DR.OM’S MINI MIRACLE COURSE IN WRITING FOR MAGICIANS
Posted October 1998
Ok I.C.O.M’ers, this will definitely NOT be for everyone. But for those with the drive to go the extra mile in this art, dig your heels in and prepare yourself! This is an exercise is the betterment of your magical knowledge from a University point of view! Who knows? After this, you may be the NEXT Tarbell!!!… Also, please be aware that any mistakes in this course are my fault and not that of Dr. Om. Due to web-page restrictions, I had to restructure much of it…BJG
Magician Harry Lorayne has written two books for the general lay public of special interest to magicians and mentalists: THE MEMORY BOOK and MIRACLE MATH. Magician colleagues, knowing of Dr. OM’s (Oscar Muscariello) background in the scholarship and teaching of prose composition, have expressed interest in and need for sharpening their writing skills for the purposes of notating magical self instructions, writing effect descriptions and instructions for others, and composing advertising copy, news releases, and professional articles for magic trade journals. In answer to the many requests, Dr. OM provides, in this CyberMagic Textbook ™ and the issue to follow, a programmed course of study which possesses the power to rapidly and easily improve writing skills in the prose mode, by identifying the most common fault in writing, THE USE OF TOO MANY MEANINGLESS JOINING WORDS, and by providing specific and systemic means for correcting the fault.
The course of study presented in two parts is entitled: DR. OM’S MIRACLE MINI COURSE IN WRITING FOR MAGICIANS PART A: THEORY (in the August 1998 installment), and PART B: APPLICATION (in the September 1998 installment).
Lorayne, Harry. MIRACLE MATH. Barnes and Noble Books, New York: 1966.
Lorayne, Harry and Jerry Lucas. THE MEMORY BOOK. Ballantine Books, New York: 1974.
Muscariello, Oscar Francis, Ph.D. COMPARISON OF GUIDED DISCOVERY AND RECEPTION STRATEGIES APPLIED TO SENTENCE CLARIFICATION. Dissertation Abstracts International. Volume XXXIX, Number 11, Order No.7911210. Ann Arbor, Michigan: 1979.
IDENTIFYING FIRST CATEGORY WORDS
EXPLANATION: A. All words in the English language may be assigned to one of three categories. First category words refer to physical objects, animate or inanimate; natural or ;T’anuf actured, which can be experienced through the senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, or touch. E.G., stone (natural; inanimate, house (manufactured; inanimate), dog (animate), and John (animate; nominal). To identify first category words, close your eyes. If you can imagine an object for which the word stands, the word may be assigned to the first category.
Underline all first category words on the list.
UNDERLINE FIRST CATEGORY WORDS
tall, loud, sweet, pungent, and rough. Examples of behaviors perceivable in physical objects are: run, swift, love, thinking and intelligent . To identify second category words, close your eyes. If you can, imagine a quality or behavior of an object signaled by a first category word, the word signaling the quality or behavior may be assigned to the second category.
EXERCISE Underline all second category words on the list placing a capital Q after quality words and a capital B after behavior words:
UNDERLINE SECOND CATEGORY WORDS:
EXERCISE Underline all third category words on the list.
UNDERLINE THIRD CATEGORY WORDS:
Posted November 1998
Dr. OM’s MIRACLE MINI COURSE IN WRITING FOR MAGICIANS PART B: APPLICATION.
Before beginning part B of the mini course, please read and consider the news release below, written by the great magician Claude Alexander, himself and published on April 9,1919 (even the date is in mystical nines), in the TAMPA FREE PRESS. Notice that Mexander frees himself from the restrictions of first person address; free, that is, to report wonderful things about himself, as though reported by someone else. Dr. OM could not resist some bracketed comments along the way.
ALEXANDER THE MAN WHO KNOWS AT THE MAJESTIC
“To those who witnessed and were mystified by the unusual performances of Alexander, “The Man Who Knows,” [self testimonial] during his previous engagement, the news that he is to return for a special stay will be welcome. [positive assumption] While those who failed to see him will doubtless be on the QUI VIVRE [literally, among those who live; among the living; among those to be present], for his encore appearance [notice; not reappearance, but encore appearance; note, too, how he later informs the reader that the show will possess newness, not be just a repeat performance], scheduled for the Majestic Theater here in Tampa for a period of 2 days.
