Emotion in Magic

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 08/20/05 12:14 PM

A regular came to my restaurant gig last night. Jill works as a civilian for the military base in El Segundo, California. Said that a friend of hers was coming in.

This woman is an enlisted woman, and her husband has just been sent to Iraq, Jill said, and she was having lots of trouble filling up the evening hours. So she decided to see some closeup magic at the local restaurant.

When she finally arrived, Maria turned out to be a slender young woman with a darling face, and was wearing a Hollister t-shirt, just a touch of tattoo showing beyond the short sleeve.

Well, I went through my "A" material, and she was enjoying herself. I was feeling great that I was distracting her from her troubles for just a while. Sponge balls, she was laughing. Rising card, she was amazed. Center tear, she was stunned.
Then I asked her to put her initials on a dime.

"And put your husband's initials on the back," I added. "Because you are, after all, two sides of the same coin."

Immediately, a lump caught in her throat and her eyes watered up. She pushed the coin away and gave the pen to Jill.

"I can't do it," she said, her voice breaking, "you do it."

Finished with bending the coin and then making it end up in an Equal packet. But talk about emotion making its way into your shows, this was it.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 08/20/05 01:14 PM

What method do you use for bending the coin?
Guest
 

Postby Brad Henderson » 08/21/05 01:22 PM

mmmm classy. Bring up a potentially emotional situation, and then trivialize it by sending a coin it into a packet of artificial sweetner. Ah, the symbolism....the magic....
Brad Henderson
 
Posts: 2513
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: austin, tx

Postby NCMarsh » 08/21/05 03:17 PM

You are there to offer temporary freedom from fear and anxiety. There is no greater way to fail to provide this freedom than to cause a member of your audience to break into tears and to be unable to continue.

I am certain that your intentions were noble and I respect those intentions, but in reminding her of the close bond with her husband you also remind her that "the other side of her coin" is facing violent death and dismemberment in a place very far away from her and that she is completely powerless to protect him.

That this emotional shock is utterly gratuitous only adds to its violence. The names are just there to prove that it is the same coin in the sugar packet. She goes through this emotionally jarring moment for what? So you can show how clever your trick is.

One might wonder, after being reminded of a loved one in tremendous danger, how much she cares if the coin in the sugar packet is the same one that vanished.

This gets us to an important point: we seek an emotional connection with our audiences in part so that they care more about our magic. Here, by juxtaposing real personal fear against a coin trick you make the coin trick feel far less important. What's worse, and this is what Brad's post touches on very well, is that by dragging deeply felt fear and longing for a loved one into a coin trick you may seem to be trivializing those emotions.

You have chosen to tug on one of this woman's deepest emotional strings. Why? So that there is "emotion" in your show?

N.
OrlandoCorporateMagician.com Orlando Magician
User avatar
NCMarsh
 
Posts: 1172
Joined: 02/16/08 01:00 PM
Location: Orlando, FL

Postby Guest » 08/21/05 08:49 PM

Come on, Nathan...get down off your hindsight-spotting tower and lighten up.

From reading David's post, I can easily imagine that the lady might have equally thought his comments heartwarming and romantic. Emotional reactions can go either way--and it situations like these, it's purely a judgement call made on the spot by the working pro.

For all we know, the young lady went home and penned a long letter to her husband describing the interesting experience she had.

And then, maybe those tears flowed because she was happy it was Dave's last trick. :)

Best,
Mick Ayres
Guest
 

Postby Brad Henderson » 08/22/05 08:12 AM

Just got a note from Groves. I am posting my reply here as it explains why I found his "story" so creepy. Admittedly, it was about an hour after my first post that it really hit home for me.

David, Your comment was offensive, and it should be called attention to lest others think this shallow behavior should be emulated.

First you describe this woman as if she were something out of a Penthouse Forum letter. You objectify her. Then, when you see an opportunity to build yourself up, to take advantage of her condition for YOUR needs, you place her into an uncomfortable position without caring about its ramifications for her.

Then, when you see that you have successfully manipulated her in this manner, you USE her, get what you want, and are proud of your actions. Instead of being sensitive to her needs, you plow on like a frat boy in heat, making sure you get to the climax of your routine. Who cares that you have a woman crying in front of you?

