(Close Window)
Topic: Paranormal feats and modern mentalism
Message: Posted by: Miikka (Mar 16, 2008 08:00AM)
Hey guys,

I wrote this to the recent Uri Geller post, and Steve alias yachanin encouraged me to start a new topic on the subject.


[quote]
On 2008-03-03 14:09, Miikka wrote:

I think the most important question we should discuss is not whether Uri can really bend spoons with his mind or not. I think the most important issue is in modern day mentalism is that how we should present tricks that can't be explained by a layperson other than "it must be a magic trick."

We should discuss how we for example present feats of psychokinesis without claiming to have paranormal powers. As many may have noticed people can't be tricked to believe in supernatural powers as easy, as once was possible.

I'd like to hear your thoughts about this.


Waiting for your input,

Miikka
[/quote]


I'd like to hear your thougts on the subject. I understand that of course if what you're doing is making purely an entertaining show you can use these kind of tricks, but for a person who likes to present himself "a psychological illusionist" and doesn't want anykind of "supernatural" stuff in his performance, this will be very complicated.

How do you think "a modern mentalist" should present these paranormal feats?

Miikka
Message: Posted by: Miikka (Mar 16, 2008 08:14AM)
Now as I've wrote an introduction I'd like to share some of my thoughts, bearing in mind I am not an expert mentalist.

I do few routines which are hard to explaing by the spectators. I present my blindfold routine (which includes currently Par-Optic vision and some other stuff) as a mind reading experiment, and I don't claim to be able to see when my eyes are closed. And my pulse stop routine I present as extreme example of having control over my body.

When it comes to tricks like PK Touches and metal bending I have a hard time giving a false explanation to my audience; of course it's not a must thing to do, but I like the idea of not doing any "paranormal stuff" in my performance. I have always liked the idea you can present mentalism and convince your audience that you have highly trained and unique skills. And the idea that the audience think what they see is real, and for me these kind of "paranormal feats" will not work in that sense.

Waiting for your thoughts,

Miikka
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Mar 16, 2008 08:15AM)
People who are psychologically based should pretty much leave anything paranormal alone...otherwise they are betraying their character...

I found it interesting though, I started two threads last month on "what a real psychic/master of psychology" would be capable of...and the psychic one came up with more responses and a wider scope of ability...

derren brown is the only guy I've seen that's done a spoon bend via psychological means - we all see that the spoon is definately not bending, yet the two people holding the spoons are describing it bending as they see it...wonderful presentation...

will people rip off derren? I don't know...

I think mixing the two fields of presenting mentalism is very interesting, and very hard at the same time...my gut reaction to the immediate question is, a "modern mentalist" (by that I'm taking it as using the psychological illusionist label) should not present these paranormal feats at all...

I'm not even sure where PK touches could stand within their remit to be honest...

good question though...
Message: Posted by: Athos (Mar 16, 2008 08:31AM)
Well I think that psychological illusionist is exactly what it says, ''an illusionist'' so he can make Psychic presentation using psychological methods unknown to the audience.

I'm still trying to figure a way to not look like a psychic while giving me the chance to perform some psychic stunts.

I guess I will just say I'm a mentalism and people will think what they want.
~Max
Message: Posted by: Jim Reynolds (Mar 16, 2008 12:27PM)
Am I the only one who finds "psychological [i]illusionist[/i]" a dreadful title?

Who wants to see a self proclaimed fake?

Where is the sense of wonder?

.
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Mar 16, 2008 12:44PM)
In my opinion there is none, and that is what attracts those performers.
Message: Posted by: Mindtrap (Mar 16, 2008 01:00PM)
With respect to others who may have used it prior, I think pi was Derren's move for a little more honesty in his act, one that was about to move into the fake-psychic busting and debunking territories. It's suitable for who he is.

