Ennobling Magic

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
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jkeyes1000
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Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 24th, 2017, 8:19 pm

This subject has been touched upon in the various debates I have participated in, but not quite to my satisfaction.

Is it really a good idea for magicians to lie to the audience? I think not. It is the worst kind of trick, it is a cheat and nothing more. A swindle, a rip-off. And I feel that The Public will resent and dismiss such undehanded tactics.

Before any of you hotshots try to put me in my place, let me say that this matter is not about tradition and the "proper way" of performing according to So-And-So, but rather the means of recovering the majesty and the mystique of the art in the eyes of the crowd. Thus your expertise, your famiarity with current trade etiquette is irrelevant. Whether or not we are professional or amateur magicians has little bearing on this discussion. We are all spectators when we watch someone work.

Do you not sneer at a performer that utters a blatant falsehood, do you not consider him a hack? An artless deceiver, no better than a crooked politician?

How is it that we can despise a magic shop for selling us a trick by making inaccurate claims in its description, yet have no qualms about violating our audience's trust?

Marshall Brodien used to hype the TV Magic Mouse by saying that the secret to its animation was a "little motor". The company would be sued for false advertising today.

Do you not think that we could elevate the resprctability of Magic by sticking to visual illusions and dispensing with deliberate misstatements?

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Brad Henderson » November 24th, 2017, 8:24 pm

'all art is a lie that reveals the truth' - pablo picasso.

once again, jkeyes, you're wrong.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby performer » November 24th, 2017, 9:11 pm

Oddly enough when I am pitching magic I often say to the crowd, "It's hard work telling lies all day"! And it bloody well is!

I didn't know that Brodien used the magic motor line for the mouse. I do too. It actually came from Joe Stuthard. He would show the piece of wax and tell the crowd it was the magic motor. I don't know if Brodien did that. I most certainly do. I have showed this before.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvU71dSPfwY

Mind you, it isn't really a lie since it is perfectly true that the trick won't work without the "motor"

American svengali pitchmen say there is a magnetic finish on the cards which makes the trick work. A downright lie. I have never done that. Not the British way of scamming the public I am afraid.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 24th, 2017, 9:18 pm

I dont think much of Picaso as an artist, and even less of him as a philodopher, Mr. Hendetson. You can imagine what I think of you for quoting him.

Do you recall the heated argument we had about camera tricks? You were quite insistent on relegating deceptive videography to generic entertainment, something unworthy of the term, "magic".

How would you expect your audience to believe a disclaimer stating "no camera tricks" if you incorporate lies in your performance?

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 24th, 2017, 9:51 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote:...
Is it really a good idea for magicians to lie to the audience? ...


What do you mean by lie?

The actor playing his part on the stage is not the character but portraying that character. That's understood in the social convention of theater. The magician is a character portrayed by the performer.

Would you focus your topic of dispute?
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Ennobling Magic

Postby Jackpot » November 24th, 2017, 10:42 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:What do you mean by lie?


I have the same question. Without a clear definition I don't see how anyone can answer the original post.
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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Jack Shalom » November 24th, 2017, 11:45 pm

Me three. The whole point of a stage is to give context to lies and turn them into stories. So, I'm bewildered as to what you are talking about.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby performer » November 24th, 2017, 11:47 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:'all art is a lie that reveals the truth' - pablo picasso.

once again, jkeyes, you're wrong.


Dale Carnegie once stated that "you should never tell a man he is wrong". I am afraid Brad has never quite got the hang of that. However, all is not lost. If he requires lessons in tact and diplomacy I am always available to act as a role model.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Bill Mullins » November 25th, 2017, 12:07 am

Maybe the problem isn't Brad. Maybe the problem is all these people being wrong in Brad's presence.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby performer » November 25th, 2017, 12:33 am

I shall let Mr Keyes speak for himself but I suspect what he is getting at is something like someone saying there are no camera tricks when there are. Or perhaps he is referring to the use of stooges or a mentalist pretending he is the real thing. Something like that anyway. I don't think he means you are not supposed to deceive with your magic. Or implying something is the case when it isn't.

There is a big difference in implying something and letting the audience come to its own conclusion than blatantly telling everyone that something is happening when it isn't.

Something like that anyway. Still I expect he will explain what he is getting at. No need to be overly hostile. He is entitled to his opinion just like everyone else.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Brad Henderson » November 25th, 2017, 12:45 am

jkeyes1000 wrote:I dont think much of Picaso as an artist, and even less of him as a philodopher, Mr. Hendetson. You can imagine what I think of you for quoting him.

