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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Mentally Speaking » » The ‘psychic side’. Garner, Alexander Nelson and Mentalism (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Danyel
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[Some friends have already read this reflection in other premises.
I post it also here hoping it contributes for the review part to our common discourse.]

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In the past months Richard Webster has published three books which are, in my opinion, of great interest, and very important for our Art.
Or better: very important for the *psychic side* of mystery entertainment (as well as, of course, for psychic work), because here we don’t deal exactly with what is today commonly defined ‘Mentalism’, but with the world of readings (be they for entertainment, or as an activity in itself).

This reconnects us to the old tradition of the Mentalists of the first half of XX century –that tradition which spans roughly from from Alexander to Robert Nelson to Dunninger.
We travel back to a world and a time when the Mentalist was a man who possessed strange powers, unusual faculties. Psychological tendencies in the Art, the idea of a ‘scientific mentalism’, skeptical debunking –these were all things to come. And some of us think –and surely this is my opinion- that we should head back to that stream, recovering the capacity to excite ‘Wonder and Awe’, rather than limiting ourselves to inspire only admiration in our audiences. I am convinced that these books are a major contribution, in this direction.

These books enable me to make a point about my view of the Art. But before continuing the argumentation, I will now review the three books, explaining the contribution they give to all this.




*Secrets of a Psychic Reader* by Charles Garner
This first of the two books by Garner –we are told it’s the pseudonym of a well known American psychic Reader- devotes the first chapters to a very interesting reconstruction of the trade from the years preceding WWII up today. The author talks about his acquaintances and friendships with the most prominent magicians and Mentalists –Nelson, O. Meyer, O. Mc Gill, B. Jones- in a long journey from the Minnesota countryside to Chicago, to los Angeles, and explains how a young man could get into the trade in those years –in that cultural world. Later chapters are dedicated to the *’How To’s* of the psychic trade, namely: how to present self, which and how many abilities it is wise to claim to possess (and why), how to do a reading, how to become a *successsful* Reader, have repeat bookings and promote self, and which are the desirable characteristics of a good Reader.

The parts I found most useful are Garner’s notes about developing a personal style; his discussion about the differences between a psychic, and a psychic *entertainer* -what’s ‘the real thing’; and his advices about what to avoid doing.
All food for thought for the beginner as well as the experienced. This book can be of interest either to the person interested in the history of our Arts, and to whom plans to get into the professional trade, or to introduce this kind of work into his own practice.




*Readings from the Client’s Point of View* by Charles Garner
This second book by Charles Garner delves deeper into the topics introduced in *Secrets of a psychic Reader*, starting from an unusual point of view, that of the sitter/querent/client. As a sociologist, I find this particularly intriguing – it is something not so common in instructional books. What we find here, moreover, is a very compassionate and ethical standpoint, different from that of some other authors -you feel a genuine respect for people, who are not the gullible or the dispossessed, but people in search of a meaning, and of a way to look into themselves. The analysis of the wants and needs of the client is clever, as is his discussion of the reasons why people go seeking psychic advice. Some do it just for fun, some for reassurance, some.. and they all deserve respect, and help. This is the most interesting thing that emerges from Garner’s words: you feel a sincere will to help others (early in the book, and then in chapter 14, he discusses the ethics of the Reader).

Chapter 9 discusses what Garner calls ‘the two stages’ of a psychic reading, and the problem of credibility –a theme of major importance. Later chapters discuss in more detail than *Secrets* the problems repeat bookings, promotion, and the importance of using a system for readings. Here we find also a complete introduction to gemstone reading.

A reading is a communicative setting above all, and a social one. Expectations on the part of the client are very important, as much as our knowledge and sensibility. Garner is very effective in talking about these issues, and stimulates very much one’s reasoning about the practice.
This is a book which I consider extremely useful for anybody who does readings –psychic or not, Reader or Mentalist. It compels you to think in a different way.




