One of my famous Super long posts that nobody will ever read :)
In my search for my style, for myself, and for magic, I researched this a lot. I read many books in anthropology in order to understand what "real magic" was in other cultures, I visited Shamans in Central America (that was one of the strangest experiences in my life). I researched the psychology of cultures and of Schizophrenia in order to understand what makes people tick when it comes to magic. I studied every aspect that I could think of in regards to seriously making people believe, in performance and out, that I had real powers. You know what I found in three years of searching? That it won't work in a real show. I did incorporate this style into my live show, but it cannot stand a lone since it does not have the entertainment value that other areas of magic do. The exact combination of styles that I use in my show I will not reveal, but lets just say that the KEY element to make magic work I had to find it all the way to Argentina.The good thing is that I already understood it, its just that I needed somebody to guide me through the tunnel. It still took me three more years to get where I am from that point, and I am still nothing and nobody (except to my audiences who see my show of course). Is it worth going this way? Yes, because I developed some strong routines that have made my audiences talk about me for many years. But be aware of one thing, and take this seriously. If you decide to start thinking about Real Magic, get ready to start hating everything in magic (I don't anymore, but I sure did hate everything in magic at one point). Get ready to throw away your ENTIRE REPERTOIRE, and be aware that you will go through some serious thoughts and emotions. It might be just me and my experience, but I still would approach this with an open mind but cautious of who you are and your current thoughts present.
This document I wrote a very long time ago. Six years maybe. I have gone through some major changes in regards to my magic, so this document might not express my current thoughts. However, it was written at the point where Real Magic was my main focus in magic, so that version of me would be fresh in thoughts in regards to it than my current. It might also have things that I discovered later on, but I believe the main idea is there. The research into my work is not here, this is just the proposal for the style.
You won't read it I know...its too long to read.
Excerpts from private notes "The Magic Mind".
DEFINITION AND ELEMENTS OF REAL MAGIC
If you see the history of magic, you might think we are going uphill. The reality is that we are deteriorating. We used to create illusions that would incite people to action that would make them follow us. We made miracles. Now, regardless of our technology, we are doing tricks. Think about it and it should be self-explanatory.
Obviously modern society has changed its view of magic and the magician thanks to this deterioration. What was real magic in the past, is now a simple trick. I needed to raise the bar.
All that said, I will like to present a new style of magic. A performance style that many will be familiar with but have never recognized entirely until now. We all have performed freaky stuff, but there is a higher level to that; A level that transcends a simple mysterious presentation given to a classic trick.
Real Magic consists of the following qualities. If one of these elements is not present, the state of reality will be lost:
1. There shall be no space for a hypothesis as of the method. In other words, there should not even be a fake explanation for how the trick worked. They should be speechless. Silence is the voice of contemplation, so leave them contemplating what they just experienced. Because of the difficulty of such moment, the step down to this would be the creation of a method that fools BOTH magicians and laymen. In this style of magic, there are no excuses for lack of perfection regardless of whom you perform with or who pays the bills. Magicians and laymen are both audiences, both human, the same but different because of knowledge. If you take the knowledge of a magician and give it to a layman, the layman has become the magician as far as the way of thinking goes.
2. The effect itself (what you are doing) should cater to the spectators thoughts and expectations of what their unconscious mind considers real magic. I have thought about this, about the dream that I had, and about what I would enjoy seeing. It is all in the clichs used in relation to magic. Such things as Voodoo, psychokinetic powers, spiritual energy, etc. Things that people have already accepted as possible and impossible. Culture is what dictates their expectations of what magic is and should look like even though they dont know it.
3. The effect should mimics desires. If you had magical powers, wouldnt you use it for your own benefit? Make food appear, make women appear whenever you want, or make endless money appear. Feed on peoples deepest desires and you will have their minds. A parallel of this would be to do magic that is useful. How can you use this power in real life?
4. It is presented in a serious non-comical manner in order to enhance the reality of the presentation. If you had magical powers, would you really make corny jokes? You are searching for them to believe not have a laugh. Believe me, they will be entertained if they see what they believe to be real. Real magic should be presented in the most mysterious atmosphere possible. If somebody starts joking around, do not perform. If the atmosphere is loud and joyful, then real magic is not what you want to do.
5. The definition of tricks is as such: Any presentational piece that creates the belief of fakeness and thus makes the audience not believe the magic they are seeing is real. It is defined as clich with the world of magicians and does not pass the test of the question if I had real powers, would I be doing this? Therefore, Real Magic should not be associated with this definition.
6. The routine presented must have either one phase or three phases. The reason for presenting only one phase, a single trick, is because of previous examples given in this world. The closest common belief of real magic is Jesus himself. In the scriptures, we see how people believed in him regardless if he did illusions or real miracles. By looking at his actions, we can see that he did not follow up his miracles with yet another miracle. Singularity was the last factor for his presentation. Now, if you had real powers it would mean you could do whatever you wish. This means that if you started to do something, you could continue to do things to it. Three phases are usually the number taken for multiple kickers, which in part reflect on you doing whatever you want with no problems.