Presenting yourself as a self-proclaimed fake [i]could[/i] work very nicely in several possible ways. Just one from that, is that you are [i]so[/i] upfront or even OTT about it that they end up discounting it entirely. Tell them that from the beginning and solemnly remind them of it, as long as you really are giving them room to doubt at least ie. deliberate mixed messages.
A search for solutions and hopefully better solutions is from http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=248727&forum=15

How you direct them links to...whats your intended outcome?
wow what a blast, now that was entertaining.
omg I never knew that was possible, this is for real.
wooah that's giving me a whole lot to think about. Deep.
Message: Posted by: Athos (Mar 16, 2008 04:24PM)
I believe it comes down to everyone oppinion and style,

It's like two different person arguing about their ideals, none is the greatest because both have very different oppinion.

If you merely copy someone style you just become an impression of him. I just don't like to claim that I can really read minds, either talking with ghost or whatever else.

You show the audience that you are extremly skilled with a method unknown to them, they can't understand how it's done and it comes down to one point.

Is it entertaining?
Message: Posted by: Joshua Quinn (Mar 16, 2008 04:35PM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-16 13:27, Jim Reynolds wrote:
Am I the only one who finds "psychological [i]illusionist[/i]" a dreadful title?

Who wants to see a self proclaimed fake? [/quote]

You're right, no one who describes himself that way could possibly hope to achieve any popular success. Oh, wait...
Message: Posted by: yachanin (Mar 18, 2008 01:17AM)
Hi Jim,

I believe if one's show is entertaining, it makes no difference if you proclaim yourself as a "fake" or not; people will still want to see the show and experience a "sense of wonder." I would find it hard to believe that most of the tens of thousands of people who go to see David Copperfield, Lance Burton, etc., etc. each year believe those performers have "real" magical powers. The audience knows what they are experiencing is fake, but still have a great time and experience wonder and astonishment throughout.

I believe the label a performer uses when promoting him or herself (e.g., mentalist, psychic, psychological illusionist, etc.) has more to do with what abilities/powers the performer hopes to convince the audience he or she possesses than any sense of wonder the audience may experience with one label versus another.

Regards, Steve
Message: Posted by: Al Straker (Mar 18, 2008 02:04AM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-18 02:17, yachanin wrote:
Hi Jim,

I believe if one's show is entertaining, it makes no difference if you proclaim yourself as a "fake" or not; people will still want to see the show and experience a "sense of wonder." I would find it hard to believe that most of the tens of thousands of people who go to see David Copperfield, Lance Burton, etc., etc. each year believe those performers have "real" magical powers. The audience knows what they are experiencing is fake, but still have a great time and experience wonder and astonishment throughout.

I believe the label a performer uses when promoting him or herself (e.g., mentalist, psychic, psychological illusionist, etc.) has more to do with what abilities/powers the performer hopes to convince the audience he or she possesses than any sense of wonder the audience may experience with one label versus another.

Regards, Steve
[/quote]

Well said!
Message: Posted by: obijuan (Mar 19, 2008 12:09AM)
If I can teach my abilities to some degree in a corporate seminar, I get booked a lot more. This is why everything I do is "a magic trick of sorts, in the same way an alarm technician is a mechanic. It's all specializing and different skills and tools."
Message: Posted by: entity (Mar 19, 2008 01:07AM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-16 13:27, Jim Reynolds wrote:
Am I the only one who finds "psychological [i]illusionist[/i]" a dreadful title?

Who wants to see a self proclaimed fake?

[/quote]

This is an often-quoted (in this case, misquoted) misrepresentation of the situation, usually proffered by those who want all mentalists to proclaim themselves as psychic. The usual quote is: "Who'd want to see a fake psychic?"

The word "fake" is delivered in a derisive and negative way, apparently in the hope of coersing others into thinking the way that the writer thinks. Is it necessary to validate our own performing choices by insisting that others make the same choices that we do? I think that everyone should decide for themselves, within the law.

While it's perfectly justified for you to express the way that YOU choose to perform or to present yourself, and to tell us why, to tell others how they MUST perform or to ridicule the choices that others make seems like bullying.