You have used magic as a tool to rape someone emotionally AND you brag about it, telling others this is how you do it, this is how WE should do it.

The problem wasn't that you tried to put emotion in your magic, the problem was, when things went sour, that it was more important to take care of your needs than the audiences.
Brad Henderson
 
Posts: 2513
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: austin, tx

Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/22/05 08:46 AM

I tend to agree with Mick ... none of us saw the performance of the effect, so we really can't judge what the woman's reactions actually were.

I can easily envision both good and bad outcomes here, and the difference is the fine line the performer walks each time he depends on this kind of "emotion-seeking" presentation.

Frankly, if the woman reacted badly, then I don't think David Groves would have written about it here.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
 
Posts: 20945
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Pete Biro » 08/22/05 08:46 AM

Whoa... are you guys "shrinks" or what???
Stay tooned.
User avatar
Pete Biro
 
Posts: 7124
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Hollyweird

Postby Brad Henderson » 08/22/05 11:04 AM

Admittedly, David's description worked, I think, to his detriment. But how is what he did fundamentally different from someone, in a 'living/dead' test or spirit slate routine asking for the volunteer to "think of someone dearly departed, someone who you loved but is no longer with you" and using that in a "trick"? Of course, it brings emotions into the moment, but isn't this insensitive, crass, and at some level obscene?
Brad Henderson
 
Posts: 2513
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: austin, tx

Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/22/05 11:09 AM

Originally posted by David Groves:
...This woman is an enlisted woman, and her husband has just been sent to Iraq...Then I asked her to put her initials on a dime. "And put your husband's initials on the back," I added. "Because you are, after all, two sides of the same coin."

Immediately, a lump caught in her throat and her eyes watered up. She pushed the coin away and gave the pen to Jill.

"I can't do it," she said, her voice breaking, "you do it."

Finished with bending the coin and then making it end up in an Equal packet. But talk about emotion making its way into your shows, this was it.
David, rather than read into this, I'll ask: Was it your intent to invoke a strong emotional response with this part of your presentation?
Mundus vult decipi
Jonathan Townsend
 
Posts: 6766
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Westchester, NY

Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/22/05 11:28 AM

Since I am not a regular performer, I can only speak from an observational point of view. (Is that redundant?) Having seen some great performers touch the heartstrings of their audiencesmyself includedthere is one thing that I believe they all have in common that David unfortunately missed when he hit this womans heart: That the audience members who were affected related to the performer through that emotion. In other words, the performer was the apparent target of the emotion and the audience members experienced the same emotion because they share or have shared a similar experience in their lives. Regardless of what emotion the performer is trying to evokekeeping in mind that laughter is also an emotionits much more effective, and indeed safer, when the audience is relating to the performer instead of feeling alone.

Dustin
User avatar
Dustin Stinett
 
Posts: 5999
Joined: 07/22/01 12:00 PM
Location: Southern California

Postby Guest » 08/22/05 12:48 PM

I am quite stunned to have provoked such strong negative responses from people who were not there to witness what happened.


To clarify:

I said: "Put your initials on the coin. And put your husband's initials on the other side. Because you are, after all, two sides of the same coin."

It's something that I say during many of my performances of signed-coin effects, and usually, it does not provoke any response beyond a warm smile. This time, I didn't realize until afterwards that the woman was emotionally on the edge. Before I delivered the line, she looked perfectly fine on the outside, smiling and cheerful.

There is a thought prevalent in our society that soldiers and their significant others should be emotionally prepared for being sent overseas into the war, because after all, they did sign up, didn't they? I must confess that I was buying into this point of view when I delivered my oft-repeated line. I was stunned, then, when it hit a chord.

It was a misstep, to be sure, and I backed off from it afterward, careful not to go near that boundary again. Maria teared up for a moment, but then recovered and I continued with the SL coin bending, and then, the How Sweet It Is. There were no hard feelings, because everyone knew the score: Maria was on the edge and I hadn't realized it.

The point of my post, actually, was not that I did something laudable--I actually made a misstep--but that emotion unexpectedly made its way into my performance. It doesn't actually feel like wartime, does it? But it is.

