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Topic: Question
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 09:26AM)
Is seems the field of magic is categorically dismissed as trite within the mentalism community. There's a certain condescension expressed by mentalists toward magicians and Im wondering why that is?
Message: Posted by: bdekolta (Sep 13, 2013 09:40AM)
It is often treated the same way by the general public.
Message: Posted by: Frank Douglas (Sep 13, 2013 09:45AM)
For what I've seen, this seems to flow in both directions.

The Magic community (not all) don't agree with the way the Mentalists preform the Art.

There is a lot of "You make them believe it's real" etc from the Magic side.

The Mentalist community (again not all)take umbrage that they are told how they should perform or not perform, or use disclaimers or not use disclaimers, etc.

You get hit with a stick enough and you take the stick away and strike back (metaphorically speaking). Going into a bear's den and antagonizing the bear... expect to get bit.

If Mentalists started telling card men that they should not us a certain move, or only use this deck, etc; after a time how would the card men react? (or close up performers, or stage illusionists, etc)

We are all performers. Styles vary, costumes vary, characters vary, venues vary.

To quote the well known philosopher.... "Can't we all just get along"?

That's all I'm going to say on this.

JM2CW

Dark Hauntings
Frank
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 09:50AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 10:45, Frank Douglas wrote:

There is a lot of "You make them believe it's real" etc from the Magic side.

Dark Hauntings
Frank
[/quote]


That's interesting. Could this be the root of it?
Message: Posted by: Michael Zarek (Sep 13, 2013 09:52AM)
I think right now mentalism is almost like a polar oposite of magic (good mentalism that is).I think the biggest problem mentalist have with magicians is that they often try and pretend to be mentalist which often almost ruins the art, and mentalism is much easier to ruin then magic. If everyone would stick to doing what they do best, out community would be much better
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 10:02AM)
I would imagine good magic performed well by a sophisticated entertainer can be as moving and interesting and any piece of mentalism (performed well etc).
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 10:07AM)
By the way, Im not talking about the crossover magicians who add a bit of mentalism to their kids show. Or the goofy teenager or restaurant worker performing a CT routine after a coins across.

This is clearly offensive on many levels.

It seems the art itself is considered trite.
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Sep 13, 2013 10:26AM)
I've never felt that way at all, nor have most of my friends in mentalism. We all appreciate magic, when it is well performed. The problem is that most often it isn't. And when poor magicians get into mentalism, as is happening more and more frequently these days, because they think it is all self-working, easy to do, etc., the results aren't pretty.

I started out doing a billiard ball and card manipulation act. I loved it then and I love it now. (The problem I had is that I don't work well with music.)
Message: Posted by: Frank Douglas (Sep 13, 2013 10:34AM)
Bob

Thanks for adding to this. Saw your post in a similar thread downstairs.

Dark Hauntings
Frank
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 11:23AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 11:26, mastermindreader wrote:
I've never felt that way at all, nor have most of my friends in mentalism. We all appreciate magic, when it is well performed. The problem is that most often it isn't. And when poor magicians get into mentalism, as is happening more and more frequently these days, because they think it is all self-working, easy to do, etc., the results aren't pretty.

I started out doing a billiard ball and card manipulation act. I loved it then and I love it now. (The problem I had is that I don't work well with music.)
[/quote]

Never knew this about you.
Message: Posted by: Keith Raygor (Sep 13, 2013 11:28AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 11:07, VernonOnCoins wrote:
. . . crossover magicians who add a bit of mentalism to their kids show. Or the goofy teenager or restaurant worker performing a CT routine after a coins across.
This is clearly offensive on many levels.
[/quote]

Your response may be one answer to your question. Without seeing context and presentation, you have judged certain acts of three groups of people as offensive: children's performers, restaurant workers and goofy teenagers.

Here's a link to a very popular mental-based effect for children:
http://www.spsmagic.com/collections/tricks/products/deja-zoo
It defines neither the creator, nor those choosing to put it into their show as offensive. It can work wonderfully, or it can fail - depending on the performer.

Having seen excellent examples of exceptions to each of your scenarios, I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Did the restaurant worker's coins move from hand to hand in a different way than the thoughts picked from the patron's brains? Without knowing how the performer set up each presentation that makes sense to a lay audience, your assumptions were mildly offensive and may create a further divide between the two separate, but very related art forms.

I've seen that condescension you spoke of expressed here repeatedly over the years, usually by the same people. But it's just a forum; it's not where the rubber meets the road. And lay audiences will tell you quickly enough what works and what doesn't.

I believe mixing magic and mentalism can easily confuse an audience, and can do a disservice to them and the art. But it is not a foregone conclusion, as your comments indicate. It is an area that begs further discussion and education. For that reason, your initial question is very valuable in exploring the pitfalls.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 13, 2013 11:35AM)
I think the perspective Frank has offered is not at all the perspectives of the mentalism community. Since you posted this in the mentalism area, I'm assuming you want the mentalist's perspective. Frank's opinion may be an example of typical magician's thinking and magician's opinions and perspectives. I think that is one big reason for the differences as mentalism, when executed properly has an entirely different set of perspectives, approaches and means of execution. Magician's see it as an extension of magic. Many mentalists I know feel it's the opposite of magic.

Typically when trying to explain this to magician's they not only do not understand it, but somehow take offense to it, quickly claiming the mentalism community somehow believes they are better than magicians and are then immediately deemed "elitists".

Rarely do you see the same perspectives from the mentalism community towards magic, with the possible exception of as I just explained them not "getting" the mentalism approach and perspectives, and also the trivialization and the ease of magician's giving away trade secrets, methods and content that is sooo common in the magic community today.

The other interesting thing I feel 100% is not only the need for the magic community to deem us "elitists" when they don't understand us (or even really try), but the crazy need to expose mentaism to the lay public. It so widespead and they do it in a way that is very mean-spirited and intentional.

To take this even further, even with these mentalities, it amazes me still how many magicians still seem to attempt to come over to mentalism. They soon realize there is far more to it and many deeper levels of thought, personality and performance execution, and then end up still doing their magic but with mental magic or mental themes to it. It kind of like a "mentalism-lite", of wanting the benefits of mentaism and it perceived "realness" (and probably higher paychecks) yet without having to commit to the levels of the mentalism community.

As Bob said, I do not get any of the feelings of which Frank referred to from anyone I know in the mentalism community. I also in all honesty don't know any mentalists that worry or think much about magicians at all (with the possible exception of the exposure and trivialization issues I mentioned).
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 13, 2013 12:42PM)
An angel dies every time a great mentalism effects is presented by a magician as "another trick".

Magicians, please don't do mentalism.

Think of the angels.
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Sep 13, 2013 12:44PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 10:45, Frank Douglas wrote:
There is a lot of "You make them believe it's real" etc from the Magic side.[/quote]
Perhaps I am a throwback to a bygone era but I always thought this should be the goal of magicians too. Sure a big difference with mentalism is that people are far more likely to believe mentalism is "the real thing" than they will magic, but in that moment of performance you want to make them believe it really is their coin in that bottle.

[quote]
On 2013-09-13 11:02, VernonOnCoins wrote:
I would imagine good magic performed well by a sophisticated entertainer can be as moving and interesting and any piece of mentalism (performed well etc).
[/quote]
Good magic can be as entertaining and interesting as any piece of mentalism, but even with my quite limited experience of mentalism vs my many many years experience as a magician I can say with total confidence that magic does not have the same power to touch people on an emotional and personal level that mentalism has. By the same token it would be difficult to create the same beauty of say Richard Ross's linking ring performance in a mentalism act.

Personally I consider magic and mentalism to be related arts, they both rely on the art of deception but they both approach it from very different angles and ultimately have a very different affect on their respective audiences.

Mark
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 12:46PM)
Thanks, Keith. I will think about that. I was speaking in broad generalizations but I understand how that came across as offensive :)

Mindpro... The exposure element. I never thought of that, but you are correct.

Personally, I have more than a passing interest in both fields. I treat each with the same respect and attention to detail they deserve. Both fields have had a profound effect on me over the years and I take offence when either side casts aspersions toward the other.
Message: Posted by: DynaMix (Sep 13, 2013 01:17PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 13:42, AttnPls wrote:
An angel dies every time a great mentalism effects is presented by a magician as "another trick".

Magicians, please don't do mentalism.

Think of the angels.

[/quote]

Does this mean don't use mentalism techniques in a magic context? Or simply don't pretend to have mental "powers"?

I'm trying to understand if the mentalism community doesn't want traditional magicians doing it poorly, doing it at all, or mixing it with magic.

I'm not sure how anyone can see mentalism as anything BUT a branch of magic. This constant trying to distance itself from magic just comes off as insecure and so silly to me. (Not saying that you are doing that). I just don't get it. Nor do I really care to.

