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IAIN
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And stiffling it...

*warning - this post is a little tongue in cheek, I'm not saying whose tongue, and whose cheek*

let us consider this too - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2k1iRD2f-c

so..when we love something, we often want to create that very same thing too - or at least, taste it, experience it for ourselves...and when we do, we may find ourselves over our heads, panicking, or finding our groove - maybe even feeling like we were born to do it and full of regret that we didn't dive in sooner...

so we have kids, we study, we learn, we express ourselves through different mediums (psychic or otherwise) - and we put ourselves out there...we commit to a purpose, maybe in our world we call it a calling...we do IT. and that IT is entirely different from person to person - mainly because we all inhabit our own version of the world, built up on our own personal experiences, our biases, our life thus far...through into that the economic, cultural and philosophical sides of life as well - and we have a wide and varied group of worlds all colliding with each other's on a daily basis...

you world view is not necessarily mine, and vice versa...maybe there is enough commonality that we could share things, and get on, become friends..or we find our own internal compasses point in to wildly different directions and communication becomes intolerable...

yet, we both right - your world, its me that's the idiot or the loudmouth - in my world, its you that's the know-all or the insufferable bore...or, in my world you're good fun, you listen as much as you talk - or in your world I'm thoughtful and giving...

maybe there's some cosmic straightline of truth that exists, and we are constantly crossing over that line in a sine wave or something...

anyway - amongst of that - there is a core..in mentalism, there is a backbone, a spine that should wriggle and contort to your will...its knowledge, its experience, its also, most importantly...YOU. Without that backbone of self-education, you can only appear upright from time to time without collapsing in an aching wail...or supporting yourself on things that have no business lifting you up - when you know that deepdown, you need a backbone...and its difficult to grow (it)...and what makes it even harder is the idea of striking out on your own and being YOU.

the individual...the ego, the ID, the persona, the character...so again, we lift ourselves up on that backbone...now, the important thing here is evolution...once we've learned how to walk, and that backbone is in place...where do we walk off to?

sometimes I feel that mentalism has too many rules - and I happy (in fact relieved) if others disagree...because I am not trying to convert or change anyone else's viewpoint...i think though, that its healthy to examine these things openly and honestly...i am more than willing to consider that I may go too far, and I stretch my own spine too far and it becomes a series of pieces, very much like a jigsaw that has not been put into place properly...there's spare pieces, or other pieces have been jammed in by force...sometimes the rules dictate too much and you are not a mentalist if you do something that is not covered by those rules...and maybe they have a point, maybe they don't...

a definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results...and yet, this field, this so called art form as so much structure, sometimes I wonder if it stifles more than creates...give me an individual over a copycat any day....and if that individual accidently breaks a couple of rules so its no longer seen as "mentalism" - then ultimately - so what?

don't get me wrong, my backbone is pretty strong most of the time - certainly a few weaknesses in it...certainly out of place at times and a bit scuffed and broken... I am not advocating an extreme...a sponge bunnies with esp shapes on their backs...i am advocating that traditional/classical education before anything else...

but I think mentalism can be seen as too overwhelming because of it...it means people don't try, don't experiment...you may lose out because you've had an idea, but its not within the traditional mindset...

there's also elitism, the negative voice of purity...then there's the BS artist, the negative side of insecurity...some look down on newcomers asking "silly questions", forgetting their first stumbling steps... some newcomers explode onto the scene proclaiming that a cups and balls routine is mentalism because they are using a red ball, a blue square and...well ok, I lost grasp of that analogy - you get the picture...

however, amongst all this - are human beings...and we're all flawed, we all take ourselves too seriously at times, and sometimes not seriously enough...

there is a pattern amongst my mad ramblings - there is a lack (in my opinion) of plot, of premise, of character in mentalism today...and I am not entirely sure if its because there's a class structure in place, if its a fear of upsetting the status quo, or the idea that people are too afraid to try something different because they'll get bashed on a forum by people they'll never meet...or something else entirely...

as long as that solid backbone is in place, it means you can try anything you like with the knowledge that backbone brings...the bones, the meat, the blood, the sweat, the interconnective tissues will grow from all of that...i just think its a grand shame when we all come out walking and talking the same...

if you compare and contrast a lot of the greats in mentalism, none of them are really the same...its in their tone of voice, their dress, their actions, they way they walk...

Dali did not become Dali until he learned the basics, he did not truly express Dali until after that...some experimentation, and then he rejected so much and because of that, he found his own place, and he was more than surrealism, he was more than art...we talk of Dali first, and what he created second...

