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Topic: Invisible compromise reading list
Message: Posted by: ignoramus (Feb 25, 2008 03:47AM)
Dear all,

In my last post, I asked you to offer a reading list for a beginning mentalist. Thank you very much for your responses. Your guidance was most helpful.

Since then, I have been devouring a wide range of books on the subject. Most recently (last night), I finished reading Pure Effect. I know this was not suggested – but hey, you can’t blame me.

I have to say that I agree totally with Derren on the subject of invisible compromise. The first time I saw his effect, Reminiscence, I must admit that I was so blown away I did not even begin to think of a solution.

After discovering the working yesterday, I found it hard to sleep. This is absolute perfection. The reason it is so impressive is the complete invisibility of the method. It is by far the most intelligent effect I have come across.

Corinda’s 13 Steps (similarly, Annemann’s PMM) was a fascinating read but the majority of the effects involve a very visible compromise. My favorite effect is the Three Little Questions. Three questions are written down secretly by the spectator and then answered by the performer. Although impressive, the spectator will often comment, “I know you must have looked at what I wrote, I just don’t know how!”. This is not the response I am looking for. I want them to think, “I can’t see how he could have done that!”.

My question is this: Could you please suggest books that deal primarily with ‘invisible compromise effects’? This might be pre-show work or electronic transmitters. However, I most interested in linguistic methods such as double speak. I have not yet listened to the Wonder Words tapes. These will probably be my first stop.

My ambition is to create an effect which approaches Derren’s level of disguise.

Again, thank you for your time.
Message: Posted by: Ramsay (Feb 25, 2008 03:56AM)
I think it is often missed that Invisible compromise can often be met with clever presentation and the correct blocking and staging. The effects in 13 Steps and so fourth can easily be brought up to the level of invisible compromise with some thought.

The real secret to creating effects that reach the level you are aiming for is in the presentation, blocking and application of methods in a natural manner.

Message: Posted by: Slim King (Feb 25, 2008 07:37AM)
Wow!!! How did you get a copy of Pure Effect and read it so quickly?
Message: Posted by: parmenion (Feb 25, 2008 07:47AM)
And the more impressive, he read the first edition ! :)
One book by day.
Friday : 13 step
Saturday :Myth and magic
Sunday: Anneman
Monday: Brown first edition
Tomorrow He has a show to Broadway :)
Message: Posted by: Jon_Thompson (Feb 25, 2008 07:48AM)
How come it had "Reminiscence" in it?
Message: Posted by: tentoki (Feb 25, 2008 07:54AM)
The first edition had it.
Message: Posted by: SM41 (Feb 25, 2008 07:57AM)
There was one on eBay, I think he bought it
Message: Posted by: kriskraze (Feb 25, 2008 08:11AM)
Amazing how many people know the workings of Reminiscence really, although the OP never said that it discovered how in Pure Effect.

Luke, what do you mean by "blocking"?

Do you mean anything that blocks the comprmise e.g.:
- Preshow
- Depriving audiance/participant of vision/hearing
- Camera cuts

Or simply blocking thoughts that the audience has as to the true compromise - for example stating that you've placed the pen on the table when carrying out a swami effect.
Message: Posted by: xersekis (Feb 25, 2008 08:22AM)
I think he is refering to theatrical blocking
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Feb 25, 2008 12:59PM)
Yeah - blocking off views by physical and verbal misdirection...
Message: Posted by: obijuan (Feb 25, 2008 01:16PM)
Making it psychologically invisible by removing it from the audiences mind. Read reminiscence in the first copy of 13 steps (joke) and you will see lots of psychological illusions and blocking.
Message: Posted by: kriskraze (Feb 25, 2008 01:24PM)
Abaraxus/Obijuan, we agree, but that's not theatrical blocking.
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Feb 25, 2008 01:28PM)
Any kind of physical blocking off methodology is surely just that? well, it is in the jon riggs lecture on PW'ing...
Message: Posted by: kriskraze (Feb 25, 2008 01:34PM)
Now your leaving 'verbal' out of the description ;)

Obijuan's was completely incorrect.

Still, this is all a bit moot if Luke was referring to something else.
Message: Posted by: Jim Reynolds (Feb 25, 2008 01:41PM)
Blocking is a theatre term - the planned movement of the spectators/performer.

