The Design Bonus

If we do succeed in achieving the formidable task of eliminating causal cues, it will pay huge dividends. Not least of which is that it largely solves one of the most intractable problems in magic: how to get the audiencc to stop analyzing and just enjoy the show.

Magicians talk about getting the audience to like you and taking a non-confrontational approach. These are valuable ideas. Ultimately, however, there is only one sure-fire way to get an audience to stop searching for explanations. Convince them that there are no explanations.

As Piaget's research shows, it's the normal, universal human reaction, when faced with an apparent violation of che laws of nature, to search for a rational cause. It's a reflex. (Anyone who sees an apparent violation of the laws of nature and doesn't wonder how it happened must be suffering a psychotic breakdown.) This isn't a bad thing from the magicians standpoint. He wants his audience to experience the impossible. This can only happen if they contemplate how the effect could be done long enough to realize that it can't.

Of course, this normal reaction must be distinguished from the desperate, near-obsessive search for any explanation that you'll on rare occasions encounter from a spectator. The latter typically stems either from a fragile ego that imagines it's being made to look stupid or from a pathological fear

Of losing control. As long as wc can explain something, we're in The irrational (which is what magic «presents) .nvolves a l0ss of ^

that some people find frightening.

In The Magic Way Juan Tamariz likens the magical experiencc taking flight on the wings of fantasy. Some people, of course, are af^y* flying. The literal fear of flying, which is actually a fear of losing control* closely analogous to some people's dislike of magic. Remember, not cve'J one enjoys roller coaster rides. If someone doesn't like roller coasters-^', magic—it's best not to try forcing them to ride. Let's concentrate instead on the other ninety-nine percent of the population.

[he normal search for a rational explanation, however, is something you can't eliminate. But the quicker you can end the process, the quicker the spectator can enjoy the magical experience. The moment he recognizes the impossibility of the effect, and no sooner, will he stop seeking a cause. In this book we'll concern ourselves with establishing the impossibility of our magic effects as rapidly as possible. Like a good martial artist, we want to avoid a protracted struggle and force a quick submission.

With such an approach, it's possible after a couple of effects to get an audience to stop even trying to find explanations. But this is only because their previous attempts have convinced them of the futility of the effort (as well as of the pleasure of embracing the fantasy).

You'll sometimes hear spectators say as much: "I'm not even going to try to figure these things out; it's just hopeless," or, "I don't even want to know how." But you'll seldom hear someone say that before your first trick. It only happens when a spectator has seen enough amazing effects that, even before you start the next one, there is a presumption in his mind that no explanation exists.

In the following pages we'll dissect each of the four causality cues with the goal of obliterating the tracks leading from method to effect, leaving behind a pristine miracle and an audience ready to embrace that miracle.

Now that we understand how audiences seek causality and what convinces them that they've witnessed an effect without a cause (otherwise known as a miracle), it might seem an easy task to fashion miracles. It would be, if it weren't for the pesky little matter of method.

Fashioning strong effects requires a clear and constant awareness of the ever-present interplay between method and effect. This may sound simple in feet, many magicians have trouble thinking clearly on this point. Tb help you avoid the common pitfalls in this regard, I'm going to suggest an analytical tool.

Inner Reality vs. Outer Reality

"We as magicians must not forget the duality of our business. We live in two universes, one toe see and one the audience sees.'

A1 Schneider, The Theory of Magic

Not long ago 1 heard a magician complaining about what he considered a deceptive magic advertisement. The ad copy stated, "Effect: A spectator freely selects a card." It then went on to describe the rest of the trick. "Ihe magician's complaint was that he bought the effect only to discover that the card was not a free selection. It had to be forced. He didn't seem to realize that the effect of a force is that "a spectator freely selects a card."

This incident highlights an amazing fact. Many magicians can't clearly distinguish between effect and method. On the one hand, there are those who don't understand the connection between the two. They fail to appreciate that changing one usually changes the other. On the other hand, there are those, like the magician above, who can't quite grasp the distinction be ween the two.

I've found it useful to think in terms, not only of effect and method, but also of the inner reality (which you see) and the outer reality (which your audience sees). It's like one of those science fiction stories about parallel dimensions. What happens in one affects the other, but they remain separate.

