Simon Aronson's question

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erdnasephile
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Simon Aronson's question

Postby erdnasephile » July 11th, 2018, 4:34 pm

Recently, I was reading the September, 2006 issue of MAGIC (pg. 102) and came across this quote from one of magic's real thinkers, Simon Aronson:

"...There's an interesting hypothetical that I sometimes pose to people: if you had a choice of doing something that makes your act more entertaining but less deceptive, which do you choose?" (emphasis mine)

He goes on to say: "I know there's no right or wrong response, and in some ways the opposition may not even be real. But one's own answer can help define your own personal goals and priorities."

This passage really resonated with me because ever since talking with Michael Close last Fall, I have been ruminating on what my personal definition of magic is. After a bunch of thought, I have a tentative one, and it has really been liberating in terms of presentation development, selection of effects, character concerns, etc.

Mr. Aronson's question has given me something else to ponder--and I love it!

So, I pass it along to you for your consideration.

For the sake of discussion, let's say you really had to choose (laying aside the possibility of a false dichotomy for a moment, which Mr. Aronson acknowledges), what would the choice be and why? Or is the question irreparably moot because it assumes a dichotomy that isn't valid and cannot be laid aside?

Thoughts?

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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby observer » July 11th, 2018, 5:17 pm

Perhaps some examples of magicians who changed their acts to make them less deceptive but more entertaining, or vice versa, would help the discussion along?

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erdnasephile
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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby erdnasephile » July 11th, 2018, 6:18 pm

One example that comes to mind from the published literature is Chris Kenner (MAGIC, August 2006). When he first started at Illusions, he quickly dumped "half" of his magician-fooler stuff and learned to entertain. (To be fair: he did say "I always had to fool the magicians in my heart. Always, always, always...") so perhaps he did not lessen the deceptive emphasis and just added entertainment. However, in looking at his early book "The Right Stuff", it does reveal a certain mindset that seems to have changed to work a little better for real people.

Other magicians (I think M. Close and S. Draun (?)) have also talked about what happens to your repertoire when you transition from being talented amateur to working pro. Perhaps some of you have had the same experience?

(Then again, you have Bill Malone who sacrifices none of the magician-fooling deceptiveness, nor his mad chops, while still making everyone's guts bust with laughter...)

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erdnasephile
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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby erdnasephile » July 11th, 2018, 6:33 pm

I realized I may have conflated "magician-fooler" with deceptiveness. One can certainly be one without the other (or not) depending on how you define the terms.

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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby Mr. Charming » July 11th, 2018, 9:03 pm

Very interesting; thank you for sharing.

Can I know your real name erdnasephile?

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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby Jackpot » July 11th, 2018, 10:03 pm

Interesting topic to bring up. Thank you erdnasefile.

erdnasephile wrote:I realized I may have conflated "magician-fooler" with deceptiveness. One can certainly be one without the other (or not) depending on how you define the terms.


You have most likely conflated the two, but usually the reason we sacrifice entertainment for deceptiveness is either to fool our fellow magicians or to provide a challenge or amusement for ourselves.
Not the one who created the Potter Index.

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Mergel Funsky
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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby Mergel Funsky » July 12th, 2018, 12:12 am

Simon’s hypothetical becomes more “real world” once you acknowledge that “more” and “less” occur on a spectrum, in degrees. Thus, if you’re seriously pondering the question with respect to a specific trick, action, or routine, you’d want to reflect on “how much less deceptive” your choice might make it, and “how much more entertaining.” You’re rarely trading off “all” vs. “none.” Perhaps a “smidgeon less” deceptive might be OK in exchange for making the routine “a great deal more” entertaining. And then again, it matters who your particular audience is — deception might be “all important” in some instances, but quite secondary in other contexts.

Simon constantly thinks in terms of tradeoffs, and his hypothetical is there to make sure that one doesn’t lose sight of one of the “big” tradeoffs we face: that deception is one of the factors that helps define the magical art, but without entertainment or some kind of hook, you won’t have an audience to watch your magic. In one of the tricks that Simon currently performs, he opens with the patter line: “Just because something’s impossible, doesn’t mean it’s interesting.” And then he goes on to talk about, and demonstrate in a magical way, the elements of Surprise and Suspense.

Mergel Funsky
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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby observer » July 12th, 2018, 12:28 am

I don't really see any antithesis between entertaining and deceptive, as such. Perhaps between "dexterity" and "entertainment"? Over on the Café I have seen quite a few posts over the years that include expressions such as "of course, if 'entertainment' is all you care about ... ", in the context of some "run three, injog, run seven, hold a pinkie break, execute a Hofzinser Cull, and show that the selected card is indeed the seventeenth black card from the bottom" sort of rigamarole …

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby Brad Jeffers » July 12th, 2018, 4:36 am

Here's an example of a magician who sacrificed deceptiveness

Image

for entertainment

Image

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby Brad Jeffers » July 12th, 2018, 4:54 am

observer wrote:I don't really see any antithesis between entertaining and deceptive, as such.

Nor do I.

I cannot think of any example of a trick or routine becoming more entertaining, by virtue of being made less deceptive.

Not one.

However, as to any Simon Aronson hypothetical, I will of course give deference to the opinion of Mergel Funsky.

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Q. Kumber
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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby Q. Kumber » July 12th, 2018, 6:42 am

Unfortunately magicians think in terms of tricks instead of structured performance pieces. If you focus on the latter, the question answers itself.

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erdnasephile
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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby erdnasephile » July 12th, 2018, 6:33 pm

What if we consider the question not in terms of a single routines, but rather in terms of a performer's overall performance.

For example, many have talked about how they "hate the sponge bunnies" because they don't feel it's particularly deceptive. Yet, many of these same folks admit they do the trick anyway because the laypeople love it.

Would this be an example of making an overall performance a "smidgeon less" deceptive in an attempt to up the entertainment quotient?

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Re: Simon Aronson's question

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 12th, 2018, 10:13 pm

If they like you
and keep coming back for more
then you can do the "deceptive" thing when it serves the occasion ;)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


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