Alexander has enlarged the magical part of his show this season until the press, wherever he has appeared, has conceded the Alexander attraction to be the greatest [hyperbole] mystery show that has ever toured. Of course it is the famed [hyperbole] Simla Seance that has caused his name to be sesame to the world of science for it is in this [demonstration; he might have employed the subject of the discourse here, rather than the vague word “this”] that while gazing into a crystal ball he answers any and all questions, written in any language and sealed in any manner desired. Something in human nature compels every individual to knock at the door of the future [answers to their heartfelt questions is what they want and Alexander will know how to answer them] and Alexander gives a most interesting as well as astonishing example of opening the door at least a little way and letting each one in turn [everyone’s questlions will be answered] have a peep into his coming fate. Alexander does not claim any supernatural power nor pretend to be a medium of spiritualistic communication [prudent disclaimer]. But he does claim that his success in the psychic field is owing to a lifetime study and to his power of concentration and his use of the positive knowledge that lies in the field opened by that power [reclaims professed powers].
While the Simla Seance is admitted by scientists the world over to be the ultimate in occult [testimonial], Alexander is this season presenting a series of tests that have never before been given publicity [brand new] Included among these is the famous slate test, in which a question is selected at random and a related verse in the Bible appears mysteriously upon the slates, the same being held by a prominent person in the audience, thereby obviating any probability of trickery on the part of the mystic. As Alexander explains, ‘lf there is any fake attached to the experiment it is the auditors themselves who must of necessity be held responsible for it, as they cleanse the slates, [and] tie and hold them during the demonstration.’
The Nartel Sisters, vivacious twins from the Far East are introducing to lovers [promise of romance] of oriental dances the best from an extensive repertoire, including a recent creation, the Dance of Abbal Radhid Myrai, or the crystal dance of India [exotica], a subtle number which allows them ample opportunity to display [a loaded word] their knowledge of esoteric theosophy in motion [notice that Alexander nowhere employs the term: ‘belly dancing,’ but is genteel in his teasing the imagination of the reader; a far cry from the crassness of the present day]. They are proud of the land of their nativity and are conscientiously endeavering to perpetuate their own folk dances.
Ullian Moore, a prima donna [first lady] soprano of renown in light and grand opera circles, will be heard and seen to advantage. She was especially engaged for the present tour and this special scene [note the emphasis upon the speciality of the present production]. Her [Miss Moore’s] pleasing voice, commanding stage presence [she is easy to look at] and unusual personality fitting consistently with the atmosphere engendered by the impressive stage setting and incidental music [Is he claiming that the whole production is as sexy as Lillian Moore?].”
The writing of such remarkable production copy is not necessarily a lost art. Take note that Alexander’s language is image evoking by virtue of the predominance of his use of FIRST AND SECOND CATEGORY WORDS and his use of meaningless THIRD CATEGORY WORDS sparingly, as necessary to “glue” the image evoking words together. Dr. OM considers Alexander’s news release to be a bit of a work of art and a model to be taken heed of.
As a bonus attached to the mini course, Dr. OM will publish in a later edition, under old business, his SIMPLEX COURSE IN PUNCTUATION. Punctuation is easier than you think.
O’Connell, Sheldon with Lon Mandrake. MANDRAKE Incomparable. Hades Publications, Inc. Canada: 1998. (The source of the above Alexander release, among many other magical riches. A must read).
BIRDS GOTTA FLY
You who are jealous of the birds, think how they are aliens to rest. Exiled to air, they beat their frantic wings, and trace the conic circle of despair; alighting, one claw held aloof, upon some cold, inhospitable roof, still finding breath to sing
Yet we would fly in spite of this surrendering the firmer home, for that cool, secret, airy kiss, which lingers on the lips of stone, and then, exulting toward the sun, to fly, to sing, to die, and then to sing again.
Below is an alphabetical list of all third category words abstracted from the wordlist worksheet. The list does not encompass all of the third category words in the English language, but includes those which are the most frequent offenders in causing obscurity in writing.
