Book Report #1: Third-Wave Equivoque and the Two New Links Above

Take a look at the menu bar above. You can call me Jimmy Dean because I'm serving you up some hot links. "Buy the Book" will take you to a page where you can order the limited edition Jerx hardcover book. "Want More?" is an area where you can contribute to the site in a number of ways. Nobody needs to. As I say on that page, I'm happy to work on this site in my free time (which will translate to a few posts a week). The purpose of the support page is for people who are interested in there being more content or who want to give back in some way to have the opportunity to do so. 

I'm going to be giving regular updates on the progress of the book for those who have already ordered it and for those who are considering it. For those who don't fall into either camp, don't bother reading posts labelled "Book Report," because they won't hold any value to you.

Last week I wrote the section of the book that deals with equivoque. You might not think there's much left to be said on the subject, but I think there is a whole equivoque evolution that needs to take place. An equilution? No... an evoloque? Aw, fuck it, I just mean there is third-wave of equivoque technique that I think is on the horizon.

The first-wave of equivoque, that I think we all agree is terrible, is like this: "Point to any two piles. Okay, we'll eliminate them. Point to one more. Okay, that will be the one you keep," etc. etc. I've never actually seen a magician do it like this, but I've seen laymen try and show me a trick with this kind of nonsensical equivoque. It's clearly terrible. The big problem is that the spectator does the same thing (points to a pile) and gets a different result (one time it's eliminated, the other it's selected).

The second wave of equivoque is where we are now. A typical equivoque with four items might look like this:

"Touch any two of these items. Okay. We'll eliminate those. Now hand me either one of the objects that are left. Okay. We'll eliminate that one too. So the object that remains is the orange, yes? And my prediction was the orange." 

This is a little better, but not great. While you've gotten rid of the problem of the same action by the spectator resulting in different outcomes, you've introduced the issue of different actions resulting in the same outcome. Why does touching something eliminate it in one round, and in the next round handing it to you eliminates it? 

Also, there is a lot of unnecessary action. Someone hands you an item and you put it with the discarded items? Why wouldn't you just say "Push another item over with the discarded items," if that was your intention? No middle-man needed.

Equivoque routines have evolved into the spectator doing something meaningless ("Turn over any card.") and the magician giving it some meaning ("Okay, that's your selection."). But when something is "equivocal" it doesn't mean it has no meaning. It means it has multiple meanings. This is what my preferred style of equivoque is based on.

Third-wave equivoque is based on the richness of language rather than the ambiguity of action.

It's about eliminating any element of interpretation on the part of the magician. There should never be a point where you say something like "touch an item," "push two of these towards me," "hand me a card," "imagine two of these cards begin to float in the air," none of that sort of thing. In fact there should be no actions, real or imagined, that need any interpretation at all. 

My thinking on this is based on all the great equivoque work of the past 15-20 years. What I noticed in those pieces was that I would really love one or two sequences in a routine and then I'd think some of the other sequences were pretty weak and amateurish. And what I found was that the sequences I thought were the most fooling were the language based ones as opposed to the ones involving the spectator doing some arbitrary action and the magician then telling him what that meant. So I stole the best parts of all my favorite equivoque routines and used them as the building blocks for my style of equivoque. It's a style that can be done slowly and a style where the spectator does make definitive statements about what she wants to do all along the way. (This, as opposed to second-wave equivoque, which people recommend you do briskly and always use ambiguous language.) 

In the book I demonstrate these ideas with two different equivoque sequences. The first is a simple magician's choice between two items that I use to get into the Hoy Book Test. The second uses equivoque to get down to one card from a full deck of imagined playing cards. Either one of these could be viewed over and over again on video and there would be no evidence of anything other than the spectator dictating what would happen next every step along the way. With these two examples I think the groundwork for this concept will be adequately established, and I look forward to seeing what people come up with to take this idea further.