In addition, although Maria teared up, I now sense that she tears up all the time at little things. When a woman whom I know recently lost her husband, she confessed that she was tearing up at perfectly innocuous things, and she recounted a couple of them for me: in the car, "Boys of Summer" playing on the radio, and suddenly she was crying all out; in the grocery-store line, Brad Pitt on the cover of People magazine, because he was smiling like her husband used to, and tears began running down her face, baffling the grocery clerk; and like that.

As strolling magicians, we often step into minefields without knowing it. They look just fine on the outside, but they've just lost their child, or have gone through a messy divorce, or whatever.

As for Mr. Henderson's observation that my account sounded like a Penthouse letter, I would advise him to look within and come to terms with his own issues. Really now. And take care how you use the term, rape.
Guest
 

Postby Brad Henderson » 08/22/05 01:36 PM

"When she finally arrived, Maria turned out to be a slender young woman with a darling face, and was wearing a Hollister t-shirt, just a touch of tattoo showing beyond the short sleeve.

Well, I went through my "A" material, and she was enjoying herself. I was feeling great that I was distracting her from her troubles for just a while. Sponge balls, she was laughing. Rising card, she was amazed. Center tear, she was stunned."

Still reads creepy to me. But I appreciate you offering your reply. Regardless, your post made it sound like you, knowing the situation, chose to use this line in an effort to capitalize on it. To do that is emotional rape. It is no different than forcing someone to think of a recently departed love one in order to do a magic trick. You may consider that word harsh, I do not.

Yes, we all blunder. You could have used the line a thousand times and said it to a recent widow. I think there are better ways to handle the situation than to continue with the trick, but you could not have known.

But, in this instance, you DID know going into it. So, using the line INTENTIONALLY, was a poor choice. You walked headlong into that minefield KNOWING IT WAS THERE.

But, as I have shared with you privately, I still have problems with the intention of the whole piece. You are creating a representation (a symbol) of a relationship between two people. Dramatically/artistically, what you do with that representation says something about the nature of that which it represents. So, what are you saying when you take a loving relationship, bend it, and transport it into a package of artifical sweetner?

Seems to me to trivialize the forces with which you are trying to play. Then again, perhaps these are things which shouldn't be "played with" at all, but treated with deep thought and respect.
Brad Henderson
 
Posts: 2513
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: austin, tx

Postby NCMarsh » 08/22/05 01:48 PM

we really can't judge what the woman's reactions actually were.
I'm not sure how relevant her actual reaction is -- indeed, part of the point is that David could not have known how she would have responded.

My objection, and Brad articulates this much more clearly than I, is more about David's attitude towards his spectators. He pushes a button that he knows is deeply emotional so that he can get an emotional response. Her deeply felt fear is a thing to be manipulated in order to get a reaction. This is exactly the kind of gauche behavior that makes magic so lowly regarded among people of good taste.

Now, I am by no means setting myself up as a model of perfection in this department. When watching myself on tape there are times where I feel like I come off as a patronizing blowhard. Indeed, I think it is extremely difficult to perform magic for a group of strangers and NOT to seem, on some level, arrogant and anti-social. Indeed, I think there is a very small cadre of highly experienced and extremely talented performers who are able to really put any audience at ease and to feel like they are in the presence of a gentleman -- Del Ray, Fred Kaps, Tommy Wonder, Juan Tamariz, Whit Haydn...

This is by way of saying that I am not writing this to denigrate David or to say "if only he were as competent as me he would have..." David's name is known to magicians. Those who are just starting out -- if they are smart -- emulate the ideals and choices of the names they recognize in order to try to separate the wheat from the chaff. So I think that there is a greater responsibility on us to say "whoa, this is not what is meant when 'emotional reactions' and 'emotional engagement' are valued," lest we see this kind of behavior emulated.

Best,

N.

P.S. this was written before Mr. Groves offered his response, to which I will respond when I have the time.
OrlandoCorporateMagician.com Orlando Magician
User avatar
NCMarsh
 
Posts: 1172
Joined: 02/16/08 01:00 PM
Location: Orlando, FL

Postby Guest » 08/22/05 02:27 PM

I beg to differ. And I was there.
Guest
 

Postby NCMarsh » 08/22/05 04:53 PM

David,

Your last two responses don't seem to cohere together very well. You first say, very directly, that you feel this was a mis-step. You then say:
I beg to differ. And I was there.
It is not clear who you are begging to differ with or over what; so I guess we are left to infer.

