Dariel Fitzkee - Magic by Misdirection - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt ) or read online. Magic. This volume, book three in the trilogy, is all about the psychology in magic. Mechanics alone, a sleight or move, are not sufficient to produce a strong magic effect. An Extended Explanation of the Magician's Application of the Psychology of Deception. The Trick Brain (The Fitzkee Trilogy Book 2) Showmanship for Magicians (The Fitzkee Trilogy Book 1).
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magic by misdirection dariel fitzkee on amazoncom free shipping on qualifying offers reprint of edition full facsimile of the original magic by. DOWNLOAD PDF. Report this file. Description. Download Dariel Fitzkee - Magic by Misdirection Free in pdf format. Sponsored Ads. Account Magic By Misdirection book. Read 4 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Book Three of the Fitzkee Trilogy:MAGIC BY MISDIRECTIONAn.
It doesn't get life until the essential spark is supplied by the performer during the actual performance. Again, other comments questioned the product of the trick invention feature. They questioned the value of the tricks so developed.
They asked if tricks thus conceived would have that mark of greatness that is revealed by the classics. First, I quarrel with the idea that any trick in itself is great. In my belief, tricks are only great because of greatness given them through great performances. I feel that these tricks we term "classics" have become so through the life breathed into them by those who have performed them.
The best answer to any contrary claim would be to cite that any of our classics become downright dismal when poorly presented. Let's look at these classics to see what life they possess: A number of rings, apparently solid, become linked and unlinked.
That is the trick plot of The Linking Rings. A small wooden ball appears. Then there are two, three and finally, four. They disappear one by one. Such is the trick plot of The Multiplying Billiard Balls. An egg, placed in a small cloth bag, disappears. Finally, it is found to be in the bag again. You, of course, recognize the trick plot of The Egg Bag.
Two packets of fifteen cards each are counted out. They are placed in different locations. Three cards leave one packet and mysteriously travel to the other. The trick plot of The Thirty Card Trick has been told completely. A number of small balls mysteriously appear under any of three cups. Then they variously appear and disappear under various cups. Be frank with yourself. Can you find the essential spark of life in any of those trick plots? Can you find that ingredient which caused them to become classics?
I think not. Frankly, I don't think the vital ingredients are there. I don't think you will find life in any trick plot. Well, where is this life? It can't very well be in method. Methods in all of these classics have changed through the years. For example, consider The Linking Rings. They are being done now with stratagems unknown a few decades ago. Methods for the billiard ball trick have been evolved and changed. Egg bag methods are innumerable. I don't believe a trick becomes great through method.
Then what is there left? Presentation might be the answer. Perhaps these classics came into common use through outstanding performance at first. It is possible that one performer may have been originally responsible for each. Through outstanding presentation attention might have been concentrated upon them. In those days one could not send a check to a magic dealer and get back Number Thirty-seven from The Professional Catalogue. In the early days of the classics new tricks came the hard way.
Professor Soandso might make quite a feature out of a trick with some welded iron rings. Professor Notsosmart hears about it. So he disguises himself as a customer and goes to see Professor Soandso. He sees the trick, figures out a way of doing it-or else gets Professor Soandso's assistant drunk and learns the secret.
So Professor Notsosmart's repertoire increases from one trick to two tricks. But there are numerous Professor Soandsos.
And many more Professor Notsosmarts. Soon the whole thing gets all mixed up. Now lots of professors are doing lots of tricks.
Those tricks that are most generally adaptable to the styles and abilities of the average practitioners are done so often by so many magicians that they become common. And so a classic is born.
It becomes a classic because it fits the average style and the average abilities. And where is that spark of life? In the classic? Hell, gentlemen, the only spark of life evident in the whole proceedings is the spark of life shown by the Professor Notsosmarts.
They were lively, indeed. The same process is going on today. Individual magicians will develop a new trick plot or a new method, or an individual inventor or manufacturer will put a new trick on the market. If the trick fits the average style and the average abilities, it becomes an item that is seen frequently in the repertoires of many magicians.
But let that trick have something in its style or method which does not fit the average magician, or which is beyond his abilities-from the standpoint of presentation, character, method or other essential quality-and that trick remains exclusive to the first performer or inventor, whichever the case may be.