"A Lynch film" speaks volumes... "Hendrix" was another...a blues player but so much more besides...

not a warning, just a viewpoint (after a lot of slightly spiky thread of late) - one I do not have to defend, because your world I may be destroying what mentalism means to YOU...but in my world, YOU might be slowly suffocating it in its sleep, in front of the tv...

i'll shut up now...just something I fancied sharing...nothing more...
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RedDevil
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RedDevil
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I don't know if this is related to your post or not, Iain, but it reminds me of the self-awareness journey I have been traveling the last 25 years or so. This is not a mentalism or magic journey, but the art fits in the bigger umbrella of an obsession I have had with "improvement" since I was a teenager. There are some pretty solid reasons as I look back over my life of why this was an obsession (my life circumstances with family and poverty issues, my desire and suffering for something better, and my incorrect assumption that everyone's grass was greener than mine).

I used to have this thing with books. I am a chronic bookstore browser, and I used to always look for the book with "the secret" in it. Maybe this guy/gal will have the answer I have been looking for. Sometimes it was a religious book. Sometimes it was a psychology book. Sometimes it was a philosophy book. Sometimes it was a new hobby (I am also a chronic researcher of different hobbies: magic/mentalism, airplane flying, etc. Heck, I even check out books on racquetball so that I could find a way to beat my colleagues in the morning...I research everything). Of course, being like many of you guys, I also have been guilty of thinking, "If I buy this trick, this book, this wallet, I will finally be the performer I want to be!"

Well, I don't know when it happened, but my self-awareness grew, or maybe I just got over a hump. I started to realize that these people who I felt had all the answers can only be guideposts. For instance, people traveled all over the world to listen to the Buddha, but people learned real quick that just because they have an academic sense of enlightenment doesn't mean they can be enlightened. They could listen to the Buddha all day long and not get one step closer. I use him only as an example (I am not Buddhist), but I realized the point was that Buddha arrived at the answers by walking in his own shoes and path. He didn't read somebody's book.

We can't arrive where he is, I think, by listening to him and walking his path. He is just a guidepost that "enlightenment is possible." He has some good principles and fundamentals that we can all use (like meditation), but those fundamentals have to fit into the context of "US." These people who I believe have truly found some wonderful principles in life had to learn them the hard way, and there are no self-help books to read that will give you a shortcut. We then have to walk our own path and find it ourselves. (I am not promoting extreme relativism in truth here; I am, however, of the belief that truth has to be found independently through experience and hard work).

But guideposts give us hope. They are pieces of evidence that our search is not in vain, that it is possible to evolve, and that improvement is possible. But that's all. Guideposts only point. The walking is up to us, and we each walk differently.

That's how I view much of the advice here. There are fundamentals and principles that are useful for all of us, but we have to be careful not to think of mentalism as a formula. I don't think the Buddha intended his teaching as a formula just as I don't feel like a Bob Cassidy or Osterlind would prescribe a formula for us. As Bob says, you have to understand the rules before you can decide which ones to break. The point of that I think is that the rules are guideposts, and we can't learn until we know what happens for ourselves. The results that follow will provide all the lessons we need, lessons that are much more powerful than any book or piece of advice.

The other day, someone told me that a few of the effects in my book wouldn't work very well, and he gave me some very valid reasons why. This puzzled me at first because I have seen with my own eyes how well they work and the wonderful reactions I have gotten from those who have seen them.

We were both right. My effects work for me because I know the creation of them, the roots of them, the purpose of them, the spirit of them, etc. Those effects are part of my path, and my path is real. They are congruent with me, and thus, my audience believes them. This is the same, I think, as someone who says meditation is a waste of time and is a bunch of baloney. He's right. And so is the one who says it reduces stress and brings peace and contentment.

Sometimes I get advice from others here, and I think "Hogwash." Then I walk the path and learn otherwise. And sometimes I listen to advice that I totally agree with, and then I walk my path and learn otherwise. If I listen to my audience, I will learn what the rules are.

All of you are guideposts for me, and some of you are more reliable guideposts than others. Ultimately, it is I who has to walk down the path, decide whether to keep walking it or choose another, or to create a different one altogether.

A lesson I take from all of this is that I am much more tolerant these days and much slower to shoot someone down. Maybe this comes from working with educators for so long. I have seen some 30-year veterans that were lost (with all their experience) and some 1-year rookies who were masters. Both categories are sign-posts, and I can either sit down with them forever or start walking.

And yes, I realize this may make no sense whatsoever, so I guess I will continue walking away from this post...Smile
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Iain, the sine wave you mention is 3 dimensional at least. The zero line in all dimensions being stillness.