*Alexander Nelson*
‘Alexander Nelson’ –we are told it’s the pseudonym of a well known psychic Reader from UK- is an astounding book. Thin in appearance, it is very thick in substance, offering some of the best material I’ve personally ever heard of.
Here we are into the psychic trade, but with a distinct social twist: the first part of the book (one third) is devoted to Q&A ‘à la’ Alexander Nelson (very upbeat, very communicative) in stage settings. Wishes, aspirations, questions –all come into play in ways which leave the audience wondering what’s happening, because nothing has ever been written down by anybody (the subtleties involved in the process are incredibly clever). To perform this kind of show means to amaze a large audience, and to be remembered for a long time. This part of the book –which could have stand alone- is a must for those who do stage work,and for they who work at weddings, or similar venues.

Then there come the readings –the Alexander way: the ‘Journey Readings’.
And this part –the second two thirds of the book- is fascinating, and completely original.
The readings are structured exactly as the ad tells us: “during the course of a reading, Alexander reaches into the person’s soul, and temporarily becomes that person. The words he says are apparently taken from the person’s subconscious mind, as he takes the place of the person he is reading for”. This is an excellent way of talking to the inner self of the person –I won’t explain further, what happens, but the word ‘metaphor’ should be sufficient to those already in the know.

This book was a limited edition –only 100 copies. This material is incredibly useful for a professional, and I hope Richard will reconsider the decision about not reprinting it -maybe reserving it for those who can prove to possess certain characteristics. This is definitely a book for pros, a very deep and insightful one, and rather than wasted, it would be almost useless for newcomers, or the merely curious.




Now, some time passed since these three books were published, and I read them. I didn’t write immediately a review, because in these months I’ve *used* this material.

If it is true that I am not a professional Mentalist, it is also true that I both performs shows quite often, and –this is not so known- that I am also a Reader, for a long time. I am a tarot collector, and I give readings for about twelve years, or so.
The importance of the content of these three books is something I had already seen in my personal ‘practice’. I use often techniques of a definite projective kind, and in the Garner books I found the attitude I already have towards my querents when difficult issues come into discourse –but explained by a true expert. And the conclusion I draw after reading Alexander Nelson is that each of us –provided s/he has the needed cultural instruments can, with some caution, adapt his methodology to his sensibility, and the different needs of the querents.

This material works. But its importance is in the building of an attitude towards people, a sincere, compassionate, open-minded, helpful attitude.
When I talk about getting back to the times when the Mentalist had ‘the powers’, I am suggesting two distinct things.

One. To recover the ability –as entertainers- of leaving literally without words our audiences. Now, if ‘powers’ needn’t mean a gloomy attitude -we surely do not need to act like little ‘Doctor Mabuse’s- the sense of mistery his character created is something which we, in my opinion, should look for.

Two. ‘Powers’ mean –as far as readings are concerned, and readings are in my view the inner core of mentalism- ‘power and will to help’. Resigning from the psychic side of mentalism means two things: that we are no more ‘incredible’, and that –having no more ‘powers’- we can’t be useful other than as entertainers (which is of course in itself a great and noble thing).

But it is, in my view, only half of our Art, and of our trade. And this is why I greet with great pleasure the work Richard Webster with his friends is keeping on towards the preservation of the Art of Mentalism.
'People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition
end by starving the best part of the mind' -William Butler Yeats
DrRob
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Excellently said Danyel and I couldn't agree with you more.

Regards
Dr Rob.
Dr. Van Van Mojo
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Quote:
On 2012-02-18 08:32, Danyel wrote:
*Alexander Nelson*

This book was a limited edition –only 100 copies. This material is incredibly useful for a professional, and I hope Richard will reconsider the decision about not reprinting it


It's already been reprinted. "Only 100 copies will be sold" apparently didn't mean that. I would prefer if people stuck to their word when using "limited edition" as part of their advertising.
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Quote:
On 2012-02-18 22:59, Dr. Van Van Mojo wrote:
Quote:
On 2012-02-18 08:32, Danyel wrote:
*Alexander Nelson*

This book was a limited edition –only 100 copies. This material is incredibly useful for a professional, and I hope Richard will reconsider the decision about not reprinting it


It's already been reprinted. "Only 100 copies will be sold" apparently didn't mean that. I would prefer if people stuck to their word when using "limited edition" as part of their advertising.