I feel bad that mentalists feel so threatened by technology, trivialization etc as gets pointed out all the time. I really do. It's tough to create material in any fashion and then see it devalued. But I just will never understand the need mentalism feels to elevate itself, "regular magic" be ***ed! A lot of us who mix the 2 don't even think about things like this.

When I do a magic trick proper people flip. When I do a mentalism routine proper people get a little scared. Yes the reactions are different but they are both so wonderful. I personally never make a claim either way on what I am or what I do. I just let it speak for itself. If anything I'm upfront about it ALL being deception.

I could also NEVER choose between the two. They both give me different highs, different adrenaline rushes. I genuinely feel like it would be a loss to give one up because it makes the other stronger. But to each their own I guess.
Message: Posted by: Keith Raygor (Sep 13, 2013 01:54PM)
Mindpro,
Whether it's kid's shows, hypnosis shows or magic shows, have you ever done mental magic? Even in your formative years?
If so, could you please expand on your claims that typically, magicians do not understand the difference. What is the difference from your point of view? Is it the "real" factor?
Or is it the "thinking deeper" factor?
Exactly where does the difference lie, in how magicians approach mentalism as opposed to mentalists? At what point does a magician become a mentalist in your view? It would help in understanding your many conclusions about magicians.

Also, you say that many mentalists feel the perspectives, approaches and means are the opposite of magic. Could you explain this? How can they be the opposite?

Many of us want to understand your point, but you've only made broad judgements about how some don't get it, and as a result must think of you as elitists.
What is the threshold where one becomes a real mentalist? How do you define it?

Essentially, all you've said (many times) is that magicians trying to do mentalism just don't get it. What is it we don't get?

Speaking of elitists, I'm intrigued that you're amazed by the number of magicians that still keep trying to "come over to mentalism'. Should they stop? How do they commit to the levels of the mentalism community? What ARE the levels of the mentalism community you speak of? Is it surprising to you that magicians would expand their knowledge as they grow in the field? Especially considering that the mentalism books were on the shelf next to the magic books in the same shops. What is amazing to you about our 'attempts to come over'?

Finally, I found it interesting that you don't know any mentalists that think much about magicians at all. Every mentalist I've seen perform was doing tricks. Those things that magicians do.
So, to come full circle, what's the difference? What is it I and others just don't get about your world?
Keith


[quote]
On 2013-09-13 12:35, Mindpro wrote:
I think the perspective Frank has offered is not at all the perspectives of the mentalism community. Since you posted this in the mentalism area, I'm assuming you want the mentalist's perspective. Frank's opinion may be an example of typical magician's thinking and magician's opinions and perspectives. I think that is one big reason for the differences as mentalism, when executed properly has an entirely different set of perspectives, approaches and means of execution. Magician's see it as an extension of magic. Many mentalists I know feel it's the opposite of magic.

Typically when trying to explain this to magician's they not only do not understand it, but somehow take offense to it, quickly claiming the mentalism community somehow believes they are better than magicians and are then immediately deemed "elitists".

Rarely do you see the same perspectives from the mentalism community towards magic, with the possible exception of as I just explained them not "getting" the mentalism approach and perspectives, and also the trivialization and the ease of magician's giving away trade secrets, methods and content that is sooo common in the magic community today.

The other interesting thing I feel 100% is not only the need for the magic community to deem us "elitists" when they don't understand us (or even really try), but the crazy need to expose mentaism to the lay public. It so widespead and they do it in a way that is very mean-spirited and intentional.

To take this even further, even with these mentalities, it amazes me still how many magicians still seem to attempt to come over to mentalism. They soon realize there is far more to it and many deeper levels of thought, personality and performance execution, and then end up still doing their magic but with mental magic or mental themes to it. It kind of like a "mentalism-lite", of wanting the benefits of mentaism and it perceived "realness" (and probably higher paychecks) yet without having to commit to the levels of the mentalism community.

As Bob said, I do not get any of the feelings of which Frank referred to from anyone I know in the mentalism community. I also in all honesty don't know any mentalists that worry or think much about magicians at all (with the possible exception of the exposure and trivialization issues I mentioned).
[/quote]
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Sep 13, 2013 02:35PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 14:17, DynaMix wrote:

I'm not sure how anyone can see mentalism as anything BUT a branch of magic. This constant trying to distance itself from magic just comes off as insecure and so silly to me. [/quote]

Insecure and silly? No. Just a matter of historical fact. As I describe in my book, "Fundamentals of Professional Mentalism," the basic techniques, methods and approach of mentalism come directly from the Spiritualist billet readers and mediums of the mid-19th Century.
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 13, 2013 02:56PM)
My point of view is this...in a stream of consciousness kind of ramble - sorry!

there is a certain percentage of both magicians and mentalists who have fairly bad interpersonal skills...whether that's chronic shyness or a complete lack of self-awareness...maybe a mixture of both...

so they discover a way to get that interaction, and that's magic and mentalism...and because what they've performed is an inherently strong effect - they get attention and applause...they soon get addicted to it, and focus entirely on what can make them get more of this...and their social insecurities warp over time, until they arent the same shy person anymore...and rather than remember it was strangers being kind to them in the first instance, they equate it to power and influence...so the ego grows, they perform and buy more stuff - they take the feedback to mean that they aer "awesome" and "epic" and their social skill set changes to one of constantly wanting attention and to indulge in anything that will get the social spotlight glaring right into their face...

so mix that in with some of the rules of magic...

always have to be correct/for it to work (who wants to see a trick completely fail?)
means they will force and search for hits however desperate it looks, this can be very dangerous with cold-reading (however you define it) for example...

magic inherently has a "thing"...the magician guides you to watch, to remember, to hold, and then something happens to that "thing"... there is the magician, the object and the spectator...with mentalism, more often than not, there is less of that barrier, though objects can still be used, they incidental, rather than the focus...

a spectator is not a participant, that sometimes happens with the above mentioned warped social skills

some people also forget what it means to be a true magician...there's a magician in the tarot, he's not a mentalist...there used to be power and prestige in those words...and that gloss has been taken off in some ways unfortunately...

there is also guilt and a sense of having to apologise or prove every single thing - handing everything out, signing everything, constant narration of simple, straight forward highly visible actions that you don't need to say...mentalism is kinda more low-key and normal/simple...no complications in plot or behaviour...

I understant why magicians exposed the fake-mediums, they did it originally I feel, as a way of saving people from themselves in grief, and getting ripped off...we could argue all day and night about the validity of mediumship to help pass through grief...i think it is unhealthy, and not a good option personally...however, psychology and therapy wasn't what it is today...but originally, yes - I get why they tried to expose things the way they did...

the interesting thing for me is, at one point during those exposure shows - someone thought "hang on... there's some money in this as entertainment!"... so its still (in a way) making money out of grief indirectly!

just like magicians doing card-sharp/shark demos for soldiers, to save them their money whilst overseas - yet, charging to do so...

we humans are an odd bunch...

so, to try and be at least a little coherent, I would say that there is a divide, its a slightly wooly one, because there's always exceptions to rules, and we all have our own little biases...

I do not consider myself a mentalism nor a magician these days, the past year or so I've gone a slightly different route, and am no where near finished...but I'm having far more fun than ever before...i think the most important thing to think about is to be coherent in your backstory, stick to it, and build everything else around that core idea...

...years ago, a sort of opening gambit of mine was this:

"when I researched my family tree, I discovered two interesting things...on my mum's side, there was old east-end of london tea-leaf and palm readers, and on my dad's side were rum smugglers... and the more I dug into my own family history, the more stories and talents were unearthed... some of which I have now discovered for myself, verbal and finger based dexterity from the smugglers, imagination and what some call psychic gifts from the eastenders...which leads me to this question...

which side would you like to see first?"

so that was true about my family, and I could talk about either well...and it gave me opportunity to shift from one "side" to the other, and despite me saying digital dexterity, it never seemed to bleed over to the psychic gifts side, because I had clearly labelled everything for them...had a mild, cheeky kinda challenge to it all, yet (well, seemed to at least) go down well... and I could indulge both sides to my heart's content...

basil howitz's poker challenge was always a lovely hybrid for me...

so to go full circle, yes there are differences, but more and less of them, depending on how honest you want to be about yourself, and how much work you want to put into being entertaining and so on...

disclaimer! no animals were hurt during this message, and none of its contents were aimed at any individual
Message: Posted by: Keith Raygor (Sep 13, 2013 02:57PM)
Bob,
Still, those techniques are marketed and taught for profit in magic shops and forums. Currently, magic & mentalism share deceit as entertainment. So, aside from different origins, DynaMix's point is - why the constant distancing? To what end?