I know on the surface this may sound simplistic and corny but think about it...

Success (meaning connecting with others on a fundamental level) in any art is a product of LOVE and expression of TRUE SELF.

Love meaning loving what you are doing and loving "being with" those you are sharing with. It's though you are meeting in a space of un-biased purity. The connection you make with the audience or participant if it's one on one, is tangible. It's an experience that becomes indelible. That is where the magic happens.

Hendrix expressed his true self in the way most all legendary artists do. This is what makes them inimitable. What you are witnessing is the sum total of everything that has happened in that person's life and in the lives of all those who contributed genetically to that person. How can you imitate that? Expressing your true self makes you inimitable.

I have quoted Bob C on this several times before... he said something to the effect of... before you go on, remind yourself of how much you love your audience and how much they love you. That is extraordinarily POWERFUL!

I will add to that and say, then simply be you being with them.
KC Cameron
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I think the endless discussions, generally heated, over what is mentalism and what is not interesting for a number of reasons.

1) We are entertainers, do we stifle our craft with definitions? What is more important, that we are "Pure" mentalists or that we are good at entertaining?

2) Mentalism is not a "thing." How we define mentalism seems to be of utmost importance to some. If you want to call something mentalism and something else not mentalism fine, the definition is a tool. It is best we all accept a common definition for communication purposes, but the infighting on the definition shows it is elitism that drives us, not communication.

3) The problem with defining mentalism is it is like pornography, hard to define, but you know it when you see it. I don't have a problem with "sponge bunny" mentalism because I believe mentalism is less about props and more about our attitude. While I don't see "sponge bunnies" as a mentalism staple, I can see it being possible, if not probable.

my 2 cents
IAIN
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From some its elitism, but from others its clearly down to love of their craft...
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KC Cameron
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I'll give you that!
Mortimer Graves
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What people really are always looking for is already inside every one of them. And inside of everyone else, too. If it is a state of potentiality, unrealized as yet, it's only because we don't notice it yet. Much the way a fish might take water so for granted that it has no concept of water.

The journey of self-discovery and enlightenment ultimately brings us to the point where we realize all of that looking outside of ourselves was unnecessary after all; however, the only way for most of us to realize that is to take the journey and persist in it. The same goes in the opposite direction, too; for some of us, we have to realize that no matter how deeply we dig into ourselves to find the answers, it's our connection to something outside of us that's important.

Ultimately, we realize that it was both, all along. Because it's neither us nor them, me or you, that's the secret key to it all; it's the connection, that which brings and holds us all together.

It's necessary to take the journey that leads us to the realization that it was unnecessary. The separation was an illusion.

Real truth always seems self-contradictory to those who think in terms of sticks. What I mean by this is that people think in straight lines, begin here, end there, start and finish, one or the other, black or white.

Some see deeper, and notice the circles and cycles, that some things tend to repeat, and they begin to think in circles. But even the circle analogy tends to make people think in terms of center and periphery, inside and outside. Illusory separateness.

The spiral is my preferred model. Looked at from one perspective, it seems to be a circle. From another it appears to be a wave, undulating from one end to the other. This is 2-dimensional thinking, in my opinion. From my perspective, it's a spiral. Or, more appropriately, perhaps, a spiral made of interlocking spirals which spiral off into other interconnected spirals.

There are beginnings and endings, or at least there appear to be such things, and some things do seem to go in circles, but even those circles include differences, growth and change.

Using the spiral analogy, it does indeed loop back on itself, but never in exactly the same way. A spiral isn't a closed loop; it grows, changes and evolves.

In everything we do, I think it's the spirit of the thing that's most important. Funny how the word "spirit" shares the same root as the word "spiral", huh?
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John C
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Referencing the OP statement of mentalism having to many rules. People/performers impose their own rules. I don't believe there is a mentalism handbook (besides the one BC wrote of course) which contains the rules.

There are no rules. I think most of the threads concerning "what is mentalism? What are the rules? Can we use cards?" Are all about the poster "crying out" for permission. "Crying out" in an attempt to justify their props and effects, the order with which they do them mix them etc.

That's all I have for now.

J
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KC Cameron
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Mentalism does not exist. It is simply a label for what we do.

We can define mentalism. The definition is a tool for conversation. A definition the public does not understand, or frankly, care - but they are generally not part of the discussion.

Since there is no board that oversees definitions in entertainment, we each use our own definition, and hopefully they are close enough to each other so we can have a meaningful discussion. It would certainly be easier if we all accepted one definition of mentalism so we could converse with more accuracy, but even in the "real" world, most words have several meanings.
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Do you know what I think inspired Geller?



