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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Mentalism .. What is it? (15 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Slim King
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From time to time many of us disagree on what Mentalism really is. On one of my very first Podcasts, PANGEA'S WORLD OF THE WEIRD, the Host actually READ the definition live on the air before I started the experiments. It was something like this...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentalism

Here are some examples of what people believe Mentalism is ...

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......&start=0

What do YOU believe it is and why?

Are there other definitions you prefer? Smile
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mastermindreader
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Some excerpts from my book Fundamentals in which I discuss this:

Quote:
As a performing art, modern mentalism evolved during the period spanning the latter half of the nineteenth century through the early years of the twentieth. It was a theatrical response to the public’s fascination with Spiritualism, Theosophy, hypnotism and early psychical research.

The word “mentalism” originally referred to a monist philosophy that held reality itself to be a mental phenomenon. For our purposes, though, it shall be defined as a performing art in which the mentalist entertainingly demonstrates mystifying “powers of the mind.”

Unlike most magical effects, the illusion of mentalism is not primarily visual. (The exceptions, of course, are “mind over matter” effects such as bending or moving small objects by apparent psychokinesis, etc.) While visual aids are often employed - i.e. the performer exhibits a book from which a word is selected, or a spectator draws a picture which the mentalist attempts to duplicate – the actual illusion takes place in the viewer’s mind.

Imagine, for example, that you are vacationing abroad and see a mentalist on television. Imagine that he is speaking a language completely unfamiliar to you. It is likely that you will have no idea what he is doing - he could be a game show host for all you know.

If you were watching a magician, however, you would quickly recognize that he was performing magic and would probably understand what he was doing regardless of the language barrier.
But in mentalism, the illusion itself cannot be created without effective verbal communication and misdirection.

Mentalism, to be effective, must appear to be an actual demonstration of some unusual ability. Its plausibility is inversely proportional to the number of abilities claimed. In other words, the more unusual abilities you claim and demonstrate, the less believable you will be. Before you can begin to select effects and develop a presentation you must first create a plausible subscript – a detailed description of your stage persona’s powers, how he got them, how they seem to work, and what his limitations are.
Slim King
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Holy Smokes BOB ... I heard YOU while I was reading that entire thing ... FREAKY!!!!
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IAIN
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It is whatever the individual wishes it to be thematically speaking, as long as it is consistent, clear and entertaining...thats how I see it...
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Phren
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I've ben trying to integrate the psychological definition into my act
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentalism_(psychology)
DWRackley
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Amazingly, I'm still the only guy in town doing "pure" mentlism. I'm often cross-cultural, whether I want to be or not (working with magicians but not actually doing magic.)

When an audience doesn't know what that is (and they often don't!) what has worked for me is a brief intro, either by the host or after my first effect.

"If it can be said that a magician pulls a rabbit from his hat or a dove from his sleeve, my job is to pull a thought from your mind, or an emotion from your heart."

They seem to like that. Smile
...what if I could read your mind?

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Donatelli and Company at ChattanoogaPerformers.com

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Michael Daniels
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Quote:
On Nov 26, 2014, DWRackley wrote:

"If it can be said that a magician pulls a rabbit from his hat or a dove from his sleeve, my job is to pull a thought from your mind, or an emotion from your heart."

Nice line! Though the dove reference is perhaps a bit naughty. Maybe "dove from a silk" would be better.

Mike
Quote:
On Nov 26, 2014, Phren wrote:
I've ben trying to integrate the psychological definition into my act
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentalism_(psychology)

This is rather an obscure and antiquated psychological definition. I don't know any modern psychologists who use the term in this way.

Mike
IAIN
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I personally think that its a shame that there's not more people branching out away from the usual two sides of the same coin in mentalism...
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E.E.
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To me, mentalism is a lot of things; Its an art of course, it's lifestyle, it's a nightmare sometimes, it's a dream, it's an illusion, it's hoping for the best, it's failing, it's insomnia, it's fascination, it's curiosity, etc...

When I think about "What is mentalism?" I never come up with an answer, because it's a lot of things at once. Mentalism is a feeling, achieving the impossible, for people, for Us... well, if I tried to define mentalism in a word, that word would be "My life".

I know this is not what the OP asked, but is what I feel.
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mastermindreader
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Quote:
On Nov 26, 2014, IAIN wrote:
I personally think that its a shame that there's not more people branching out away from the usual two sides of the same coin in mentalism...