In reality, from a purely objective point of view, we are all fakes if we use trickery or subterfuge to create the illusion of unusual mental abilities. A psychological illusionist is, by definition, creating illusions, and is therefore "faking" reality.

The mentalist who present himself as a genuine psychic, but who uses trickery or subterfuge (misrepresenting illusion as reality), is also a fake. If such a performer were to go in front of an audience and say: "I'm a psychic, but I'm a fake", then the question, "Who wants to see a fake psychic" would hold some validity.

However, to use this type of statement to demean those who choose to present themselves as psychological illusionists is illogical and unjustified. A psychological Illusionist is not a fake as a PERFORMER, in the sense that they really do what they say they will do -- they create illusions of a psychological nature. They are not telling the audience that they are a "fake psychic". They are telling the audience that they are a "real illusionist" who works in a psychological theme.

As to who might want to see someone who admits to creating psychological illusions? Audiences for Derren Brown seem not to mind standing in line for tickets. There are lots of other examples.

With regard to the issue of creating Wonder -- I suspect that it is not claims of supernatural abilities, but rather the Performer's capacity to enchant the audience that creates the sense of Wonder. This is witnessed in a multitude of Magicians and Mentalists who perform successfully without making psychic or supernatural claims.

Many modern performers of Mentalism find it unnecessary to surround their performances with the trappings and mystique of the supernatural in order to create Wonder, and instead rely upon their own skills as performers and the strength of their effects to enthrall and mystify their audiences. For those who choose to continue presenting themselves to their audiences as psychics, that's their choice.

- entity
Message: Posted by: magicusb (Mar 19, 2008 08:13AM)
Entity:

Wow!!!! Wow!!!! Wow!!!!

I started to quote your post on this and found the whole post had parts that were quotable. So I gave up! People here should go back a re-read it all again and again, word for word.

The last paragraph, how ever, does seem too me like a little bit of bullying on your part, but this is because you have very strong OPINIONS in this area and so it comes through.

I am not quoting your last paragraph, to force people to go back and read your entire wonderful post again.

The only comment I would have on creating wonder is that the magician/mentalist creates a totally different KIND of wonder than the psychic/mentalist. Many here might be inbetween those two extremes using "weak" disclaimers.

Magician/mentalists and psychic/mentalists both can create wonder but of a DIFFERENT kind. It does not mean one is easier to do than the other, as I think you imply or believe. Some performers might just enjoy doing one or the other in their work. Or to be accepted by the audience or venues in which they perform.

If one kind is better than the other, moral, more exciting, more or less desirable, is in many ways up to the performer. Great artists or performers can come from all beliefs or mind sets. However it is generally felt by most thinking individuals in our society, that those that have an interest in helping the human condition, create the better or more important art, which is where I think you are coming from.

We try to do both in our presentations. It takes risk and is not always easy.

With respect,
Dick Brooks & Dorothy Dietrich
Message: Posted by: Waters (Mar 19, 2008 09:00AM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-19 02:07, entity wrote:
[quote]
On 2008-03-16 13:27, Jim Reynolds wrote:
Am I the only one who finds "psychological [i]illusionist[/i]" a dreadful title?

Who wants to see a self proclaimed fake?

[/quote]

In reality, from a purely objective point of view, we are all fakes if we use trickery or subterfuge to create the illusion of unusual mental abilities. A psychological illusionist is, by definition, creating illusions, and is therefore "faking" reality.

The mentalist who present himself as a genuine psychic, but who uses trickery or subterfuge (misrepresenting illusion as reality), is also a fake. If such a performer were to go in front of an audience and say: "I'm a psychic, but I'm a fake", then the question, "Who wants to see a fake psychic" would hold some validity.

However, to use this type of statement to demean those who choose to present themselves as psychological illusionists is illogical and unjustified. A psychological Illusionist is not a fake as a PERFORMER, in the sense that they really do what they say they will do -- they create illusions of a psychological nature. They are not telling the audience that they are a "fake psychic". They are telling the audience that they are a "real illusionist" who works in a psychological theme.