[quote]Although impressive, the spectator will often comment, “I know you must have looked at what I wrote, I just don’t know how!”. This is not the response I am looking for. I want them to think, “I can’t see how he could have done that!”. [/quote]

You just defined the basic difference between magician and mentalist. But searching for the perfect effect(s) is still magician think. As Luke pointed out, it's all in the presentation. Not the method, or even the effect itself.

In other words, you could get the response you are looking for doing the Invisible Deck. You just have to work on presenting it in a non-traditional way that aligns with your persona.

Not easy.
Message: Posted by: Ramsay (Feb 25, 2008 03:21PM)
Indeed I was talking more about the theatrical notion of blocking. Using movement and placement to properly hide moments within a routine.

Message: Posted by: obijuan (Feb 26, 2008 04:10AM)
Or hiding the dirty work in plain sight and you could always think like Derren.
Message: Posted by: ignoramus (Feb 26, 2008 06:01AM)
Thank you all for your input!

I feel privileged that professionals such as Luke take the time to help out beginners such as myself.

Your comments are intriguing. Presentation is something I definitely need to work on. I still feel that my performances (for lack of a better word) are largely seen as “magic tricks”. I need to investigate blocking etc. to prevent this from happening.

Are there any good books on the subject of this type of presentation?

Perhaps I am misunderstanding the concept of invisible compromise. To me it seems that the use of billets or a deck of cards would be a visible compromise. As I mention earlier, writing a thought down on a piece of paper will lead the spectators to believe that the information was read by the performer prior to the “mindreading”. Once a deck of cards is shown (e.g. for the Invisible Deck routine) the spectator will suspect a gaffed deck.

Would you agree that the use of billets, decks, prediction envelopes and the like are inherently visible compromises?
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Mar 9, 2008 06:25AM)
If the use of a prop is "inherently" a visible compromise, then the cards with "category headings" in the Reminiscence effect would be be a visible compromise.

But I think the Reminiscence effect is in the spirit of invisible compromise, surely.
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Mar 9, 2008 06:47AM)
If the use of a prop is "inherently" a visible compromise, then the cards with "category headings" in the Reminiscence effect would be be a visible compromise.

But I think the Reminiscence effect is in the spirit of invisible compromise, surely.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Mar 9, 2008 08:02AM)
Please before anyone gets upset with what I am posting here, please do not think I am putting anyone down here. There are just some facts when it comes to reading technical or educational material verses reading novels.

Wow a book a day, unless you are a very gifted reader with very high comprehension skills, I would say that would be your first problem.
If I were you I would re read
any book, I would read each book three times.
Once for the understanding of what is in the book.
Once for content and
Once to fill in the gap of anything you did not understand the first two times you read it.

Unless you’re a seasoned professional, reading any book like 13 steps, pure effects, ect in just one sitting is not getting you the comprehension you need out of those books.

“I definitely need to work on. I still feel that my performances (for lack of a better word) are largely seen as “magic tricks”.

That is because they are! The key is to present them with different patter and to allow your timing to fit in with your effects. Blocking will help with your shows layout and flow, your presentation of your effects will come from your patter and timing, knowing when to pause a beat is so important in mentalism letting the dirty work slip right by your unsub.
This is something you will develop over time and with doing your performances over and over. You will change the effect till it fits your style, that is something you can not get out of reading books. Look at any book you read on this subject as a guide, but like all road maps there are many different ways to get there.
Message: Posted by: ignoramus (Mar 9, 2008 08:14AM)
Hi Alan

I would say that the cards aren't really a compromise. They are justified as a means to prompt the subject.

With the invisible deck routine, the deck is clearly a compromise. If I knew which card you would choose then why present it in such a way? I could have written it down and shown it to the spectators first. The only justification for this is to say something along the lines of, "...now you could have chosen any one of these face up cards...".

A truly invisible compromise might be hidden information such as the knowledge of a stooge e.g. Berglas’ Picture Post Challenge. I think the test of invisible compromise is this: Is it possible to rerun the tape and determine the method? If the method is invisible then one can only imagine possible ways of accomplishing the effect. It is not possible to “spot” the compromise.

If the subject writes information down then I can rewind the tape and see that it was written before being predicted. However, if the prediction is apparently made before this information is written down then the method is invisible (assuming I can’t see how the prediction could have been changed).
Message: Posted by: iSawThat (Apr 8, 2008 05:14AM)
Hmm, some interesting points brought up.

