Sleight of hand vs Sleight of mind

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Bliff, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. Kinda sorta.

    I think there's a couple things at play here. One is that sometimes when someone gives themselves a title (like Mentalist), they come across as arrogant. If someone calls themselves something, they then have to live up to that title. Which leads to the second thing - If the performer doesn't live up to the title they give themselves, the audience picks one for them. That title will often be "magician".

    There is also the part where when those audiences see a "real" mentalist, their definition shifts. It's the same as when they see a "real" magician, as opposed to seeing Uncle Charley doing the 21 card trick or dudes just trying to get girls at the bar. When they see someone dedicated to their craft doing their thing, it raises the bar for that label.

    So, yes, bad performers of any ilk create a bad name for all performers of that style - but one good performer changes that.
  2. @Lord Magic , reading this (in combination with other posts you have made) gives me a distinct impression that you define magic as having a method that is not discoverable and you are seeking to "fool" your audience with a "trick" that results in "bewilderment" about the method. Nobody likes to be a fool, to be tricked or to be bewildered. You are approaching magic on an analytical level as a magician. We care about methods, your audience cares about being entertained. I suspect your presentation is limited to explaining what you are doing -- what Eugene Burger called narrating the adventures of the props in the hands of the magician -- along with a lot of unnecessary "filler." The issue is that you aren't engaging your audience on an level other than the "watch, see and try to figure it out." To truly entertain as a magician (or a mentalist) you have to engage your audience's imagination, emotions, intellect, etc. It is not "look at what I can do and try to figure it out" but "enjoy something that engages you on multiple levels." A good magician doesn't need a method the audience can't figure out, a good magician needs a presentation that makes the audience not care about the method.

    Your logic has an internal inconsistency. For magic, you believe your audience is sophisticated enough to believe that it is all an illusion but for mentalism you believe that people will think you have psychic god-like powers. In performing mentalism, the smaller the claim the larger the reaction. I see the inherent deception in magic or mentalism only harmful if it harms the spectator (e.g. believing they have a hex put on the, believing they have to pay money to have a "spell" reversed, etc.). Merely encouraging belief in an ability shown in a series of demonstrations is not harmful -- just like watching a movie isn't harmful.

    A system can be a method -- one ahead, multiple outs, suggestion, lying, multiple meaning statements, dual reality, etc. Although the way you perform mentalism is limited to systems, I disagree that all mentalism must be limited to systems. Annemann, Waters, Leslie, Maven, Banachek and Philpott all employ methods.

    [Takes out soapbox, stands up on it]

    I think the idea that there is no right or wrong opinions is wrong. One opinion has to necessarily be better. Saying that you agree to disagree all too often is an easy out to avoid thinking critically about your own opinions and beliefs and developing the skills to analyze and argue (in the classic rhetorical sense, not the yelling and screaming sense) about someone else's opinion. ​

    [Steps down and puts soapbox away]

    I'm not sure about Darwin's ideas about causing "discomfort." I think there has to be a dissonance between the intellectual "magic doesn't exist" and the perceptual "I just saw something impossible" and the emotional "I want to believe." But that dissonance doesn't need to generate discomfort. Rather, it can be used to generate a variety of emotions and reactions depending on the presentation.
    DominusDolorum and Timewise64 like this.
  3. Ah...I hope not :)

    Hmm...I see what you mean. But mentalism performed in an old style or new, both require your audience to believe what you are doing is true. There are lots of magic effects today however which does not need the audience to believe you are Dumbledore.

    To any one person perhaps, that is, the person who has that opinion. No matter what one does, the other opinion will always be incorrect to the one who has that (that as in the 'other opinion'). Yes, there will be one opinion which is correct speaking on e 'ultimate-truth' levels...but alas, how do we figure out which is the ultimate truth and fundamentally correct opinion without having an unbiased judge?