It will never be referred to as a classic. A "classic," you see, is a trick whose secret is known by magicians generally. It is a trick that the average magician can present effectively. But because it is a classic, it does not necessarily follow that it is the best trick for you. Some critics feel that it is not sufficiently adult. This research is organized experience. When you consider a problem, any problem, the channels into which your thought is directed are largely encountered by chance.
All thoughts arise as the result of stimuli. One type of stimulus will direct your thought in one direction. Another will divert it elsewhere. This and that idea come to us. These ideas are suggested by numerous stimuli of varying types from varying sources. So a considerable part of our thinking, and the course it takes, is due to chance. It directs the thought into the various channels developed through the research made available to the reader.
Perhaps, some of these avenues would never be explored but for the fact that the experimenter is forced in that direction by the arbitrary selection method. The tie-up of the "organized experience"-supplied through the research-and this arbitrary exploration of new paths is definitely bound to open up new vistas to the thinker.
These are vistas which, perhaps, he would never encounter were he left to the normal idea association field as represented in the conventional "thinking around" a problem. Perhaps, the ultimate result may be the same in either case. But the latter is much slower and, undoubtedly, will never touch some of the ground the arbitrary method will force.
Showmanship considerations have prompted viewing presented magic from the viewpoint of the spectator. Magical methods have necessitated examining the mechanics of magic from the confidential and exclusive coign of the magician. Now we encounter the mental processes required by magic. These are from two viewpoints. Naturally, we must consider the aspect of magic from the viewpoint of the spectator.
But the spectator's ultimate understanding of the happenings during the demonstration of a trick is quite at variance with what the magician knows to be true.
This, of course, assumes that the magician's attempts at deception have been successful. Throughout the entire presentation of a trick, the spectator is thinking.
He is agreeing or disagreeing. He is convinced or unconvinced. Things seem natural and reasonable-although appearances may be otherwise. Or they seem unnatural and unreasonable.
He is either deceived or not deceived. This work undertakes to explore the psychology of deception.
It will try to present the viewpoints of both the spectator and the magician. These are opposed, naturally.
Much the most important phase of magic is the attack the magician makes upon the spectator's mind. Ultimately it is the spectator's mind which must be deceived, or there is no deception whatever. All of the apparatus we use, all of the secret gimmicks we employ, all of the sleights and stratagems we invoke-everything which identifies magic as mystery-the whole is designed to deceive the mind, and the mind alone, of the spectator.
Regardless of which of the five senses the spectator uses to form his initial impressions, his final conclusions arise from thought processes in his mind. How these processes develop, what factors enter into the final mixture to cause the spectator to react as he does, and other related phases of this phenomenon shall interest us here. These matters are not simple. They are extremely complex. Like all affairs of the mind, they depend upon complicated interrelations of thoughts, impressions, intuitions, ideas, and conclusions.
The individual's heredity, environment, education and character influence them. Often extremely subtle factors affect the result. Because of the complexity of the problem, setting forth the fundamentals of the psychology of deception is going to be extremely difficult. It is being undertaken with considerable temerity on my part. Naturally, what I may say here only expresses my own viewpoint.
I've said it before, but it is only prudent to repeat it: I am not omniscient. I realize I have been wrong about many things many times. So please accept this attempt to organize the principles of the psychology of deception simply as an expression of my own analysis of the matter.
When a more reasonable or more workable or more authoritative work in this field is available, throw this away and give me credit for trying. Because this is a work on psychology it will be necessary to use certain stock trade-marks or it won't be legal. I fully intend this to be the last time that any of those names shall appear in this work.
Perhaps that alone will be an inducement to follow along with me for a while. In contrast, I cited the miracles of chemistry, the magic of radio and radar, and the important levitations of modern aeronautics. Further evidences of similar cynicism appeared at intervals throughout that work in connection with the mechanical methods used by magicians.
Irreverently, I admit, I dragged in television, the methods of modern detectives, psychiatrists, electric eyes and other miscellanies. All this, as it might be suspected without profound meditation, was designed to embarrass those who burn incense at the altars of the mechanics of magic. Lest some take such heresy to heart, I shall now offer a new deity to worship. It would distress me sorely if, as the result of my, perhaps, rash words, there should be an epidemic of long-haired and ornamentally-bearded gentry diving off skyscrapers and high bridges, throwing themselves in front of trains or tippling prussic acid high-balls.