Expertise is the goal in any field. So what makes mentalism different?
Message: Posted by: DynaMix (Sep 13, 2013 03:12PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 15:35, mastermindreader wrote:
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 14:17, DynaMix wrote:

I'm not sure how anyone can see mentalism as anything BUT a branch of magic. This constant trying to distance itself from magic just comes off as insecure and so silly to me. [/quote]

Insecure and silly? No. Just a matter of historical fact. As I describe in my book, "Fundamentals of Professional Mentalism," the basic techniques, methods and approach of mentalism come directly from the Spiritualist billet readers and mediums of the mid-19th Century.
[/quote]

Not sure what you are trying to say here? That this automatically excludes it from being magic?

I understand that mentalism can use techniques that fall outside of magic, like hypnotism for example. I certainly don't think of a hypnotist as a magician. I don't think of a tarot reader as a magician.

But obviously mentalism is a lot more than pretending to be a medium.

Mentalists who do what they do for ENTERTAINMENT are using a variety of magic skills.

If you're a great card magician but want to build your character as a gambling expert who hustled his way through life, and now uses those skills to entertain, hey more power to you. Call yourself a gambler, poker expert, mechanic, whatever. You're still a magician on some level.

Banacheks DVDs open with mentalism being called magic's final frontier or something like that. Derren brown refers to magic being part of his methodology. Hell even you said you started in magic.

What's the problem with mentalism being a branch of magic?
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Sep 13, 2013 03:38PM)
The problem is that it is not. Mental magic, on the other hand, is definitely a branch of magic.

Simply recognizing the difference and the history is hardly "insecure and silly."

Did you think that billet work (the cornerstone of mentalism) together with the swami, slate work, etc. was invented by magicians?
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 13, 2013 03:48PM)
As a mentalist, am not all all threatened by technology.

The problem is that magicians and mentalists approch their performance in entirely different way. This is really, really, really hard for magicians to comprehend. Magicians have absolutely NO IDEA what we mean when we say that, "You're thinking like a magician." Mentalists develop a different perspective on performing that comes only with time.

The basic difference is that magicians seek to "fool" people in an entertaining way. Their ultimate goal is to create a perfect illusion that no audience member will be able to figure out. Routines have a subtext of being a challenge of wits between the magician and audience, but it's all a good natured trick.

Mentalism seeks to create belief and meaning. Rather than leaving the audience aking, "How did he do that?" we would prefer them to be asking, "Did he really just do that?". Mentalism is rarely presented as a challene to the audience. We don't want to fool them, we want to walk them to the edge of the every day world and show them something mysterious.

I guess you could say that magic seeks to entertain the logical conscious mind, mentalism makes it's appeal to the dreamy unconscious mind. These are very different mindsets.

Mentalism techniques tend to be quite simple and generally lack the fancy moves of a card expert or the impressive props of the illusionist so magicians assume that they can readily perform the routines. Well, they probably can... but they do it in the style of a "magician" which tends to suck all the believability, mystery and power from it. In short, performing a mentalism routines like a magician tends to TRIVIALIZES it.

Then an angel dies.
Message: Posted by: John C (Sep 13, 2013 04:01PM)
Iain do you need to talk?
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Sep 13, 2013 04:08PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 15:57, Keith Raygor wrote:
Bob,
Still, those techniques are marketed and taught for profit in magic shops and forums. Currently, magic & mentalism share deceit as entertainment. So, aside from different origins, DynaMix's point is - why the constant distancing? To what end?

Expertise is the goal in any field. So what makes mentalism different?
[/quote]

Apart from the history, the difference is in the way that it is presented by mentalists and perceived by their audiences. Those are critical differences which many magicians refuse to recognize. When presented as "magic tricks," mentalism is trivialized.

Tarbell put it this way:

[quote]It should be noted that there is a psychological difference in the
appeal, in the manner of presentation, between what we call two
branches of the mystic art – ‘magicians’ and ‘mentalists’. While
both accomplish their effects by trickery, the mentalist rarely
admits it. There is an important reason for this attitude of the
mentalist. His mysteries of the mind are impressive only when
cloaked in an atmosphere of genuine phenomena. Long
experience has taught the wisdom of this serious and earnest
presentation. Ample proof of these statements will be found by
observance of the leading professional artists – those
occupying the topmost rung being accepted as genuine by a
great majority.

Performers of mental and psychic mysteries usually preface
their demonstrations with a statement to the effect that they
make no claims to possession of supernatural powers, and that
the presentation is solely for the entertainment and amusement
those present, who may draw their own conclusions as to the
means or methods by which it is accomplished. However, the
performer proceeds to do his act as though it were a genuine
example of unusual powers: - which, in fact, it is! If presented
as mere tricks, the act would not command anywhere near the
same interest and spellbound attention – if indeed, it didn’t fall
flat.

- Harlan Tarbell, The Tarbell Course in Magic, Volume IV. [/quote]
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 13, 2013 04:12PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 17:01, John C wrote:
Iain do you need to talk?


[/quote]

huh? just having a ramble... do YOU need to talk?
Message: Posted by: saysold1 (Sep 13, 2013 04:20PM)
Most mentalists it seems to me started with magic... and thus I think there is a certain respect for Magicians and what they do. They are certainly 1st cousins.

I don't see what you mean by magic being dismissed as trite? That isn't what I have seen or experienced generally.
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 04:26PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 16:48, AttnPls wrote:

The basic difference is that magicians seek to "fool" people in an entertaining way. Their ultimate goal is to create a perfect illusion that no audience member will be able to figure out. Routines have a subtext of being a challenge of wits between the magician and audience, but it's all a good natured trick.

Mentalism seeks to create belief and meaning. Rather than leaving the audience aking, "How did he do that?" we would prefer them to be asking, "Did he really just do that?". Mentalism is rarely presented as a challene to the audience. We don't want to fool them, we want to walk them to the edge of the every day world and show them something mysterious.

[/quote]

I can understand this and in light of it, understand the point of view of the mentalist a bit more clearly. Thanks!


Amazing Tarbell quote, Bob. Thanks for sharing.
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Sep 13, 2013 04:27PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 16:48, AttnPls wrote:
Mentalism seeks to create belief and meaning. Rather than leaving the audience aking, "How did he do that?" we would prefer them to be asking, "Did he really just do that?". Mentalism is rarely presented as a challene to the audience. We don't want to fool them, we want to walk them to the edge of the every day world and show them something mysterious.
[/quote]
Now here's the problem, what you described above is the way magic is supposed to be done. The expression "Thinking like a magician" usually translates to "thinking like a bad magician". Alas a lot of magicians focus too much on studying technique and not enough on studying the art.

Mark
Message: Posted by: Shrubsole (Sep 13, 2013 04:36PM)
Does a magician not (during their act) make believe that what they are doing is real then? - "Look at this empty box!" knowing very well that it is anything but empty and then looking all surprised when the elephant gets out. "Now I have no idea what card you picked" when they have just forced it on the punter. So they are making out that whatever it is they are doing is real and actually happening.

Mentalists do much the same during their acts.

Of course there is a side to mentalism where certain people do pray on the vulnerable people for financial reward and personally that should just be treated as any fraudulent business. (A personal opinion)

Then we come to the audience and what they want to believe no matter what our input is: Some want to believe a mentalist has special powers even before they have started their act and are devoted followers afterwards. I used to correct these people long ago but now I just leave them to think whatever they wish to. Conversely, there are the ones who refuse to believe anything and I don't try with these people either. - But it's not only mentalism as I remember reading on the David Copperfield forum a post from someone who really did think that DC must worship the devil or else he wouldn't be able to do the things he does. It went on for pages!

So there is no clear cut 'All Magicians are righteous and all Mentalists are out to deceive the vulnerable out of their savings' - Belief is in the head of the believer and all we can do is put on a hopefully entertaining act, whatever it is we do.
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 04:37PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 17:20, saysold1 wrote:
I don't see what you mean by magic being dismissed as trite? That isn't what I have seen or experienced generally.
[/quote]

In my initial post I said "field of magic". What I meant to say was "Magicians", and beyond that, poor magicians and beyond that still, poor magicians with an "I'm going to fool you" attitude.

It's better defined now that Ive read the thoughts of others. I always assumed it was Magic the ART, which was looked upon as trite. I never considered it was the practitioners. Although I should have, considering the the sad state most folks who claim to be "magicians" are in :) Truth is, I rarely recognize so called magicians as such. You really need to prove a few things before I can even begin to see you as a proper magician (my own elitism, I suppose).