Now, of the issues that have been discussed in this thread, it seems as if there is only one to which being there might be relevant: whether or not this was laudable conduct. You, having been there, have made it very clear that it wasn't. I agree.

So I am left wondering what it is that you are differing on and what your having been there has to do with it. Do you think that Brad is wrong that the magical effect you do with a symbol says something about that symbol? What would having been involved in this situation have to do with that? Do you think that I am wrong that it is very easy for magic to seem sleazy and condescending? What would having been involved in this situation have to do with that?

Best,

N.
OrlandoCorporateMagician.com Orlando Magician
User avatar
NCMarsh
 
Posts: 1172
Joined: 02/16/08 01:00 PM
Location: Orlando, FL

Postby Guest » 08/22/05 11:15 PM

I beg to differ that you are being civil.

I did not post this message to be attacked, as you are so wont to do on this forum, in fact, at nearly every turn. I thought I knew everything at 22, as well, although I certainly can't imagine that I came off as badly as you do. I posted here to share a misstep that I made. I did not share this so that a couple of misanthropes could accuse me of rape, or of writing pornography for the Penthouse Forum, or of being sleazy.

I don't care to defend myself, or respond further, because the two attackers on this thread are not worthy of my response.

I did actually call Jill early this evening to make sure that no offense was given. She has come to the restaurant nearly every Friday evening for the past five years, so she's a loyal fan and very nearly a friend. I asked her about the incident, and she expressed genuine surprise that I would even think that offense was taken. Jill talked with Maria at work this morning, and Maria said that she had enjoyed the evening of magic very much.

"Well, I just wanted to make sure that no offense was taken," I said at the end.

"Because you're so sensitive," she said.

And that's the nub of it: The objections here are simply oversensitive. And, of course, insensitive. Lay off, guys.
Guest
 

Postby Andy Hurst » 08/23/05 01:52 AM

Originally posted by David Groves:
I beg to differ that you are being civil.
And that's the nub of it: The objections here are simply oversensitive. And, of course, insensitive. Lay off, guys.
I'm with David on this, it's a heck of a step from saying you don't agree with something he did to claiming he virtually raped someone.

I can only imagine that Mr Henderson has never managed to get an emotional response from his magic, especially from a woman and so he's not happy when someone else does.

And before anyone says I can't say that because I've never seen him perform - that sure didn't seem to matter in this case.

I don't think the line David used was a good idea considering Bush had just shipped the womans husband off to be killed, but surely he was just sharing a perfomance story?

I bet reactions like that make people think twice about ever sharing something that happened to them while performing and that's not good.

Andy
Andy Hurst
 
Posts: 163
Joined: 03/18/08 12:55 PM

Postby NCMarsh » 08/23/05 01:53 AM

David,

You posted your story on a public forum -- ostensibly encouraging others to offer their thoughts on that story. We offered our honest views of the situation as you had presented it. Nothing that we said was ad hominem -- every word was a comment upon the single decision that was under discussion. Negative adjectives were certainly used to describe this single action -- none were used to describe you.

Indeed the first -- and only! -- occurence of any name-calling or ad hominem comes in this excerpt from your post in which you first call us "misanthropes" and then proceed to rattle off a list of demonstrably false accusations:

I did not share this so that a couple of misanthropes could accuse me of rape, or of writing pornography for the Penthouse Forum, or of being sleazy.
I have used the word "sleazy" in this thread once -- to describe an easy pitfall for all magicians, a category in which I certainly include myself. Your claim that I called you "sleazy" is simply fantasy (control-f to verify). Further, Brad was comparing the tone of Penthouse letters to your tone -- suggesting that your initial post seemed to treat your audience members as objects in the manner that PH letters treat women as objects. Nothing in his post accuses you of writing pornography! Likewise, his use of the word "rape" was clearly figurative -- no one is accusing you of rape.

You have said that you made a mistake, I have said that you made a mistake (while going out of my way to emphasize similar mistakes that I have made) -- I'm having trouble seeing what the content of this "attack" is.