I said, " A new deity. In fact, it is an old god-an idol that has inhaled many a joss paper ignited by the magically discriminating. Robert Houdin worshipped at his shrine. Maskelyne and Devant were his devotees. And many other magicians of illustrious attainment trod his temple with humble acknowledgments of his supreme power. It is true that the elastic cord, which powers the handkerchief pull, is not profound.
It is true that the person, who, idly and without inspiration, watches the flight of the multi-ton aeroplane, will tear his hair in perplexed frenzy when a common black thread hauls a crumpled piece of tissue paper up through the air.
No, they are not profound. Yet, they are! Monotonously often there has been loud hubbub and uproar when some ambitious magician consents to reveal-usually for some consideration-the secrets of magic. Dire, indeed, are the penalties and curses heaped upon the exposer's hapless head. But almost invariably the exposer, aside from the drafts created about him by the aspirating protestants, experiences no ill effects except the fatigue induced by ducking the verbal brickbats.
Why does he not pay the supreme penalty? Because-and this is confidential-no matter what he has revealed, he has not disclosed the secrets of magic. I mean, of course, the real secrets of magic. Oh, I admit he may have illustrated some double-bottomed boxes or some peculiar contraptions. I also admit the exposer may have misrepresented what he offers as being the secrets of magic.
It is further admitted that the gullible public may have accepted the word of the exposer. People may have believed actually that the secrets of magic were being imparted to them. But they were not. No exposer can ever reveal the secrets of magic - even as prolific an exposer as I, whose revelations are made exclusively to the most dangerous clientele in the world-those who are interested because they intend to make use of what they learn.
Not even I can expose, for reasons which will be made clear some pages hence. I, personally, am quite certain that the explanation or the illustration of the mechanical apparatus of a magic trick is not really exposure. It is true that it may be the explanation of the mechanics of a trick.
But the layman, given the apparatus and the necessary patter, cannot perform it deceptively. And with the identical apparatus-borrowing it, in fact, from this layman-the skilled magician will quickly convince the former of the absolute truth of the Darwin theory, even if the layman must accept the truth only as far as his own lineage is concerned.
Note that I said skilled magician. Actually, there is only one kind of magician. To be a magician at all, skill is necessary. Without skill, a man is not a magician-no matter what he calls himself, no matter what his cards read, no matter what clubs he belongs to, no matter what shows he does, no matter what tricks or books he owns. Without skill, he is just a plain, self-deluded egocentric duffer - with a capital "D.
It does not mean an ability to make an invisible triple-pass with one hand, meanwhile juggling seven ice cream cones with the other simultaneously.
It does not mean an ability to remember all of the gags heard over the radio for the past nine years. None of these is the true skill of the magician, any more than an intimate knowledge of the current prices of all of the tricks in the dealers' catalogues is skill. Some years ago the manufacturers of Camel cigarettes-which cigarettes magicians continue to smoke in very large quantities-as I started to say, some years ago these manufacturers explained the vanishing bird cage.
The trick was explained and many magicians, except those who knew better, stewed in their own juices. But thinking magicians capitalized upon it. Stephen J. Shepard comes to mind, as I think about it. As might be expected, the advertisement explained that the cage folded up and went into the sleeve. The drawing was very clear, and the actual mechanics of the trick was unmistakable. Shepard did not change the mechanics of the trick. He vanished the cage up the sleeve through the agency of the usual pull.
But the very exposure itself made it possible for him to add a wallop that his spectators remember. They were deceived, make no mistake about that. How completely they were deceived will be revealed within these pages presently.
Let us get back to that hapless duffer I was abusing a few paragraphs back: I said that, if the magic practitioner is not skilled, he is not a magician. Without skill, I classified him as a duffer. But he need not remain so. Should he be reading this very book, at this very moment, there is hope for him. Not because this is my book, nor because I wrote it. Not even because of the subject matter, do I say this. I make this statement simply because the man, obviously, is aware that he has deficiencies.
Few read books of this character from other than sincere desire to improve. Even if this book does not give him the impetus to become skilled in the direction necessary, sooner or later-after he reads enough-he will realize what he needs. Somewhere in our magical careers we have all been duffers. We bought tricks. We learned about threads.
We tried to learn sixty-two ways of accomplishing the pass. We endured excruciating fatigue in torturing our digits through the backhand palm. We pinned cockeyed looking gadgets about our clothing. Then it was that we believed magician's skill to be the ability to lift the double cover of The Duck Pan without the inner lining falling out.
