Book of Magic/Psychology and Theory

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The magician's duty is twofold. First, he must create some effect that surprises and delights his audience. Second, he must convince them to, at least superficially, accept a magical explanation for the effect.

The superficial acceptance is not enough. Nor does one wish for the "suspension of disbelief". Magic will always be strong if one understands that emotions and intellect are separate things.

"I do not believe in ghosts, yet I am afraid of them"

Misdirection provides the primary mechanism for hiding the true cause of an effect. Novices often confuse simple distraction with misdirection. Snapping the fingers of one's right hand while ditching a coin held in the left is an example of distraction as a form of misdirection. Misdirection, however, covers a much larger class of actions and conditions. A magician might wish to create the appearance that he has made a chosen card "rise" to the top of a deck. He might riffle the pack and tap the top card creating the impression that these actions caused the card to rise. The card was at the top of the pack for some time prior to this action, but the magician's actions cover the method used.

Misdirection, then, has everything to do with the magician influencing the audience member's state of mind or thought process. This (and only this) form of mentalism is real!

What is a Magician?[edit]

A magician is anyone who entertains through the use of magic, illusion, sleight of hand, mentalism, or trickery. Although anyone can do tricks, a magician is more: he is skilled at the art of deception, a master of language, and an apparent manipulator of the laws of physics.

It takes more than knowing the secrets to the tricks to be an effective magician...it takes understanding the thinking of the audience. It takes practice and patience to master illusions and sleights as well as the patter used in tricks. Often, the patter itself is a major tool in the misdirection needed to accomplish a sleight or illusion. The effective magicians has at least an elementary understanding of psychology. The magicians worthy of respect also treats his audience with respect. Performing magic effectively requires dedication. Anyone can buy a trick at a magic dealer and perform it without any practice; all they will succeed in doing is diminishing the art of magic. If you think that revealing how a trick is done doesn’t matter then you do not understand one of the basic tenets of magic: never reveal your secrets. If a magician reveals her secrets either on purpose or by ineptitude, the audience loses respect for magic. Magicians are not here to merely deceive people, but to inspire people that may have no other realm of hope to continue clinging to.

Also, a magician is frequently trying to make a living performing magic and entertaining people. Would-be amateurs who do not have the dedication to practice their craft can take the hope and belief away from the audience due to mishandling of their props, causing professional magicians to lose credibility.

Magic entertains, which is something people want in their lives. You should always leave your audience wanting more. Performing the same trick two or three times in the same show may reveal the secret behind the magic and can cause the audience to lose interest. Give your audience a polished performance...make it entertaining, fun, energetic, exciting, and mysterious! Always give your audience their money’s worth, even if they aren’t paying for the privilege of seeing you perform. Your audience is investing their time to watch you, so make it count.

A magician's tools[edit]

The beginning magician focuses on what his hands are doing.....the experienced magician focuses on what his mouth is saying. Never underestimate the power of verbal misdirection.