"To me it seems that the use of billets or a deck of cards would be a visible compromise. As I mention earlier, writing a thought down on a piece of paper will lead the spectators to believe that the information was read by the performer prior to the “mindreading”. Once a deck of cards is shown (e.g. for the Invisible Deck routine) the spectator will suspect a gaffed deck."

Have you ACTUALLY tried performing the invisible deck? Or done an effect with billets? Context context context...the reason why your spectators are treating your presentations as magic tricks, as aceofharts has pointed out, is because YOU do. Don't get me wrong, it's great that you are able to pick this up about your spectators. But the reason you're suffering from magician's guilt is because you're thinking like a magician! <<Annemann makes this point clear in his introduction to his Complete One Man act, though he only alludes to it in PMM>>

How many trick decks has the average person encountered in their life? When people see a deck of cards, what's the first thing they think of? Poker, chilling out, beer maybe, card games...THEN maybe if they're slightly initiated, and only then, might they even think of magic tricks. Even so, the furthest they'd go is maybe a 21 card trick or the basic key card trick (for 99% of the people you meet). This is without any other context that the performer, YOURSELF, brings to the pack. However, the moment you exhibit traces of "magician-isms", their focus immediately homes in on what you're doing, which is a magic trick! (Magician-isms: phrases like "i have here a deck of cards" or "tell me the NAME of the playing card you're thinking of"...people can tell this is not an ordinary mode of speech, and the only CONTEXT in which they hear it is when a magician performs for them!) After which what you do will be analysed according to the framework of a magic trick, and depending on how strong their logic is, they may or may not stumble on your method.

On the topic of writing stuff down, which also has a lesson to be learnt when using cards for mentalism effects (Not mental magic effects!): read the works of Bob Cassidy and Richard Osterlind. To paraphrase - it's wrong to assume that a REAL mindreader wouldn't ask for stuff to be written down. Many people in the heat of the moment forget cards they're thinking of, or some may decide to screw you over at the last minute by changing their mind when you're about to reveal their thought. People DON'T know what a real mindreader does, because they've not encountered one! If you were a REAL mindreader, and you ask them to write something down, because people tend to remember stuff better when they've written it, and to prevent them from changing their mind at the last moment and making you look stupid, who're they to think that you've peeked at what they wrote? For that matter, why would they even question you if you decide, mid-stream, to tear up the paper they wrote on because you're confident you got their thought correct?

Real life experience: I've been performing a centre tear routine (I hate describing it like this because it reflects magician-thinking, but it's the quickest way to make my point) that I dress up as pseudo body language reading. I've done it for EVERYONE, from successful business people to run-of-the-mill teenagers you'd find at McDs. NO one asks me why they need to write their thought down. NO one questions why I'm tearing up their paper. Why? Because I don't make a big deal of EITHER! They become effectively INVISIBLE. In fact, on a couple of occasions, when performing for people familiar with NLP and eye-accessing cues, they very knowingly "recognised" my technique as using eye-accessing cues, and marvelled at the level of proficiency I had reached! The paper didn't figure in their minds at all! They attached themselves to the CONTEXT that I had set out for them, and their logic existed only within that context.

Blocking may help, but ultimately I feel that it is CONTEXT CONTEXT and CONTEXT that make something visible or invisible. First step for you - think of a way to present the classic Invisible Deck such that nobody thinks of a trick deck or even wants to examine the deck. Then you know you're halfway there! =)
Message: Posted by: Mark Elsdon (Apr 8, 2008 09:51AM)
Chuck Hickok has some excellent essays in his Mentalism Incorporated books which contain great advice and much food for thought on the use of props in mentalism.

The use of playing cards in 'mentalism' is a whole other can o' worms...

Message: Posted by: Paul (Apr 8, 2008 10:36AM)
Re:"The use of playing cards in 'mentalism' is a whole other can o' worms... "

Lol, but some of us still persist.Larry Becker's 'Casino Royale' is a fine example of cards in mentalism and there are many others.

And even something like an ID or BW can be presented differently to the 'standard' presentation to make things seem more acceptable (and throw offs can be added for those in the know). The Lewis Gansen approach in the book "Magic Of The Mind", routines by Stanley Jaks, Punx etc.

I tend to think along the lines of isawthat, with regard to context. There seems too much worry about hiding everything, but perhaps some of these compromises are the difference between live performance and tv show performances which are often edited to show a different reality and are leading newer mentalists to higher expectations.