Do you recall the heated argument we had about camera tricks? You were quite insistent on relegating deceptive videography to generic entertainment, something unworthy of the term, "magic".

How would you expect your audience to believe a disclaimer stating "no camera tricks" if you incorporate lies in your performance?


1) your opinion of picasso doesn't make his statement any less true. Can you, using logic, reason, and/or example demonstrate how it is false

2) i think you're an immature thinker who also lacks the practical experience to evaluate the simplest of magical ideas - so you can imagine how little your opinion of me would matter.

3) I have no idea what the concept of 'generic entertainment' means let
alone why that has anything to do with magic. If you are going to claim i took a position it will help if you pick something remotely close to something i've actually said.

4) how would your disclaimer be accepted: the same way audiences for decades have accepted the claim that no camera tricks were used, the same way they accepted the suggestion that a deck of cards was normal, or that a coin was actually placed in ones hand

until you can actually perform the impossible, everything you do will be built on a lie. sometimes we make verbal lies, often our lies are told by our bodies. Great magicians using a combition of prevarication and omission to lead the audience to draw false conclusions. i think now of all those 'smart' magicians who figured out so early on how derren that using hypnosis and nlp to accomplish his feats.

Was it not a lie to have allowed them to maintain that false belief? to have knowingly fostered it?

i don't think you have the slightest understanding of magic and likely no better of lying (or anything related to the nature of deception.)

5) i may regret this, but who DO you value as an artist? whose work do you think we as magicians have the most to learn from? (two questions, can be two artists)

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 25th, 2017, 6:51 am

I will try to respond to all of the remarks directed at me so far, but forgive me if I miss something folks.

:First: there is one exception that I would make to the rule agaist lying, and that is fbbing in such a way that it is obviousy or ridiculously deceitful, so that the audience can laugh it off.

I don't think that paying customers appreciate being "duped". I don't consider it any more entertaining than The Three Shell Game.

Besides, many spectators enjoy trying to figure out the trick. That is their right, and it is not only unsporting but positively enraging to FLATLY DENY their suspicions.

I am specifically referring to rubbish like The Book Test wherein the magician boldly pretends that the page number that was flipped to is the force page. This is what I mean by "a lie"..Precisely what the "bold" aithor confesses it to be.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Tom Sawyer » November 25th, 2017, 7:41 am

Hi All,

I am not sure exactly where this thread is going, but I think there are genuine "issues" that exist, and that it is axiomatic that not everyone is going to agree.

In a mind-reading act, for example, I am not sure what the present-day thinking is regarding this subject. If I recall correctly, respected people like Paul Fleming and David Hoy advocated not telling your audience you can read minds.

But an inaccurate representation about a page number, essential to the effect? At the moment, I see no problem with that.

I suppose that even the following is subject to interpretation, but here are a couple of Professor Hoffmann quotations from more than 100 years ago:

Modern Magic, page 104:

You announce that, of the two heaps, one contains an odd and the other an even number. This is, of course, untrue; but it is one of the postulates of a conjuror's performance that he may tell professionally as many fibs as he likes, and that his most solemn asseverations are only to be taken in a Pickwickian sense.

More Magic, page 75:

The company have not actually handled the cards now shown at all, but, as I have elsewhere remarked, it is an understood thing that what Carlyle called the “eternal veracities” are not to be expected of a conjurer.

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Tom Moore » November 25th, 2017, 10:24 am

There are 101 other factors in your performance that impact how your audience perceive you (and magic in general) far more than the legitimacy and authenticity of the precise syntax you use.

A magician with terrible BO who forces his performance on a group of spectators who just want to be left alone; performs old material with terrible cliched patter whilst also hitting on the spectator he has a crush on but who is literally telling the truth in everything he says does nothing to enoble the art.

Someone like Max Mavan / Steve Cohen / Armando Lucero who present well thought out, carefully planned routines in high class performance environments that remain respectful of their audiences but who are technically lying in almost every word they utter enoble the art more than virtually every magician on the planet who speaks literal truths.

Your question starts with a fundamentally flawed premise - if this topic really interests you then you should research Robert Harbin & Geoffrey Durham's writings and opinions on the subject of lying to the audience and more importantly how to treat your audiences (and thus the art itself) with respect and truthfulness
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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 25th, 2017, 10:27 am

jkeyes1000 wrote:Do you not think that we could elevate the respectability of Magic by sticking to visual illusions and dispensing with deliberate misstatements?