In other words, when I think of what a magician is, what they should embody, only the top dogs come to mind.
Message: Posted by: Keith Raygor (Sep 13, 2013 04:38PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 16:48, AttnPls wrote:
The problem is that magicians and mentalists approach their performance in entirely different way. This is really, really, really hard for magicians to comprehend. Magicians have absolutely NO IDEA what we mean when we say that, "You're thinking like a magician." Mentalists develop a different perspective on performing that comes only with time.

The basic difference is that magicians seek to "fool" people in an entertaining way. Their ultimate goal is to create a perfect illusion that no audience member will be able to figure out. Routines have a subtext of being a challenge of wits between the magician and audience, but it's all a good natured trick.

Mentalism seeks to create belief and meaning. Rather than leaving the audience aking, "How did he do that?" we would prefer them to be asking, "Did he really just do that?". Mentalism is rarely presented as a challene to the audience. We don't want to fool them, we want to walk them to the edge of the every day world and show them something mysterious.

I guess you could say that magic seeks to entertain the logical conscious mind, mentalism makes it's appeal to the dreamy unconscious mind. These are very different mindsets.

Mentalism techniques tend to be quite simple and generally lack the fancy moves of a card expert or the impressive props of the illusionist so magicians assume that they can readily perform the routines. Well, they probably can... but they do it in the style of a "magician" which tends to suck all the believability, mystery and power from it. In short, performing a mentalism routines like a magician tends to TRIVIALIZES it.
[/quote]


Your explanation helps, especially your last 3 paragraphs. Although I'm not sure if angels are only on the side of mentalists.:)
I do think your conclusion about a magician's ultimate goal is wrong. It is not to create a perfect illusion that no audience member will be able to figure out; that's just a given. It is to entertain with astonishment.

Mentalists are as concerned with having illusions that cannot be figured out as magicians. This is hard for some mentalists to comprehend (to borrow your thought). If a mentalist has effects that can be figured out, then there is no belief. And by your standards, If there is no belief, there is no mentalism.

Over the years, it has been repeatedly necessary for some mentalists to draw this line in the sand, to constantly correct the magicians on the Magic Café about how little they know about the subject. And especially how little they know about the distinction between mental magic and mentalism. Your "really, really, really" sentence underscores this, it is the trivialization of other magicians.
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 04:40PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 17:27, Mark_Chandaue wrote:
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 16:48, AttnPls wrote:
Mentalism seeks to create belief and meaning. Rather than leaving the audience aking, "How did he do that?" we would prefer them to be asking, "Did he really just do that?". Mentalism is rarely presented as a challene to the audience. We don't want to fool them, we want to walk them to the edge of the every day world and show them something mysterious.
[/quote]
Now here's the problem, what you described above is the way magic is supposed to be done. The expression "Thinking like a magician" usually translates to "thinking like a bad magician". Alas a lot of magicians focus too much on studying technique and not enough on studying the art.

Mark
[/quote]

This is also true and at the risk of sounding bold, the expression should be changed to, "Thinking like a bad magician". I believe this is where the offense is taken among serious practitioners of magic; those coming from the Juan Tameriz, Tommy Wonder, Fred Kaps, Dai Vernon schools of magic :)
Message: Posted by: Keith Raygor (Sep 13, 2013 04:42PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 17:08, mastermindreader wrote:
Tarbell put it this way:
[/quote]

Thank you for that.
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Sep 13, 2013 05:13PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 17:40, VernonOnCoins wrote:
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 17:27, Mark_Chandaue wrote:
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 16:48, AttnPls wrote:
Mentalism seeks to create belief and meaning. Rather than leaving the audience aking, "How did he do that?" we would prefer them to be asking, "Did he really just do that?". Mentalism is rarely presented as a challene to the audience. We don't want to fool them, we want to walk them to the edge of the every day world and show them something mysterious.
[/quote]
Now here's the problem, what you described above is the way magic is supposed to be done. The expression "Thinking like a magician" usually translates to "thinking like a bad magician". Alas a lot of magicians focus too much on studying technique and not enough on studying the art.

Mark
[/quote]

This is also true and at the risk of sounding bold, the expression should be changed to, "Thinking like a bad magician". I believe this is where the offense is taken among serious practitioners of magic; those coming from the Juan Tameriz, Tommy Wonder, Fred Kaps, Dai Vernon schools of magic :)
[/quote]

"Thinking like a magician" is NOT meant to be a derogatory phrase. Magicians SHOULD think like magicians, it seems. There are "rules" and conventions in magic, though, that just don't apply to mentalism. Examples:

Never tell an audience what you are going to do before you do it.

Never mention a possible method to prove that you're not using it.

Never repeat an effect twice before the same audience.

And many more. Additionally, mentalists don't show their hands empty, roll up their sleeves, pass things for examination, or anything else that would suggest that what they are doing is a trick. Nor do they normally employ the "snappy patter" commonly associated with magicians.

There's nothing at all wrong with thinking like a magician.

Unless you're trying to do mentalism.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 13, 2013 05:36PM)
Keith, while I am always happy to explain my thoughts, it's not a simple answer although I've posted much of it here before. It always seems to ruffle a few feathers of some magicians here so I prefer to refrain a bit. But I will say Bob, AttnPls and a few others have said much of what I would have explained.

Mentalism has many more layers. Mentalism is not always trickery. No, I never have done or had anything to do with magic. (If I were I would completely rework it as mentalism not magic or mental magic in any way.) I came to mentalism through hypnosis via a few common mental abilities and beliefs. No I don't do mental magic. Although I would argue that any mentalism performed poorly is often seen as magic or mental magic. Herein lies a part of the problem and foundation for my perspectives.

Any time I state like others have here that I don't think mentalism and magic should be performed together, many (mostly magicians) immediately take this defensively and immediately state that guys like Banachek and Richard Osterlind perform both quite well together. I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm saying I think it sends conflicting perceptions and beliefs to an audience and I'm saying unless done well creates more problems and negatives that can be damaging to our credibility and the industry. Yes, a few can do it and do it well, but that not most here or most of the current trend of magicians attempting to try or add mentalism without the full understanding and depth that should go with it.

I think it's so hard for many here to understand because of their magic origins or backgrounds. I'm pretty sure if those same people did not come to mentalism through magic they would feel the same way or have similar perspective as I. I tend to stay away from things that involve magic "moves", "slights", etc. when doing my shows. I can't take a chance of anything even resembling magic, which is why I don't care for playing cards or anything else that screams magic (not to want to start another debate please).

The other aspect for my perceptions is for over 35 years I have also owned and operated four different entertainment agencies (two full-service and two specialty agencies). From buyers perspectives and audiences perceptions mentalism and magic are two different things as well. Just about two weeks ago we got a call and the committee member actually said "we had a magician last year and we'd like to try something completely different this year - could you tell me about your mentalist." After hearing about it, she said " that sounds like something that would be perfect for us". This happens regularly, consistently.

Of course this always brings out the guys here that again get defensive and say "it really doesn't matter, it's all entertainment anyhow" or "it really doesn't matter as long as it's performed well." You can believe this if you want, but after more than 35 years of dealing with this issue on a weekly basis, audiences accept these as different. Even if they don't really know what a mentalist is, they believe it to be more related to psychic, clarvoyance than having anything to do with magic.

In my opinion a good mentalism performance should never have the audience thinking of magic. Most do not accomplish this.

Then the next element is of magicians attempting to combine both. Almost always it is that they start with magic, continue with magic (which is universally known and accepted to be trickery, deception and illusion), to then in mid-performance tell the audience in essence "not only am I a magician, but I also have these mental abilities." What are the chances of that!?! Wow, that's beliveable. And then what's even worse is he then after the attempt to get the audience to all of a sudden believe he now has "real" abilities, HE GOES BACK TO MAGIC! for the rest of his show. I don't care what you say, this sends confusing messages to the audience. The most confusing and discrediting message is "if he was doing magic which we know was a trick (fake) then that mentalism stuff he did must have been a trick (fake). Exactly opposite of the belief, perspective and credibility that mentalists spend so much time trying to establish and achieve.

I could really go on but I won't as I'm sure many magician's are disagreeing and again, not understanding the mentalism perspectives I'm trying to explain. Whenever this discussion comes up Magicians seem to focus on the similarities for magic and mentalism, while mentalists on the differences.

I think another reason is mentalists try to distance themselves from magic, is the worse thing that can happen to a mentalist is their work and abilities being seen (by the audience) as tricks or "magic". It is the death of a mentalist.

By the way I disagree with the above statement that hypnosis is part of mentalism. While I understand the commonality or common thread of "mental ability", they are different. And hypnosis is surely not magic.

I agree that some deep and intelligent conversation could and should really occur if many magicians would understand the mentalists perspectives, but until that happens we are approaching the topic and conversation from two different perspectives and playing fields.