We thought a magician was one who knew from which side of The Foo Can to pour. We were convinced we were skilled in magic if we had the strength to lift the celluloid disc from The Rice Bowls. Those of us who are still of that mind may as well realize it. We are true duffers. On the other hand, if we know the ability to do those things has nothing whatever to do with the true skill of the magician, we are getting out of the duffer class.
The same holds true of sleight-of-hand moves. Ability to do these demonstrates nothing of the skill of the magician. I expect to get called loudly on that statement. While many will admit that an ability to operate a mechanical device does not demonstrate any skill from the magician's viewpoint, a great many will desire to quarrel violently when I discount the magician's skill in having acquired the agility to accomplish sleight-of-hand calisthenics. Let me quickly assure you that much more magically exalted personages than I have uttered this heresy, as well.
Robert-Houdin said so specifically. He should have known. Nevil Maskelyne said so. Certainly, he knew. Kellar, so I am told, bothered little with sleights. And who among us will say that he was not a skilled magician? But it seems that the important things the great magicians have said have been ignored. They have been ignored as completely as if these things were said in some strange cabalistic double-talk. These men did not use unfathomable phrases.
What they said has been available all these years in simple, understandable English. Perhaps my way of stating it will make more impression. At any rate, it cannot make less. The true skill of the magician is in the skill he exhibits in influencing the spectator's mind.
This is not a thing of mechanics. It is not a thing of digital dexterity. It is entirely a thing of psychological attack. It is completely a thing of controlling the spectator's thinking.
Control of the perceptive faculties has nothing whatever to do with it. Convincingly interpreting, to the spectator, what the senses bring to him, in such a way that the magician's objectives are accomplished, is the true skill of the skilled magician. So I must insist again: Shell bottles do not constitute any part of the true secrets of magic.
Neither do folding bird cages. Neither do billiard ball shells. Nor Svengali packs. Nor forcing decks. Nor flap slates. Nor pulled threads. Nor folding flowers. Nor any apparatus of any kind.
The real secrets of magic are those whereby the magician is able to influence the mind of the spectator, even in the face of that spectator's definite knowledge that the magician is absolutely unable to do what that spectator ultimately must admit he does do. Here is a secret! This skilled magician is an adept at disguise and attention control. He employs physical disguise with his apparatus. He employs psychological disguise-simulation, dissimulation, maneuver, ruse, suggestion and inducement.
He exercises absolute control over the attention of his spectator by forestalling it, by catching it relaxed, by dulling it, by scattering it, by diverting it, by distracting it, and by openly moving it away.
He cleverly, skillfully and dexterously mixes the true with the false. With equal facility he convincingly interprets matters to accomplish his own ends. He contrives to so influence the things the spectator perceives that the latter is aware of them as the magician desires.
All is built upon an unshakable foundation of naturalness, plausibility and conviction. Here is real skill! Here are genuine secrets! Do you care to come along with me a way? In fact, they were not only the closing strains of the former and the opening theme for this one, but they were, as well, the first phrases and the initial statement of this entire undertaking. I should like to repeat those lines for the benefit of those who are not familiar with them.
I think the mind of the performer, utilizing these elements intelligently and discriminately, influencing and guiding the minds of the spectators expertly and skillfully, contains the real secrets of magic, secrets beyond the abilities of anyone to reveal hurtfully.
The secrets of the mind, the REAL secrets of magic, cannot be exposed. But these secrets of the mind may be explained. There is a nice distinction in the diction involved. Exposure usually means a formal or deliberate revealing of something that is discreditable, detrimental, injurious or derogatory to the subject. An explanation makes plain or intelligible that which is not known or clearly understood, without the injurious implications included in exposure. And why shouldn't the secrets of psychological deception become exposure in their mere explanation?
Because the intent of the performer and the secret workings of his mind cannot be known by the spectator unless the performer is unskilled in the psychological essentials. Frankly, I dislike the use of the word psychological. It makes the processes seem too deep and obscure and complex. But in magic, where the simpler word mental would do, there is much danger of confusion with the standard carryings-on of those performers in the specialized field of so-termed mental magic.
But to get back to the idea I was trying to establish: Why can't the intent of the performer and the secret workings of his mind be known by the spectator? Simply because the spectators' own knowledge of the magician's thoughts must come through what the performer reveals to him.
It must come from what he says.