As to who might want to see someone who admits to creating psychological illusions? Audiences for Derren Brown seem not to mind standing in line for tickets. There are lots of other examples.

With regard to the issue of creating Wonder -- I suspect that it is not claims of supernatural abilities, but rather the Performer's capacity to enchant the audience that creates the sense of Wonder. This is witnessed in a multitude of Magicians and Mentalists who perform successfully without making psychic or supernatural claims.

Many modern performers of Mentalism find it unnecessary to surround their performances with the trappings and mystique of the supernatural in order to create Wonder, and instead rely upon their own skills as performers and the strength of their effects to enthrall and mystify their audiences. For those who choose to continue presenting themselves to their audiences as psychics, that's their choice.

- entity
[/quote]


Great thoughts and discussion!

Thanks for that, Entity! Although I simply describe myself as an "entertainer", the text on the back of my business card (that frames the white space) tells more about what I do in multiple statements.

I do not use the title, "psychological illusionist", but I think that description explains to the average person (who does not know the word, "mentalist"), what it is that you do. It does imply psychological trickery (obviously), but that is a matter of subtext or character.

I agree with Abraxus' comments regarding justifying effects. I do perform spoon bending, and when pressed, I explain that I am bending their perception as much as the spoon (which is true). Each performance or character style presents it's own limitations and ostacles to plausibility. It is up to the performer's creativity to work out the specifics and details that sell one's ability, show and character.

The problem with the "convention" is that once one performer's subtext (who becomes extremely popular), every other who uses a similar rationale becomes a "me too". In the 70's, every spoon bender was a Uri wannabe, now other styles have become more prominent. Then, someone with an alternative style will eventually gain momentum and prominence.

There is a constant "pendulum swing". This will always be!

Sean
Message: Posted by: entity (Mar 19, 2008 09:11AM)
Dick: Thanks for your kind words. Happy that your are mostly in agreement.

Re: The last paragraph, it's meant to say that some people RELY on the trappings of the supernatural and the aura of being Psychic to create the Wonder, probably out of fear that their presentations or personalities won't hold up on their own. Some others, be it psychological illusionists or the vast spectrum of other types of Mentalists out there, including some of those who present themselves as psychic entertainers, understand that the Wonder comes from the Performer -- his or her skills and their ability to enchant the audience through their own personality and intelligence in crafting their performance.

I would agree that the Wonder created by a performance focussed upon the occult is somewhat different than one focussed upon psychological principles. There is something "forbidden" or darkly "naughty" about the occult that has a certain appeal to some people, but scares off others. In the end, though, with both approaches, it's all about experiencing something unknown and unexplainable for the first time.

Each approach has its own vast and powerful appeal. My personal feeling is that modern mentalism is moving towards appealing to audiences on a more intellectual level as well as a visceral one, although the best Performers in each approach are able to find ways to appeal to audiences on both levels.

Sean: I've been performing as a psychological illusionist for many years, since I first read about Chan Canasta and his "Psycho-Magic". Derren has certainly made the term more widely known, and has opened many doors in developing another context within which Mentalists can perform. That, to me, is what it's all about -- creating options: Finding a context that works for a Performer's individual style and tastes, within an overall context of entertainment.

To me, once the context of theatrical entertainment is established, however that is achieved, then any sort of persona as a mentalist is fair game.

- entity
Message: Posted by: Waters (Mar 19, 2008 09:41AM)
I especially agree with the thought regarding appealing to audiences on an intellectual level. This is what I have found in my own experience. Most people that I meet seem to prefer that they have been influenced by normal (albeit enhanced) means.

This is less threatening, as Entity stated. In the circles that I perform (in the Southeastern United States), this subtext is much more palatable than other "darker" themes. Because of my own personality, profession and educational background, this is just who I am. In sales, if you can't build rapport, read people or lack the ability to be persuasive, you don't eat. This is my reality, so all of these interests, themes and premises are relevant to me. I just take my genuine interest in these ideas and dress them up and extend them for entertainment purposes. It works for me (and my audiences).