Really - I'll change his line for "morals are for men, not gods" to "rules are for those who think small, not performers" Smile

Getting hit by an alien beam and getting psychic powers was cool back then.... from PKD's Valis as well... anyway.... Geller's powers consistent? Sure! An alien force granted it.

Gary Mitchell in trek - watch its slow progression into super-duper levels... I love that episode. From PK, to telepathy to eventually matter manipulation and energy projections... why not? So long as the story premise is consistent.

Now if suddenly Gary Mitchell could speak to the dead - well, there better be a way it ties into the alien energy barrier - perhaps that barrier actually was to another dimension where the dead go as electromagnetic radiation signatures..

Hmm... Gary also seems to typify some mentalist stereotype of feeling superior - hence why I wouldn't invite him back for a second show!

Anyway - I never understood why people put artificial limits on their creativity when we have enough real ones already!

:)
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Mortimer Graves
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I believe that rules can be important, as they help with saving unnecessary years of trial and error. Knowing, for example, the "rules" of chemistry, we can save ourselves having to try every single combination of everything in our attempts to make, say, dynamite. Knowing the fundamentals, we can tell that dish soap and liver cheese probably won't make very good dynamite, and can avoid wasting time experimenting with them if dynamite is our goal.

Listening to the words of those who speak with authority in our chosen fields of endeavor can help us with our own work within said fields, and rules can be very helpful guidelines to follow.

But, as one of my favorite art teachers once said, rules in any art are not written in stone. This doesn't mean they aren't valid, or are unnecessary entirely, either. Breaking the rules when you don't even know what they are is useless; chaos isn't good theater to most people. Know them before you break them, and you'll be a better artist.

You can't simply pretend there are no rules; how can you break through a brick wall, or transcend a limitation, if you don't even acknowledge it's existence? It's like saying that you don't have to learn anything at all in order to be as successful in acting as those who've spent their entire lives on stage.

Sometimes refusing to work within certain limits can severely limit us.

I believe we should acknowledge the existence of parameters before attempting to expand them, and knowing the perceived limitations recorded by others who gained such knowledge through much time and hard work can help us in avoiding that dreadful state of affairs known as "wasting one's life in reinventing the wheel."

Otherwise, we might spend years trying various combinations of dish soap and liver cheese, and waste our lives wondering why our dynamite just never seems to go boom the way we always thought it would.
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I don't think Rules come first. I think success comes first. Then analysis of success. Then rules which model that success. This doesn't mean that there aren't many ways to be successful or that anyone who follows the rules will be successful or that rules that make up one success must be part of another. Rules are a framework used in the hopes of producing a particular kind of success.

You might be interested in a different outcome than me and therefor might find my rules useless, and understandably so.
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Who makes the rules?
What are the parameters ?
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What's your motivation in asking? Stimulating thought is great, so I'll tell myself that such might have been your motivation. If I'm wrong, let me know.

I actually think "rules" can be a misleading term, or at least one which denotes that someone, somewhere, is "in charge" of things, when nobody's really in charge of anything in the realm of art, save for perhaps the individual artist being in charge of their own expressions of art. And we're the sort of people who, by the very nature of what we do and our interests, are obviously not into being restrained by such things as "rules". Appearing to turn the very so-called "laws" of nature itself on their collective ears is a very desirable thing for all of us, and I suspect that the desire to do so is a strong motivating factor for most, if not every, "magician" or "mentalist".

I should think that any "rules" that we, as magicians and/or mentalists and/or whatever we call ourselves, might wish to learn prior to breaking or bending them are simply the examples we follow, handed down to us by the successful performers of our arts who came before us.

An example of a good rule to follow could be, "keep your methods a secret". If, for example, you explain as you go along that you're substituting one thing for another in an attempt to fool your spectator, your apparent miracle or strange power will flop for said spectator, unless you aren't really doing what you say you're doing while explaining your secret. If you wish to cast an illusion of, say, clairvoyance, it might not be a good idea to demonstrate it by standing on your head and reciting the alphabet backwards, either; at least not unless your audience thinks that's what clairvoyance is.

Sorry, but I really thought that the importance of having certain "rules" or "guidelines" to what we do would be obvious. I wouldn't agree with anyone who says a clairvoyance effect MUST be done while wearing a blindfold, or that mindreading MUST be done while wearing shoes, however. That would just be silly.

As for parameters, well, if you claim to be, for example, a mindreader, and demonstrate your alleged power by making a coin vanish instead of appearing to read someone's mind, your demonstration of mindreading will also be a flop. They might like your coin vanish, but you haven't necessarily demonstrated mindreading.