One of the things I enjoy more than anything here at the Café is when a magician finally does put in the effort to truly understand mentalism completely and finally "gets it". It is a beautiful thing. They can see and feel the difference and a whole new world opens up for them. They see the light. It doesn't happen regularly and one of the problems as I see it is you can't understand what you don't know. This leads many to THINK they get it or understand when in reality the don't. But since they believe they do, they think they are there and don't see the big deal about mentalism, when in reality they aren't really there and are yet unable to see or understand it. It's a process, that takes time, patience and a level of understanding that most are not willing to invest. It's similar to comedy. Everyone thinks they know or understands comedy, but again there are many, many layers and depths to it to get a true understanding and application of it. Of course like mentalism, many top pros make it look easy, and therefore inviting to others.

Now I'm sure some here will twist what I've said in answering Keith's questions and trying to explain myself and some will immediately go to play that "elitist" card I mentioned earlier, but that really is not it at all. Just because we in the industry tend to lump it all together or its all included here in the Magic Café, doesn't mean that's the reality of it or that's how the public, audiences and buyers see it.
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Sep 13, 2013 06:35PM)
I actually agree with almost everything you say. The only thing I kind of don't agree with is magicians mixing magic and mental effects. I use the distinction mental effects rather than mentalism, because I agree that while it is possible to be a magician and a mentalist in front of two different audiences on two different occasions you cannot be both a magician and a mentalist at the same time in front of the same audience (even though Richard Osterlind manages to make it work).

If you are doing magic then you are a magician and any "mind reading effect" is a mental effect and not a feat of mentalism and a magician can make it work if his act is well structured and the effect makes some sense in the context of the story his act is telling and he has the performance ability to pull it off (a lot of ifs I admit). Yes mentalists will not appreciate him for it because he has reduced it to a mere trick but his audience will not care as long as they are entertained.

If however you are a mentalist then the two do not mix (RO and Banachek are the exceptions that prove the rule). The moment you do a magic trick you cease to be a mentalist and become a magician and the wole dynamic changes and with it the perception of the audience as to the credibility of your ability to actually read minds etc. Likewise your ability to touch your audience on an emotional level is massively reduced because of the shift from "how did he get into my mind" to "how did he do that".

Personally, 30 odd years ago my original act did mix the two, in my very first act I included an ESP matching effect and a Phil Goldstein zodiac effect where a spectator thought of a zodiac symbol from a big card showing all the signs in multiple colours and fonts. I simply liked those effects. However as I learned to structure an act rather than just do a bunch of tricks those routines were very quickly dropped because they just did not fit either the act nor my presentational style. Those got dropped in 1982 or there abouts and that was the last time I ever performed a mental effect in my magic act.

Since I made the switch from magic to mentalism I have actually had no desire to perform magic (unless performing a paid gig I'm already committed to). As part of the learning process I perform some close up mentalism and have done parlour performances. I'm still a long way from a stage mentalism act because it is a massive switch, my "character" and performing style as a magician will not fit in with mentalism and as it took me years of experience to develop that character and style I don't see the transition being either easy or quick but the truth is its a one way journey, I no longer see myself as a magician, I am a beginner mentalist and whilst I still love and appreciate magic I no longer have any desire to perform another magic trick ....... Ever.

Mark
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 13, 2013 06:42PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 17:27, Mark_Chandaue wrote:
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 16:48, AttnPls wrote:
Mentalism seeks to create belief and meaning. Rather than leaving the audience aking, "How did he do that?" we would prefer them to be asking, "Did he really just do that?". Mentalism is rarely presented as a challene to the audience. We don't want to fool them, we want to walk them to the edge of the every day world and show them something mysterious.
[/quote]
Now here's the problem, what you described above is the way magic is supposed to be done. The expression "Thinking like a magician" usually translates to "thinking like a bad magician". Alas a lot of magicians focus too much on studying technique and not enough on studying the art.

Mark
[/quote]

Mark, you are quite right. A good magician will strive to create a mystery for the audience to enjoy. To my mind, that is when a magician raised his performance to the level of art. I LOVE to watch those performances.

However, it would be a truly rare feat to have an audience really believe that the magican can TRUELY fly, or that he would REALLY murder some poor woman on stage by cutting her in half for our enjoyment. An artful magic show still requires the audience to happily suspend thier disbelief and enjoy being entertained.

A mentalist will generally only perform feats that skate the mysterious edge of believability. No matter how woderful some magic trick may be, if it is clearly impossible or far outside my of mentalist skill set, it is not likely to ever find a place in my performance. You will never see me make a coin disappear.

As a mystery artist, my focus is on exploring the edges of what may just be possible. This means that, like most mentalists, I generally stick to the traditional themes of psychic, exceptional physical and mental abilities, and spirits. Mixing things that people really do believe in like hypnosis, psychology, fortune telling, superior mental skills, myths, etc. into presentations makes them stronger. If I were to perform something clearly "impossible" it would probably be presented as a reenactment of a historic act.

Ours is necessarily an interactive art. Our mysteries often only happen in the minds of the audience. Unlike a magician, a great number of my routines star the spectators who successfully do amazing things using THEIR abilities. Most magicians would cringe at the thought of doing routines that may or may not work. As a mentalist, it's fine -- and in some cases perhaps even desirable.

Bob Cassidy and Mindpro and others have done a great job explaining how mentalism is distinct from magic. I do encourage people to explore mentalism if they are inspired to do so, but it is an art form that require a great deal of study and consideration.
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Sep 13, 2013 06:43PM)
The very question pre-supposes that mentalists think less of magicians. Not so. As has been pointed out, many of us came to mentalism through magic. Should I think less of a thing I spent 20 years making a living with? Of course not. I have great respect for good magicians because I know how hard it is to be one.

But there's one thing that people keep missing: mentalism and magic are, at best, only distantly related disciplines. As has been pointed out, the origins come from vastly different places and completely different worldviews. The intent of the performers is distinctly different, as is the way they interact with audiences.

I think it's much harder coming to mentalism from a magical background for that precise reason: many of the things that used to work in magic don't work in mentalism. Where the prickly aspect of the relationship comes into play is when the magician insists that what mentalists do is a subset of magic. It's not. They are completely different countries. (You don't hear mentalists insisting magic is a subset of mentalism, do you?)

Mentalists aren't elitist -- but I do think many are frustrated at having the same argument come round again and again. And I imagine it's frustrating for magicians as well -- because they don't see what the fuss is all about. I certainly didn't until I had studied mentalism for a long while.

Much of this could be avoided with a dollop of respect flowing both ways. But ultimately...it is what it is.

David
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Sep 13, 2013 06:52PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 19:42, AttnPls wrote:
Ours is necessarily an interactive art. Our mysteries often only happen in the minds of the audience. Unlike a magician, a great number of my routines star the spectators who successfully do amazing things using THEIR abilities. Most magicians would cringe at the thought of doing routines that may or may not work. As a mentalist, it's fine -- and in some cases perhaps even desirable.
[/quote]
This to me (maybe in my ignorence) is probably the single biggest distinction between magic and mentalism and if I had to describe the difference between the two in as few words as possible I'd say

"Magic is largely about things, mentalism is all about people".

It is entirely possible to perform magic in front of the mirror for your own personal enjoyment, mentalism on the other hand needs a minimum of 1 spectator other than the performer.

Mark
Message: Posted by: mrkmarik (Sep 13, 2013 08:46PM)
Magicians who mixed succesfully Magic and Mentalism are Josef Dunninger,Al Koran,David Berglas,Derren Brown,Uri Gellar,Richard Osterlind, David Blaine.
Message: Posted by: mrkmarik (Sep 13, 2013 08:51PM)
Oops sorry I forgot Theodore Annemann and Banachek
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 13, 2013 09:06PM)
Perhaps, but would you care to list those that have done so and failed miserably? This is as I said a weak argument. These people are exceptions to the rule, not what is being referred to here.
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 13, 2013 09:49PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 18:13, mastermindreader wrote:

"Thinking like a magician" is NOT meant to be a derogatory phrase. Magicians SHOULD think like magicians, it seems. There are "rules" and conventions in magic, though, that just don't apply to mentalism. Examples:

Never tell an audience what you are going to do before you do it.

Never mention a possible method to prove that you're not using it.

Never repeat an effect twice before the same audience.

And many more. Additionally, mentalists don't show their hands empty, roll up their sleeves, pass things for examination, or anything else that would suggest that what they are doing is a trick. Nor do they normally employ the "snappy patter" commonly associated with magicians.

There's nothing at all wrong with thinking like a magician.

