I know nothing about Mentalism...

Jun 13, 2013
20
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Pittsburgh, PA
:confused: So.....I am mainly a card worker and have started into some basic coin effects but I feel VERY embarrassed to say that I know NOTHING about mentalism and what it can do for me in a close up environment. What are the basics? What are the "worker" effects that everyone should know or perform (example: the ACR of mentalism)

Someone help?
 
Sep 1, 2007
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Mentalism is not the same thing as magic. I speak as a working mentalist. There is no ACR of mentalism.

The biggest difference magic and mentalism is that magic is about the suspension of disbelief, but mentalism encourages belief. You're not allowed to break character. You decide on one primary power and one secondary and that's it, your whole act is that. I for example chose telepathy and clairvoyance as my powers, but I frame them through a pseudo-scientific act of reading nonverbal cues and patterns in how the human mind functions and behaves. I'm slowly phasing out the commercial mental magic in favor of more personal readings and eventually muscle reading once I get to a point where I'm comfortable doing it in public.

What you really need to worry about is getting your fundamentals in order before you start looking into mental magic, nevermind mentalism.
 
Sep 1, 2007
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Not just cards, but coins, paper money, silks, rope, a smattering of illusion tech, billiards, and anything else that can be manipulated through sleight of hand. You need to be out there performing for people. Mentalism is more performance theory than mechanics. You have to know how to handle an audience, project confidence and act. You have to have a strong grasp of character and be able to lie with a straight face. It sounds silly, but most magicians are really, really bad liars.
 
Sep 2, 2007
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Let me just throw a spanner in the works over this "magic encourages suspension of disbelief, but mentalism encourages belief" divide. I strongly believe that magic should also encourage belief. If, for example, you decide that your character is a road-hardened card shark down on his luck who's having to prostitute his near-superhuman pasteboard skills as a performer since he was run out of Vegas on a rail, then everything you do in performances should be geared around inculcating your audience's belief in that character and the real skills such a person would possess. Ideally, you should genuinely possess most of those skills, but then also use the benefits of deception to appear to be even more impressive than would actually be possible. In my opinion that's a lot more powerful, and just plain interesting, than just being another magician.

Lay audiences don't really know what magicians are supposed to be, which offers us a great opportunity to elevate ourselves above any preconceptions they might have of creepy kids entertainers or gently diverting puzzle-setters. If your audience are made to understand what kind of real powers, training or insight make you able to achieve whatever miracles you're going to show them, you're suddenly doing real magic for them. Under this model, Ricky Jay does real magic, as audiences get to appreciate that he has genuine expertise in all sorts of arcane knowledge which helps him achieve his effects. No-one goes away from his show thinking that he might have just bought some gimmicks from the magic shop down the road as he's clearly steeped in a long tradition of magic and esoteric skills, and his demonstrations are allowing the audiences a glimpse of that tradition. To take another example, under this model, Slydini did real magic. Audiences understood that they were being misdirected, that this performer had perfect control of their attention. They saw that there was a real, near-superhuman ability on display, and therefore they were witnessing something genuine.

As regards this thread, my point is that I believe all of us should learn from the approach that mentalists take. We should decide on our "power", then acquire all the genuine skills and knowledge that would be expected to come with that power, only then using deception to give our performances an extra level of impossibility on top of that. Not, as in many performers' model of magic, use deception, sleights or store-bought gimmicks as a replacement for genuine skills and knowledge. So, learn to think like a mentalist even if you don't want to end up being one per se. Study acting, study psychology, study storytelling, study the greats of mentalism and consider what they do or did to make themselves believable.
 
Jan 11, 2013
168
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Dubai
The biggest difference magic and mentalism is that magic is about the suspension of disbelief, but mentalism encourages belief

I know that this doesn't really have much to do with the subject of the post but its something I find interesting. Although I agree with a lot of what you say steerpike I don't agree with this at all. From studying theater and film at university my understanding of what making someone suspend their disbelief is, is that say in a theatrical production you have a character fly across the stage. You are relying on the audience to forget about what they know from everyday life and look past the fact that the actor is suspended by wires and except that he is flying in order to enjoy the experience of the play. With magic I don't want people to think like that, I want them to bring everything they have and know about life and the world and still be able to fool them, through a combination of technique and performance. To me if you can do that you have taken something from ok, thats a cool trick and I don't know how they have done it to a point where someone says that is just isn't possible but yet I have just witnessed it. If you can achieve that then there is no reason to try and get your audience to suspend their belief. I hope that makes some sort of sense :)
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,741
2,854
I know that this doesn't really have much to do with the subject of the post but its something I find interesting. Although I agree with a lot of what you say steerpike I don't agree with this at all. From studying theater and film at university my understanding of what making someone suspend their disbelief is, is that say in a theatrical production you have a character fly across the stage. You are relying on the audience to forget about what they know from everyday life and look past the fact that the actor is suspended by wires and except that he is flying in order to enjoy the experience of the play. With magic I don't want people to think like that, I want them to bring everything they have and know about life and the world and still be able to fool them, through a combination of technique and performance. To me if you can do that you have taken something from ok, thats a cool trick and I don't know how they have done it to a point where someone says that isjust isn't possible but yet I have just witnessed it. If you can achieve that then there is no reason to try and get your audience to suspend their belief. I hope that makes some sort of sense :)

