General Analysis for Magicians

Part 2 - The Theory of Magic
Chapter 2 - General Analysis (page 2)

Next Chapter "Misdirection " | Table of Contents

The foregoing classes or types (of magic) may be subdivided into groups according to the various principles or methods involved.

See the chart below:

Manipulative Magic

Class or Type Principle or Method
Prearrangement------------------ Collusion
Disposition
Preparation
Concealment------------------ Covering
Disposal
Retaining
Interposition------------------ Loading
Duplication
Substitution
False Handling------------------ Forcing
Securing
Transposition
 

Mental Magic

Class or Type Principle or Method
Thought Transference--------- Code Work
Secret Speech
Secret Conveyance of Documents
Duplicate Reading
Memorization------------------ Artificial Memory
Counting Down
Divination------------------ Clairvoyance
Discovery
Prediction
 

Physical Magic

Class or Type Principle or Method
Mechanical--------------- Outer Casing
Concealed Access
Secret Cavity or Receptacle
Diverse Formation
Double Facing
Concealed Mechanism or Motive
Power
Concealed Connection
Invisible Suspension
Optical------------------ Mirror Masking Reflected Images
Transparent Reflectors
Lantern Projection
Background Work
Chiaroscuro
Acoustic------------------ Misdirection by Sound
Conveyance of Sound
Disguise by Sound
Electrical------------------ Conveyance of Motive Power through Supports
Trigger Action by Current
Ignition
Electrotelegraphy and Telephony
Chemical------------------ Apparent Transformation of Substance
Ignition
Change of Color by Chemical Reaction
Invisible Writing
Molecular------------------ Change of State, from solid to liquid, from either to gaseous,
or vice versa
Change of Color, Properties, or Dimensions by variation
in temperature, pressure, etc.

Beyond this point we do not propose to carry the classification of magical techniques The two remaining subdivisions, although undoubtedly essential to the theory of magic, can only be dealt with in a general sense. The items are in fact too numerous for tabulation and fortunately there is no need for attempting the work. The foregoing analysis will suffice for all purposes in which detailed classification is really necessary.

In this connection, there is one matter that well deserves attention. We have made an exhaustive analysis of the principal components embraced in the subject of magic. We have set down a list of the general principles, methods, and types of process comprised in the technical side of magic. Yet in this catalog of essential constituents, forming the very basis of magic, there is not included one single trick. We commend this reflection to those who believe magic to consist wholly in "tricks."

It is not until we have classified the principles and methods employed in magic, that we come to the particular tricks or devices in which those technical principles and methods are embodied. Thus a "trick" is but a very small thing, in comparison with other essentials in magic. It is but a particular detail in the general scheme-an important detail, no doubt, but not of supreme importance. More often than not, it could be replaced by an entirely different device, which would answer the same purpose equally well.

This fact becomes evident when we pass on to the final subdivision, according to the results attained by means of magical tricks-the final subdivision, it must be remembered, from a technical standpoint. On artistic and other grounds, it would be possible to continue the subdivision of magic indefinitely. Technically, however, the immediate result produced by the employment of a certain trick represents the ultimate basis for classification.

By way of practical illustration, we shall suppose that some member of a magician's audience has chosen a card from a pack handed to him. The performer takes the pack, and begs the spectator to replace his chosen card therein. The card, accordingly, is replaced. In the act of turning toward the stage, the performer makes the "pass," and brings the chosen card to the top of the pack ready to be produced in any manner preferred. Now let us analyze this procedure, which is common enough, in all conscience.

To begin with, we have a certain result--the finding of a chosen card. In producing this result, a certain trick was employed-the "pass." That trick embodies a certain principle or method--transposition. The principle in question belongs to a certain class or type of process--false handling. And, finally, the type of process described as "false handling" belongs to the order of manipulative magic.

In like manner, every magical operation may be subjected to technical analysis, and thereby a clear understanding may be gained of its true nature and position in the general theory of magic. Of course, not every result attainable by magical processes is so simple as the foregoing in its genesis. Some results are due to a combination of processes, each of which has its own separate origin. But, however simple or however complex may be the operations concerned in producing a given result, their source or sources can be traced quite readily. It is in such systematic forms of investigation that the science of magic has its foundation. And it is by such means alone that accurate conceptions are to be obtained, and rational progress facilitated, in consequence.

Next Chapter "Misdirection " | Table of Contents

 

< Back to Magic