The terms "method" and "effect" are not enough because they refer to the totality of the trick. The split between the two realities starts long before any effect has occurred and long before you've completed the method. 1 suggest inner reality and outer reality as names for the situation at any given moment in the trick. Giving these concepts names makes it easier to monitor where things stand at each moment, both for you and for the audience. Suppose you force a card. No effect has happened. Yet, outer and inner realities have already parted. The outer reality is that the spectator freely chose a card. The inner reality is that he chose the card you wanted.

[Incidentally, I'm not the first to recognize a need for new words to conceptualize these ideas. In Pasteboard Presentations, Terrv LaGerould uses the terms "belief state" and "true state" to refer to what I'm calling outer reality and inner reality.]

Thinking atom magic analytically requires duaj-nack ^ multancousfy considering where things stand in the outer r„£"8- !i. inner reality, -When analyzing a trick, continually remind yourself d at any given moment, you're thinking about the inner reality or k reality. Also, conrimaUy remind yourself of how what you're atK 1 '.""tt die one reality will alter the parallel world of che other reality. ^in

Magicians talk about using "any method rhat gets the job do " rend to forget that there are two aspects to "the job." Everv steish further both the inner reality and die outer reality. lr has to serve ,aS 10 poses-, to achieve a secret goal and to create an outward illusion

A good example of the confusion that results when you don' vourself to think rhis way is the endless argument about the paS5 other methods of controlling a card. The anti-pass argument usuallv "There are much easier ways of accomplishing the same thino \ break and a jog shuffle also get the card to the top."

But, do a pass and a shuffle control accomplish rhe same thing'' Ac ally, rhey only accomplish the same thing in terms of the inner realitvT both cases, the card is secretly brought to the rop of the deck. Bur the ' " realities are very different. The pass creates the outer reality that the"^' is in rhe middle of rhe deck. The shuffle control creates the outer realit, that the card is losr somewhere in the deck. Ir could be nea r the bottom I, could be near the top. It could be on the bottom. It could be on the ran The whole point of a shuffle is to create randomness. Therefore, a shuffle control creates the outer reality that the location of the card is random and unpredictable. With the pass, rhe location of the card is very predictable

" the P°int Wl,"C lhe SPeCKlK" usually about halfivay down in the deck. '

ieced y07hii 'hi! I' 3 min°r P0'1"' Ihis ^«¡ment. Control a se-teed card to the top by means of a pass. Then announce that you have „0

Tar Si ^ a"™ " b°"nd ° ™ J» know ZT f, ' ^ dcck 2 <»1 » »p bv

W t t " Wy K W «">« ^ow rhat wanttocreat^Th >'™ Sh°Uld "" depends » 7™

ing Suppose '"I"rn: Shodd ™ the effect you're perfo L

selection this will k 'hc aci IO '«nsform it into her selection is b de ^V™?*" ^ a"dfen« * »"-need that the deep in the deck. A pass would be ideal.

42 1 aapTOiCaa^

j^c's assume instead rhat you plan to deal seconds until a spectator tells to stop. Voli then reveal that his unconscious psychic powers led him 10 [""own card. Suppose you do a pass, and the spectator then stops you after uVe dealt live cards. When you reveal that hc stopped on his sclccied ¿veryone will know that psychic powers bad nothing to do with it. Since they saw t',c card buried in the middle, it couldn't be sixth from the unless you used sleight of hand to get it there. If yon don't use a shuffle control, you'll have a muddled effect.

Depending on the effect you're performing, the first outer reality may be more desirable or the second outer reality may be more desirable. Either way the two methods don't accomplish the same thing. Any time you're considering two different ways of accomplishing "the same thing," make sure you're thinking in terms of both outer and inner realities.

It may seem trire to point out that, at every moment in an effect, there is what the audience thinks is true and what you know is true. My goal here, however, is not to provide a great revelation, but to recommcnd a way of thinking, ft's one thing to know something intellectually. It's another to make ir a mental habit. The habit of thinking in terms of both inner and outer realities at every point in a trick is vital if you want to ereatc strong effects.

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