Sean
Message: Posted by: Logan Five (Mar 19, 2008 02:28PM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-16 09:15, abraxus wrote:
People who are psychologically based should pretty much leave anything paranormal alone...otherwise they are betraying their character...
[/quote]


I think it depends on the performer's personality. In my 45 mintue presentation I talk about aura's, numerology, Law of Attraction etc, but I am able to get away with doing a routine about reading poker "tells" ( Darwin Ortiz's Liar's Poker ), for small groups this always plays well and doesn't come off looking like I was doing magic tricks or something totally different from my performing character.

Maybe those with a paranormal bent to them can do one or even maybe two effect's that are psych in nature without effecting their persona.

Rick~
Message: Posted by: enigmatic (Mar 19, 2008 04:54PM)
I think there is a third option. I use this option very often. All depends who is my audience. I simply mix the two ways. If the audience ask to me about how it works or what is it, I explain before to reach the psychic world or to control more your psychic power, you need to know very well the human nature. You need to understand how the human mind works, especially yours. When you know, you have to learn how use this knowledge (body language, pnl, psychology and so...). But it's just an intellectual level. It's the first and the most primary level. When you controlled this level (it means your mind and by extension the mind of the other people), you can reach the Holy Graal... you can reach the next beautifull level : the psychic level who is connected with your soul and the soul of the world. The door of the psychic world open itself for you and naturally, your third eyes open. At this level, you can do incredible things more than just with the intellectual side, even if you don't know how it works. It's for this reason, you can't do this amazing experiments when you want. you have to be connected. For to be connected, you need to feel good about audience. For this reason, it's not easy to be connected on stage every time. When you are not connected, you have to use the primary level, the intellectual side. More the audience is open-minded, more you create the osmosis with her, and more you can reach the psychic world with them.

Anyway, NEVER I say to them I'm an illusionnist, even a psychological illusionnist. Never I say to them I'm fake. Personnally, if a mentalist say to me "I'm illusionnist" I consider it's an insult to my intelligence and I will not enjoy the show. Because I don't want just an entertainment... I want more than that. Exactly like my regular audience wants. I want to feel the emotion of Mystery... not just a trick of the mind.
To say "I'm illusionnist" (even psychological), it's like you say "I kill the mystery" or "There are no mystery in the world at all, and I will prove to you". I want more than entertainment, I want Art. And for me all the kind of Art contains the notion of mystery.

Of course, It's just my point of view and everybody does what he wants. The rule is to respect each other. To say for the modern audience (presumedly intelligent), the only way is the pychological way, it's to deny the other ways. Behind this affirmation, I feel condescending and snob words : it's like you say the psychic way is for the superstitious audience. But in the fact it's not true. Choose what you want, what fit for you, but don't deny the other ways.

"Without the mystery and the unknown, the human soul could not live happy.
Eline Peline"
Message: Posted by: entity (Mar 19, 2008 05:35PM)
Enigmatic: To go by your logic, since Derren Brown calls himself a psychological illusionist, his show must be devoid of mystery for his audiences, and it is not Art. That's obviously not the case, so your logic must be faulty.

Please note that I did NOT say that the psychological way is the ONLY way for a modern audience. You've misread. I say that there are many ways to approach mentalism, but that MY perception is that modern mentalism is MOVING TOWARDS a more intellectual/psychological approach than a purely visceral one.

I would agree that a psychic approach appeals more to a superstitious audience, though. You say that's not true. To me it's so obvious that it's not worth debating. We can agree to disagree.

In the end, you tell others not to "deny other ways" of performing Mentalism, and repeat what I said in my posts, that each should make his own choices. However,just before that you take an entire paragraph to say that if someone claims it's Psychological Illusion, that's an insult to your intelligence, that it kills the mystery, etc. So what exactly are you saying? That you shouldn't "deny other ways" of performing mentalism unless it happens to be psychological illusion? Then it's okay to deny it?