7. The presentation should satisfy and reach a high climax. Like all presentations, you should always reach a moment of high climax. If the effect is dull and has no climatic ending then there is no glory in your actions, hence nobody will find interest in what you are doing. This is designed to leave them wanting more, is why you should limit yourself to a single demonstration (either one phase or three).
8. From a technical side, everything you say and do should be slow and direct. All movements should be carried on slowly and with nothing to hide. What you say should be of few words. This is philosophy from Rene Lavand himself. Magic naturally clutters the mind, for there is an out-of-the-ordinary even taking place. If words and movements are added to this, the magic becomes less clear. Keep in mind that the presentational style is based on what you say and how you move as well, so it all fits perfectly if you follow these guidelines.
9. Two situations may be used for presenting Real Magic. The first one, is to present it during a formal show. The second one, being the strongest of the two, is to present Real Magic on a spontaneous situation where magic would be needed. The first situation involves a regular show. There are specific places where you have to put the tricks that look like real magic. You can do a full show with tricks like these, use this single trick as a grand finale, or do a single trick as your entire show. This last option merges the second situation in where magic should be performed in the most opportunist moment. Again, I will use Jesus as an example. Many of his miracles were not scheduled to be performed, but they rather occurred by chance. There was no wine during the wedding, so as a solution he turned water into wine. The many people he healed came to him at unscheduled moments, and he healed them. These opportunistic moments can in fact be arranged by creating the problem that needs the magical solution.
10. Real Magic follows the philosophy of Yin Yang. There is a balance between the time it takes to perform the trick and the final impact of the illusion, the amount of movements done and the impossibility of the trick, and how shocking the effect is compared to religion, age, culture, and atmosphere. If a trick is quick, lasting 3 minutes as a maximum, then the impact of the trick will be strong. Unless you are doing three phases, hence a routine, the time will be distributed by each phase counting 3 minutes. If the effect is long, the spectators mind is exhausted and the elaboration of the effect takes the impact away. Also, the less movement of the hands, literally, the more amazing the magic will be. For the balance of the effect versus religion, age, etc, see (Stronger approach vs. Traditional magic styles)
The step down from the style of Real Magic is to perform pieces that give away a strong emotion. Emotions can be either of fear, amazement, sadness, etc. Real Magic, by nature, can only express the emotions of fear but preferable of pure amazement. What I call Emotional Magic is a style that guides the audience through a door that lets them see, through a metaphorical performance, our deepest thoughts and emotions. This style is more artistic and reflects more creativity than Real Magic. Nonetheless, they both have their advantages and disadvantages over each other.
MAKING REAL MAGIC MARKETABLE
How to sell it
Of the ten elements that Real Magic must have, the situation in where you perform the effect constitutes the most influential part of the performance. It is very difficult to set up a problematic situation in where your magical powers can resolve it, such as a person ripping a receive from a store, only to find out that they need to exchange back the item they bought. You can then come in, restore the ticket, and the problem is solved.
I, as well as many fellow magicians, would like to avoid all this extensive setup and instead be able to schedule openly make a presentation of Real Magic.
Although the spontaneity will be taken away, it is possible to make a demonstration of such powers. Be sure to make it an exploration into a topic unknown to them, as if you were a chemistry professor. In April of 1969, Vernon wrote on Genii Magazine As far as mixing a mental trick with other tricks, if you want to sell it as real mentalism, youll have a hard job. Ive tried to do this myself, and I think the only way that it can be done is to say something along the line of, You know, when I first got interested in magic, I was fascinated by telepathy, or so-called psychic things, and I wondered if there was anything really to it. Now, Ive delved into all forms of trickery and subterfuge in magic, but there are some things that cant be explained. Now, theres one thing Ive done ever since I was a boy, and I dont really know how its done myself, unless its telepathy. Ill leave it to you. Now, a trick can be introduced that way, but not suddenly change and say that youre a mind reader, because theyll assume its done by trickery anyway, because they know youre a magician. But if you really give them a convincing talk, and are sincere about it, and change the whole atmosphere, you might have some people who are gullible enough to really believe that theyre witnessing real telepathy. But its very difficult. You have to really sell that to the audience. You just cant throw it in without some explanation of why youre doing it.
Although some people are already searching for something magical, and they will buy whatever looks close to it, there are people that will not. Try not to appear to be a charlatan by pushing it too far. If you have done all ten elements of Real Magic, people will have a very hard time deciding if whether they should question the legitimacy of it. It cant be real, yet it looked so real that it must be real
Stronger approach vs. Traditional magic styles
With the traditional styles of magic (e.g. Parlor, comical, bar magic styles, etc), the kinds of audiences that you are able to perform to are endless. Real Magic is more impacting and more meaningful because of the symbolic imagery that it creates, and because of this there are ethical standards that should be followed with responsibility. There are things you should look out for in audiences and test for compatibility with your effects. This is mainly for performers who do not want to cross the line into something psychological. By crossing the line I mean doing things that are so influential in people that it comes very close to becoming a religion or a mental state where they are either affected or strongly influenced. The human mind is very easy to manipulate once you touch sensible spots in the mind. The following are what I consider the most important spots of the mind you should avoid and again test for compatibility.