No--a good lie that is thoughtfully applied in your presentation can raise the conviction of your magic. As Professor Hoffmann pointed out: "...it is one of the postulates of a conjuror's performance that he may tell professionally as many fibs as he likes..."

A ridiculous and obvious lie is just bad showmanship and should be avoided.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby performer » November 25th, 2017, 10:43 am

Professor Hoffman was a lawyer. I am therefore not surprised at his statement. If the word lawyer was substituted for "conjurer's performance" it would have exactly the same meaning.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Bill Mullins » November 25th, 2017, 10:54 am

Hidden in Tom's post is a point that should not be missed:. The more Pickwickian your performance, the better.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 25th, 2017, 11:07 am

A lot of you are missing my point. I repeat, I am not interested in scholarly opinion, but simply suggesting that telling lies is a "slippery slope". If you tell them AT ALL, if ANY OF YOU tell them, if it COMMONLY ACCEPTED that you are given to lying, then how do you propose to persusde anyone that you are teliing the truth?

Did you learn nothing from The Boy Who Cried "Wolf!"?

Or how about, What a tangled web we weave?

If audiences tust you, it is because they presume that you are honest in your direct statements. Undermine that trust and you forfeit your rep, not fortify it.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 25th, 2017, 11:25 am

jkeyes1000 wrote:If audiences trust you, it is because they presume that you are honest in your direct statements. Undermine that trust and you forfeit your rep, not fortify it.


Yes--if you get caught. Don't get caught. Eugene Burger wrote a great essay on getting caught in a back issue of Genii.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby brianarudolph » November 25th, 2017, 11:35 am

A magician's job is to artfully present illusions for the enjoyment of an audience.

An illusion (according to the first online dictionary I visited) is "a thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses." A lie is "an intentionally false statement used with reference to a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression."

So with reference to the art of magic, when a magician "lies" to an audience, they are using the sense of sound (in the specific form of the magician's verbal skills) to further enable the illusion they are presenting. In contrast, a purely visual illusion relies solely on the sense of sight to create and carry the entire illusion.

I see no reason that we should not be able to thoughtfully use any aspect of any tool at our disposal to deceive any or all of the audience's senses.

Audiences expect to experience deception in a magic show - it's precisely what they paid to see, be it via an investment of their time, money or both. Customers OTOH, expect truth in advertising - and to receive the promised product or service as advertised without deception or an intent to defraud.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 25th, 2017, 12:05 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote:...
I am specifically referring to rubbish like The Book Test wherein the magician boldly pretends that the page number that was flipped to is the force page. This is what I mean by "a lie"..Precisely what the "bold" aithor confesses it to be.


Is this about weakness in method where normal audience interest (not necessarily skepticism) would unravel the whole cloth of deception? There's a "sting" school of magic trick design that plays off that dynamic of seeming to catch you out in lies... but that's also dependent upon them coming to enjoy what they understand as a game.
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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 25th, 2017, 12:18 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
jkeyes1000 wrote:...
I am specifically referring to rubbish like The Book Test wherein the magician boldly pretends that the page number that was flipped to is the force page. This is what I mean by "a lie"..Precisely what the "bold" aithor confesses it to be.


Is this about weakness in method where normal audience interest (not necessarily skepticism) would unravel the whole cloth of deception? There's a "sting" school of magic trick design that plays off that dynamic of seeming to catch you out in lies... but that's also dependent upon them coming to enjoy what they understand as a game.


Yes, it is very much about a weakness in method. I think it a shame. Most illusions do not require lying, and I see no benefit in mingling these embarrasing excuses for magic tricks amongst the magnificent ones.

There is NO NEED to lie unless your routine is poorly conceived.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Brad Henderson » November 25th, 2017, 1:01 pm

i think this all stems from jkeyes inability to perform deceptive magic. He continually gets caught and assumes the problem is with 'lying' and not his own lack of performance skills.

tell me - how does an audience know you are lying?

your entire premise is built on magicians thinking - specifically that the audience knows what the magician knows.

how does the audience know the miscall is a lie unless you tell them?

that's likely your problem keyes. Not just that you cannot put your mind into the head of a layman, but clearly your magic reveals to the audience what you know and they shouldn't.