It must come from what he does. It must come from what he implies. Whether the spectator knows the performer's true thought or something else is entirely within the performer's control. He may reveal or conceal as be sees fit. So even though the spectator may know the secrets of psychological deception-all of them-he cannot possibly know when the magician is employing them. If the performer is skillful, there is no external distinction between deception and truth.
Probably the most important single phase of magic is in the field of interpretation for the spectator. In this case, reference was made to the performance of a trick in such a manner that the entertainer arbitrarily gave it a sense that it may not have had ordinarily. He conveyed his conception as to how it should be presented, according to his views.
In this work it is necessary to give a new meaning to interpretation. We are no longer concerned with a trick as an entertainment unit.
In fact, we are not now concerned with an entire trick at all. Our interests are upon the mental side of presentation for deception, not entertainment. Therefore, we are concentrating upon those portions of the operative part of the trick, wherein psychological principles are applied.
So now we refer to some stage in the accomplishment of a deception, not a trick. We now take interpretation to mean to construe the performer's words, actions and implications in the light of the performer's individual interests. The interpreting is not done by the spectator. It is done by the performer. It is done by the performer in such a manner that the spectator gets the sense that the performer wishes to convey to him. If the spectator doesn't understand the magician's words and actions as the performer wishes him to, the performer as an interpreter has failed.
Let's take a simple illustration. The magician holds a small ball between his left thumb and forefinger. He apparently takes the ball from the left hand with his right. Secretly he has performed The French Drop. The ball is still in his left hand. The capable magician will perform the apparent taking of the ball exactly as he would if he were actually taking the ball. He would not put stress on the sleight. He would give but casual-and passingattention to his left hand.
His eyes would rest momentarily upon the ball as he reached for it.
Then his eyes would follow the right hand, follow it naturally, convincingly, still casually, just as they would had he actually seized the ball with his right. The words he would use-and his posture as well-would be exactly the same as they would be had he carried the ball away from the left.
Also, the fingers of the left would relax naturally. They would relax, as would the arm, as if the hand were actually empty. This business, this combination of controlled movements, calculated words, studied posture, shifting attention, convincing and natural in appearance, is the process of interpreting for the spectators.
The performer construes it, this series of happenings, so that the spectator will understand it as the performer's individual interests require. It cannot be carelessly done. Great skill and nice judgment are necessary. It must be natural. It must be convincing. It must truly represent and express the action it seems to be. Any bit of artificiality will destroy the sense the performer is trying to convey. Any unnaturalness-whether it be of posture, action, comment or other-will reveal it to be false.
If it is revealed to be false, it will not seem to express the performer's true thoughts and purposes. Therefore, it will fail to deceive. The spectator must be thoroughly convinced that he knows the performer's true purpose and intent at every stage of the execution of the deception. Otherwise it will not deceive. Let's dig into the elements of interpretation a bit deeper. Suppose a man were standing with an uplifted arm, his hand clutching a heavy stick.
He could be threatening someone. He could be greeting someone. He could be inviting someone to come to him. He could, as well, be attempting to repel someone. His action could be one of triumph or of failure. He could be indicating the right way or directing the wrong way. He could be playing a game or fighting for his life.
His purpose might be good or evil. How would you know what he was actually doing, or what his purpose was? By his posture.
By his facial expression. And by what he says and how he says it. If he were threatening you, his face would show enmity. He would clutch the stkk purposefully and menacingly.
His body would be in position to use the stkk effectively. Yet, even though he menaced you, you might still advance. Perhaps something in his expression would reveal that he was afraid of you. Or perhaps you could see that he intended to flee if opposed. Yet he could be motioning you to come to him, externally friendly, but with the secret intent of belaboring you unmercifully once you came within'effective range. In this case he would be interpreting his intent. He would be interpreting his intent for your express disadvantage.
Also, he would be interpreting his intent for his distinct advantage. Doesn't a good magician do that when he seeks to deceive his spectators?
Notice I used the adjective good. All magicians don't interpret effectively. I am now using the word magician to mean a performer of tricks of deception, I don't mean an entertainer. Because all magicians don't interpret effectively, all magicians are not good magicians.
In fact, too many magicians are not good. Too many magicians are not good because they cannot interpret effectively. Too many of them do not know how to interpret with skill.
Many of them can't interpret convincingly, even though they understand how it should be done. And a great, great many are not interested in how it may be done. Skillful and effective interpretation, you must know, is possible only through skillful and effective acting.
