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David Thiel
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It's been covered a hundred different ways: the difference between magic and mentalism is the difference between a puzzle and the introduction of a magnificent "what if?" Uh huh.

Today, as I headed home from a wonderful MindVention, I started thinking about the powers that are exclusively a part of mentalism:

The power of CONNECTION...in that we enter the very most intimate place: the thoughts of our spectators. I started taking stock of what that would feel like from the perspective of an audience member: they get called onto the stage to join the performer. They KNOW they are about to have their thoughts read in a very public manner. How powerful is that...to actually connect with another human being without the exchange of words...? Is there a more profound connection anywhere?

The power of EMOTION. I am thinking about a First Kiss routine I did a while back with a woman who was at least 80. It was a private function...and in this routine, I ask the participant to recall the circumstances of her first kiss. This elegant older woman said she hadn't thought about it in decades -- and the memory brought tears to her eyes. We're not talking "sooo sad tears." We're talking the sweeter kind. The kind where someone is suddenly recalling a precious memory. It was an intensely personal moment for her, me and the audience. Her first kiss was with a soldier going off to fight in a war. It was the only time she ever saw him. I double dog dare you to tell me this wasn't cool.

The power of ASTONISHMENT. When I did magic I considered the height of achievement to be a standing ovation. Now it's all about that look they give you out of the corner of their eye where you can see them thinking about what they've just seen and all the gears are turning. It's in the shocked silence of an entire audience...the soft murmurs of "no way" and "seriously?"

The power of WHAT IF? You can almost see it in the eyes of the audience. Some of them are thinking "if he can do this...maybe I can too." This is engagement on the very most basic level.

You don't get these reactions often in a magic show. (At least I didn't.) But when a show is presented without a single magic effect (and, while I agree this is a white hot debate, I will go to my grave contending that a performer who mixes magic and mentalism is going to be perceived as a magician no matter what he does...and ALL of the mentalism effects as "tricks") the reactions are off the charts and regular as clockwork.

I have to say that, in all honesty, I didn't come back from MindVention feeling like I was looking down the barrel of a really busy holiday season. On the contrary...I am looking forward to the shows coming up and the flat out honor it is to present mentalism.

David
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Bard
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I understand where you're coming from, David but I've seen similar things ooze out of magic here and there; a magician can touch the public in very similar ways even without the Mind Reading side to it, but then that takes us into the shared space of the two -- THEATER!

What I believe you are looking at is the Psychological Nuance the makes Mentalism something other than Magic and Tricks; the very element that has been the reason for countless arguments and pseudo-snobbery for generations. The fact that Mentalism is a cerebral art and not a visual art and for that reason we are able to obtain an "Intimacy" the our magician cousins will never experience and which will allude them, even when they ply their hand at our craft. For it is a thing that doesn't readily reveal itself until purest dedication becomes the course. . . and yes, I know there are those "pros" that still want to dabble in magic tricks (even me). But until we were able to start understanding the difference between doing a trick and creating an effect that Affected others on the deeper levels of emotion, psychology and ego we were blind when it came to the potential of this art form.

I look at something Corinda even pointed out; how, unlike magic, a Mentalist can learn a single skill allied with the art and have a career or, to be more pragmatic about things, learn 3 of the 5 or 6 primary skills such as CMR, CR, and answering questions. . . such things have built empires as well as tax free corporations (a.k.a. churches) countless times over the decades. . . when was the last time a Magician could boast about establishing his own Parish (created by tricks)?

Sadly, the real power of Mentalism is dying out thanks to commercialism, the nonchalant manner so many people now do it, grotesquely mixing it with conventional magic in ways that surely have Larsen, Nelson, Dunninger and others rolling over in the graves in disgust. The "trend" that's lasted the past dozen or or so years now encouraging more and more of us to leave the craft and become more and more particular about what we share, where and for how much. . . yes, some of us are still commercially playing the game at top dollar prices in order to afford retirement and world travel, but we're keeping the real work quiet and very much underground -- shared with a select few.

We are seeing a new divide happen as well; a form of Urban-Shamanism that goes well beyond what David Blaine first intended I believe, it's certainly further away from the beaten path than most here are prepared to take in stride, given the strong sense of spiritual "faith/belief" and occult/metaphysical meanderings involved. But these are young people that want to take things back to the days when Magic was actually "secretive" and a protected art form; to the times when the traveling Bard (of the Druidic clergy sort) would travel from village to village demonstrating his/her wisdom and magick via parable and miracle alike but unlike the things most of us are familiar with.