Third category words are termed SYMPTOM WORDS because they are symptomatic of obscurity in writing. When an excessive number of ineptly used symptom words occur in writing, there may be suspicion that obscurity occurs.
The checklist may be used to identify symptom words in student compositions. However, the checklist is not needed by the student who is able to identify symptom words by the concepts acquired in the previous exercises.
a, certain, few, above, clearly, first, all, cloud, following, although, for, always, foregoing, am, despite, forever, an, do, former, and, don’t, from, any, due, anyone, apparently, had, at, each, has, enclosed, have, etc., he, be, ever, her, because, every, herself, been, everybody, him, being, every, one, himself, believe, everything, his, below, how, but, however, by, feel, perhaps, if, place, in, preceding, into, probably, it, its, quite, quite, itself, requires, just, reason, latter, like, many, may, me, might, mine, my, myself, second, seem, seemed, seems, she, should, some, somebody, someone, something, sometimes, stated, need, neither, that, never, the, no, their, nobody, them, none, then, nor, there, not, these, now, they, thing, think, obviously, this, of, those, on, to, one, too, one’s, only, others, us, our, ours, way, we, were, when, whether, which, who, whom, would, you, your
The symptom words listed are logically related. Each word listed depends for meaning upon a referent word in the larger written context. E.g., “One can write each one down and explain it, but to separate them is impossible.” The words, “one,” “each,” and “them,” require a contextual referent word for meaning. If the referent word is distant from the symptom word, or if the referent word is nonexistent in the written context, the symptom word is obscure. If too many of the words in a paragraph depend on other words for meaning, the paragraph is obscure. Frequently, even after twelve years of English language study, student writing samples contain symptom words in excess of fifty percent of the context.
Providing students with the Symptom Word Checklist alone is not sufficient. Students are required to revise their own written work. The following list of rules and steps is designed to help students revise their own written work.
REVISION: RULES AND STEPS
STEP 1: Isolate a sentence form the context and underscore all symptom words.
STEP 2: With a pair of scissors, cut out each sentence and attach to a legal size (8-1/2 x 14) sheet of paper.
Example: For someone you can depend on, he’s the one.
Rule A: Do not indiscriminately delete symptom words. Symptom words can be essential to a given sentence. The occurrence of a symptom word does not necessarily signal obscurity.
STEP 3: Determine whether obscurity is actually a fault in the sentence, as signaled by the symptom word. There are three possible alternatives:
Rule B: If the sentence is clear in spite of occurrence of symptom words, do not alter the sentence.
Rule C: If the sentence is obscure, the sentence should be altered by application of the revision steps and rules.
Rule D: If the student is uncertain whether or not the sentence is clear or obscure, the sentence should be altered.
STEP 4: Cover each symptom word in the sentence to determine if the symptom word is necessary to the sentence meaning. Delete the covered symptom word if the symptom word is not necessary to the sentence meaning.
STEP 5: Substitute a specific referent in the context for the symptom word, if necessary for the meaning.
Example: First Draft: For someone you can depend upon, he’s the one.
STEP 6: Remove all contractions.
Example: First Draft: For someone you can depend on, Sam is the one.
STEP 7: Rearrange (turn around) the sentence in a manner allowing deletion of symptom words.
Example: First Draft: For someone you can depend on, Sam is the one.
Revision: Sam is someone you can depend on.
STEP 8: When possible add a suffix to a word in the sentence allowing deletion of one or more symptom words.
Example; First Draft: Sam is someone you can depend on
Revision: Sam is dependable.
Note: The sentence, For someone you can depend on, he’s the one is specially contrived to allow illustration of the Symptom Word Revision Method. In actual writing practice, the necessity of applying every step and rule to every sentence under revision is not likely.
Explanation D: First category words are most concrete and specific. Second category words are less concrete and specific than first category words, but more concrete and specific than third category words. Third category words, termed symptom words, are the least concrete and specific, and produce no images in the mind of the reader. Symptom words have no meaning of their own, but depend upon other words for meaning. Clear, specific, and concise writing consists of more first and second category words and fewer symptom words. Third category words are called SYMPTOM WORDS because their occurrence in a sentence is a signal of possible confusion or loss of meaning.
