Words and participants

Words and participants

The words we use matter. After all, the difference between a cat and a comma is one has claws at the end of its paws, and the other is a pause at the end of a clause. Go ahead and groan, we savour them.

Words are Magic. They transport our thoughts through time and space into another’s mind. What we say and how we say it creates the experience of real magic. Take a look at the following performance from Ben: 

Check out The Family: Year 1, The Double Lift: It’s You.  

The words used create a deep experience of magic. The effect of a transformation changes with our words. The Unreal Transposition in Inside Out (p. 37) uses the same sleights as above but changes them into a completely different magical experience. While the effect that occurs is the transformation of a playing card, the words matter most. For those who know it, Conjuring with Wonder (also Inside Out, p. 91) is probably the purest example of this. 

Words matter not only in the creation of Magic but in how we think about it. We often refer to those experiencing a magic effect as ‘spectators’ or an ‘audience’. This is wrong. The etymological root of spectator means “one who looks on, a beholder” from the Latin for “viewer, watcher.” Audience has French and Latin origins in “the state of hearing, action, or condition of listening.” The connotation of both is that of passivity—someone you’re performing at or to. A mild observer. 

Art is not a one-way street. 

What we do is a mutual process of creation. Even if we’re enacting the sleights and saying the magic words, their physical and cognitive involvement generates the experience of real magic. Look at the example above, 'It’s You' is a collaborative act of creation. They are not mere spectators but participants in the artistic moment. 

Austrian philosopher Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein worked on the nature of language. In Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein argued that “the world we see is defined and given meaning by the words we chose. In short, the world is what we make of it.” ‘I apologise’ and ‘I’m sorry’ mean the same thing… until you say them at a funeral. We can see a drawn triangle as a triangular hole, a solid figure, a mountain, an arrow, or even a square cut in half. It’s all in how we describe it. Cormac McCarthy ponders language as a powerful tool for expressing thoughts and ideas, yet distinct from the operations of the unconscious mind’s observations, which often communicates through images and metaphors rather than words.

Art is the language through which metaphors are bridged, words being the medium through which we construct understanding and experiences with others. 

Our thoughts shape our actions. Craft your thoughts and words to heighten your art and involve others. We don’t perform at people, but with them. 



Check out the following for more on words: 
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