Message: Posted by: Chris K (Apr 8, 2008 11:07AM)
Wow, intriquing conversation, with many new (and old) arguments popping up.

However, the real value in this whole conversation, in my opinion, is the idea of blocking. I've consistenty thought that blocking and conscious design of blocking is vastly underutilized by most of those I have seen, in both magic and mentalism. This thread highlights this with all these experienced performers who don't even know what blocking is. While not surprising, it is incredibly depressing. What I am about to write is mainly for ignoramus, but anybody/everybody should take this advice (myself included for there is always more to learn):

Buy a good book on THEATER, or acting. Maybe join a local theater group. Many plays are designed to have specific impacts based on the position of the characters on the stage. If you don't know/appreciate this and the "tricks" they use in theater, then you are in for a real treat. Even if you do, look at more sources, more ideas, get more involved. Literally, I cannot count how many times I have heard, read, written that performers should have at least a small base in theater and yet here we are, no idea what BLOCKING (one of the most basic theatrical concepts) is.

Seriously, ignoramus, get a good book on theater. I can't name one offhand right now (tip of the tongue, I could do an internet search I suppose but that is part of the process I think). Everybody else who doesn't/didn't know about blocking and EVERYBODY else is recommended the same thing. I have no doubt most people will ignore this but, seriously, if somebody told you there was a way to increase the impact of your effects by at least 50%, wouldn't you jump on it? Why not now?


PS- For the record, I am not "actor" in the traditional sense, although I do have experience. 3 years of high school drama and 3 years of community theater on top of that. More than enough to look at many (even most?) performers and want to cry at all the missed opportunities. Not that I am superior to them, in any way, merely that I can see things they miss and can imagine how much better they can be.
Message: Posted by: ragingcalm (Apr 8, 2008 02:58PM)

I think your invisible test compromise is far too strong.

TV rerun, ignores the fallability of the human brain and the limits of attention. Take for example the advert currently airing on British tv with the Gorilla and numerous psychology experiments exposing the limits of attention (My educational background is in Psychology).

Examples in magic: False Memories - the well documented phenomenon, which I'm sure most performers will relate to, where a spectator after an effect will tell his friend what happend often ignoring inconsistencies of swearing that they only thought of a card and never actually physically selected one.

So to Lem's suggestion of a book on theatrical techniques I would only semi-jokingly recommend reading a pop psych book on memory and attention.

Take for example two great effects in Mark Strivings' Mobile Mentalism, which essentially disguise the fact that a billet is being used or provide strong motivation for tearing the billet up. Two good effects with great presentation and justification. Whilst I would argue that they go a long way to obeying the invisible compromise critera, by your definition they would fall far short.

Whose definition is the correct one? As Luke Jermay writes in his excellent 3510(?) it is not how you feel about an effect but what the spectator feels. Whilst I would agree with him almost wholeheartedly, as aceofharts points out, at the extreme end of the spectrum, if you allow yourself to feel that the spectator will feel a difference (see the magic merely as a 'trick') then they will. I think this a minor point, but one well raised - you have to have belief in what you are perforiming.

Message: Posted by: ragingcalm (Apr 8, 2008 03:03PM)
One of those interesting threads that remind you there really are gems of intersting information and well considered debate in the Café
Message: Posted by: ignoramus (Apr 8, 2008 05:09PM)
Thank you all for your comments.

I will follow your suggestion, iSawThat. When I first saw the invisible deck performed in a magical context, I wracked my brains trying to think of mental presentation. Derren Brown mentions that he uses a hypnotic angle in Absolute Magic, but gives no details.

Here is the presentation I currently use:

Think of card, now! Quickly! Don’t change your mind.

Queen of hearts. (said with conviction – not a question.)

If I wrong: Ah, that is interesting. Let’s try this again…

If I am right: You might believe that was chance or that everyone says that. In a way you are right. I did not give you time to think of a little obscure card to catch me out (hand gestures towards them).

This time I want you think of any card you want. I won’t push you in any way… you have one now. Don’t change your mind.

Four of clubs.

The truth is that I can guide your decisions in the way that I ask you to think. Obviously, this won’t always work (if I failed). I can suggest an idea to you and notice when that thought has registered with you.

(Place boxed deck on the table)

You see, it is actually impossible to think of something completely at random. Your mind will search for a queue from somewhere. This might be a distant memory or something staring you right in the face (arbitrary hand gesture). If I ask you to think of something, I can pick up on where you are getting this queue. Would you like to try this?