As for my being "wont" to attack: I have been participating in online discussions of magic for about 10 years now. In that time I have probably participated in thousands of threads. I have been accused of making a personal attack in three of those threads. Two involved you. The first time was when you bragged about having created the definitive version of a card plot -- only to reveal that you had not bothered to research the seminal versions of that plot and that you could not articulate the effect that you intended to create. The second was when you came on and appeared to be bragging about bringing a woman to tears during a performance.

Misanthrope though I be, I am glad that you and Jill are friends and that all is well. Of course, it is worth remembering that her being "offended" was never the issue. The issue (and it is far smaller than you are making it out to be) was yanking a spectator out of the moment by needlessly recalling a deeply felt personal fear.

Both Brad and I have offered up beginings to conversations that are universally relevant to mystery entertainers: I think that the problem of the ease with which magic comes off as sleazy, patronizing, and trivial is one that deserves some thought; I also think that Brad's comments about the way that we use symbolism in our acts is particularly important and worthy of greater discussion.

I had the pleasure of spending an evening last May with one of your mentors. I shared a meal with Johnny Ace Palmer, had an interesting discussion, showed him a few "works in progress," and had the tremendous pleasure of seeing him work live for laymen at a restaurant. He is a kind, warm, and extremely giving gentleman -- and a strong performer. You have Johnny's respect, and from that I know that you deserve respect. I say this only to point out that I have nothing personal against you and that none of my comments about your posts should be taken as comments about you.

I take honesty from others, always, as a sign of virtue. I consider flattery to be one of the greatest disservices that can be done to another -- an act that lays one of the foundations for mediocrity, hubris, and vice. Should I ever offer lectures to the community, publish my work, or post about these kinds of experiences; I can only hope that the rest of the community will be kind enough to be as honest in their responses to me as I have been to you.

Best,

N.
OrlandoCorporateMagician.com Orlando Magician
User avatar
NCMarsh
 
Posts: 1172
Joined: 02/16/08 01:00 PM
Location: Orlando, FL

Postby Q. Kumber » 08/23/05 02:02 AM

I'm surprised to see the reactions to David's original post. Everyone who works a lot, occasionally gets some kind of over the top reaction to something they do regularly.

When doing strolling close-up, you may be giving twenty or more performances one after the other. Being human and especially if you work a lot, some of your performance time will be in 'automatic mode'.

Even if you're in full 'performance mode' you may overlook some tiny detail of spectator's body language that, on later reflection should have been a clue to an otherwise unexpected outburst.

EVERY performer will have unexpected moments. Some may help the show and some will detract.

To upset ourselves unnecessarily that they happened will not lead to any useful purpose. In similar situations I always ask myself "What could I have done differently and how can I make sure it doesn't happen again?"

You can't learn much watching a seamless performance (an analogy also used by Jim Steinmeyer in his Magic Circle Centenary lecture). It's only when the cracks and seams appear that the clues of construction emerge.

A few years ago I saw comedian Jackie Mason live. A pretty seamless perfromance. But there came a 'split' when he was interrupted by an audience member. How he handled it was to me a lesson worth the price of admission.

Even better than learning from your own mishaps is learning from those of others. If David Groves has a seamless performance then goody for him. If he has something unusual happen, or something go wrong and he chooses to share it with us, his fellow performers, I applaud and thank him.

It is our loss if we don't benefit from his experience.
User avatar
Q. Kumber
 
Posts: 996
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Manchester, England

Postby Andy Hurst » 08/23/05 02:04 AM

Originally posted by Nathan Coe Marsh:
I can only hope that the rest of the community will be kind enough to be as honest in their responses to me as I have been to you.
LOL!

Andy
Andy Hurst
 
Posts: 163
Joined: 03/18/08 12:55 PM

Postby NCMarsh » 08/23/05 02:18 AM

Originally posted by Andy Hurst:

I can only imagine that Mr Henderson has never managed to get an emotional response from his magic, especially from a woman and so he's not happy when someone else does.
For about three years I dated a woman who gave me an extremely realistic, and very sobering view of magic. When I first began my performing business she worked as my artistic director, and so she took it upon herself to watch a lot of magic and -- from the perspective of a layman with good taste -- figure out what worked, what didn't, and why. Most of the magicians she saw, while responding politely and enthusiastically in person and in the moment, she found to be cheesy and patronizing (this is a sentiment that I have found pretty common in friends and roomates to whom I have shown performance videos).