This is becoming a common practice of late... Shame,Shame !
When it is used to help sell a book by a limited number,it should stay at that number of printings! Or,do not mention a limit number as a sells pitch!
The All Mighty Dollar! Smile There was a limited release lately,and others posted about the reprint,and were slammed by the other members for making a mention of it!
Funny thing,the person that re-released it,had a post on another product saying..." I am so glad that this is limited..."
"If you watch Godzilla backwards, it's about a big ass lizard who helps rebuild a half burnt-down city, then moonwalks back into the ocean"
ddyment
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Dr. Van Van Mojo claimed:
Quote:
It's already been reprinted.

Where is the evidence for this? I would be surprised if such a thing has happened.
Doug Dyment's Deceptionary :: Elegant, Literate, Contemporary Mentalism ... and More
Godzilla
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Respectfully, Doug!
There was a email saying... there would be 60 more printed,from the involved parties!

Gary
"If you watch Godzilla backwards, it's about a big ass lizard who helps rebuild a half burnt-down city, then moonwalks back into the ocean"
Danyel
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As for the reprint issue, it's much complicated: I don't write novels, but scientific texts. And I know well how nowadays the use of illegal photocopying is widespread. You cannot tell in advance how many copies you will sell. This is merely common sense for anybody who ever published in print.

This said, I greatly prefer limited editions which can then be reprinted, than witnessing to the real shame: that of the black market of illegal copies, or of copies bought only to be re-sold for five times their price after some month. The All Mighty Dollar? If one is a publisher, business he does. Let's not pretend virginity, please.

But now, let it be clear:

I ***didn't*** spend a couple of days writing a review which is also a declaration of love for Mentalism only to see polemic posts about a publishing policy.
Nobody compels you to write here.

Would you then please discuss ***the merit of my discourse***, either about the books and the rest, and argument your views about THAT?
It would be polite on your part.
'People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition
end by starving the best part of the mind' -William Butler Yeats
Dr. Van Van Mojo
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Doug,
As Gary mentioned, Richard Webster sent out an email stating 60 more copies were available.


Quote:
On 2012-02-19 06:36, Danyel wrote:
As for the reprint issue, it's much complicated:


Not really. Clearly stating that only a certain amount of copies will be sold as part of the advertising and then selling more IMO borders on false advertising.

Quote:
On 2012-02-19 06:36, Danyel wrote:
But now, let it be clear:

I ***didn't*** spend a couple of days writing a review which is also a declaration of love for Mentalism only to see polemic posts about a publishing policy.
Nobody compels you to write here.

Would you then please discuss ***the merit of my discourse***, either about the books and the rest, and argument your views about THAT?
It would be polite on your part.


Thanks for making that clear. Nobody compels you to write here either. It's a public forum. I'll type what I want, you type what you want. Feel free to ignore my posts. Fair enough?

As for the book itself, I was a bit disappointed in "Alexander's" "signature method of Q&A". I guess I was expecting something that I hadn't read before.
Danyel
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Quote:
On 2012-02-19 07:03, Dr. Van Van Mojo wrote:
Thanks for making that clear. Nobody compels you to write here either. It's a public forum. I'll type what I want, you type what you want. Feel free to ignore my posts. Fair enough?


Not quite.
I ***don't want*** to ignore other's opinions. Would I be willing to ignore anybody, I wouldn't write here. And in fact, I appreciate your last phrase, the one about the book: we've simply different opinions.

But for a Forum to work well, ***a minimum of order is necessary***. Of course, everybody is free to speak -but how wise would if be if you / me / somebody other opened a thread about 'Publishing policies' in order to discuss ***that*** topic ***there***, and not messing up things continuously talking about everything in every place? That's not freedom, it's mere confusion. Useless confusion.

Hope now my opinion is more clear.
'People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition
end by starving the best part of the mind' -William Butler Yeats
Danyel
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And a curiosity: about 'Signature Q&A' (but please PM me: here it's googleable, and we do not want to expose anything, right?) -where did you read something similar? May you please tell me?
'People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition
end by starving the best part of the mind' -William Butler Yeats
Dr. Van Van Mojo
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Point taken. Threads are easily derailed. It happens often and I suppose many times it's just an offhand comment made about something that one wouldn't necessarily take the time to start their own thread about.