1. The first of these things is religion and cultural beliefs. It is very easy to insult somebody if you appear to be mocking his or her religion or spiritual beliefs. I have met people who are very strong Christians, and they were insulted and/or moved by the mere tricks I did with cards. Im telling you I did things like Twisting the Aces and the Ambitious Card!You can never tell the level gullibility of people, but you can avoid making it worst. For example, what if I took a piece of paper and ashes. Tell the spectator to hold the ashes and think of the deepest passion in their heart. Rub the ashes on the paper, and the face of Jesus appears. Even if you have been socially accepted by them to do these things, it is still incredibly shocking to see something like that. Why? Because of the symbolism that it creates and the connection that it has to the believes of each individual. If you were to do this same Jesus trick to Chinese who does not know who Christ is, he would just see a neat magic trick that made the face of a man appear. But he would not see the symbolism behind the effect, thus will not be shocked by it.
2. Secondly, you should be aware of the age of the people you are performing this to. Young or old, they both represent a potential problem if your performance and/or effect are not balanced to them. (Yin Yang). First of, children are not allowed. Children will either ruin the performance with their behavior or reactions and they represent a potential ethical problem for you regardless of what the parents think.
3. Although not so important in the ethical perspective, the atmosphere where you present your magic should be also looked at. Using Christians as an example (because we are all familiar with that religion), you dont want to present something that appears to be real magic at a religious gathering. That should be self-explanatory as to what to look out for. Another example would be to present a resurrection effect at a funeralas a matter of fact, why the hell are you performing at a funeral?
4. Many will say that you have to let people know it is an illusion in some way. That is not true. If they truly believe they have seen real magic, then the only problem would be the consequences that come with that. These consequences take care of themselves! Modern society tends to question things, and that questioning is what keeps their minds busy and not creating a religion for you. Because their minds are obviously not used to seeing such strong image, they will begin to question their legitimacy as with everything else in life. Questioning of what took place happens after the performance, when they are going back home or when they are taking a shower. It should never take place right after the trick is over. There should be total silence and a feeling of shock going through them up until the moment you leave.
CULTURAL VIEWS OF REAL MAGIC
As I mentioned previously, Jesus Christ is the closest accepted person to have done real magic. Although many question the legitimacy of his miracles, these performances have made him into the most influential person in history. Why?
In modern society, if you were to turn water into wine, there will be an immediate connection with Jesus. His miracles have become popular culture thanks to the expansion of Christianity. But, as demonstrated earlier in an example, the
popularity of one miracle will not be as popular in other cultures. Jesus Christ is not the only one that shares this popularity. Many religions have their own miracle workers, and thus in their culture and religion they accept one or more ways of magic.
Voodoo is in fact a religion, and it is followed by people who actually do rituals. There are many indigenous tribes that actually believe in magic. What is impacting for them might not be so impacting to us and vice versa. The human mind tends to make a network of imagery and symbols that are important to each culture, and it is based on this network that Real Magic is calibrated to.
Many have seen the possibility for profit in taking advantage of the mental networks of people. They have become charlatans, feeding from the faith and gullibility of people towards certain things. Many will remember the preacher that heals people by pushing their heads back. The simple explanation for why people fall to the floor is because of conditioning. They have seen others react that way, so they do. They have a mental block and faith that they can be healed too.
But if you were to take an person who is not Christian, who is from a tribe, and does not believe in the preacherhe would just fall to the floor as well after seeing everyone fall. But he will be confused, looking around at what is going on instead of believing he is healed.
Society tends to get bored, and it begins to feed from folk tales. Things like ghosts and the paranormal are now, in western society, in the back of our minds. We still find it interesting to explore that unknown world, one that represents something far beyond our everyday life. Again, in comparison to other cultures, ghosts are not as interesting but feared. Nonetheless, each culture has its own interests, and thus Real Magic should cater to those interests. The effect itself (what you are doing) should cater to the spectators thoughts and expectations of what their unconscious mind considers real magic This is exactly what that element of magic refers to.
We can see how the unknown, the magic, and the mysterious influence society. Television and movies have influenced this by creating shows that appeal to us. Such as The X-Files, Heroes, and the many shows relating to ghosts. We as children are conditioned to have these things become part of our lives, either by being serious about it or just having fun.
In the end, if this style is possible to achieve and to master, I believe it represents one of the new standards of magic. It would be raising the bar higher than the guys on TV, and thus would elevate the art of magic out of the hobbies and games section in the library and bookstore.