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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » How to answer this question? (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

MatthewSims
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I recently have been pondering hypothetical scenarios (as I often do). The thought struck me the other day as to how I might respond to someone who seems genuinely interested in learning mentalism, and asks me how they might can learn the art of what I do. I'm curious as to everyone's feelings on this and how you might would respond.

Do you present it as an art form that is practiced and honed to perfection, or are you genuinely special and have attained this "gift"?

Should we aim them in the right direction? If so, which direction is that?

Should we steer them towards a pseudo explanation such as pitch books that apparently teach people to tap into their natural intuitive abilities?

How does one even BECOME a student and practioner of mentalism these days? Are we all just magicians that have crossed over to the other side?

Does it matter if they are a stranger vs a genuine close friend?

Again, I stress the fact that I am talking about when one is confronted with someone who exhibits intellectual thinking, and seems genuinely interested in the art. Not someone who comes across as just merely curious.

Thoughts?
Dr Spektor
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Depends if you are billing yourself as an entertainer vs something else - your character premise will influence the approach to

Besides that one can direct them to books involving mind hacks, memory aids, intuition etc....which we can all benefit from.....

If someone seriously wants to know - the reality is they can simply google and discover what to pursue at either online and bricks &mortar shops

IMHO
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MatthewSims
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Those were pretty much my entire thoughts. I just enjoy hearing other peoples repsonse, and I think this is a question we should all think of in advance, and know how we are going to respond when the moment comes.

I always mention memory books as well, because they are beneficial to everyone (as you said). I say something along the lines of...

"A sharp memory allows us to better organize our thoughts. When we begin to receive intuitive thoughts, they often times begin to flood our conscious mind, making them hard to make sense of. Having a keen memory allows us to better control these types of things."
C.J.
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My journey in was akin to what Dr Spektor said, but instead of Google, I came here. And the guys here in 2009 really made me WORK to discover anything. Which was good. Really good! Theoretically, someone who is genuinely interested in learning will go looking and studying. And the enforced patience of this place, whilst seen as rude by some, I count as a blessing. As I caught little crumbs that fell from the table where the "big kids" were eating, I slowly started piecing things together to understand what was going on. And bit by bit I purchased the books that everyone was talking about and some of the ebooks that came up in discussion. And as I made my first suggestions and posted ideas here, I was rudely shouted down. All this helped me to learn to push through and find out more. I reached out to someone when I needed a mentor, and that person politely declined, but introduced me to a very wonderful community (where I still feel like an interloper!), where I lurked and learned and asked.

A really good example was that one of the most striking demonstrations I had seen was Derren's "Oracle Act". I didn't want to be "that guy" who comes in and says "Where do I learn that?", so I didn't. I watched, read, listened and waited. And I got 13 Steps. And I relished the moment when I connected the dots and realised that the Oracle Act goes by a different name behind the scenes, and that investigating that name gave me a WHOLE lot more insight and avenues for study and learning. (nowadays, 5 years on, I wouldn't be surprised if a Google search for "oracle act" gives the whole game away, but that wasn't the case back then).

There's still a lot of material that I don't own, and many answers I don't have. I'll get to some of it eventually. Maybe. But quite honestly, right now I have more than enough to explore and work from for a lifetime.

So... hypothetically... if someone asked these questions, I'd think that the best answer would be to toss them a couple of little tidbits and keywords and wish them luck on their hunt. Maybe, depending on what I gleaned about their area of interest, I would simply drop them a name like Banachek or Osterlind and let them investigate. When they find a group of people to ask their questions, they will undoubtedly receive the "Corinda/Annemann" advice, and go from there! Smile
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Mark_Chandaue
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In my personal experience those that are genuinely interested in learning rather than just curious as a result of your performance, have already done at least some research into the subject prior to asking you the question. As such the more they already know the more helpful my reply will be. For someone that currently knows absolutely nothing I will simply say "When you are truly ready to learn, you will understand which questions need to be asked and where you can find the answers".