Again, how can you deny all of those who succeed in mystifying their audiences as Psychological Illusionists? It's like saying black is white, just because you want it to be so.

- entity
Message: Posted by: enigmatic (Mar 19, 2008 09:27PM)
Entity: I respect enormously the work of Derren Brown that I
applauded. Does it communicate the mystery with its public ? perhaps
for some. Personally, I know of him only his TV shows and I never saw
him on stage in live. I would thus speak only about what I know. To
be honest, he's mind-boggling, puzzling, amazing. However and to be
honest, I do not feel the emotion of the mystery through his shows.
Perhaps because it's addressed only to the mind, therefore to the
intellect.
When I am in front of a painting of Salvatore Dali or Hieronymus Bosch I
feel a deep mystery. When I read the strange novels of Guy de
Maupassant, or the books of Jules Barbey D'Aurevilly or that of Gerard
de Nerval, I feel also a deep mystery. When I listen Mozart, Wagner
or the contemporary metal symphonic band "Rhapsody", I feel a
mystery there too. But I am sorry, when I watch the shows of
Derren Brown, I don't feel the emotion of mystery. I feel but enigmas to be
solved. Is it Art ? I leave you only judge, because the definition of
art is vast. For me, The Art is a mystery which should be lived, and not a
problem to be solved. Concerning Derren Brown, it seems to me
it's more entertainment than of Art.

I never affirmed that you had said that the psychological way was the
only way. I said that in a general way after the reading of many
posts on this topic.

It seems to me that I was misunderstood. I don't deny
the other ways as you seem to believe it. The speech which I hold is a
speech that I hold off-stage and not on-stage. I tell this speech
only if it is asked to me. Don't think however that I am defined as a
psychic in front of the audience. I don't claim anything, I suggest.
The audience interprets what she wants then. If this audience
believes or not in the supernatural one, I don't estimate myself the
right to impose my point of view to her and to go against her belief
or her unbelief. Except if the people wants to engage a debate after the show. In this
case, I would hold the speech which is in my post preceding. In the
same way, if an artist claims to me that he's psychic, I would take it
also not like a good way. Here it is what I could answer to him: "Instead of
claiming to be a truth psychic or a psychological illusionnist, don't speak and just do it. Then let me to be the only judge of what I have
just seen "

But I am sorry, the fact of using a disclaimer (psychological
Illusionnist or any disclaimer), you donít respect the beliefs of the people and more important you kill the mystery with his root.

But perhaps it's important to define the mystery. Because perhaps, we
don't speak about the same thing. For me, the mystery indicates what
one cannot explain by the reason. One cannot seize it, because it
exceeds the limits of our intelligence. It is not rationalized and
doesn't address itself to intellect but to the heart and soul. You have to live it and
feel it quite simply. And to communicate the mystery in a
demonstration of mentalism, it's not the experiment which you make
who is important, but what you are. Your audience should feel this
mystery emanating of your person, without anything to do.
In the absolute, the demonstration of mentalism is the cherry on the
cake. It is here only to suggest what you seem to be and not to
prove what you are. This is why Derren Brown does not represent
the mystery for me. It is addressed to my intellect and not to my
heart and soul. it's just a funny and amazing mind game.

To doubt all or all to believe are two convenient solutions,
which both exempt to us to think.
Henri Poincarť.

PS : Iím sorry, if my english is bad, but this kind of conversation is little bit difficult for me in english language.
Message: Posted by: entity (Mar 19, 2008 11:28PM)
Your English is better than you think, and I believe that we are closer than you understand in meaning. The language barrier does get in the way at times.

You are wrong about those who choose to use a disclaimer. A disclaimer in not meant to affect the beliefs of the audience with regard to anything but their understanding of the context of the performance that you are about to give. It does not address their beliefs outside of that.

I think you should try to see a video of Derren's live show, and reconsider your opinion.

- entity