That's why the definition that a magician is an actor playing the part of a magician is so definitely valid. Without convincing acting you can't have effective deception. Without effective deception you cannot have a good magician. Of course, this only refers to the magician as a mechanic. These psychological principles of deception are much more important than the mechanics of physical deception because they are much more effective.
They are subtle. They rely upon powerful principles. They are insidious, irresistible. By no means is the use of psychological deception confined to magicians. Unscrupulous politicians, dishonest tradesmen, unprincipled lawyers and equally untrustworthy financiers, officials, writers and others employ interpretation-construing in the light of their own individual interests-to accomplish deceptions for their own advantage.
And effectively, too. Whole empires have been lost, and won, through skillful application of the untrue that seems true. So in studying practical applications of interpretation for deception the magician is acquiring a knowledge that will be of value to him, aside from its application to magic, in escaping being victimized through these same stratagems, Since all magicians are honest, of course, they will not apply these principles unethically.
But the dishonest layman, applying mental deception, has an advantage over the magician. By the very nature of the magician's field of activity, his spectators are forewarned. This is not so of the others. Every art is used to prevent the usual victim from suspecting that all is not what it seems.
The ingredients of psychological deception are pretense, disguise, implication, misdirection, prearrangement, simulation, dissimulation, anticipation and all other resorts and stratagems calculated to lure the unsuspecting spectator along a path of ultimate victimization.
But the magician must accomplish his objective with great skill and cunning because, as has been said before, his spectators know in advance that he intends to deceive them. Just let me illustrate how important this phase of magic is: We shall take an old familiar trick, The Diebox. Briefly, the effect is that a large wooden die is placed in a two-compartment box.
The performer seems to pretend to vanish the die. Actually the spectators have good cause to believe that he has simply allowed the die to slide from one compartment to the other, alternatively, as he shows the opposite section empty. Finally, after the spectators become insistent that he cease evading their demands to open all doors at once, all four doors are opened simultaneously.
The die has disappeared. It is found in a previously empty hat. That is the effect as the spectators are expected to see it. But what actually happens? The performer shows an actually empty hat. He places it to one side. A large wooden block, encased in a four-sided shell, is shown. The shell, while loose, covers the two sides, the bottom and the front of the die.
But it covers and fits in such a manner that it seems to be the sides, bottom and front of the block. Both the block and the shell are painted black. The block is made to appear to be a die by means of large white round gummed spots. These are pasted on the die, arranged as are the spots on a real die. The corresponding faces' of the shell are spotted in a similar manner to simulate the proper sides of the block.
A wooden box is exhibited.
This box contains two compartments, each sufficiently large to accomodate the die and its shell. There are four doors in this box-one for the front of each compartment and another for the top of each section.
The box also has a sliding weight in its double bottom. As the box is tilted from side to side the weight will slide to the lower end with an audible thump. Some boxes have a metal flap attached to the rear of one of the front doors. A secret catch allows the flap and door to operate as the door only, the flap becoming the rear of this door.
Or, by releasing the catch, the flap will stay in the front opening when the door is opened. The audience side of the flap is painted to represent one side of the die. But, of course, when the flap is held to the door, this is unseen. After showing the box, the performer shows that the die and shell will fit into It. Then he places the die and shell into the hat. He takes the shell from the hat, leaving the solid die behind.
He takes it from the hat in such a manner that the sides, front and bottom of the shell are towards the audience, with the open spaces at the back and top He turns the back of the box towards the audience and puts the metal shell into it, trying to keep the open sides of the shell from showing and also trying to keep the metal from clanking. This done, he closes the top and front doors-so that the box will not seem to be empty, as indeed it would seem, if the spectators were to look in.
This is because the shell now corresponds to the contours of the solid sides, bottom and back of one compartment of the box. If this diebox has the flap feature, he will open one door, releasing the flap as he does so, and let the spectators see that the die is apparently in the box.
After which he closes the door, tilts the box and allows the weight to thump against the opposite side. The spectators are expected to mistake this for the die. So when he reopens the door; this time keeping the flap attached to the door, the compartment will seem empty.
He closes this door, tilts the box, allowing the weight to slide to the opposite side, and opens the front door of the higher compartment. Of course, this section is empty. But the audience is expected to think the die has been tilted behind the door of the now lower compartment. When it is demanded that he open both doors, the magician knows very well what is meant, but he pretends to think that the spectators want the top door opened as well.