Mark
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Jeff Wassom
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Agreed Mark. A lot of people assume what looks easy is easy, and as such, give up at the first sign of difficulty.

95% of getting somewhere is contingent upon whether or not you truly desire it.
MichaelCGM
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Quote:
On Apr 30, 2014, Mark_Chandaue wrote:For someone that currently knows absolutely nothing I will simply say "When you are truly ready to learn, you will understand which questions need to be asked and where you can find the answers".


There's gold in those words! Great perspective.
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MatthewSims
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"Take jacket off. Now put jacket on. Jacket off, jacket on."
Doc Ben
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Quote:
On Apr 30, 2014, MatthewSims wrote:
I recently have been pondering hypothetical scenarios (as I often do). The thought struck me the other day as to how I might respond to someone who seems genuinely interested in learning mentalism, and asks me how they might can learn the art of what I do. I'm curious as to everyone's feelings on this and how you might would respond.

Do you present it as an art form that is practiced and honed to perfection, or are you genuinely special and have attained this "gift"?

Should we aim them in the right direction? If so, which direction is that?
I just ordered Magiculum by Dr Todd Landman....which seems like a definite read for someone as you suggest, but without revealing any "secrets". A god intro to see if such a person wants to learn more and why.

Should we steer them towards a pseudo explanation such as pitch books that apparently teach people to tap into their natural intuitive abilities?

How does one even BECOME a student and practioner of mentalism these days? Are we all just magicians that have crossed over to the other side?

Does it matter if they are a stranger vs a genuine close friend?

Again, I stress the fact that I am talking about when one is confronted with someone who exhibits intellectual thinking, and seems genuinely interested in the art. Not someone who comes across as just merely curious.

Thoughts?

Smile
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" (the original F. Baum)
Doc Ben
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Magiculum by Dr Todd Landman seems like a good place to start without revealing secrets. Smile
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" (the original F. Baum)
MatthewSims
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On Apr 30, 2014, Doc Ben wrote:
Magiculum by Dr Todd Landman seems like a good place to start without revealing secrets. Smile


Ben, this seems like a wonderful idea, and even helps illustrate the beauty of the art. I haven't gotten this yet, but it has been on my list for quite a while (ever since I saw Dr. Todd mention it on Facebook.

I would think any small book such as this would help people to see just how passionate we are about our art, and that this isn't just some fun hobby hat we use to impress people (at least not for me). And as you said, doesn't reveal any workings or methods.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Matthew
MatCult
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On Apr 30, 2014, MatthewSims wrote:
"Take jacket off. Now put jacket on. Jacket off, jacket on."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5chelwXC5z8
"Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business."
RobertlewisIR
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Quote:

Should we steer them towards a pseudo explanation such as pitch books that apparently teach people to tap into their natural intuitive abilities?



Absolutely NOT. We all lie to people for a living--when we're on stage. The minute we start doing it off stage, we've betrayed the trust of our own audiences and as soon as they realize they've been lied to, they'll start to hate magicians and mentalists just a little bit more. When I was just starting out, if someone tried to pull that crap on me, I would have hated him for the rest of my life. Because not only is it a lie, and not only does it not actually answer the question, but it would have insulted my intelligence for him to think that I would actually believe he was doing anything other than tricks.

To actually answer the original question, though: when I get a question like this, they get my business card. If they're actually interested enough to contact me, then we can have a conversation and proceed from there. Most merely curious people won't ever bother to write or telephone (though it also has the added benefit of a small piece of self-promotion).
~Bob



