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DynaMix
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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.


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.


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?
mastermindreader
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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?
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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.
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Iain do you need to talk?
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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?


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.
IAIN
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On 2013-09-13 17:01, John C wrote:
Iain do you need to talk?




huh? just having a ramble... do YOU need to talk?
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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.
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VernonOnCoins
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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.



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.
Mark_Chandaue
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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.

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
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Shrubsole
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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.
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VernonOnCoins
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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.


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 Smile 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.
Keith Raygor
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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.



Your explanation helps, especially your last 3 paragraphs. Although I'm not sure if angels are only on the side of mentalists.Smile
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.
VernonOnCoins
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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.

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


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 Smile
Keith Raygor
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Quote:
On 2013-09-13 17:08, mastermindreader wrote:
Tarbell put it this way:


Thank you for that.
mastermindreader
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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.

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


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 Smile


"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.
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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.
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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
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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.

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


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.
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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
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Mark_Chandaue
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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.

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
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