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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Mentally Speaking » » J. Stravinsky: Simple, Pure –**and educational** (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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At last I've had the time to analyze Richard Webster's recently published **Simple and pure. The Mentalism of Jonathan Stravinsky**. I enjoyed very much the book, for various reasons -and I am happy to share here some impression.

Written by a young author, the book (40 pages, $35) is a collection of 14 routines (plus some variants) of a rather classic kind, almost all falling in the class of Predictions or in that of Coincidences (then there are two b**k tests, and a Russian roulette).
The routines, technically speaking, make good use of some now underused tools: the In*****le deck; the S*****li deck. The other tools of the trade are very simple: a pendulum (two routines); the N*** Wr**** (three routines), the Major Arcana, an ordinary deck of cards.

(Oh, I almost forgot: and an egg.)

The routines are very well thought. There is a great deal of attention to fundamental issues as:
- audience involvement;
- a light approach, very funny and offbeat;
- a general coreographic dimension –the stage, even a small one, is the natural place for this stuff.

One could say that this is Mental magic, rather than Mentalism, and I could agree (but years ago this was still called simply Mentalism). Sure, it is not my personal style –here the psychic side is not in the lead- but if I was in a situation involving children, a picnic with aged people, volunteering in a retirement home or in a hospital –venues where a mysterious, psychic style could not be the best choice- I would certainly suggest this book. These routines are really good –simple at first sight, they are multi-layered with subtleties.

(And don’t forget: at the end, you can also drink the egg.)

Very simple stuff? Yes–but to stage it well, b***s are required –which you don’t find neither in a magic shop, nor on Youtube. This material requires **study and practice**.
Practice: Learning is not only a solitary matter for Mentalists. You learn a lot by performing.
You can learn sleights of hand via certain routines (e.g.: those involving the Hofzinser spread). You can learn to use memory via other routines (e.g.: at least half of Doug Dyment’s fantastic opus). You can learn to use doublethink by the means of still different routines (and to me, the best example still is Al Baker’s ‘Twin souls’).

With these routines you can learn a lot about how to manage the audience, how to be nice to people while onstage -in one word: how to ENTERTAIN.
To entertain: a verb completely disconnected from the Net, from electronics, and unaware of The Last Nearest Thing To Real Mindreading. (But, after all, it is exactly what audiences ask us to do).

Those who organize Schools of Magic should consider the use of these routines in an educational context. And the younger should have a look at this nice little book.

(And, of course: if you don’t like raw eggs, you can always make a mistake...).
'People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition
end by starving the best part of the mind' -William Butler Yeats
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