I bolded the sentence I'm referencing.

That, there, is the difference between magic and mentalism. "This isn't possible" is what you hear about magic. "See? There's proof it is real" is what you hear about mentalism.

The phrase "That isn't possible but I saw it" is an expression of a puzzle. That is disbelief. It isn't possible, so there's a trick to it. Whereas the mentalist doesn't encounter that so much. What they get is, "He knew! He can read my mind!" That's belief.

In my own life, even though I'm fairly new to hypnosis, I already have people averting their eyes and being nervous to shake my hand. These people have bought into my hype and believe I can put them under in an instant.

Does that make sense?
 
Jan 11, 2013
168
2
Dubai
The phrase "That isn't possible but I saw it" is an expression of a puzzle. That is disbelief.

To me this isn't a expression of a puzzle. And expression of a puzzle would be something like what I said earlier "That's a cool trick and I don't know how he did it" that implies that the person watching knows that there is 'trickery' behind it and the magician is just good at covering it up. For someone to say that just can't be done raises the effect from something they know could be possible, like a puzzle to something when they take into account everything they know about life and the world around them, can't see any way of doing what they have just seen, makes that an incredibly powerful experience, rather than something trivial and a bit of fun.
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,741
2,854
To me this isn't a expression of a puzzle. And expression of a puzzle would be something like what I said earlier "That's a cool trick and I don't know how he did it" that implies that the person watching knows that there is 'trickery' behind it and the magician is just good at covering it up. For someone to say that just can't be done raises the effect from something they know could be possible, like a puzzle to something when they take into account everything they know about life and the world around them, can't see any way of doing what they have just seen, makes that an incredibly powerful experience, rather than something trivial and a bit of fun.

Just because it isn't an expression of a puzzle to you doesn't mean it isn't an expression of a puzzle.

Just because it's a really hard puzzle, doesn't mean it isn't a puzzle.

"That's impossible but I saw it" means they know what you apparently did is not what you actually did. Let me try a different approach.

When you do a really good magic trick, they'll maybe say, "That's impossible but I saw him do it." However, a good mentalist will get, "I know how he did it. He read my body language" (or whatever your thing is).

A good mentalist doesn't get "That's impossible" because the things they are doing are believable and seem to have an explanation that makes sense. Derren Brown has a superhuman understanding of psychology and control (per his character) and he uses that to achieve his effects. Max Maven knows everything and that let's him do all the things he does. Kenton Knepper is a wizard. Peter Turner is a master of observation and deduction. What they do seems to make sense, which makes it believable. Magicians don't make sense, they just do stuff, which makes it suspension of disbelief.
 
Oct 11, 2007
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I believe what the man was looking for are some materials that could at least point him down the right path rather than a deep discussion such as this one.

Chad, start by getting Corinda's 13 Steps to Mentalism. It is a book that magicians should have to refer to whether they regularly perform mentalism or mental magic or not. If this book intrigues you, I would highly encourage looking-up a list of materials that are necessary for the beginning mentalist and go from there. While these other contributors are absolutely correct in that performance is the largest part of mentalism, you have to start somewhere! As far as an excellent source for performance goes, I highly recommend getting Luke Jermay's DVD, Making Mind Reading Look Real, and that will get you started.

I hope this has helped! Please do pick up at least these two items, you WILL NOT be disappointed.

emagician
 
Sep 1, 2007
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If, for example, you decide that your character is a road-hardened card shark down on his luck who's having to prostitute his near-superhuman pasteboard skills as a performer since he was run out of Vegas on a rail, then everything you do in performances should be geared around inculcating your audience's belief in that character and the real skills such a person would possess.

And how does this translate into a belief in magic and not just fast hands?

Lay audiences don't really know what magicians are supposed to be,

I would say they do, and that's largely our fault.

If your audience are made to understand what kind of real powers, training or insight make you able to achieve whatever miracles you're going to show them, you're suddenly doing real magic for them.

