Our Audiences

Yes, lets change those thoughts by giving our spectators other thoughts. But how can I give an immaterial thing like a thought to my audience? After all, they probably cant read my thoughts; so I must find a way to communicate the thoughts I wish. Now what media do we possess for that job?

Well, of course, I could use speech, the trembling of my vocal cords, which vibrate the air, which vibrations in turn are picked up by the eardrum, that gossamer membrane. Basically, speech is a physical form of communication that relies on the use of matter: the vocal cords, the air, the eardrum.

Or I could use paper and ink, like this book, to give my thoughts to you. Again matter is used to transport my thoughts into your brain. Or maybe I can convey my thoughts to you with body language: by the way I (a material thing) move ; by my carriage; by the way I pose or shape it, so to speak, into a material sign, a sign that you can understand. Regardless, whatever medium I use to give you my thought, it always involves some form of matter. Without the use of matter, conveying my thoughts to you isn't possible, apart from genuine mind reading.

So matter is always necessary in some way to make the conveyance of thoughts possible. We need matter to achieve the principle method behind the illusion of magic, to make possible the psychology, to express the desired thoughts. However, no matter what form of matter we use, it is there only to make possible the real method of magic: thoughts to change thoughts. That is the foremost consideration. Matter cannot be the method used to change thoughts. It can only communicate thoughts. It is only the vehicle for the thoughts that make the magic. Matter makes our one and only effective tool, the thought, concrete; something with which we can work. Matter makes our method, our tool practicable. That's all.

This concept is so childishly simple, so obvious, it is astonishing that some magicians harbor the delusion that they can make magic in people's minds, change their thoughts, by the mere use of matter alone, through the unadorned use of props, gimmicks, movements, words or sleight-of-hand. It is amazing that some seem to think one can do magic without the use of thoughts, without psychology, without the mind. It is as irrational as trying to change people's thoughts by pointing a knife at them, or by giving them a new car or money or some other desirable commodity You may scare or you may please by such primitive means, but you have litde hope of achieving a change in the thoughts of the people involved.

However, I can hear you sputter and protest already. You might say, "If someone gives me a bag of gold, it would certainly make me happy, and therefore my thoughts would be influenced by mere matter." Yes, a bag of gold indeed might make you happy, and it certainly might eliminate some of the problems you may have. But does it really alter your thoughts? Does it truly change your thinking, your beliefs, your set of values? A bag of gold in itself cannot change your thoughts. It can only do so if there is another thought behind it.

The Material Methods

The material side of methods, then, is a vehicle for our thoughts, the conduit for the real method of magic: psychology. But just what do we have in the way of material methods?

There are two things basically: manipulation and mechanics.

Manipulation encompasses all the moves and sleights, and the ways we handle the props. With deceptive manipulation we can paint false pictures of reality; a false representation of the facts concerning all the movements we make.

The mechanical side is also a false representation of facts: the double bottoms, special holders, gimmicks, fekes, etc.

Both things, manipulation and the mechanical, are equally effective in aiding psychology. Both methods are valid.

What do we use then? If we want to deceive our audiences we have a choice in what tools we use. Nonetheless, whatever the method employed, since all is obviously in the service of psychology, we cannot hope to deceive without it. It is the key pillar on which all our deceptions rest.

Deceiving by psychology alone is possible. The only material aid would likely be speech, the agitation of air. It is also feasible to deceive by psychology aided by manipulation. Or we could do it through psychology aided by mechanical means. Or we could enjoy the support of both manipulation and the mechanical. All four possibilities are valid and can work.

What if we were to use psychology alone? It might happen that we would meet someone who has a capacity for analyzing things of a psychological nature. This person, being adept in thinking about psychological matters, might see through our deception. It is unlikely, but it can happen.

However, if we combine psychology with mechanical methods, it becomes much harder to see through the deception, since our astute spectator must then not only see through our psychology, but must also possess an analytical capacity for things mechanical. The chance for deception becomes much greater, since many people are not equally gifted in both disciplines of thought. In addition, once someone starts analyzing an observed event in a certain way, that person tends to persist in thinking along that line. To analyze both the psychological and mechanical, one must mentally backtrack and reanalyze in a different way. In a sense, the effect must be analyzed twice, once for each discipline. This seldom happens.

If you would make a combination, where the psychology is supported by both the mechanical and manipulation, then three different disciplines are in play. To see through three disciplines, the effect has to be analyzed three times, and the spectator has to be versed in all three. Such triple analysis is extremely rare.

It is logical, therefore, that a secret based on all three disciplines has the greatest chance of survival. In such circumstances our secret is well protected.

Those magicians unskilled in manipulation frequendy forget it and use what we often miscall "self-working" magic. Here the sole support for the psychology is the mechanical. This charitably presumes that these magicians are even aware of the psychological aspect of their "self-working" trick. The only things they feel comfortable using are mechanical methods. What a loss! They have thrown away such an important support. An invaluable cover for their secrets is totally ignored.

And some are just the opposite. They scorn the use of mechanics. Either out of some sort of false pride, or because they have no knowledge of the mechanical principles of magic. Or they distrust them, thinking mechanical apparatus always breaks down at show time (a nonsensical idea that we will return to shortly). These magicians, too, rashly discard one of the pillars on which magic rests.

Although magic can be done effectively while ignoring one of the pillars—as long as it is not that of psychology—it is a pity to do so. It is throwing away something that can be used to great advantage.

Being weak or unknowledgeable in one or more of the three pillars of magic is not uncommon. If you are not well versed in psychology, however, you can stop right now. Magic will not be possible. For, as we have just discussed, how can you hope to change your audiences' thoughts without the use of other thoughts. So if one is not well versed in psychology, one must learn it or forget magic completely. Coin collecting is a pleasurable hobby too.

If you are not well versed in manipulation, and if you still have a good grasp on psychology, you have a fair chance to create a good piece of magic; nevertheless, learning the required sleights and movements would be far better. Your magic will be considerably improved by it. Otherwise you have severely limited your possibilities, and magic does not fare well under limitations.

The same concept applies to the mechanical side. If you don't know mechanical principles, they should be learned. Ignorance in this area again means limited methods at your disposal and your magic will suffer for it.

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