Could you elaborate, Iain? From my point of view there are a lot more than two sides. Which two are you referring to?
IAIN
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Well, as I see it - most people tend to lean towards the psychological illusionist, or the more classic mind-reader type - whereas there's so much to explore and tinker with...i think its shame we don't hear of people trying out different avenues when it comes down to presentational angles and characters...

i think they are variants, but they are pretty similar all the same...

i remember seeing an old clip of enrique enriquez doing blindfolded portrait sketches of people, and I thought that was such a beautiful premise...but I never got round to asking him what he using as his premise, was it the sound of their voice or a touch of the hand or what...

even the older "use my 5 sense to create the illusion of a sixth" is still at its root, psychologically driven...

just thought of a third! the not saying either way and letting the audience decide...so maybe that's the rim of coin...

just my point of view, no more, no less...
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mastermindreader
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Do you consider Harry Lorayne's memory act to be mentalism? I do. Along with every other enhanced mental ability- such as speed math, etc. I'd also include such categories as empath, clairvoyant/remote viewer/clairsentient, hypnotist, etc. In Fundamentals I delineated many different categories and suggested exercises to determine how each different premise would approach a given effect, like a book test, for example.

The enriquez example you gave is really a combination of normal and "paranormal" abilities- clairvoyance and artistic ability- or possibly telepathy (if one receives thoughts in imagery rather than words.)

What I think is unfortunate (and the real reason I wrote the book) is that too many mentalists don't really have a subscript at all for what they do and simply present it as a trick.)
Martin Pulman
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Someone recently wrote on here that they had expanded mentalism into a new direction: by telling the audience absolutely everything was a magic trick!

Not every new approach is beneficial to the art, in my opinion.
mastermindreader
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Can't argue with you there, Martin.
Godzilla
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T.O.D.

A Magician does it ... it is a Card Trick.

A Mentalist does it ... it is Mentalism.
"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"
IAIN
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Quote:
On Nov 26, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:
Do you consider Harry Lorayne's memory act to be mentalism? I do. Along with every other enhanced mental ability- such as speed math, etc. I'd also include such categories as empath, clairvoyant/remote viewer/clairsentient, hypnotist, etc. In Fundamentals I delineated many different categories and suggested exercises to determine how each different premise would approach a given effect, like a book test, for example.

The enriquez example you gave is really a combination of normal and "paranormal" abilities- clairvoyance and artistic ability- or possibly telepathy (if one receives thoughts in imagery rather than words.)

What I think is unfortunate (and the real reason I wrote the book) is that too many mentalists don't really have a subscript at all for what they do and simply present it as a trick.)

i probably wouldn't see a memory act as mentalism to be honest - as you are displaying a skill that anyone can do if they study hard enough...if they took it a stage further but still kept it in the same context of numbers, then I probably would...

i would rather watch someone try something different and it kinda fails, than someone doing (and presenting) something pretty much the same way as others do... just like I would never want to see another derren (and there's loads of 'em knocking around!)...

i've never seen anyone theme an entire show based on memories for example, and that person does everything via psychometry - I think that would give you variety, visual elements and be at least a little bit different...

i know you get people who do it for real, but the delivery and the punters are different (and what they do is different too)...

i would say that for myself, if I'm honest, mine is more rooted in psychology (if we go to the root of it) - the use of the imagination, and even the imaginatory side of things has been done before...and I've experimented with all kinds of approaches...

in an entertainment context, I wonder how some of the psychic talents can be tweaked nowadays...maybe morph it into something else...or exploring the many senses we have too...
http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/best/senses.html

Posted: Nov 26, 2014 02:44 pm
Thought I'd qualify something, I've not read Mr.Lorayne's memory act...i am only assuming that it is using true/real memory feats - and doesn't get into behind the curtain stuff... I would consider mentalism to be something beyond normal human ability (and maybe something you can't even study)... same with the psychological angle, it can be rooted in true psychology but it needs to be taken even further for it to have a deeper impact...
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mastermindreader
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Iain- Most of the time I use a "method" to accomplish my card memory routine. Other times I do it for real, using Mr. Lorayne's techniques. IMO both presentations are mentalism. They look exactly the same.

But my point remains- there are far more than two sides to the coin.
Martin Pulman
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Memory and Extreme Maths effects have long been part of the canon, of course. But I'm not sure I would class them as mentalism if they were presented as a standalone feat. Leslie Welch was famous in the Uk for his memory act and before him was the legendary Datas (William Bottle), immortalised in film as Mr Memory in Hitchcock's 39 Steps. I wouldn't personally call their acts "mentalism", but I'm happy to bow to Bob's much superior knowledge on the matter!
Slim King
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So many interesting angles here .. No two of you really agree.
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
saysold1
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Effects like a Rainman to me demonstrate a certain mental capability and are therefore a kind of mentalism IMO. As long as those abilities call within ones character obviously.
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