Unless you're trying to do mentalism.
[/quote]

I understand and of course, you're right. For me, the snappy magician patter is the most grating, followed closely by the all knowing smirk at the conclusion of an effect. I see it all the time. It's bad form even for magic, let alone mentalism.
Message: Posted by: Keith Raygor (Sep 14, 2013 09:47AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 19:43, David Thiel wrote:
The very question pre-supposes that mentalists think less of magicians. Not so.
[/quote]

To agree with you would mean to ignore all the posts through the years that demonstrate exactly that pre-supposition.
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 14, 2013 09:58AM)
I don't think its about magicians vs mentalists, its about people vs people - just down to the differences in being able to comprehend certain theories and mindsets...

if you could somehow isolate a human being, and train them from the ground up to be a magician - and another to be a mentalist, then that human being would be a completely different type and style of performer...the way they approach everything would be (pretty much) completely different...

eugene burger's The Experience of Magic answers why in some ways...and before anyone says "yeah iain - but the title of the book says magic, so what's that got to do with any of this?!" - (john c would probably say that) then you need to read the book to find out more...particularly the section on framing what you do...

context shall always be king...

I often approach things as a story, I take 'me' out of it all, if I were writing a story - what would make sense in it? what wouldn't and why wouldn't it? what are the character traits, why are they the way they are and how does that influence everything else?

if I took someone's billet, and suddenly it changed into a JUMBO BILLET as I placed it on the table, and then revealed the name within it...would that look strange within my context? is strange what I'm wanting? what does the audience perceive that act as?

and I think its that bit that some people overlook - as the moments of wonder/mystery are in the eyes and minds of the beholder...its almost NOT about what WE decide in a way...what is the consensus of a group of people witnessing a certain act?

so when people watch derren brown - despite his disclaimers, you still get a certain group of people writing to him saying "yeah, very clever - I get why you say that but I KNOW THAT YOU ARE REALLY PSYCHIC"...

perception is everything...ours as well as theirs...
Message: Posted by: Keith Raygor (Sep 14, 2013 10:04AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 18:36, Mindpro wrote:
Keith, while I am always happy to explain my thoughts,
[/quote]

Mindpro,
I couldn't have asked for a for well-defined answer. I appreciate that you took the time and thought to put it into those words. Thank you. If yours, Bob's and Tarbell's words in this thread were a sticky at the top of this forum, this type of discussion would stop repeating itself, and it would allow magicians and mentalists the knowledge needed to make an important decision about the content of their shows. It would help to remove the confusion in the minds of the performers, and then in the minds of the audience. Both art forms would more easily move forward with unambiguous clarity.
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Sep 14, 2013 12:32PM)
Gentlemen,

First off, congratulations on such a wonderful discussion! Really... Such great posts in this thread!

Secondly, something you all have put forth here has made me change the structure of my competition act that I'm puting together for a magic competition next year. I'm really thankful and grateful to you all for giving me the 'perpsective of the audience'.

Again, great thread! :applause:
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Sep 14, 2013 12:38PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-14 10:58, IAIN wrote:

if I took someone's billet, and suddenly it changed into a JUMBO BILLET as I placed it on the table, and then revealed the name within it...would that look strange within my context? is strange what I'm wanting? what does the audience perceive that act as?

and I think its that bit that some people overlook - as the moments of wonder/mystery are in the eyes and minds of the beholder...its almost NOT about what WE decide in a way...what is the consensus of a group of people witnessing a certain act?

so when people watch derren brown - despite his disclaimers, you still get a certain group of people writing to him saying "yeah, very clever - I get why you say that but I KNOW THAT YOU ARE REALLY PSYCHIC"...

perception is everything...ours as well as theirs...
[/quote]

Thank you for that IAIN.

Enlightening. :ohyes:
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 14, 2013 01:04PM)
Unfortunately the audiences perspective is often overlooked or not properly considered or given the proper level of importance. I've noticed that mentalists consider this much more than magicians seem to (not meant as a dig, but as an actual observation.)

Another observation that I have noticed is that magicians often think of themselves as...magicians. In reality all of us should see ourselves as ENTERTAINERS. The magic or mentalism is just the means we use for entertaining. That is one commonality all types of performers have and should realize.

I have been observing this fact quite a bit over the past couple of years and it is very interesting. Of all the types of entertainers we work with we've noticed disc jockeys, comedians and magicians seem to suffer from this the most. I recently spoke at a disc jockey conference and addressed this and admittedly over 3/4 of the room of DJs ended up agreeing with this. In reality, as I demonstrated in my lecture, it creates two different realities and results. Understanding this concept and the differences can create entirely new perspectives in the way you approach your craft and ultimate results in your performance.
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 14, 2013 01:43PM)
I agree. This has been an excellent discussion. I appreciate all the thoughtful replies.


[quote]
Mentalists are as concerned with having illusions that cannot be figured out as magicians. This is hard for some mentalists to comprehend (to borrow your thought). If a mentalist has effects that can be figured out, then there is no belief. And by your standards, If there is no belief, there is no mentalism.

Over the years, it has been repeatedly necessary for some mentalists to draw this line in the sand, to constantly correct the magicians on the Magic Caf� about how little they know about the subject. And especially how little they know about the distinction between mental magic and mentalism. Your "really, really, really" sentence underscores this, it is the trivialization of other magicians.
[/quote]

I do not think this is quite accurate, Keith. Many of my mentalism routines have no "secret" or "trick". I can entertain doing readings or pendulums or use suggestion or use bold intuitive guesses. In many cases there IS nothing to figure out, yet we do create belief in our mysteries. I would enjoy the challenge of doing an entire show "trick free". This is why I have no concern at all about technology.

Please know that my "really, really, really" comment was NOT intended to be in any way condescending or insulting or trying to trivialize magicians. I love good magic and hope that all magicians strive to create art with their talents. I was simply recognizing that the distinctions that mentalists point out ARE often very difficult for magicians to see. From a magicians point of view, we are all ultimately using trickery to fool people's perception of reality. I think pretty much every mentalist on here probably started out with an interest in magic and had the same point of view. However, please trust us when we say that once you get into mentalism, the distinctions do become clearer and ultimately inform and impact our choice of material and presentations.

As Mark pointed out, since mentalists manipulate people rather than things, our audiences experience of the mystery in our performances can be bit more immediate and 'real' feeling. Magic is a performance art and the theatrical fourth wall may exist. We can all sit back, relax and enjoy a beautifully executed manipulation act. Mentalism needs to be interactive. The mystery is happening TO the participants, created in their own minds. Although we may use a single voluneteer, they are merely a proxy for the audience at large.

Thanks to all for the excellent discussion.
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 14, 2013 01:50PM)
An interesting observation Mindpro. I believe you are right.
Message: Posted by: DynaMix (Sep 16, 2013 01:28PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-14 14:04, Mindpro wrote:
I have been observing this fact quite a bit over the past couple of years and it is very interesting. Of all the types of entertainers we work with we've noticed disc jockeys, comedians and magicians seem to suffer from this the most. I recently spoke at a disc jockey conference and addressed this and admittedly over 3/4 of the room of DJs ended up agreeing with this. In reality, as I demonstrated in my lecture, it creates two different realities and results. Understanding this concept and the differences can create entirely new perspectives in the way you approach your craft and ultimate results in your performance.
[/quote]

Very cool. Which conference? I have DJ'd professionally for about a decade now.
You are certainly right about learning to incorporate the audience's needs into your set, versus beginning DJs who tend to show how well they can spin "their" music, how well they can show off their skills.
Message: Posted by: DynaMix (Sep 16, 2013 01:42PM)
This thread was certainly very educational. I wasn't able to post all weekend but it was nice to come back and see the direction it took.

As I tried (and failed) to point out in a previous post, I think some of us are forgetting to include the mentalists who don't employ magic methodology. Hear me out please. As I mentioned, when a mentalist uses readings, pendelums etc - things that go beyond the typical "magic trick" structure - ie, mystery presented, specific conclusion reached - they are crossing over into an area that is certainly less "magical" and more mysterious and psychological than magic.

I fully respect that. It's perhaps because I am a magician foremost, that I've never had the desire to learn those systems. I fully concede that I'm more interested in "tricks" - secretely obtaining information and then using that to divine, predict, etc. Specific conclusions to specific tricks employing specific steps/methodology. Perhaps this is the BIGGEST EVIDENCE of the difference between magic and mentalism. The fact that I think this way.

I suppose it comes down to this. I do genuinely feel that learning the basics of mentalism (or perhaps mental magic) has made me a stronger performer. So maybe learning mentalism makes magic stronger. But the opposite may not be true! I struggle with this, as my gut tells me you are always stronger when you know more. But I can see how certain mentalists (especially ones using hypnosis, memory work, readings, etc) would never agree that learning magic makes mentalism stronger. I can see why they would feel the opposite - that it weakens mentalism.

With that said, it's hard to bite your tongue when mentalists say things like "magicians just don't get it." I DO think we understand what "thinking like a magician" means and so forth. The concept is not that hard to grasp.