I bring this chapter of things up because of how it too, captures some of what you have brought up, David. More so, due to the fact that society seems to be starving for such things -- miracles without explanation or resource by which to gain easy satisfaction of one's curiosity around such.

Just this morning I find a post where a clown with less than half a dozen posts expects us to tell him how to read someone's mind. . . how to name a thought of thing, be it a name or word in a book, etc. He honestly doesn't believe he needs to EARN the right to know such a thing in that he's like so many westernized young people of today; spoiled by an instant gratification culture and ego. He doesn't want to learn "Mentalism" he wants to learn "a trick". . . he want's to show off and that's not what it's about. But that, on so many levels, is what it's become; almost entirely due to greed, misplaced priorities and a thieves' culture.
AttnPls
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I have lamented previously on this site about how the great standards of mentalism were be turned into packet tricks and sold to magicians to destroy. Those posts are always deleted by management. Personally, my heart sank again last week when a magician friend of mine told me that he just purchased a version of one of my standard routines from an online magic shop. #&%$! He may put it in his act, but I can guarantee that it will not be "mentalism".

The good news is that I think the "mentalism trend" may be finally cresting. I think that magicians want instant, prefabricated, "easy to do" tricks that pack a punch. I can sense that these magicians who have recently discovered mentalism ultimately find that once they get past the commercial packet tricks, mentalism requires too much thought and effort and "is boring". I'm hoping they do move on... quickly... and that the economics of packaging and selling our craft shifts. Haven't they pretty much already plundered everything possible?

If you're doing "tricks" and routines like everybody else, then you are just an "entertainment cog" that can be replaced by a cheaper performer who recently purchased a bunch of effects and is willing to do a mentalism show for less. I can't tell you how many different people have told me recently that they are losing performance jobs because of an influx of magicians willing to do a mentalism show for 10% of their rate. It has forced many mentalists to seek out alternate performing opportunities.

However, a performer's skill and personality and experience can not be copied or easily replaced. Cashetta's performance at Mindvention this week was a perfect reminder that it's a performer's connection with the audience that matters above all else. Great mentalim and performance skills take real work and time to develop. They will master the real power of our art - the powers of connection, emotion and astonishment. These powers are not for sale online.
Sean Giles
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I think in the uk a good number of the audience may believe/wonder that what they are seeing Is real. Derren brown did the English mentalists a great service in that respect.

I enjoyed your posts David and Bard and in most respects I agree.

Best
Sean
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Quote:
On 2013-11-14 05:43, Bard wrote:
I understand where you're coming from, David but I've seen similar things ooze out of magic here and there; a magician can touch the public in very similar ways even without the Mind Reading side to it, but then that takes us into the shared space of the two -- THEATER!

What I believe you are looking at is the Psychological Nuance the makes Mentalism something other than Magic and Tricks; the very element that has been the teasing for countless arguments and pseudo-snobbery for generations. The fact that Mentalism is a cerebral art and not a visual art and for that reason we are able to obtain an "Intimacy" the our magician cousins will never experience and which will allude them, even when they ply their hand at our craft. For it is a thing that doesn't readily reveal itself until purest dedication becomes the course. . . and yes, I know there are those "pros" that still want to dabble in magic tricks (even me). But until we were able to start understanding the difference between doing a trick and creating an effect that Affected others on the deeper levels of emotion, psychology and ego we were blind when it came to the potential of this art form.

I look at something Corinda even pointed out; how, unlike magic, a Mentalist can learn a single skill allied with the art and have a career or, to be more pragmatic about things, learn 3 of the 5 or 6 primary skills such as CMR, CR, and answering questions. . . such things have built empires as well as tax free corporations (a.k.a. churches) countless times over the decades. . . when was the last time a Magician could boast about establishing his own Parish (created by tricks)?

Sadly, the real power of Mentalism is dying out thanks to commercialism, the nonchalant manner so many people now do it, grotesquely mixing it with conventional magic in ways that surely have Larsen, Nelson, Dunninger and others rolling over in the graves in disgust. The "trend" that's lasted the past dozen or or so years now encouraging more and more of us to leave the craft and become more and more particular about what we share, where and for how much. . . yes, some of us are still commercially playing the game at top dollar prices in order to afford retirement and world travel, but we're keeping the real work quiet and very much underground -- shared with a select few.