If, for example, your audience is realizing you are miscalling the page the problem isn't with the principle of the miscall, it's with your ability to do it properly.

your comparison to the shell game is also ridiculous. people who walk away from the shell game don't realize they've been lied to - they believe they picked the wrong shell. the premise is that the man moves the shells in a way that you can't find the pea - and that's what he does. that's why they walk away and not fight with the operator. Watched a guy get taken for 300$ last month on the streets of vegas. He never once thought he had been scammed. that's because the operator knows how to set the scene.

when a magician - who by virtue of a magician - proceeds to create impossibilities does the audience not realize they will be doing and saying things that aren't true? i suppose you could take the 'im just creating illusions' tact but then you are no longer a magician. You are at best a demonstrator of psychological principles, no different from a psych 101 TA or at best a juggler of perceptions. but you certainly aren't doing 'magic'.

and of course, as always, the history of magic betrays your position. eddie fields had an amazing card trick built on a miscall. Tim conover floored magicians and real people all over the world with the same principle.

Apparently then the issue isn't with the lie but your inability to do so effectively.

perhaps magician isn't the right pursuit for
you. perhaps you should try politics because we all know that in politics when people are discovered to have lied everything from then on is undermined.

wait.

that's not true either.

as michael weber said 'sometimes the shortest distance between two points
is a straight lie'

are you going to tell me 'you don't think much of mr weber. or mr fields, or mr connover as magicians?

and you never explained how allowing the audience to believe you put a coin in your hand by body motions is less of a lie than using ones words.

oh, and who are the artists you admire?

or do you know any other than picasso?

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 25th, 2017, 2:01 pm

A good deal of the patter in magic is a lie.

End of story.

If you can't see that, there really isn't much more to say.
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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 25th, 2017, 2:33 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:A good deal of the patter in magic is a lie.

End of story.

If you can't see that, there really isn't much more to say.


Richard: my contention is that it is not necessary to lie if you have a wonderful ilusion.

That thee are many lies told in magical routines may be accounted for by laziness on the part of the inventor, or a mere elective choice to employ them.

In any case, a spectator is going to admire your skils much more if you accomplish the deception by cleverer means than dissembling. A three-year-old can do that.

I can't speak for everyone, but pesonally, I have virtually nothing positive to say about lying in any context.

I consider The Art of Magic a challenge. The performer creates a mystery, and the viewer tries to solve it.

This essential dynamic (as I petceive it) is severely compromised by deliberate falsehoods. I would never waste my time watching someone telling me to "trust him" that the hat he dumped eggs and flour in now contains a fully baked cake. Would you?

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Brad Henderson » November 25th, 2017, 3:01 pm

please give an example of masterful magic where no lies are incorporated.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Jack Shalom » November 25th, 2017, 3:06 pm

Your position is still bewildering to me. An illusion is a lie told in a particular context. . The Lady doesn't really float. What right do you have under your restrictions then, to imply that she does?

What right do you have to imply that the card is in the center of the deck when you have controlled it to the top?

And please don't say that implication is not the same as lying; on the contrary, a good liar knows that implication is even stronger than explicit lying.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Tom Moore » November 25th, 2017, 3:20 pm

I consider The Art of Magic a challenge. The performer creates a mystery, and the viewer tries to solve it.


If you consider magic to be a challenge then
a) it's not an art
b) it's no wonder audiences call out your lies since you're entering the performance with that in mind.

Plenty of us create magic that is about wonder and release and fantasy and escape that the vast majority of our audiences accept at face value and don't try to "solve" there is usually an element of discovery and curiosity on the part of the audience (that inevitably may lead to them solving it) but that's very much a secondary element of the experience.

You are making the fundamental mistake of assuming that the magic you do and the way you do it is the only form of magic that exists and everyone else does it the same way as you.
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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby observer » November 25th, 2017, 4:14 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote:<> it is not necessary to lie if you have a wonderful illusion. <>



An illusion is a lie. A visual lie rather than a verbal lie, but a lie nevertheless. If a magician is flying, he's lying.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 25th, 2017, 4:45 pm

No my friends, an ilusion is not a lie.

An ilusion is a visual phenomenon that may be demonstrated without commentary. I would neve accuse Tony Slydini of lying. Or Cardini for that matter.

