatar / Picture

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 181
Reply with quote  #1 
Over the past few days I have seen several quotes in a variety of media defining magic.

For example, A FB post on the FB Mnemonica group quotes Doug Henning saying that "The art of a magician is to create wonder."  And Roberto Giobbi suggests several in Hidden Agenda (what? you haven't bought it yet?)

So here's a challenge to forum members; what is your definition of magic?

I will kick of the discussion with my own - "Magic is the art of creating and sharing inexplicable wonder".

0
Mind Phantom

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,492
Reply with quote  #2 

Magic is primal...It's when someone comes into contact with the unknown & unexplained, that's magic to me.

Best,


__________________
Self Concept Is Destiny...
0
Mike Powers

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,546
Reply with quote  #3 
You could get more explicit and say, "Magic is that branch of the theatrical/performing Arts that generates the feeling of wonder and astonishment in the onlooker. It creates a feeling that one is witnessing the impossible."

Mike
0
HexTheDoombunny

Avatar / Picture

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 132
Reply with quote  #4 
Magic is an attempt, through means unknown to witnesses, to affect a change in reality and or perception.
0
Harry Lorayne

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,376
Reply with quote  #5 
      I go for simplicity...MAGIC IS ENTERTAINMENT.       (If it isn't you "ain't" doing it right!!)
0
Harry Lorayne

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,376
Reply with quote  #6 
    Gee, I thought I just "defined it" for you!!!
0
Steven Youell

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 762
Reply with quote  #7 

Here's a working definition I have in something I'm writing:

I define Magic as entertaining through deception. Leave out entertainment and it’s just deception.
Leave out deception and you no longer have a distinct form of entertainment.
Both factors are needed and essential to a successful performance of Magic.

It also helps me make decisions. If something will improve one of those factors without diminishing the other, I add it in.
If it improves both factors, I consider adding it a must. If it reduces both factors, it's a bad idea. The hard choice comes when
something increases one factor by a very large amount but decreases the other in a very small amount. Then it's a judgement
call. But this definition always puts things in perspective for me.


__________________
 
0
Harry Lorayne

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,376
Reply with quote  #8 
   If you leave out the deception then it's not magic. So I don't think this "works."
0
Steven Youell

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 762
Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Lorayne
   If you leave out the deception then it's not magic. So I don't think this "works."

With all due respect, it works flawlessly. Might you clarify your point? Your perspective and your opinion are important to me so I want to make sure I understand you.

Here's what you wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Lorayne
If you leave out the deception then it's not magic.

Here's what I wrote: 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Youell
Leave out deception and you no longer have a distinct form of entertainment.

I see those statements as equivalent because Magic is a distinct form of entertainment unless it does not have the element of deception.

Did we misunderstand each other?

__________________
 
0
Anthony Vinson

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 3,150
Reply with quote  #10 

What is magic?

What is music?

What is theater?

What is dance?

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

To attempt to answer those questions is to chase wild geese. The word magic is defined in dictionaries. Dictionaries, of course, record usage, so we can reasonably conclude that any reputable dictionary could provide us with the commonly used, working definition of the word magic based on current usage. Here’s what the first definition from Encarta Dictionary has to say: conjuring tricks and illusions that make apparently impossible things seem to happen, usually performed as entertainment. From that point we enter the realm of the philosophical, the subjective, the, as it were, indefinable.

But for the record, it seems that Mike, Harry, and Steven all hit the bulls-eye.

0
Robin Dawes

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,645
Reply with quote  #11 
Definitions are notoriously difficult, but that doesn't mean they are not worth talking about.  A good discussion about definition can open the door to deeper understanding and insight.  We just have to remember that no definition of anything in the real world can ever be absolute and complete.  (For example, see http://www.roangelo.net/logwitt/first-question-philosophy.html#general-definition-of-the-word-chair for a short discussion of the difficulty of the philosophical exercise of defining "chair").  One is also and inevitably reminded of the poem about the seven blind men and the elephant - each one lays his hands on a different part of the elephant and reaches a different conclusion as to what it is.  This ties in beautifully with the Zen concept that as soon as we name something, we are wrong.  There is a koan in which a student achieves enlightenment when the teacher holds out his walking-stick and asks "What is this?"  The student's shock at realizing no answer he can give will be fully accurate is enough to break his mind free from its bounds.

I remember a discussion of this exact question on another board, many many years ago.  One member proposed "Magic is the art of making the impossible seem possible".  I don't think that is a particularly good definition (it ignores the 'entertainment' aspect which others here have already highlighted) but it led me to what I felt at the time was a useful insight.  I re-arranged the sentence to read "Magic is the art of making the possible seem impossible" and that - while still inadequate - clarified something for me that had been a bit cloudy up to that point.  I realized that my goal as a magician is to use natural means ("the possible") to create the impression ("seem") that laws of nature have been broken ("impossible") - in other words, to disguise the natural means I use so thoroughly that not only are they not seen, but they cannot be deduced. 

