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Anonymous's Avatar Comment 1 by Anonymous

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Fri, 05 Aug 2011 01:11:25 UTC | #858041

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 2 by QuestioningKat

So are there lots of magicians here or something?..............? Or maybe it's an early Happy Birthday to James Randi...

A couple of decades ago, I saw David Copperfield in Chicago. We sat in the nosebleed section and had a birds-eye-view of his giant rotary saw trick - the classic saw a woman in half. A giant blade would descend from above. Music, lights, drama, the whole deal. It must have been convincing from eye level, but when the woman got up on the table, from our vantage point, you could see her quickly slide her legs into a compartment and another set of legs popped out onto the table. It was so funny. It was terrible.

If we are trying to find meaning in life through magic, the moral is: Sometimes seeing something from another perspective, helps us to better see reality.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 01:52:30 UTC | #858046

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 3 by El Bastardo

TL;DR

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 02:49:48 UTC | #858065

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 4 by Robert Howard

Euughh, magic.

I think Paul Daniels' personality turned many of those from my generation who grew up in Britain in the eighties off magic for life. He single-handedly managed to ruin Saturday-night telly for an entire decade, and not just by performing magic tricks.

Maybe it's a British thing and magicians are regarded differently in the rest of the world. Indeed I'm given to understand that many of these...ahem...entertainers somehow unaccountably become millionaires and respected members of the showbusiness community.

The worst of these has got to be David 'git wizard' Blaine, the increasingly pointless cu....sorry, and his increasingly pointless stunts; such as standing for hours inside a block of ice.....erm, in other words like an eskimo, David? Or hanging upside down for 60 hours, which might have been an impressive feat if he hadn't come down for a break every so often so he could have something to drink and a wee.

Magic, schmagic, you can keep it. It's a worse form of entainment than impressionism.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 02:56:25 UTC | #858066

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 5 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 4 by Robert Howard :

I think Paul Daniels' personality turned many of those from my generation who grew up in Britain in the eighties off magic for life.

But if it wasn't for PD the joke of the century would never have been cracked.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 03:18:17 UTC | #858069

PERSON's Avatar Comment 6 by PERSON

Cheer up you grumpy buggers.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 03:20:33 UTC | #858070

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 7 by glenister_m

As a part-time magician, I envy Adam being able to visit and interview all those performers - even better getting paid to do it!

Blaine has an ambivalent effect on the magic community. Magicians either love him or hate him (especially for his first special, which was composed mainly of routines that most magicians know and perform), with very little inbetween. I think Chris Rock summed him up well: "David Blaine, a magician who doesn't do magic tricks."

The psychology of magic is certainly interesting, as a good magician lets the audience fill in the gaps, so that they "remember" things that didn't actually occur. One favourite was seeing another magician throw a coin through the air and catch it in a wineglass, except that he never really threw it, yet most people would swear that they saw it in the air.

Penn and Teller have a show (do a youtube search) called 'Fool Us' where various magicians perform for them, and if they succeed in fooling P&T, they get to open for them in Vegas. Some obviously perform for the exposure, but several, including my friend Shawn Farquhar, did fool them. It is good fun watching one of those and trying to figure out the method, something that is a lot easier for a magician than a layperson, much like a challenging puzzle.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 05:15:07 UTC | #858086

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 8 by Schrodinger's Cat

The true art of the magician seems to me to be that of turning the ease of deception of the audience into some 'power' that he himself possesses. Every trick is really saying ' look, see how gullible and easily deceived you are'.......but the art of magic is to completely twist that round. The audience is thus amazed at some 'ability' of the magician and fail to grasp that he's playing on their own inabilities.

That's a damned good metaphor for religion too. The believer is caught in the same 'Wow ! How on earth did he do that ! " trap. The ease with which the believer can be deceived is converted into some magical power inherent in the tricks themselves. Worse still.......the believer miraculously manages to change 'I've been duped' into a whole new word..........'faith'.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 06:16:09 UTC | #858092

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 9 by Michael Gray

Trivial, but what wonderfully drawn poster-art!

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 07:31:55 UTC | #858111

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 10 by drumdaddy

Magic has long been appealing because, when performed well, the viewer's mind is excited by it's own futile search for an explanation which is obscured by illusion. By contrast, the fabulous trick of holy communion falls quite flat, containing magic words but lacking any convincing illusion. Perhaps if flesh-flavored wafers could be secretly switched for the flock's consumption then the trick would be more popular and the viewers wouldn't have to feign amazement.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 08:22:52 UTC | #858121

Daz365's Avatar Comment 11 by Daz365

Comment 9 by Michael Gray :

Trivial, but what wonderfully drawn poster-art!

By Mark Stutzman, great illustrator.

http://www.workbook.com/portfolios/stutzman

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 08:41:28 UTC | #858123

RUKEAL's Avatar Comment 12 by RUKEAL

Ooooh 'magic'! This is what's called illusion, people. Oh sorry, I forgot, no one here believes in real magic, even though Hermeticism and its dark arts have been a force to be reckoned with since the time of Ancient Egypt, and responsible for more diverse human progress than nearly any other movement in history.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 09:15:55 UTC | #858130

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 13 by Cartomancer

A very astute observation about magic is made by Terry Pratchett in his Discworld novels. The Discworld is, of course, a fantasy world, where there's lots of "real" magic. Wizards, witches and nefarious arcane rituals (with lots of dribbly candles!) are ten a penny. You'd think that in a world where there actually is magic the conjurors and illusionists would be out of business, but no, quite the opposite. The Ankh-Morpork conjurors' guild thrives. Why? Because anyone could do things using boring old magic - knowing that it's all sleight of hand and trickery makes it far more interesting and engaging!