We are seeing a new divide happen as well; a form of Urban-Shamanism that goes well beyond what David Blaine first intended I believe, it's certainly further away from the beaten path than most here are prepared to take in stride, given the strong sense of spiritual "faith/belief" and occult/metaphysical meanderings involved. But these are young people that want to take things back to the days when Magic was actually "secretive" and a protected art form; to the times when the traveling Bard (of the Druidic clergy sort) would travel from village to village demonstrating his/her wisdom and magick via parable and miracle alike but unlike the things most of us are familiar with.

I bring this chapter of things up because of how it too, captures some of what you have brought up, David. More so, due to the fact that society seems to be starving for such things -- miracles without explanation or resource by which to gain easy satisfaction of one's curiosity around such.

Just this morning I find a post where a clown with less than half a dozen posts expects us to tell him how to read someone's mind. . . how to name a thought of thing, be it a name or word in a book, etc. He honestly doesn't believe he needs to EARN the right to know such a thing in that he's like so many westernized young people of today; spoiled by an instant gratification culture and ego. He doesn't want to learn "Mentalism" he wants to learn "a trick". . . he want's to show off and that's not what it's about. But that, on so many levels, is what it's become; almost entirely due to greed, misplaced priorities and a thieves' culture.

This is one of the best posts I've seen in a while.


Scott Soloff
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Couldn't disagree more...

Those who come to the show believing only have their belief confirmed.

The skeptics remain skeptics.

It more or less breaks down into gender lines - the women tend to accept
mentalists/psychics as real more often than men.

In the end, it doesn't matter. Our prime position is that of entertainer,
not presenters of puzzles. (Too many amateurs take the stage performing
'effects' thinking that they are entertaining. In reality they have the
personality of a dish rag.)

If you do your job properly, both types will remember your show as a
positive experience and as time well spent.

Best wishes,


Scott
'Curiouser and curiouser."
Mark_Chandaue
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I also couldn't disagree more. One of my biggest surprises on becoming a mentalist is just how many people refuse to accept that what I do is not real. Even my future son in law says that too much of what I do can't be explained by trickery. When I was a magician I was often asked "How did you do that", these days I get asked "when did you realise you could do that?" I have also been asked if I can turn it off and on or am I constantly picking up thoughts. I have been told to get out of someone's head and I am not even an accomplished mentalist. As far as Derren Brown is concerned most people I have spoken to genuinely believe his premise that he is using NLP, body language, psychology and influence. The evidence of that can be seen in this very forum by the amount of noobs that come to this forum after a Derren Brown tv special asking about the techniques the Derren claims to use.

I absolutely agree with David that whilst you are doing pure mentalism people are more than willing to accept what you do is real but the moment you do a magIc trick you burst that bubble. If you saw a fake Rolex in a jewellers shop you would no longer trust the rest of the inventory. A magic trick in a mentalist act is not only a fake Rolex, it's one spelt Rorex in bloody great letters.

Mark
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Scott Burton
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It is possible to take this all too seriously. Exaggerating our importance can be a form of self-delusion. This can make us look silly if the audience detects this.

Connection, emotion, astonishment, and provoking the "what if" is not exclusive to the mentalist. As I've been doing more speaking presentations than mentalism this year, I can tell you that a good personal and meaningful story can be more powerful than reading minds.

I encourage you to think about these things but keep it all in perspective and balanced with the client's desires and the audiences' needs.
george1953
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I find that the general public readily accept what I do as real, a case in point was a performance I did a while back. I did a couple of standard effects, Revealing a bank note serial that they had just taken from their wallet, a living or dead test, and when I went on to perform L*n@ after showing my video and telling the back story two women refused to touch the books and said it was the work of the devil. I used to work the Hotels as a comedy stage magician and was always known as The Magician but its surprising how quickly peoples perception of you changes. The tourists turn around every 2 weeks here and since I have turned to performing mentalism I am known as "that strange man "· which I am quite happy about.
The venue where the women refused to touvh the books has already booked me for a night every week for next years season and now even the locals who know me and have done for years are quite convinced that I have suddenly discovered some strange power. As a magician I always got " oh that's clever, it must be sleight of hand. How long did it take you to learn, now its , When did you learn that you could do this. With magic they just assume that its a trick, they might not know what we are doing, but they know we did something, with mentalism they are not sure haow we did it and so thanks to the likes of DB they are more willing to believe whatever we choose to tell them.
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Steven Keyl
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Rather than imbuing mentalism with the sole ability to generate connection, emotion and astonishment, might it be possible that you are just a better mentalist than you were a magician?
Steven Keyl - The Human Whisperer!