I want you to see the card here in front of you. Imagine it clearly and see a picture of it.

That’s the wrong card. Think of another one.

No, again. Please change your mind.

Are you seeing it in detail? Yes, I think you might have it. Don’t change you mind. What was the card? (remove deck from case)

Now you could have chosen any one of these cards. But you didn’t. You chose a card that you never saw (prepare face down card). Out of 52 cards which one did you chose? (repeated for a reason)

(Slowly reveal face down card as theirs)



What do you think? I am sure you will spot that I have borrowed Derren’s presentation idea from his brilliant famous portrait stunt.
Message: Posted by: obijuan (Apr 8, 2008 05:13PM)
Terville is an amazing effect.
Message: Posted by: teejay (Apr 8, 2008 06:37PM)
On 2008-02-25 14:28, abraxus wrote:
Any kind of physical blocking off methodology is surely just that? well, it is in the jon riggs lecture on PW'ing...

Does anybody have the name of this item?
Message: Posted by: Mark Storms (Apr 8, 2008 06:48PM)
Max Maven's Positive Negative is a great effect that I believe is an invisible comprimise effect. It is on his video series VideoMind.

Docc Hilford Has a great effect "Number 6 of Clubs" ( verbal card force ) on his old VHS tape "Real Mind Reading".

Banachek's Book- Psychological Subtleties & Psychological Subltleties 2 have a wealth of Psychological Forces. Also "PK touches" is a great effect of his that I feel fits this premise.

Luke Jermay's "Touching on Hoy" is a Brilliant Invisable comprimise effect. In is in his book "Coral Fang" and extended thoughts on this in his new book "3510"

Hypnotic Suggestability Tests- Can't Open Eyes, Locked Hands, Rising Arms, Abnormal Lift, Stiff as a board, cant talk, stuck to the floor. ETC. A good place to start for these would by Ormond McGill's Book "The Complete Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism.

Also check out Kenton Kneppers works. Although he does use a lot of "instant-stooging" his thinking is worth a look.
Message: Posted by: iSawThat (Apr 10, 2008 06:49AM)
Ignoramus>>> I like your line at the end "You chose a card you never saw". It's a good hook, though it suffers from a bit of incongruity after you've asked your helper to picture the card in great detail. But the "card you never saw" is an ingenious hook for the invisible deck! Try adding a subliminal slant to it by casually spreading the cards once in awhile face up while you're talking, glacing down as if trying to "hide" something (subconscious motivation and actual motivation will be nicely aligned here!). Do this especially when asking them to change their mind...you'll draw their gaze to the card, but quickly tell them to look back in your eyes once you see them glancing down.

The context, or pseudo-explanation, in this case could be the brilliant theme in Docc Hilford's "For One To End" linguistic deception: the subliminal mind took in all the cards that were shown even without knowing it, but because of the psychological pressure you exerted on them to change their minds so many times, they subconsciously took the path of least resistance to end up at the card you kept hidden from them. Not in so many words of course, it'll sound like a lecture! Haha..but you definitely have a gem of an idea there, just needs a bit of polishing and multiple performances, and I think you'll discover that people aren't too concerned about the cards anymore, but about your deep knowledge of psychology! =)
Message: Posted by: Alel (Apr 11, 2008 07:58AM)
Everyone could also check Jason Palter's iKnow.

Message: Posted by: ignoramus (Apr 11, 2008 12:16PM)
ISawThat - Yes, I agree that my monologue doesn't make much sense. My idea was to add to the confusion of the spectator. Probably not that great. I couldn't think of a better way to end it tbh.

I actually say, "You chose _the_ card you never saw", not "a card". Mistyped that one.

Mark - Touching on Hoy is great! I haven't performed it yet though. There is one element which doesn't suit me very well. At one stage you seem to be reading the minds of the three spectators. I feel silly looking at people and pretending something is happening - it's just not believable. I like Derren's method of pseudo hypnotising the person and pretending to read the letters from their facial ticks. This would take too long with three people, however.
Message: Posted by: ragingcalm (Apr 12, 2008 01:18PM)
Ignoramus, I have just read Luke's chapter in 3510 on it and was very impressed by his use of dual reality. I'm slightly baffled by the transparency of the false method he shows the audience. Muscle reading numbers and words? I can't even begin to imagine how an audience could believe that was done (and at speed too!). Has anyone thought of a better false method for this one?