Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for September 23rd, 2012

The magician’s choice

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The idea is to set up multiple paths to the same endpoint. In the simplest version, you deal two cards down on the table and ask the spectator to “remove” to one of them. If your volunteer removes to the card you want to force, you say “Ok, that’ll be yours.” If, however, the spectator points to the other card, you eliminate it, saying “Great, we’ll remove that one.” (Here you’re exploiting the ambiguity in the meaning of the word remove.) Either way the spectator winds up with the same card. This sounds transparent—especially with only two cards—but it gets more sophisticated. In the right hands, it can be incredibly deceptive. By couching choices in ambiguous, open-ended language and exploiting the fact that the spectator doesn’t know what’s coming—assuming they’ve never seen the trick before—the magician can gently control an apparently free decision from among numerous items.

Alex Stone, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan

Written by nevalalee

September 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

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