I've always found this argument to be a bit of a reach because it starts conflating magic the performance art with magic the ephemeral emotional state.

Nevertheless, I understand that what you're trying to describe is the urban shaman approach, which could be interpreted by some as a variation on bizarre magick.

With magic I don't want people to think like that,

Trouble is that most of them will anyway. Magic is a puzzle at worst, theater at best. That's the bed we've made for ourselves. If you guys want the urban shaman approach, go for it. Just don't get your hopes up for an overnight paradigm shift as these things take time.

For someone to say that just can't be done raises the effect from something they know could be possible, like a puzzle to something when they take into account everything they know about life and the world around them, can't see any way of doing what they have just seen, makes that an incredibly powerful experience, rather than something trivial and a bit of fun.

Recently coyotes and wolves have been producing fertile hybrid offspring. For the longest time, this was thought to be impossible. All previous hybrids had been sterile, just like mules. The science community is absolutely geeking the hell out over this. It's virtually unprecedented and was previously considered impossible. It's also happening with grizzly and polar bears as well as narwhals and beluga whales. This was supposed to be impossible, and yet it's happening anyway. Unless you are a juggalo however, I don't think you'll be attributing this phenomenon to magic. I know I'm not. The scientific community certainly isn't.

Point is, perceived impossibility is not physical impossibility. Magic is a performance art in which people like to briefly pretend otherwise to relive those moments as a child when the impossible was strictly a matter of patience. Mentalism differs in that most viewers believe it could be real. People who leave my shows never question me regarding gimmicks of sleight of hand. I feed them a red herring about reading nonverbal communication and picking up on patterns in how the human mind works and they totally believe me.

I believe what the man was looking for are some materials that could at least point him down the right path rather than a deep discussion such as this one.

Right, because my advice about getting the basics down before attempting advanced material was totally bull****. Happens all the time.

Chad, start by getting Corinda's 13 Steps to Mentalism.

No. This is a textbook. It is not for the uninitiated. Magicians wanting to learn about mentalism should be cutting their teeth first on basic mental magic found in Mark Wilson's and then in Karl Fulves' Self-Working Mental Magic. But before that, you need your basics.

If this book intrigues you, I would highly encourage looking-up a list of materials that are necessary for the beginning mentalist and go from there.

Right, go buy stuff. Don't actually listen to the working mentalists posting in this thread. They have this weird idea that getting paid to do this somehow means they know what they're talking about.
 
Jan 1, 2009
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Back in Time
For right now, just stick with normal sleight of hand magic for awhile. Mentalism in itself isn't for everybody and with your 2 years of knowledge, you most likely wouldn't be able to do it justice. I would say just get Mark Wilson's book and enjoy performing the routines in that book for a good long time. (Many professional performers have made their entire careers out of the things in that book.)
 
Jun 13, 2013
20
0
Pittsburgh, PA
Well now you've all confused me and after being insulted as "uninitiated" and constant pokes at others who are "not as important as you are" or have no idea what they are talking about. I have decided that studying mentalism can no way benefit me since I don't want to end up on a soap box talking down to others on a web forum on a website that sells products for those who want to learn. Sorry steerpike but I find your advice nothing short of a rant that offers no advice at all. Thanks to those who actually answered my basic question and didn't insult me for asking it. Also, if you're going to talk down to others go to the magic cafe.
 
Apr 17, 2013
886
4
Well now you've all confused me and after being insulted as "uninitiated" and constant pokes at others who are "not as important as you are" or have no idea what they are talking about. I have decided that studying mentalism can no way benefit me since I don't want to end up on a soap box talking down to others on a web forum on a website that sells products for those who want to learn. Sorry steerpike but I find your advice nothing short of a rant that offers no advice at all. Thanks to those who actually answered my basic question and didn't insult me for asking it. Also, if you're going to talk down to others go to the magic cafe.

What they were saying is magician and mentalist are like the north and south side of the same mountain. There is some overlap in the two. The reason they were pointing you to Mark Wilson (and I would point you to The Amateur Magicians Handbook as well) is you need many of the fundamentals taught there. You need more than the card work that 98% of the people here do. Card magic is fine if you are working mostly for magicians. If you watch those who give magic lectures you will see that their working stuff has very little card work while their lectures are 60% to 90% card magic.

As for the talking down to. It is more about how this question comes up at least one a week anymore. A quick search would have bought up the threads by Craig and Steer on where to start. Hell I bet if you looked around Pittsburgh you would be shocked who is a working mentalist there. No one takes the five minutes to do a search to find the list of books to start and that 12 steps is not a starting book. That would be like sending a new magician to The Complete Walton or head first into the writing of Eugene Burger. The mentalist here will help, but you need to take the first steps and do a forum search for the mentalist threads here first. Also there are worse forums for getting talked down to than the green monster.
 