Similarly, we can achieve all sorts of things with technology, but nobody goes to see shows where otherwise impossible feats are done with machines. It's the very knowledge that it is just a trick that makes a magic show compelling.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 09:30:51 UTC | #858134

Geoff 21's Avatar Comment 14 by Geoff 21

What a pretentious article! and long, in proportion. Does anyone else feel that magic obsesses over the terminally superficial? Who cares how they do it? It's boring.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 10:49:15 UTC | #858143

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 15 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 14 by Geoff 21

What a pretentious article! and long, in proportion. Does anyone else feel that magic obsesses over the terminally superficial? Who cares how they do it? It's boring.

What he's basically saying is that whilst most of the audience know they are being tricked, they somehow impart some sort of 'power of trickery' to the magician himself. And that is the magic.....the ability of the magician to make people think he caused an illusion, rather than the truth that the illusion existed solely within the observer's mind. It's actually a good article on how people convert their innate ability to be deceived into a 'power' possesed by someone else.....the magician. That is precisely why the article is called 'The Real Work'....which is that aspect of it. That is extremely relevant to our times.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 12:33:20 UTC | #858163

Perfect Tommy's Avatar Comment 16 by Perfect Tommy

Comment 12 by RUKEAL :

Ooooh 'magic'! This is what's called illusion, people. Oh sorry, I forgot, no one here believes in real magic, even though Hermeticism and its dark arts have been a force to be reckoned with since the time of Ancient Egypt, and responsible for more diverse human progress than nearly any other movement in history.

Can't tell if serious.......

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 14:09:49 UTC | #858196

littletrotsky13's Avatar Comment 17 by littletrotsky13

@Cartomancer Which discworld novel? I don't believe I've come across that quote (in other words, which one haven't I read?).

A painfully long-winded article, did it have anything to do with reason and science except demonstrate that some people will spend a vast amount of time on something so trivial?

On that note, a colleague started talking about "Dynamo the magician" (sky1 in the UK, I'm not sure if any other countries have him), while I tried to convince him that a) Magic probably didn't exist, and b) his idea of magic couldn't work(him:"you know that humans only use 1% of ther brain" me:"well, sort of true but not quite in the way you're thinking-" him:"yeah, but if you used, say 10%? Maybe that's what magicians and psychics and that do, they're using their brains in ways other people aren't" me:"no, you're brain would probably die" (consider the amount of heat produced and oxygen consumed by a normal human brain at that 1%, well, 3% anyway) him: "you don't know what you're talking about", something along those lines anyway).

I don't know why but I find people thinking like that really annoying. Can they not enjoy the trick while knowing that it's all a trick? Apparently not, it's got to be "real" magic.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 14:52:57 UTC | #858217

Geoff 21's Avatar Comment 18 by Geoff 21

Comment 15 by Schrodinger's Cat What he's basically saying is that whilst most of the audience know they are being tricked, they somehow impart some sort of 'power of trickery' to the magician himself. And that is the magic.....the ability of the magician to make people think he caused an illusion, rather than the truth that the illusion existed solely within the observer's mind. It's actually a good article on how people convert their innate ability to be deceived into a 'power' possesed by someone else.....the magician.

That must be why magicians need to practice so hard. They have no powers of deception but depend solely upon the audience's intrinsic fallibility.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 15:18:09 UTC | #858226

Tiende Landeplage's Avatar Comment 19 by Tiende Landeplage

Comment 17 by littletrotsky13

A painfully long-winded article, did it have anything to do with reason and science except demonstrate that some people will spend a vast amount of time on something so trivial?

This part I found interesting and relevant:

Swiss tells Teller about the tour of the Copperfield warehouse and his rediscovery of the wall from Tannen’s. Though Teller grew up in Philadelphia, he recognizes the key moment memorialized by the wall. “There’s a moment in your life when you realize the difference between illusion and reality and that you’re being lied to,” he says. “Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. After my mother told me that there was no Santa Claus, I made up an entirely fictitious girl in my classroom and told my mother stories about her. Then I told my mother, ‘You know what—she isn’t real.’ ” He smiles with somewhat Pugsley Addams-like glee, and goes on, more soberly, “If you’re sufficiently preoccupied with the power of a lie, a falsehood, an illusion, you remain interested in magic tricks.”

There are of course a terrible amount of people who don't realize the difference between illusion and reality: Religion, "alternative medicine" and other kinds of humbug (to use a favorite word of Houdini, master magician and debunker).

I can enjoy a good, entertaining magic act and was lucky to catch Penn & Teller on stage in London in 1995. Don't know much about Jamy Ian Swiss who was one of the main subjects of this article, but he did a nice guest appearance on Mr. Deity.

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 18:26:54 UTC | #858318

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 20 by Alan4discussion

a trick so complicated and subtle that it will, when finally shown, be almost too subtle to enjoy. It is called Twisting the Aces: the four aces are shown face down; they are counted out, still face down,

I find the psychology of this quite interesting. I do a similar but simpler card manipulation trick, in which the pack is shuffled and then cut 4 ways leaving an ace on top of each section (if I am feeling smug and focussed make a fifth cut leaving 3 kings on top). Most people are not observant enough to see how this is done even when it is repeated.

Last week in the local pub just after doing my guitar spot, I did casually did this trick. A couple of local chaps were quite seriously discussing how I must have switched "my marked packs" - "when I (allegedly) passed the cards behind my back".

They were progressing quite well with this hypothesis, when it was spoiled by them being told the single pack of cards belonged to the pub and I had picked them up off the bar 2 minutes earlier.

At least unlike the fundies, they did not believe it was "real magic"!

This type of trick needs speed coordination and no fumbling!

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 21:48:19 UTC | #858391