It also clarified for me at the time that magic is a reaching outwards, a temporary visit to a world where things can happen that are impossible in our world.  I still go back and forth on this - is the subtext of performing magic "there is a magical world outside of our mundane world" or is it "our mundane world actually contains magic"?  And does anyone care about the distinction?

Since those callow days of youth I have learned that others have written about the same ideas in great depth and that my "breakthrough" was anything but original.  But I still recall the "jolt" in my mind when I played around with those words and came up with what was - for me, at that time - a different way of thinking about magic.

So exploring definitions can be rewarding.  Each definition offered gives us a starting point for thinking.

So here are some definitions of magic - some from others, some just out of thin air.  I don't necessarily stand by any of them - but maybe playing with one of them will give someone that same kind of "aha!" moment I had so long ago:

Magic is marketing.

Magic is the art of astonishment.                  (Hats off to Paul Harris)

Magic entertains by presenting paradoxes.

Magic is a little tweeting bird, chirping in a meadow.    (Hats off to Spock)

Magic is what happens in a sewing machine.

Magic is the art of making people happy to be wrong.

Magic is indistinguishable from any sufficiently advanced technology.    (Hats off to A.C. Clarke)

0
Harry Lorayne

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,376
Reply with quote  #12 
     You guys are all "too deep" for me. I'll just stick with my original - MAGIC IS ENTERTAINMENT.  If I had to go any "deeper" I would perhaps add three words - MAGIC IS A FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT.
0
Anthony Vinson

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 3,150
Reply with quote  #13 
Robin, I wasn't referring to philosophical definitions, but instead dictionary definitions. And there is a huge difference between the two. To repeat, or reiterate, or repiterate (?) from my earlier post, dictionaries report common usage of words. Usage changes over time and it is the responsibility of responsible lexicographer to keep track of changes in usage and properly record them. 

The OP asked about subjective definitions of magic. I countered that a reputable dictionary should provide us with a definition based on the most common current usage. In other words a verbal average, or more precisely, mean of a word or phrase. Beyond that we enter the realm of subjectivity or armchair philosophy or mental masturbation. While the conversation might be interesting, at least for a short time if beer is involved, it ultimately gets us nowhere.      
0
ianmcrawford

Avatar / Picture

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 181
Reply with quote  #14 
This has been a great discussion, and I value everyone's perspective.  Personal definition of magic is like defining your own values.  Its not about who is right or wrong, but the value to us might be "what do I agree with".

My own view, is that a personal definition of magic, is critical to our own development in magic.  Its our mission statement as a magician.  Each one of the above definition reflects the personality of the individual performer. For instance, Harry's "MAGIC IS A FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT", reflects his direct, no-nonsense performing style.  Robin's thoughtful essay reflects Robin's deep analytical and thoughtful quest for magic.  And Mike's definition reflects his years of performance by focussing on the audience.  A professional performer might focus on the business aspect of magic.
 
So I believe that having a personal definition is the first step to create my own magical style  and personality.  Some may focus on the mechanics of a trick, others may focus on the audience, while still others may focus on the wonder that magic is. 

To be better performers it's critical that we understand our role as a magician. 
0
Anthony Vinson

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 3,150
Reply with quote  #15 
Ah! You've change the scope of your original question, and in doing so I think you have created a stronger question, as well as the basis for a more interesting discussion. Well, two questions actually: What is your mission statement as a magician? How do you define your role as a magician? (The answer to either, naturally, also answers the other.)  
0
Harry Lorayne

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,376
Reply with quote  #16 
       Whaaaat?!
0
Robin Dawes

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,645
Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson
Robin, I wasn't referring to philosophical definitions, but instead dictionary definitions. And there is a huge difference between the two.

...

While the conversation might be interesting, at least for a short time if beer is involved, it ultimately gets us nowhere.      


Hi Anthony

I agree with everything you said in both posts, except for the very last statement.  I know from personal experience (as in the example I gave in my earlier post) that discussions of subjective definitions can get us somewhere.

All the best

Robin
0
Mike Powers

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,546
Reply with quote  #18 
I don't think it's sufficient to say that "Magic is a form of Entertainment." We need to add things that distinguish it from other forms of entertainment. Especially things that are unique to magic.

I also think it's not good enough to add something like "Magic is a form of entertainment that uses deception." It's true that magic uses deception but adding that to the definition doesn't really convey what magic is IMO. "Deception" actually has pejorative connotations. Deception is generally regarded as a moral no no.

A good definition would include something about how deception is used and what makes it entertaining.

Mike
0
Nicolás Pierri

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 165
Reply with quote  #19 
magic is A KEY  [smile]
0
Cardshark Quixote

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 359
Reply with quote  #20 
Magic is FUN.
For the spectators, and for the magician.
0
Harry Lorayne

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,376
Reply with quote  #21 
  I'll stick to my original statement above. All very nice statements after mine but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty... MAGIC IS A FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT. 
0
Lewis

Member
Registered:
Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #22 
we can say it's an art and this art not have everyone and it's a big package of entertainment. [smile] it's just called entertainment entertainment and entertainment
0
Harry Lorayne

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 2,376
Reply with quote  #23 
    I believe "entertainment" is what I "shouted."
0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.