So he swings open the door at the top of the higher section, leaving the front door open. Of course, if the audience reacts as expected, there will be demands that he open the other side. So, closing the top and bottom doors of the higher side, he tilts the box. The weight whacks again and the front and top doors of the opposite side are opened. This by-play may go on for some time. In fact, it has been known to go on too long. Ultimately, however, the magician eventually opens all doors, showing the inside of the box, showing also the inside of the metal shell.
Then the solid die is retrieved from the hat where it had been placed in the first place, right in front of the spectators eyes. The foregoing is actually what takes place.
It is obvious that all facts cannot be revealed to the spectators. In fact, it is equally obvious that some parts of the true state of affairs must not only be concealed but that it is absolutely necessary to substitute a number of false impressions. The apparatus can't do that.
Left to the deceptions built into the mechanical part of the trick, there would probably be no deception. The magician could not handle the die and shell as if they were a die and shell and expect to maintain a mystery as to how the trick is accomplished. He can't handle the box as if it were a box with a sliding weight built into the bottom. Neither may he handle that flap door as if it were a flap and door.
He may not even place the die and shell in the hat originally, just to be placing them in there. What must he do? There you have the subject of this whole work.
To perform magical creation? To accomplish apparently miraculous production? At present, there are three general expedients. The most common solution of the problem is a laborious and tedious search. Catalogues are thoroughly shifted. Textbooks on magic are thumbed from cover to cover. The performances of other magicians are eagerly scouted.
And the magic shops are visited again and again. Of course, the deliberate decision to add an effect of a definite nature is not the usual way the average magician adds to his routine or repertoire. The usual trick is added by the run-of-the-mill magical enthusiast simply because something in the number appeals to him. It might be the appearance of the apparatus. Or the apparent profundity of the method, the deceptive feature. Or the comedy potentialities.
Or any of a number of other factors. I'm convinced this is NOT the correct way to add program material. It seems far better to me to add material from the viewpoint of its importance in adding entertainment value to the performer's routine. However, should a magician decide to add a production or appearance number to his program, usually through search he finds some type of trick that supplies the desired general effect.
The specific trick selected usually determines the object with which the effect is accomplished. Then, the object to be used established, if he desires to tie it into a unified routine, he shapes and warps and changes matters until he meets his requirements as nearly as possible. The somewhat more exacting magician will usually adopt the second method. Here, he will decide to add some type of production or mysterious appearance.
The question arises, then, as to how it is that a spectator of a trick, who has also misperceived or misattended events, does not simply discount the final magical effect because they aware are that sensory information and therefore sense-making is fallible. To reach its conclusion, a magic trick must be designed and performed not only to deceive perception and attention, but also to trap the human mind in a situation where the only sense that can be made is of something impossible having occurred.
In this article, we attempt to develop an account of the logical form of beliefs that a spectator of a conjuring trick holds to underpin the experience of witnessing an impossible event. In this way, we seek to add to recent mathematically-based treatments of magic more generally, both in the workings of tricks e. Our aim is to show that the precision in expression mandated by the demands of assigning meaning to the components of logical formalisms can serve to illuminate the underlying complexity of beliefs that underpin even a simple conjuring trick.
This complements other logical and computational treatments of related experiences such as surprise e. In these studies, surprise is generally regarded as a belief-based phenomenon, associated with disconfirmed expectations. Some approaches have considered how an event is processed, represented, and integrated within an unfolding scenario theorized as a sequence of world states, successively changing by the application of actions e. We adopt a similar approach to the understanding of impossibility.
An important premise of our analysis is that to understand how an experience of impossibility is reached demands an understanding of the full sequence of a trick's events. Kelley took a similar approach in a qualitative analysis of magic tricks from the perspective of attribution theory.
Our aim is to take the essence of Kelley's approach further, albeit with different terms and concepts, and thereby to focus on what we will refer to as the constructional aspects of conjuring tricks. As with Kelley, we consider how a trick's events are organized, as distinct from the affective aspects of the story that they project. This focus on event structure rather than story meaning resembles work in the field of narratology that studies the event structures of all narrative forms, including literature, drama and film e.
This is not to deny the importance of the affective aspects of conjuring, as argued by a long line of insightful magicians including Sharpe , Nelms and Burger and Neale Rather, our premise is that we can independently and usefully analyse the underlying structure and logic of event sequences that create apparently impossible outcomes. This entails not just misperceived and misattended events, but the larger sequence of false and genuine actions and objects that make up a trick's performance.