Rules can be bent and broken. Nothing wrong with it. Parameters can be transcended, and frequently are. But without even a basic understanding of what we're trying to do, we might as well be painting on the walls with mud and calling it walking on water. It might be true in the artist's mind, as art, but in the minds of those viewing such a display of art, it might seem a little too abstract to be meaningful.

Are we doing this all for ourselves, or for an audience? I should think that any (apparent, at least) rules or parameters we (apparently, at least) acknowledge are for the sake of, and in accordance with, our desire to entertain an audience. If they want us to read their thoughts, and we throw pie at them while denouncing their imposition of limitations on our art, they probably won't want us to come back and perform for them again.

Just my opinions, worth as much or as little as anyone else's. I think that every point of view on this subject has validity depending on individual perspective.
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Quote:
On Dec 11, 2014, Mortimer Graves wrote:
What's your motivation in asking? Stimulating thought is great, so I'll tell myself that such might have been your motivation. If I'm wrong, let me know.


It wasn't theory and to stimulate thought alone - it was clarification.

I asked as there seems to be confusion regarding what rules. i.e. performance and entertainment vs how a mentalism premise "should" be done - etc. Also, I'm more about "current best practices" with thought out deviations as required based on contexts versus rules. Being from an academic background - I've seen enough "rules" that are so bogus and based on nothing to do with reality but more individual egotism, greed, and similar that I stopped following rules a long time ago. Works for me.

Many rule breakers end up being the discovers of new things. risk and reward and all that.

Anyway, I'll bow out now - as when my questions are being seen as possible rhetorical, it is time to enter the shadow realms again.
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Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Dec 11, 2014, Dr Spektor wrote:
Who makes the rules?
What are the parameters ?


Is cutting a lady in half mentalism? If not, who made that rule?

Is producing a rabbit from a hat mentalism? If not, who set that parameter?
Mortimer Graves
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Dr Spektor, we agree more than you might realize based on what's been said. Oddly enough, I can simultaneously agree with where Martin's coming from. All of us are right in some way, based on our experience and our perspective.

And thank you for clarifying. It may not have been your intent, but your post made me really have to think for a minute, and that's beautiful.

At least, as an academic, you've actually examined the so-called rules enough to question them. Your perspective is based on your experience, and your dislike of what I think of as "authority with no basis in reality" is similar to mine.

People who simply make up and throw around rules are repulsive to me. And innovators in any field are usually seen as (and treated as) heretics. History bears witness to this.

Please don't be offended. It wasn't my intent. Maybe I just wanted some clarification, as well. I think that we can all have an exciting discussion while still being gentlemen, despite some of what I've seen on this here internet thing before.

In short, no harm, no foul. It's just a forum full of people with different ways of saying things.
'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.

Hastur, Hastur, Hastur! See? Nothing hap-

...and if we rub each other the wrong way, let's try going in another direction. - Pokey the Porcupine
Dr Spektor
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No offence taken... honest.

See, Martin's post to me is about "what is mentalism effects/presentation" versus what I think we are talking about is theatrical overall performance...

For example, the cutting a lady in 1/2 - or producing a rabbit from a hat - that are presentations using certain principles - i.e. illusion arts via spatial distortions, etc. Those methods can be used for mentalism. Now, would I say cutting a lady in 1/2 with all the glitz and restoration is "mentalism?" nope - but lets take those Docc and other routines where you can appear to cut yourself and restore and heal yourself - they are related on a symbolic level - to harm and heal to break and restore - rope or skin....

Producing a rabbit - well, there was the ol' H factor booklet from a well known mentalist of creating life with bugs using similar smaller contraptions and the premise again as mind over matter and not magic...

So, yep - if a performer took the premise "I want to get a cool mind over body effect... like pulse stopping" - one was done through a glitzy paralysis ray gun presentation vs "swami mindfulness" presentation...

In other words, I am breaking this out of the "saw a lady in 1/2" and distilling its elements to Effect, Presentation, Methods, Symbols, etc.... and I could toss the presentation and take a similar conceptual methods and make an entire other effect....

That being said, yep, I'd agree best practice style I wouldn't do a classic lady cut in 1/2 .... but imagine for a second I was presenting things in a context of mental illusions - mind control - having people see things that may or may not be true - immersing them in a psychotic world through mental powers -- I could work in something like people coming apart and being reassembled.... hmmmm hmmm

I like it....

Ok, now I'm off to the shadows to plan a schizoid embolism effect

Ciao
"They are lean and athirst!!!!"
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