A couple of things from this thread that genuinely surprised me:
-It seeems some mentalists regard Derren Brown, Banachek etc "mental magicians" and not "true" mentalists. Never would've guessed that.
-Billet work and so forth are considered so outside the realm of magic. To me, a billet switch is basically just sleight of hand used for a different purpose than say, a card switch via sleight of hand. A peek is a peek. a switch is a switch. To me, sleight of hand is sleight of hand whether used on cards, coins, or billets. But I'm not going to pretend to be 1/10th the historian many of you on this thread are, so I respectfully acknowledge that those techniques aren't considered part of magic. Just surprised!

Thanks again all for the respectful discussion. My apologies for any blunt wording on my part.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 16, 2013 02:08PM)
This is quite common. Living here in Vegas we have many DJ conventions as well as and events here as well as in SoCal including Mobile Beat, ADJA, DJ Times, SW DJ Assoc., and several others that have escaped me and a couple that are now defunct and several cruises as well. I've been involved with many of them in one form or another since the 70's (before most of these even existed). You see the art of being an "entertainer" and the lack of "entertainment business" education never goes out of style, if anything it's becomes needed more as many become lazy and simply rely of technological advances to do the work for them.

Like magic and some of the magicians we are referring to, they tend to focus only on their music or mix, much like many magician's put the bulk of their effort into their tricks - not their persona, their performance, audience perceptions, and especially not into all of the business aspects of their operation. They don't do a "show", they do a performance - two entirely different things. I lecture on "creating the show" and the misunderstood topic of entertainment business (not marketing).

This is why many think of these two aspects of the entertainment industry as "just". "They are JUST a DJ" or "they are JUST a magician". How many events have you seen promoted where on the poster, fliers, tickets or radio spots says "DJ" or "Magician". They are generic terms - almost interchangable with other DJs and magicians. They rarely say The Amazing & Wonderful Magic of Fooldini" or "The Party Experience of Rolling Thunder Disc Jockeys", no they're JUST "DJs" or "the MAGICAN".

Unfortunately both of these guys do little or nothing to change this perception.

Like magicians that tend to rely on their tricks, DJs tend to rely on their music. They are missing the bigger picture of what a show is all about - the key elements to a show, and the importance of personality.

Truth be told, the vast majority of DJs are absolutely terrible on the mic, can't be understood, do not know how to do a talkover, have little personality, and hide behind the music. They do not have a show. A DJ show is one of the easiest things to create of all types of entertainment, yet most never will. No tricks or effects to learn, no musical instruments to learn or master, no music to read, no juggling or acrobatic skills, yet most are merely record-spinners.

I could go deeper into the comparisons and similarities but won't.
Message: Posted by: Bard (Sep 19, 2013 11:25AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-13 21:46, mrkmarik wrote:
Magicians who mixed succesfully Magic and Mentalism are Josef Dunninger,Al Koran,David Berglas,Derren Brown,Uri Gellar,Richard Osterlind, David Blaine.
[/quote]

I love seeing this sort of claim. . . "Proof" that it can be done and a proof that is taken so far out of context it's rarely funny.

The majority of the people on this list come from a time in history when the public was less educated and far more superstitious/faith oriented. Many people of the mid-20th century decades believed that certain aspects of stage magic was a bit more than tricks. . . there were even magicians that were leery of certain skills within Mentalism because it was "too real" (CMR techniques in particular).

Context hold true on another level however; how the magic is used. Kreskin generally claims that magic is a hobby of his and then proceeds to do a corny effect of some kind. Banachek and Brown are known skeptics that aren't out to sell what they demonstrate as mind readers as being "genuine" e.g. they can get away with using grand illusion if they so desired. . . Dunninger did! He was known to do a levitation here and there as well as appearing from a Mummy Case Illusion and more. . . but again, we must look at the context in how the magic was used.

William Larsen, Sr. would do an early evening Magic Show followed by a Mentalism program . . . of course, in his day children were in bed by 9 at the latest and so the 10 p.m. Mind Reading show worked well for families visiting the resort. Larsen wasn't the only one to do this kind of thing, even the great Dante was known to do a similar division in certain shows, something a lot of magic buffs aren't aware of. Yet, Dante gave us some interesting material when it comes to the Q&A and other classics of Mentalism.

When it comes to commercial Mental programs I believe that even Mentalists need to toss in a few tid bits of Mental Magic in that it adds to production value and gives the public an "out" -- they are able to see something that looks and feels to be a trick but they're not so certain. A prime example of this would be the Mental Epic or Casino Royale. . . both are excellent routines but they are just enough a prop to raise the question on validity.

Just think of it this way, if something is too fantastic, it's probably not a good piece of mentalism

As Mr. Cassidy and a few others have noted, Mentalism is a distant cousin to Magic. The "conflict" happens when magicians borrow from our arsenal and present things as a trick, using our techniques and doing so poorly. The result is distrust and disgust and over time it becomes a knee-jerk "sigh" in our minds -- we roll our eyes and shake our heads wondering when "you guys" will grow-up.

That sounds harsh but take an honest look at the immaturity . . . look at how many shoddy performers you know in conventional magic and then consider how, with a bit of genuine effort and discipline each of them could be transformed and brought up to the quality of being a real miracle worker. . . this is what I mean when I say that they need to "grow-up". Add this issue however, to a craft that's biggest skill is learning to not approach an effect as you would a trick . . . you MUST do things in a natural and organic manner so as to not raise suspicion and too, you need to be educated when it comes to how the laity views what it is you do.

You don't have to be a Psychic type character but you do need to present your mentalism in a manner that is appropriate to your claim whatever that may be.

I come off (on forums) as being a bit of an elitist, which I'm not. My problem is that I know because of my background, what the contrasts are between magic & mentalism and why segregation of the two is beneficial to either art. But enough of my rambling. . .
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 19, 2013 12:38PM)
Excellent post, Bard.
Message: Posted by: Synesthesia (Sep 19, 2013 02:41PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-19 12:25, Bard wrote:

Add this issue however, to a craft that's biggest skill is learning to not approach an effect as you would a trick . . . you MUST do things in a natural and organic manner so as to not raise suspicion and too, you need to be educated when it comes to how the laity views what it is you do.
[/quote]

This was the very first thing I learned when I started doing impromptu mentalism for friends, acquaintances, strangers at bars, etc. If I brought out even the vaguest of "trick introduction"-type lines like [i]"hey, do you want to see something interesting?"[/i] then nothing went well -- at best reactions were lacklustre, at worst I was caught out on a method. Then I tried simply pulling out ESP cards during conversation and asking if anyone had seen them before, then giving the briefest of explanations as to their psychic research purposes. I quickly discovered that not only were people more engaged, many of them immediately asked [i]"ooh, can we try it?"[/i] and nobody was looking for trickery. That was an important discovery for me in understanding the difference between magic and mentalism.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Sep 19, 2013 06:45PM)
A magician, as explained by Pop Haydn, depends on the audience being stuck on the horns of this dilemma: There's no such thing as magic/ what was done has no other explanation. And [i]because[/i] they know there is no such thing as magic, they walk out disturbed and stimulated.

The mentalist doesn't deal with that dilemma. She leaves the audience with this:
The human mind is infinite, perhaps it has abilities beyond my understanding/ yes I've definitely seen evidence of that tonight.

Not the same at all.

Perhaps mentalists and magicians here might also want to talk about what happens "offstage." If an audience member comes up to you [i]after the show is over[/i] maybe at a cocktail party, and says,"Those are just tricks, right?" who is more likely to say, "Right"?
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 20, 2013 04:46AM)
Here is some food for thought. This video was recently posted on a popular magic blog. It is of Dubai based magician Moein Al Bastaki peforming "impromptu" for John Travolta. It is a fine performance by a professional magician that I post here in order to prompt an honest discussion about our craft.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGmMO4aqlSY

This short performance, to me, illustrates the way magicians do mentalism.

First, the routine feels like it is being done for the spectator rather than with the spectator. It's a subtle thing, but magicians are generally used to performing FOR people rather than WITH them. This video feels like the spectator is being accosted by a salesman rather than having an honest moment between two people. I think a good mentalist would be more conscius about building rapport with the participant and involving them in the routine more.

Instead, we have a routine that is very much about the magician "showing off" his talent with the expectation that we will all be impressed and applaud his efforts. As a mentalist, I am more interested in building, with the help of the participant, a honest reaction and making the effect less about me, and more about them.

I also think this magician is too concerned with proving the mechanics of the routine. Magicians tend to draw attention to them by doing a "play-by-play" narration. As a mentalist, I would have still done many of the same hand movements, just without verbally drawing attention to what I was doing physically.

