Situational Meaning

. wrote a riveting short story called "The Man From the Roald Dan ^ been adapted for television several times. It con-South" w cuesti^n of whether or not a cigarette lighter will ignite cerns the q mjssing. How could such a trivial matter hold a repeatedly wi attention? rphe an8Wer lies in the context in which the question is rawtu.

A young man is trying to impress a woman in a restaurant. He lights her cigarette and comments in passing that his lighter never misses. An older man overhears the boast and proposes a wager. If the young man's lighter can light ten times in a row, he will win the older man's luxury automobile.

Unfortunately, the young man has nothing of comparable value to wager. The older man has a solution. He will accept the young man's little finger as his part of the wager. If the lighter works, the young man gets the car. If the lighter fails, the old man gets to cut off the little finger.

The young man craves the car and fears appearing like a blowhard coward in front of the woman he's been trying to impress. He agrees to the wager. His hand is tied to a table. The old man pulls out a sharp pocket knife and holds it above the young man's finger. With his free hand the young man tries the lighter. It lights. A second time it lights. A third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth time it lights. It lights again on the ninth try. With an almost lustful look on his face, the old man grips the knife above the young man's finger, Cghting to restrain himself.

Do you really care what happens on the tenth try? If you do, it's ecause an essentially meaningless event has been couched within a

Darwin Ortix

Traditionally, lightning calculators have demonstr performing complicated mathematical calculations 1 their audience member could perform the same calc^entall>'betT1 adding machine. I don't know whether anyone has of demonstration to show his ability to beat a pocket l*1 lC anyone does it should make for a memorable performan CUlat°r, A couple of years ago a Russian mentahst perfo* impressive demonstration of muscle reading 0n t?ed a succeeded in locating an object hidden in the studio m^0"1 S particularly impressive was that an electronic homine ^ I been attached to the object. At the same time that th 09 ^ began searching for the object through "mindreading"6 ttew%. technicians began searching for it using the latest8 i^8111 equipment. The mentalist succeeded in finding the object b f"* technicians did. ore th*

At this point I can't even remember what the hidden object wa do remember that the mentalist beat the machine. This plrf illustrates my point. I don't remember the details of the task Jv'5 was essentially meaningless, but I do remember the situation of man triumphing over technology. That was very meaningful. * The concept of man vs. machine has gone virtually undeveloped' close-up magic. The above two examples provide some idea of t^ possibilities. If you hit on the right application of this concept, it could make you a legend. It worked for John Henry.

Conflict Against Imaginary Character

"The art of the storyteller and the art of the magician have much in common. With both the appeal is to the imagination."

Jean Hugard

An intriguing illustration of the power of presentation is provided by the fact that it is possible to captivate an audience with a completely fabricated conflict between the performer and an imaginary character whose presence is conjured up purely through showmanship. When 1 speak of a conflict with an imaginary character I am entering the realm of what is usually termed story patter. Before proceeding I think I should clarify that term since it's commonly used to refer to two very different kinds of presentations. The first kind is what I call allegorical magic. This is where magw props are used to symbolize characters and events in a story. Well-known examples are the "Thieves and Sheep" in which coins repre-

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