Best of luck with your discussion.
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Quote:
On 2012-02-19 07:25, Danyel wrote:
And a curiosity: about 'Signature Q&A' (but please PM me: here it's googleable, and we do not want to expose anything, right?) -where did you read something similar? May you please tell me?


Sent you a PM.
Danyel
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Smile
'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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I'm a little confused. I enjoyed the Nelson book and, like Danyel, thought the material was a fresh approach to Q&A. It was said "I was expecting something that I hadn't read before." I'm fairly well read in Mentalism and can't find any material that covers a similar method. Can the writer post some specific sources? This is an area I'd like to learn more about and would be interested in reading the material he is familiar with. Thanks for your help.
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[quote]On 2012-02-19 06:36, Danyel wrote:
You cannot tell in advance how many copies you will sell. This is merely common sense for anybody who ever published in print.





This will be my last comment on subject(well, I want it to be!)...Then common sense would tell anybody not to use a LIMIT when you make a release.
Common sense would tell you ,if you use a LIMIT as a marketing tool,this may happen.
I come from 'The OLD School',...I was raised to be a 'Man of My Word'!


And Danyel,
Thank you, for taking your time to write the OP!

Gary
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Richard Webster
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Thank you, Danyel, for your wonderful reviews of the books by Charles Garner and Alexander Nelson. They are just as thrilled with your comments as I am.

Thanks also to Dr Van and Godzilla. You've created new interest in Charles Garner and Alexander Nelson, and I'm very grateful. I do wonder, though, why you didn't email me with your concerns. My original agreement with Alexander Nelson was to print 300 copies of the book. A week before publication, after I'd spent more than two months working full time on the project, he decided he didn't want his material published. He agreed to let me sell 100 copies, so that I'd cover at least some of the costs of the exercise. Although I'd tried to disguise Alexander Nelson slightly in the book, several people saw through it, and contacted him to let him know how much they'd enjoyed it. Many people contacted me wanting a copy and I had to tell them it was out of print. I forwarded some of these emails to Alexander. Alexander was delighted with the feedback he'd received, and sad that so many people had missed out. He told me I could print another 60 copies. In the same email, he asked me if I'd like to publish a book of his mentalism routines. I told the people on my list that an additional 60 copies were available, and more than half of them have been sold. Thanks to the efforts of the posters on this thread, I expect to sell the remaining copies quickly, and then Dr Van will be able to sell his copy for a profit. In future, I will not disclose any print runs. I should point out that when I sent out the original flyer, I believed 100 was all I was allowed to sell.
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If you would have noticed on my post...I did not mention any names!

And,you are welcome in the new interest in the books!

I am glad for the new buyers to get the Nelson book! I am sorry for the buyers,that were lead to think they were purchasing one of the 100!

Richard, I am glad you are able to cover some more of your cost too!

And,I do wonder why you did not send me a PM with your concern,as you statetd about the email to you in your post.

And, to save face,I posted this was my last comment on subject,but was smart enough to add "(well,I want it to be!)"

I should point out,that everyone is intitled to a opinion! And,this was just mine!

So,Have a pleasent and peaceful day, Richard!

Gary
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DrRob
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If I may add the following, I feel that it will not be long before certain publications are only sold to a select few who understand the gravity of the content these publications contain, therefore keeping a tight knit kind of secrecy which the masses will not have access too.

I consider this conclave the ideal place likeminded learners, believers and originalists use to challenge the uniformity of the masses.

Dr Rob.
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Quote:
On 2012-02-19 16:45, DrRob wrote:
If I may add the following, I feel that it will not be long before certain publications are only sold to a select few who understand the gravity of the content these publications contain, therefore keeping a tight knit kind of secrecy which the masses will not have access too.

I consider this conclave the ideal place likeminded learners, believers and originalists use to challenge the uniformity of the masses.

Dr Rob.




I think this would be a great idea!
But,you could not advertise on a public forum,just to sell to the select few!
Maybe, there could be a private forum,only the select can go to,and they will be the only ones to know of such releases.

Gary
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There is a copy of the Alexander Nelson book for sale in the book section of The Café...
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