A lie is a false assertion. That so many of you fail to appreciate the difference is to your discredit, not mine.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Tom Moore » November 25th, 2017, 5:09 pm

So when a magician takes a spectators signed selected card, places it in the centre of the deck, squares the deck and does "absolutely nothing" (classic pass) yet it suddenly pops up on top of the deck when he clicks his fingers you're saying that that isn't a lie, but if he does a double lift or top change first and says "i'll slide your card in to the middle of the deck and yet poof it jumps straight back up to the top" that is a lie and that one of these deceptions is abhorrent to you whilst the other is your ultimate aspiration?
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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Brad Henderson » November 25th, 2017, 5:38 pm

note he fails to offer any actual examples. to say slydini didn't lie is it suggest this person has never studied slydini.

let's have an example of an illusion, that is real, that relies not on any lies and produces the feelingful response in an audience of magic.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Ted M » November 25th, 2017, 5:42 pm

This has the air of somebody trying to cram magic into their particular theologically-shaped worldview.

Am I close?

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Bill Mullins » November 25th, 2017, 6:06 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote: I would neve accuse Tony Slydini of lying.


Have you ever seen Flight of the Paper Balls? He lies in it. Brilliantly.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 25th, 2017, 6:16 pm

Tom Moore wrote:So when a magician takes a spectators signed selected card, places it in the centre of the deck, squares the deck and does "absolutely nothing" (classic pass) yet it suddenly pops up on top of the deck when he clicks his fingers you're saying that that isn't a lie, but if he does a double lift or top change first and says "i'll slide your card in to the middle of the deck and yet poof it jumps straight back up to the top" that is a lie and that one of these deceptions is abhorrent to you whilst the other is your ultimate aspiration?


I will grant you have a good point (although I am not sure it is the point you were trying to make). There is often a fine line between lying and "fudging".

I don't have a big problem with your double lift bit, so long as you don't wave the dummy card in the air and call it their card.

You could more honestly refer to it obliquely without actually stating that the card you are embedding is theirs. Your words need not precisely match your actions if you can imply some sort of uncertainty. For instance, if you aren't looking at the deck, you can hardly be blamed for inserting the wrong one. It might have been an inadvertent faux pas.

An assertion that you are doing something that you are not is, however, loathesome to me.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby performer » November 25th, 2017, 6:18 pm

I once heard that Jerry Andrus would never tell a lie even when not performing. I am not sure whether this is relevant but it might be.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby performer » November 25th, 2017, 6:28 pm

I think Mr Keyes is being a little too strict on himself although he should be respected for it. It must be very self restrictive for him to try to deceive people when performing without having to tell a lie. It must be quite difficult I imagine but of course not impossible.

Someone mentioned theology earlier. I have no idea if this is an issue here or not. However, it reminds me of something that John Booth once wrote. He said that is was very rare to find a good clergyman conjurer because they found it difficult to lie convincingly. They would do it of course but would feel guilty in the so doing and would not be very convincing as a result. I found that an interesting observation although I have no idea if there is anything in it or not.

I am a psychic reverend myself and have no difficulty whatsoever in telling lies when performing. And not just performing............

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 25th, 2017, 7:35 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
jkeyes1000 wrote: I would neve accuse Tony Slydini of lying.


Have you ever seen Flight of the Paper Balls? He lies in it. Brilliantly.
[/quote]

I am quite familiar with the routine, Mr. Mullins. In fact I was thinking of it when I wrote my remark. Please quote a single lie Tony ever uttered.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby Jack Shalom » November 25th, 2017, 7:48 pm

While setting oneself a restriction is not necessarily a bad thing, and can lead to further creativity (e.g. write a poem of only 14 lines in ababcdcdefefgg form), the idea that such a restriction is "ennobling" is silly, in my opinion.

You may well have reasons, personal and artistic for pursuing your favored set of restrictions; but understand that it is an arbitrary set of restrictions and makes no difference to audiences or to other performers.

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Re: Ennobling Magic

Postby jkeyes1000 » November 25th, 2017, 8:13 pm

Jack Shalom wrote:While setting oneself a restriction is not necessarily a bad thing, and can lead to further creativity (e.g. write a poem of only 14 lines in ababcdcdefefgg form), the idea that such a restriction is "ennobling" is silly, in my opinion.

You may well have reasons, personal and artistic for pursuing your favored set of restrictions; but understand that it is an arbitrary set of restrictions and makes no difference to audiences or to other performers.


"Silly" to have real rather thsn feigned integrity? I should think it were the other way round. Well I am schooled, Mr. Shalom.


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