Sep 2, 2007
1,188
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London
And how does this translate into a belief in magic and not just fast hands?

I don't necessarily see belief in magic as being the ultimate goal of magic performance. I think that a mature artform should aim for more than just self-reference. Films are not just about film, theatre's not just about theatre, comedy's not just about comedy, so I don't think magic should just be about magic. Film-makers use the techniques of film to create belief in their story. Maybe their story is about the power of love, or the triumph of good over evil, or the innate corruption of powerful institutions. Magic isn't necessarily suited to all of those messages, but I'd like to think it has more potential than telling the fairly dull story of "magic is real". If magic is real, then so what? What does that mean for the world? What does that mean for me as the performer and for my audience?

To take myself as an example, my own passion is for self-improvement, studying and extending the the limits of what it's possible for my mind and body to achieve. That's real. I want to tell that story and reveal that truth about myself and my belief that the boundaries people normally set themselves aren't necessarily the true extent of their potential. I think that performance magic is ideally suited to that message. So, the ultimate aim isn't to get people to believe in magic, it's to use the techniques of magic to encourage belief in the story I want to tell.
 
Oct 11, 2007
278
2
C'mon guys you drove him off! Let's just try to help him out. Steerpike, I wasn't trying to take shots at anybody. I do think the two best ways to learn are by reading and performing as much as possible though. That's all I have to say. I have better things to do than ponder philosophical arguments on the internet.
 
Sep 1, 2007
3,818
15
Well now you've all confused me and after being insulted as "uninitiated" and constant pokes at others who are "not as important as you are" or have no idea what they are talking about. I have decided that studying mentalism can no way benefit me since I don't want to end up on a soap box talking down to others on a web forum on a website that sells products for those who want to learn. Sorry steerpike but I find your advice nothing short of a rant that offers no advice at all. Thanks to those who actually answered my basic question and didn't insult me for asking it. Also, if you're going to talk down to others go to the magic cafe.

You think "uninitiated" is an insult? Clearly we're not on the same page. Nothing I said was ever intended as an insult and I'm sorry that it was taken that way. Still, do not mouth off to me. Being new at something is not a mark of shame. The sarcasm directed at others is because I am a mentalist and I get a little tired of my advice being glossed over in favor of just buying stuff. It took me years to get to this point, and I'm not saying that out of arrogance or the desire to protect my turf. I'm saying it because I don't want you to make the mistakes I did. It's also something of a raw nerve lately because there's a local magician whom I genuinely tried to help and he repaid me by labeling himself a mentalist despite performing it exactly like a magician, stole my ad copy and I believe he's now trying to steal my clients. As for those mistakes I previously mentioned? Well...

Storytime, kiddos. Back in about 2005 there was a young guy named Alex who was attending college for communications and English. He found a talent for the performance of magic and became known around campus for it. In his senior year in 2007, his ambition dramatically overshot his abilities and he started gearing up for his first stage show on campus. Alex prepped by buying a bunch of books and DVDs and cobbled together an act, but what he didn't realize is that he had completely overestimated his skills and also overloaded himself with so much information he was temporarily unable to tell **** from Shinola. When the day of his stage show came only two people showed up and though he performed the show anyway, his ego took a royal bruising that to this day serves as a reminder that he has to pace himself and not try to be in such a big goddamn hurry to be the smartest guy in the room.

As if you couldn't tell, that was me. That actually happened. 13 Steps was one of those books I bought and I ended hamstringing myself with information overload. That's why I keep telling you to work on your basics. That's why I'm short with people who just tell everyone to buy crap. I'm not a bad guy. I just don't like having my time wasted.

Look, I'm actually a Pittsburgh native myself. That profile pic is me at the 2011 Pittsburgh Horror Film Festival with Vampire Santa. If you want to swing by The Cuckoo's Nest sometime, let me know. I'll meet you there and I can fill you in on the best material, the best value per dollar. But to do that I have to know that you're willing to learn, even if what I have to say isn't what you wanted to hear. And right now after this display of yours? I'm not so sure. Now I'm thinking that you're looking to mentalism because you want to be taken seriously. Are you?
 
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Apr 26, 2013
3
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Learning about mentalism

I applaud the OP's honesty. If you are really interested in learning about mentalism read Bob Cassidy's "The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy Volume 2". While it seems a bit backwards to recommend a second volume, before the first, this will make sense when you read it. If you are serious, then do yourself a favor. This will answer a lot of questions for you. It will serve you well. Sorry, I just realize I revived a zombie thread.
 
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