EXERCISE G – II: Compare the SYMPTOM WORD CHECKLIST with the words you underlined in Exercise F. Answer the following questions.
1. Does the SYMPTOM WORD CHECKLIST contain all of the third category words in the English language? YES NO
2. Should clear, concise writing contain no symptom words? YES NO
3. Do SYMPTOM WORDS have no meaning unless used with first or second category words? YES NO
4. Are first category words more concrete than second or third category words? YES NO
5. Are third category words called SYMPTOM WORDS? YES NO
6. If the answer to question #5 is YES, explain why in your own words below; if the answer is NO, explain why in your own words.
7. Do SYMPTOM WORDS (third category words), if used effectively, perform the important function of joining first and second category words to form complete sentences? YES NO
8. Do unnecessary SYMPTOM WORDS in a sentence cause obscurity? YES NO
9. Does eliminating all SYMPTOM WORDS from sentences result in telegraphic or telegrammatic writing (writing in the style of a telegram)? YES NO
10. On the same of 100 words from your essay on the meaning of love, underline and count the symptom words contained in the sample. What is the percentage of symptom words in your one hundred word sample?
11. What might you suspect about your writing sample?
12. Revise the one hundred word writing sample by employing the revision Steps and Rules.
EXERCISE H – I:
Remove all the symptom words from the one hundred word writing sample. Replace only those symptom words which are essential to join the first and second category words in the sample. Avoid the Love is Syndrome. E.g., Love is a child with a puppy. Love is not a child with a puppy. Love might be manifested or exemplified by a child’s love for a puppy.
EXERCISE I – TELEGRAPHIC STYLE:
1. Write a message of one hundred words in telegram style. Do not use first person pronouns.
FIRST Nominative-(Singular) I (Plural) We
PERSON Objective-(Singular) Me (Plural) Us
Possessive-(Singular)My (Plural) Our
Possessive-(Singular) Mine (Plural) Ours
Do not use the second and third person editorial pronouns:
SECOND Nominative (Singular) You (Plural) You
PERSON Objective(Singular)You (Plural) You
Possessive (Singular)Your (Plural) Your
THIRD Nominative (Singular)He, She, It (Plural) They
PERSON Objective (Singular) Him, Her, It (Plural) Them
Possessive (Singular) His, Her, Its (Plural) Their, Theirs
(Note that the possessive form of it is spelled without the apostrophe. The spelling it’s signifies: it is)
(Note that the possessive form their is used when the pronoun precedes the noun, e.g., Their house; the form theirs is used when the pronoun follows the noun and verb, the house is theirs. The E preceeds the I in the spelling of both forms).
2. Insert symptom words wherever essential to join the first and second category words in the telegram, in order to complete basic sentence units.
EXERCISE J – II: Compose 10 sentences. The sentences need not be related to the same topic. Underline all SYMPTOM WORDS in each sentence. What is the total number of words contained in the ten sentences? How many symptom words are contained in the ten sentences? Revise each sentence by applying the SYMPTOM WORD REVISION METHOD. Count the total number of words remaining in the revised sentences. How many symptom words remain in the revised sentences? Are the revised sentences clearer than in the rough draft? YES NO
Are the revised sentences more concise than the rough draft? YES NO Which sentences do you prefer? Rough draft Revisions
By reducing the number of symptom words in a piece of writing, the total number of words is consequently reduced. When assigned the composition or an essay of five hundred words, the student might well have to compose a rough draft of many more than five hundred words in order to end up with a five hundred word composition, after revision by by the SYMPTOM WORD REVISION METHOD. Symptom words cause padding.
3. Which groups of words most vividly communicate? To which of the three categories does each group of words belong?
A. Moonlight/lake/palm treel guitar music/boy/girl
B. Swiftly/ jumping/ leaping/ diving/ swimming
C. Long/ grey/ hard/ sharp/ pointed/ straight
D. Sometimes/ it/ seems/ as/ if/ 1/ do/ and/ at/ other/ timesi not/ so/ much/ as/ it/ can/ be