What performers left the greatest emotional impact on her? Brad Henderson and Tommy Wonder.

Best,

N.
OrlandoCorporateMagician.com Orlando Magician
User avatar
NCMarsh
 
Posts: 1172
Joined: 02/16/08 01:00 PM
Location: Orlando, FL

Postby NCMarsh » 08/23/05 02:26 AM

Quentin,

I agree with you completely about the value of people coming forward with their experiences -- particularly negative -- and I have certainly had my share of goofs on autopilot. Had Mr. Groves post been offered in a spirit of "jeez, look at this mistake" as opposed to a spirit of "isn't it cool that I got an emotional reaction when this woman broke down" then my response would have been very different.

Best,

N.
OrlandoCorporateMagician.com Orlando Magician
User avatar
NCMarsh
 
Posts: 1172
Joined: 02/16/08 01:00 PM
Location: Orlando, FL

Postby Guest » 08/23/05 03:18 AM

Originally posted by Nathan Coe Marsh:
.....as opposed to a spirit of "isn't it cool that I got an emotional reaction when this woman broke down".....
That's just it, I think. You see, when I read the initial post, and the final sentence "But talk about emotion making its way into your shows, this was it", I didn't think that he was saying that it was a good thing. Nor was he saying that it was a bad thing. He was simply observing that it had happened.

We do seem to be having an inordinate number of tirades on this board recently. Especially so considering that this is one of the more "sensible" boards. I often notice on the Magic Talk board that an innocent comment provokes a flaming response of forest-fire proportions. For example, I asked a question there about why a certain sleight was generally considered to be better than another. Someone posted a very helpful reply, explaining it. I posted my thanks. And that post of thanks resulted in a tirade of abuse from the person whod helped me. I had no idea why. And I still dont.

Someone posted on Magic Talk that someone was seriously ill. Someone else then posted some information that they'd been given about the guy's condition. And the first guy posted a tirade that ended with "This will be my last post to Magic Talk as even an honest desire to share information seems to produce a contentious response. I don't need this and will not be a target again." I have no idea why he took umbrage.

My point is that when we read here a post to which our immediate reaction is to flame, might I suggest that we pause for a few minutes, reread it, and think what different interpretations we could place upon those written words.

Dave (Puts on asbestos suit and awaits flame reply posts)
Guest
 

Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/23/05 05:19 AM

Originally posted by David Groves:
...Finished with bending the coin and then making it end up in an Equal packet. But talk about emotion making its way into your shows, this was it.
I got as far as understanding the nice bit about initials on the coin, what happens next?

From the above one might guess that the signed coin is bent out of shape then drops out of sight to be discovered in a condiment package.

What's the presentation for this?
Mundus vult decipi
Jonathan Townsend
 
Posts: 6766
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Westchester, NY

Postby Brad Henderson » 08/23/05 08:18 AM

I agree with Quentin (and Nathan has summed it up nicely). Had David clearly said, "Look I made a mistake. Talk about emotion creeping into your magic! Now if I can just figure out how to do it intentionally without accidentally being manipulative" then I don't think any eyebrows would have been raised. We would have realized he was letting us learn through his mistakes.

But I didn't get that from his post, nor did Nathan and others I spoke with. It read _to us_ as if he were commending himself.

Of course, if his first reply on the forum, or his first private email to me, explained the situation for being what he now claims it is, then this would have been settled several hundred words back.

But I think it is an important topic. I equate the INTENTIONAL use of strategies like this to the same level of manipulation we all seemed unanimously opposed to when discussing Parr's review of the Hilford seance.

Maybe, because we know David, we want to go easier on him? Maybe, because this is walkaround and not seance, we could more easily see ourselves in his shoes and are more willing to go easier on him?

I don't know.

Quinton is right. Accidents happen. We all make them. And learning how to handle them is valuable.

I did not get that as the intent of David's post. And am big enough to admit that Icould have misread it, but then the fault of communication was two way. I will accept my half.

But i think the issues are important and worthy of discussing. I think we should stive for emotional responses in our magic, but must take care of those who particpate. Are we doing the magic for them, or for ourselves? To give them something, or to get ourselves off?

