Best books relating to theory behind deception in magic

A place where beginners can participate, ask questions, and post their views. However, beginners typically ask a lot of questions about sources, tricks, books, and so on. In fact, all magicians are interested (or should be) in the provenance of tricks, ideas, and related matters. This department will service these needs.

Postby allinking17 » 11/28/09 08:24 PM

Hey there, im not really sure where this goes, so i thought i would post it here.

I am doing a research project for school on magic. The basis of my research project is this:

Why is magic different than other arts in the fact that the audience knows they are going to be deceived but still enjoy magic anyways.

Basically my class is all about literary forgers and fakers. I am just exploring why lying and deceiving in magic is accepted as opposed to literature and other mediums.

My question to you all is which magic books/ professional magicians have put out some good books on the nature of deception in magic, and why the audience accepts it.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/28/09 09:40 PM

Why is magic different than other arts in the fact that the audience knows they are going to be deceived but still enjoy magic anyways.


IMHO Robert-Houdin got it right in his "Secrets of Magic..." book about ours being a theatrical art.

Some misapply the Coleridge quote about romantic poetry by omitting the presupposition of the performance being framed (and contained) in the same way as a story - no lingering worries about one's money turning to blank slips of paper or that the in-laws will be reading ones mind just because the guy on stage could.

There is a difference between the buy-in of magic shows and drama in that drama asks the audience to consider the emotional circumstances of the characters portrayed while magic shows ask the audience to consider the base condition of the very materials used in performance ( be they physical or just thoughts ).

Hope my perspective on that stuff helps for a start,

Jon
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Postby Stijn Hommes » 03/27/10 06:15 PM

I don't remember the exact title or source, but there is a scientific article about the psychology behind magic that was co-authored by Teller and Mac King that might be of help.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 03/27/10 09:04 PM

Stijn Hommes wrote:I don't remember the exact title or source, but there is a scientific article about the psychology behind magic that was co-authored by Teller and Mac King that might be of help.


Are you sure you want to limit your scope to deception as discussed by those who are so incongruent as to use words like "misdirection" and terms like "magic trick"? It would seem less than informative to seek the mechanics of guile in the literature which treats its "how to" almost like a cookbook and proffers works without provenance or verification plans so the student can check if something is working or if outside factors are interfering with their intended results.

If the world of psychology research there are some informative studies on the experience of surprise and the notion of guile.

As to the social ecology of guile... can't help there beyond to suggest that the proscenium arch helps keeps things safe.
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Postby the Larry » 03/28/10 06:00 AM

I remember listening to some tape titled "The Psychology of Magic" a long time ago. Probably a tape that Martin Breese put out. Forgot the author. This would fit your interest.
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Postby MagicBilly » 03/28/10 11:00 AM

uuuuuhhhhh, Fitzkee trilogy
Act Happy, Feel Happy, Be Happy with no reason in the World (D. Millman)
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Postby Dan Smith » 03/28/10 12:52 PM

The Psychology of Magic by Bill Nagler was published by Martin Breese. The Lybrary.com edition is available here.
Last edited by Dan Smith on 03/28/10 12:56 PM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: corrected url
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