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MRSharpe
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I didn't read every reply, but here is my spiny on this based on an actual experience with someone who expressed interest in learning mentalism. I am also a puppeteer and was participating in a puppet furor for some time. Another participant had seen a Derren Brown episode where he uses a vent figure in a mentalism routine. The video should be available still on Youtube if anyone cares to search. We exchanged email addresses and began corresponding. As it turned out, he was aware that "many" mentalists are actually magicians who use trickery. But, he wanted to learn "real" mentalism and "real" cold reading which did not use trickery. He was under the impression that the methods used by Derren Brown and others that use a lot of psychological methods constituted this "real" mentalism. I suggested that he meet some magicians, go to a magic store, try to find a club and that there would be some mentalists in those circles. He went to a magic store and met the owner who took the usual tack of trying to start him off with simple pocket tricks--i.e. The Snapper, Genii Bottle, etc--which he didn't like. I also recommended he get some effects that depended upon psychology at least in part. One effect I recommended was Kundalini Rising. He actually got mad at me for that because he was able to find a video and complained about having to pay for the gimmick and instructions. I don't think he ever even tried it. However, he kept hounding me to reveal the "real" secrets or their source to him. He eventually decided that he was never going to find these "real" secrets, lost interest, and stopped replying to emails. Eventually, he found me on Facebook and we are now FB friends, but he has absolutely no interest in mentalism or magic in any form. He considers all such activities to be con games that are used to control people. To each his own.
My point about this anecdote is that you have to determine what the true nature of the question is before you answer. Is the person really asking you if you use trickery or not? Are they interested--like my FB friend--in learning "real" mentalism techniques that don't involve trickery or even psychological techniques? Are they already aware that certain methods are being used and truly interested in learning? You also have to decide if they are an audience member whether or not you want to make them a student any way. This may not be the best idea for getting future bookings or job security, even if you only perform for fun.
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Mind Guerrilla
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What about recommending a mainstream book like "How To Be (a fake) Kreskin?" It offers a taste of what a mentalist does without giving the whole game away.

I also reckon, when you recommend a book, most people won't even bother to look for it, let alone buy it, let alone read it.
saysold1
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Quote:
On Apr 30, 2014, MatthewSims wrote:
I recently have been pondering hypothetical scenarios (as I often do). The thought struck me the other day as to how I might respond to someone who seems genuinely interested in learning mentalism, and asks me how they might can learn the art of what I do. I'm curious as to everyone's feelings on this and how you might would respond.

Do you present it as an art form that is practiced and honed to perfection, or are you genuinely special and have attained this "gift"?

Should we aim them in the right direction? If so, which direction is that?

Should we steer them towards a pseudo explanation such as pitch books that apparently teach people to tap into their natural intuitive abilities?

How does one even BECOME a student and practioner of mentalism these days? Are we all just magicians that have crossed over to the other side?

Does it matter if they are a stranger vs a genuine close friend?

Again, I stress the fact that I am talking about when one is confronted with someone who exhibits intellectual thinking, and seems genuinely interested in the art. Not someone who comes across as just merely curious.

Thoughts?

Personally I don't feel that someone offhandedly asking you at a gig or show the ways to learn our craft may be anything more than a fleting curiosity.

Having a real interest in our art means someone has or will take several meaningful "steps" that show genuine interest rather than just passing curiosity. Those steps might be going to some SAM or other types of meetings, reading some of the books on the subject, learning some routines, etc

I get people all the time asking about what I do - how to learn it - how long it took - when did it start - how did I start - is it real - do you have gifts, on and on.

These are the responses that 99% of the time are reflective more I think of that person's sense of amazement and wonder at that fleeting moment - nothing more or less. Generally whatever interest they might express in learning our craft is also fleeting and should not be taken as genuinely serious. I'm generalizing but its true.

So take these comments with a grain of salt - they are a compliment to you as a performer, but what people say and what they really mean are two different animals.
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Syndrome
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I agree with saysold1. Also, if I felt the questioner was more than just a little curious, I would point them in the same direction I would want to be pointed towards if I were in their shoes. Sure, a living needs to be made, but decency applies. A pseudo explanation could awaken karma, and bite you in the *ss if you're reckless.
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"Illusion is the first of all pleasures." -Voltaire (1694-1778)
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