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Mark_Chandaue
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I would say that I am a far better magician than I am a mentalist, I have over 40 years experience as a magician and have had some fairly high profile pupils and have had the pleasure of performing for a fair few celebrities, have been asked to lecture at the international magic convention and was offered a TV show. I always got very good reactions as a magician and despite quitting as a pro over 20 years ago I am a semi pro now purely on the strength of repeat bookings. I'm not sure I have enough of my life left to become as good a mentalist as I was a magician. I have absolutely no doubt that David and others in this thread applied the same dedication to their magic as they do to mentalism.

People simply react differently to mentalism, it hits them in a different place and people are more willing to accept it as real than they are magic. I guess there is a reason why no university on this planet has ever conducted studies attempting to put the corner of a selected card in a pack of gum or to change the colour of a silk handkerchief. On the other hand many very high profile universities have conducted studies in ESP and psychic abilities. Uri Geller and I think even Banachek have been tested by scientists, I don't believe Copperfield ever was.

Generally speaking people know magic is not real and so no matter how impossible it seems it must be a trick, Clairvoyance, telekinesis, ESP and precognition on the other hand, many people and even science in general is still on the fence and that's the difference.

Mark
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george1953
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Well said Mark.
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This has actually been a good thread in the way that it has shown that ALL of the things that ALL magician/mentalists say and think are absolutely true.
But, of course, we have to remember they are only true for SOME of the people out there.
I was talking with a psychologist friend this morning who is about to go on a mesmesrism weekend in Central Europe. He is not necessarily a believer but rather a seeker of all knowledge?
The discussion took us from mesmerism to magic to Tai Chi to mentalism psychology to hypnosis and back to mesmerism.
We agreed along the way that we could get many magicians, hypnotists and mentalists to run a weekend course in mesmerism (right now) and have people say how successful it was, even if they had no real grounding in mesmerism.
I informed him that during a corporate dinner last night I mesmerised (ahem!) the chairman's wife and got her to bend a penny and stop her own watch 'as she allowed the force within her to swim'.
And yes, as many of you will both know and accept, around the table were total believers who already believed, believers who did not previously believe and a guy with a muti-coloured bowtie who told me I was a tit.
Five minutes later the tit was wearing HIS watch but that's another story.
My point? In my experience is that everything is true and possible for 'some people' if the performer can present well.
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Mark_Chandaue
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Great post Bob and the tit wearing HIS watch made me laugh.

On the subject of being a better mentalist than a magician. On Halloween I got somebody to film me doing a drawing dupe in a night club and I hated my performance so much that I would never post that vid. The spectators reactions on the other hand would be worth posting. I cringe at any vid of myself but the drawing dupe was actually painful to watch.

Mark
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Quote:
On 2013-11-17 08:00, Mark_Chandaue wrote:

Generally speaking people know magic is not real and so no matter how impossible it seems it must be a trick, Clairvoyance, telekinesis, ESP and precognition on the other hand, many people and even science in general is still on the fence and that's the difference.

Mark


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bobser
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I probably need to get you on my couch Mark.
We might find out that the vid is brilliant. But you might have a few challenges LOL!
For many that can actually be a healthy thing!
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Mark_Chandaue
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Haha you could have a field day with me on the couch, alas though the vid is terrible but glad I have it because there is a lot I can learn from it.

Mark
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David Thiel
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Quote:
On 2013-11-17 07:42, Steven Keyl wrote:
Rather than imbuing mentalism with the sole ability to generate connection, emotion and astonishment, might it be possible that you are just a better mentalist than you were a magician?


Hard to say, Steven. I did corporate comedy magic full time for 20 years. I was very successful with it.

But as I think about it...you know something? I am certainly much more in my groove doing mentalism than I ever was with magic. So maybe you're right.

It's really a fascinating question. Here's what happened to me this week: I was coming home from Las Vegas (I attended MindVention) and ironically...was booked as a "strolling magician" for a "Fabulous Las Vegas" party the night after I got back home.

I was packing up my props for the show and looking at many of the magic effects I'd done for many years. Honestly? My heart was heaving a sigh. I simply didn't want to do them anymore. It's not that I don't really like them...or know them...or have performed them for many years. I just found myself, as a performer, looking at them and thinking "Nope." So...I didn't pack them. I left all the magic at home and packed only mentalism. And you know something? It was wonderful. The clients had a great time...so did I. It was FUN...and powerful. It was "way more me."

So I'll have to think about your question, Steven. But I suspect you're right.

David
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.


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