    I did not want to get into a debate, that is true. I felt I, and others, have better things to do than try to convince the other person that their opinion is wrong. As I said, someone who has an opinion is unlikely to change it easily. I still could have engaged into a debate, but, well...that would steer the original thread away a lot, from its original question (it already kinda has...) . Even if such a debate actually complements the topic (it might...the thread title is kinda ambiguous) then still...we will unnecessarily be debating to no end. Seriously, there is little chance you guys will listen to me or that I will agree with you guys. So the only way to end it would be saying, "I agree to disagree". I thought that I'd save you guys the trouble and be the mature one to back out for a change. :)

    We have a different way of looking at things, and one's vision cannot be superimposed on another. Even if it is...the other cannot possibily see the beauty and correctness of that point of view.

    So I declined from trying to do so :)
  4. People seem to ignore I said this too :)

    I don't feel my persona will allow me to perform mentalism (period?).

    But yes, I do think mentalism is kinda shady anyways. But that's different.
  5. This thread is a good example how magicians misunderstand mentalism. The point of this thread is if you want to perform mentalism, don't try to learn one "trick" and act like you know about it. The method isn't the most important thing in performance and this is the hardest thing to understand to most magicians. Magicians take mentalism effects and turn them into tricks the audience has to figure out or even worse, they turn them into puzzles.
  6. People can be shady. Performance mentalism is a theatrical endeavor; it is in itself neutral. A tool, so to speak.

    And, again, "pure" performance mentalism could be argued to be more honest than magic. As in one is doing what they say they are doing, instead of using deceptive methods to achieve a stated goal.
  7. @RealityOne The "discomfort" bit was not Darwin's but something Picasso said about art. I think what he was trying to say was that good art should push the viewer/experiencer out of the familiar safety of the mundane. The great Argentine writer Borges said something similar.
    RealityOne likes this.
  8. *takes a dangerous quiet tone*

    Are you dissing magicians?

    AVADA KEDAVRA!!!!!!!!!!


    Just kidding mate...each man to his own.
  9. Yes, but it is important that the audience nonetheless BELIEVES. Otherwise, you might as well perform cardistry or juggling because the performance of magic becomes a demonstration of a skill.

    One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He says, "Seek first to understand and then to be understood." A debate or argument in the rhetorical sense isn't just "I'm right..." vs. "No you're wrong." A debate is an exploration of the WHY. By thinking about and explaining our opinions, by listening to other's opinions and seeking out the basis for those opinions and by openly and honestly examining the validity of our opinions we do get closer to the ultimate truth or at least a level of understanding. As a result, sometimes it takes more maturity to try to understand the basis for someone else's opinion and to examine the validity of your own opinions.

    I think everyone understood your point the first time. I'm not sure what posts in this thread provide your example because, for the most part, everyone was agreeing with you.

    But, as I pointed out in my first post, I don't think that is limited to the performance of mentalism and I don't think it is limited to magicians performing mentalism. Most magic is performed without the effort to turn the tricks into presentation pieces. Most mentalists do not put the hard work into their performances to give the appropriate illusion of reality. Max Maven's quote about good magic also applies to good mentalism.

    Can you give examples of presentations that you think turn mentalism into tricks or puzzles and contrast that with your presentations that perform mentalism the "right" way? What do you think the difference is and how does a performer get from one style to another?

    Got it. I would put it as good magic makes the audience think or feel something. Different way of saying the same thing.
  10. I agree with this.

    I would personally estimate that 10% of all magic or mentalism is performed decently. 1% is really good.

    Magic and mentalism are both tool sets with which to create an experience. Both are potentially very powerful. But it does require an understanding of what the desired goal is, and how, theatrically, to achieve that goal.

    My personal stance is this: I strive to be a personality, not a list.
  11. RealityOne, you asked good questions. First, magicians need to understand, if mentalism isn't performed in a plausible way then it shouldn't be performed. One example I can give is when I see magicians perform it in a tongue-in-cheek manner. I don't mean performing in a fun and entertaining way. I am talking about performing in a way that makes look mentalism a joke. To make mentalism plausible, our context need to be right. If a performer wants to change his style, he needs to forget "fooling" is the most important part of the performance. We aren't trying to present "tricks". You can see magicians like dynamo present "mind reading" like a card trick. "You-think-of-a-word-and-I-will-tell-you" style. If you present mentalism as another "trick", it shouldn't be performed.

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