By implication, we focus not only on perceptual and attentional errors, but also on veridical cognitions and the metacognitive aspects of what agents believe about their beliefs and percepts. In this way, we hope to contribute to recent approaches that seek broader theories of conjuring across a range of cognitive aspects Kuhn et al. As our starting point, the next section draws insights from magicians' texts about the constructional aspects of tricks.
Following this, we develop some logical formalisms that express a general account of how an impossible situation comes about through a magic trick. To illustrate the concepts in action and to explore them further, a particular trick is then analyzed: Martin Gardner's Turnabout Fulves, , p. It is important to emphasize that our treatment does not attempt to do justice to the full richness of the conjuror's craft.
Nevertheless we contend that important principles can be extracted from the simplest forms of conjuring. The article concludes with comments on the insights gained and the issues arising from our analysis. Insights from magicians' texts about the constructional aspects of conjuring tricks The seminal writings of magicians about their craft contain a central core of ideas and principles about the way conjuring tricks should be constructed to be effective.
We will briefly review these ideas from the emergence of the modern style of conjuring in the middle of nineteenth century onwards Smith, Robert-Houdin practiced and espoused a style of performance in which actions and objects were presented as being somehow natural, and it was ensured that apparatus and events were seen clearly and readily followed by audiences.
The great British magician David Devant and Neville Maskelyne, of the famous Maskelyne family of conjurors, confirmed this approach in even stronger terms and in greater detail in their book Our Magic published in Also highly significant are the later writings of Sharpe , and many others who promoted greater dramatic meaning in conjuring effects.
An American magician, Dariel Fitzkee, later popularized and extended many of the ideas in from these earlier works in an influential trilogy, including The Trick Brain Fitzkee, and Magic and Misdirection Fitzkee, As the popularity of stage magic declined from the s onwards, new voices emerged in conjuring theory and practice from the realm of close-up magic performed for small gatherings of spectators.
Highly influential are the thinking of the great Canadian-born Dai Vernon and the Argentinian-born Slydini, documented respectively by the magicians Ganson and Fulves Vernon's appeal to naturalness is firmly in the lineage of Robert-Houdin, and Maskelyne and Devant. Many general instructional texts on magic tricks have incorporated general reflections on the craft and so are relevant to this analysis.
Here our selection of writings is more arbitrary but includes insights from notable magicians Jean Hugard and Harry Lorayne. In , Peter Lamont and Richard Wiseman provided a concise and insightful account for non-magicians of many of these ideas and techniques, and this is also drawn on here. In recent years, a number of new significant works dedicated to the theory of conjuring have appeared that confirm many of the traditional tenets of the modern style of conjuring, while also challenging aspects and adding important new perspectives.
Magic tricks as impossible state transitions An important starting point for our account is to see the effect of a magic trick as an impossible state transition in which a situation passes impossibly from one state to another. We focus on tricks that fit this conception, describing them as happenings. In happenings, there is nothing intrinsically impossible, nor even anomalous, about the final state of objects on display e.
Rather, the impossibility lies in how the present situation came about from the immediate history of witnessed events. This contrasts with other tricks, that might be called spectacles, which take the form of impossible situations presented for extended viewing e.
Many attempts to define a taxonomy of the effects of stage magic e. In addition to our focus on happenings rather than spectacles, we also focus on tricks that are strictly impossible e. By concentrating on impossible happenings, we put emphasis on the logical and constructional aspects of magic tricks and avoid the complication of mixing logic and probability Teigen et al.
The principle of naturalness Having taken a view of magic effects as impossible state transitions, we will now identify some generally accepted ideas or principles of performance that concern the constructional aspects of trick design. Perhaps the overriding principle of modern conjuring since Robert-Houdin is the idea of presenting actions and events as being natural e.
Fulves , p. Although an over-emphasis on naturalness has been criticized as potentially leading to mundane performance Sharpe, ; Burger and Neale, , it nevertheless persists as perhaps the most general principle of conjuring performance.
The principle of the whole Alongside naturalness, another key principle is that the production of impossible effects depends on the entire sequence of a trick's events, not just the faked or false actions and objects. This is a key premise of the present account, and to make it explicit we will describe it as the principle of the whole, although it is typically not given a name.