Brad
Brad Henderson
 
Posts: 2513
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: austin, tx

Postby NCMarsh » 08/23/05 04:15 PM

Dave,

I appreciate your post and I doubt that you will need that asbestos. You've offered an intelligent reason for reading the Groves post as you do. Given that you see my response as an unwarranted flame, I think it only makes sense for me to give the reasons why I read the post as I did.

First, we all learn from a very early age that the least effective way to get praise when we want it is to ask for it overtly. So the fact that Groves' post doesn't come out and say "gee, wasn't this cool" isn't very convincing evidence for me -- one way or the other. So we have to turn to something else.

Let's start with the title. Here we have two abstractions linked together: "Emotion and Magic." The immediate suggestion is that the post is going to speak to something universal rather than particular; something like the role of emotion in magic. Now this title does not exist in a vacuum. There is a longstanding conversation in magic about how to engage spectators emotionally. The underlying (and universally accepted) postulate of this discussion is that involving emotion in magic is desirable. When Dai Vernon titles the first piece in the "Secrets of Card Magic" Quadrilogy "Emotional Reaction" it makes sense to us because an "emotional reaction" is what we desire.

The idiom that is used in the final sentence of David's post seems to anchor this relationship to the larger conversation about emotion and magic. When we say talk about x, that was it, we are offering a superlative instance of some common x. It would be incorrect to say talk about being abducted by aliens on June 1st, that was it! Correct to say talk about a bizarre day, June 1st was it! You are claiming that some specific thing is an instance of some more general, known thing. All of the connotations that are invoked by the genus are invoked by the species. When David says talk about emotion making its way into your shows, this was it; his idiom invites us to connect it to what we normally talk about when we talk about emotion and magic. Of course, we normally hold the injection of emotion into a performance as a positive achievement. Nothing about his posts suggests that we ought to do otherwise.

Lets imagine that a friend and I are part of a group that has had conversations about Bringing Excitement into Romance our goal being to make our relationships stronger and more enjoyable. That friend emails me. The title of the email is Excitement and Romance. So Cindy and I were out and we ran into a DUI checkpoint. I shot one of the cops and we ended up on a high speed chase. She was on the edge of her seat screaming in terror. Finished by parallel parking perfectly. But talk about excitement making its way into your romance, this was it. It would be very unnatural not think of the word "excitement" in this message in the context of the broader conversation. If we make that natural connection, it would be hard not to read this message and say "this guy is actually bragging about this!"

Further, the way that David seamlessly and casually transitions between her tears and his tricks felt flippant to me:

Immediately, a lump caught in her throat and her eyes watered up. She pushed the coin away and gave the pen to Jill.

"I can't do it," she said, her voice breaking, "you do it."

Finished with bending the coin and then making it end up in an Equal packet. But talk about emotion making its way into your shows, this was it
We are not offered a second of reflection about what the appropriate response to the situation might be. He does not say It was very awkward and I wasnt sure if, or how, I should finish the set. The post moves along immediately and unhesitatingly as if the way that David responds to her sorrow is less important than her reaction and his tricks as the latter two are the only things that are discussed.

We hear quite a bit about how Maria looked, we hear quite a bit about the tricks that David performed, we hear quite a bit about her tears. We hear nothing about how David responded to the situation.

Of course, if her being emotional was presumed by the post to be positive (and this is the presumption that makes sense with the use of the word in the broader conversation), then there would be little point in describing how David handled the situation.

None of this is offered as "evidence" of what David may have really meant. I have no idea what David really meant. It is only to point out why this reading of the post is rational, and why a critical response based on this reading (particularly one that goes out of its way to express my respect for David's intentions) is hardly a "flame."

Jonathan Townsend probably handled this post the best by simply asking David if he was using the line to try to get an emotional response. He was also ignored by David.

Best,

N.
OrlandoCorporateMagician.com Orlando Magician
User avatar
NCMarsh
 
Posts: 1172
Joined: 02/16/08 01:00 PM
Location: Orlando, FL

Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/23/05 07:57 PM

This thread wins the prize for the most "forum alerts" (from different users) in one 24-hour period. Enough already; this thread is locked.

Dustin
User avatar
Dustin Stinett
 
Posts: 5999
Joined: 07/22/01 12:00 PM
Location: Southern California


Return to Close-Up Magic