Instead of focussing attention on the mechanics fo the routine, I would instead talk about the meaning of it -- about psychic prediction or influence or mindreading or synchronicity or whatever. If the meaning can be made personal to the participant, that is even better. I would then simply pull the card half way out of the envelope and look at the participant... and wait.

As they look at the card sticking out from the envelope, they will first figure out that their number is probably written on the back of the card and not believe it could be possible. Then they will take the card and look. That's when you get a great reaction. I think it's better to let them figure it out in their own head (again, it's about them). At that point you can show the camera the card, etc. to make everything very clear.

The magician performed the trick successfully and got a decent reaction. Most people on this forum would find nothing wrong with it. I, personally, am more than a little bothered by it. I would not be satisfied the performance in the video from myself. I really love this effect when presented as good mentalism. I consider this presentation to be "Mental Magic".

I do realize that this post is about the way I would approach this basic mentalism effect. Many of you would approach it the same way. I am NOT saying that my way is the best or only way. I post these thoughts only to share my approach with the hope that you will find something interesting or helpful in it. If you have a different approach that you feel would make the presentation of this effect stronger, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts.
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 20, 2013 05:28AM)
One last point.

I think if this effect were performed as good mentalism, the reaction of people watching would be, "Oh, I want to try that. Do that with me now!".

After watching mental magic, I am not left with that feeling. In fact, I am left with the opposite -- if I saw it done again, I would feel like, "Oh, yea... I've seen that trick before."

That is why I secretly wish that people would NOT post these types of videos on youtube.
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 20, 2013 07:41AM)
Interesting you mention, "being accosted by a salesman". You do find this aggressive, used car salesman persona among many a magician (not Tommy Wonder or Fred Kaps :)) but you'll also find the salesman among many a mentalist. It's a performance quality that is difficult to overcome and one which typically separates the great from the not so great.

I can see how the performance you posted would irritate the seasoned mentalist, but I can also see how it would irritate ANY performer, or human being for that matter, with a more refined sensibility.
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 20, 2013 08:21AM)
LOL! Your critique was even harsher than mine!

We can all immediately identify a tacky infomercial just by the speech pattern of the announcer ("but wait, there'es more!). There is also a certain voice quality that performers often adopt, whether magician or mentalist, that immediately screams, "I'm an Entertainer and I'm going to Entertian YOU!".

It drives me crazy.

Similarly, the 'radio announcer' voice also drives me insane. Some people like Blackstone Jr do develop great voices, but in general, these 'announcer' and 'show time!' voices are completely devoid of any real human emotion. When I hear them, I instantly go into "ignore" and, if possible, "RUN!" mode. Who wants to be "entertained" by a robot? Actually, that's not fair to the robots. Robots usually have talented voice actors behind them that would never sound that bad.

They all sound the same... and not in a good way.

A performers unique humanity is what will make them successful, not pretense. I beg performers on this forum to really strive to be themselves and avoid the "salesman" trap. Your mother may tell you you're wonderful, but I'm here to tell you that nobody else really enjoys it. Or remember you afterward.

I would very much enjoy meeting YOU when you perform, not some "creation". I can also assure you that it is all of your flaws and imperfections, and your odd and unique point of view, that makes me like you. Embrace them. Be unique. Be memorable.
Message: Posted by: VernonOnCoins (Sep 20, 2013 09:04AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-20 09:21, AttnPls wrote:
LOL! Your critique was even harsher than mine!
[/quote]

Yes... it's a pet peeve of mine. I see it all the time. I even catch myself doing it, especially in loud venues where I have to yell. I know Im doing it when my spectators eyes start to glaze. But I instantly shift gears, take on a more intimate tone, and they immediately become intrigued again. It's really quite amazing to watch.
Message: Posted by: Bard (Sep 22, 2013 09:48AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-20 08:41, VernonOnCoins wrote:
Interesting you mention, "being accosted by a salesman". You do find this aggressive, used car salesman persona among many a magician (not Tommy Wonder or Fred Kaps :)) but you'll also find the salesman among many a mentalist. It's a performance quality that is difficult to overcome and one which typically separates the great from the not so great.

I can see how the performance you posted would irritate the seasoned mentalist, but I can also see how it would irritate ANY performer, or human being for that matter, with a more refined sensibility.
[/quote]

Sometimes, especially with older performers, this "air" around a person comes from how show biz works and the idea of being a showman; Kreskin can come off this way but at the same time, if you were to meet Marvin Roy (Mr. Electric) he's seem a mirror image of how Mr. K approaches you. I've seen the same thing with many a performer that knew popularity in the 40s-early 70s and their protegee, but it is far more common in Magic over Mentalism with the exception of Hypnotists, they tend to have that out going and strong personality because it's needed -- they have to dominate the participants but in a kind way, so this is the path many take.

The "Problem" with the current generation is the Guerrilla tactics so many of them use -- ambushing the laity which is wrong on so many levels. They come off pushy and pressure people into participation. I have experienced sales people that do this same thing (especially on car lots) and I find it one of the worse examples of professionalism, regardless the occupation in question.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 22, 2013 10:55AM)
I agree as it also often takes away from and diminishes the entertainment factor
Message: Posted by: bdekolta (Sep 22, 2013 11:11AM)
Blckstone Jr. was a radio announcer prior to magic.
Message: Posted by: Bard (Sep 24, 2013 08:42AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-22 12:11, bdekolta wrote:
Blckstone Jr. was a radio announcer prior to magic.
[/quote]

I'm not understanding what that has to do with the topic???

Harry was quite an amazing guy with many talents & interests. Most important though, he was a true showman, the sort many of today's up & coming types should learn to emulate. The last time I saw Harry perform was about a year before he passed. On stage he was the dynamo we are all used to seeing and then, as the curtains dropped and the show was over, you saw him transform into that "older" and "challenged" reality that he was. . . still cordial as could be, but withered.

This is the kind of showman I grew up around, which is probably why I've been so willing (determined) to do shows when my ribs were wrapped from a break or even when my foot was in a cast. . . THE SHOW MUST GO ON as they say.
Message: Posted by: MatCult (Sep 24, 2013 09:04AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-24 09:42, Bard wrote:
[quote]
On 2013-09-22 12:11, bdekolta wrote:
Blckstone Jr. was a radio announcer prior to magic.
[/quote]

I'm not understanding what that has to do with the topic???
[/quote]

The thread contains various references to performers using a "radio announcer" voice. It also contains comments praising Blackstone's vocal delivery.

bdekolta's comment unites these two disparate strands of the discussion in a beautiful singularity.
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 24, 2013 12:17PM)
Yes, I was the one who first mentioned Blackstone's voice. Like Max Maven or Eugene Burger, I think he had a great voice. Although it was clearly trained and "showman" all the way, it fit him. I thought it was exciting. I never got the feeling of detachment that often comes when people try to create a persona for stage.

I'm not here to insult anybody or name names, but I do think there are a LOT of "mentalism voices" working today that I belive actually detract from their presentation. I would always suggest that performers be careful and choose "genuine" over "stagey" unless they REALLY know what they're doing.
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Sep 24, 2013 01:47PM)
In my books I've referred to the guys who sound like Veg-O-Matic pitchmen. (And often look like them as well, wearing head set mics.)
Message: Posted by: Bard (Sep 25, 2013 11:40AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-24 14:47, mastermindreader wrote:
In my books I've referred to the guys who sound like Veg-O-Matic pitchmen. (And often look like them as well, wearing head set mics.)
[/quote]

No, no. .. not the modern "Head Set" but those wonderful old harness systems that hung around your neck to hold a hand-mic. . . now that's a pitchman!

When it comes to "the voice" I must admit that I emulate the DJ side of things when I work, mostly for sake of clarity. It's a bit more casual than what we find in the Radio announcer in that I have a voice tone that's quite similar to Mark Wilson's. . . more of a high pitch than that baritone or base that works so well.

Annunciation I think is the key however and so few people in today's world take pride in how they say words -- sadder yet is the fact that school teachers no longer teach kids how to properly pronounce words and to learn how to do so (those silly things called "Dictionaries" actually break down words and show you what sounds to make phonetically. . . such an alien concept, it would seem).

I find it peculiar, an art form that is so word dependent having so many neophytes in it that are lazy in how they speak or in knowing how to effectively communicate in every day life let alone on stage.
Message: Posted by: Scott Soloff (Sep 25, 2013 12:29PM)
The animosity of magicians towards mentalists may be that mentalists command a higher fee.

Conversely, mentalists may resent magicians presenting mental effects in their act (and therefore are naturally just tricks).

Just a thought...

Best wishes,


Scott
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 25, 2013 12:51PM)
There many level it the differences. Unfortunately you must understand both levels are or least have and awareness of these differences to understand the differences.