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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Mentalism and education (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Mifune
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Hello, as you already know, education and culture are very important in every performer, but with actors or magicians is maybe a little less important as with a mentalist. A mentalist is supposed to be a person with misterious knowledges or at least with more knowledges that his public, I think that is mandatory that he expresses and writes correctly and clearly (I accept jokes with my english Smile )

Imagine these two situations that I witnessed recently, a sealed prediction in full view, the mentalist (very professional and entertaining) take notes of decissions of people in a slate and had a mistake in a foreign name, later at the revelation we could see the same mistake in the prediction, this could be more or less acceptable, but I can think of effects that could have been ruined for this mistake.

The second situation was worse, another mentalist (this time a bad one, if I can say that) did a book test, he was surprissingly funny, the public was laughing and waiting in suspense, then he showed the word that he got of the mind of the participant and the public was astonished, but not because he got it right, instead of that, the public was petrified because he had made 2 mistakes in a 5 letter word, almost a record, and two mistakes that were very serious in spanish. The public started to whisper and his performance was forgotten, only this word remained in the spectators minds at the end of the show.

I write that because there are a lot of skills that are important to a mentalist, like acting, voice projection, and many more, but culture and education are always forgotten in forums, magic clubs and many books (There are old magic books that mention this topic briefly but also there are a lot of books with bad grammar).

What do you think? I'm right or only obsessive?
funsway
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Methinks you are correct in your theme, but disagree slightly on your focus on mentalism.

Proper grammar can effect one's ability to communicate in every situation, and certainly the impression one leaves with the other person.

Job applications, Internet communication, expressing an opinion before the City Council, etc. all are based on the credibility of your opinions.

When one comes to see a performer in nay filed they expect a degree of professionalism. If you don't care enough to prepare in the proper use of language, why should they care about you?

The script or story that a conjuror tells can have just as much effect on a spectator as what Mentalist does.

When an actor in a sitcom uses improper grammar they are telling spectators that poor grammar is OK -- even expected.

Performing before an audience is only part of living. Good grammar is essential in everything you do. Grammatical errors are even common today on national news broadcasts.

Yet, I do agree that a general audience may expect a Mentalist to have "more intelligence" than a magician doing balloon tying for kids. Courtesy, respect and appropriate humor can be as impactful as "grammar" -- subjects not addressed enough in "training" today.

Thanks for your concern.
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IAIN
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Up with this, I will not put!
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C.J.
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Argg! Someone brought up grammar! Must...restrain...myself!!! NGGRRRR!

Funsway's points are mitigated by the fact that common parlance trumps correct grammar almost every time. Look at all the people who think that "myself" is simply the formal or business form of the first person pronoun. They are completely incorrect (myself is only used as a reflexive pronoun where the speaker is both subject and object of the sentence), but it's become the accepted thing now in business to say "Please direct your concerns to your manager or to myself". Drives me crazy, because they should have said "me". But in a language like English, which has grown through continual evolution, b*stardisation and borrowing, unfortunately over enough time, the majority rules.

So how does this tie in to the original question here? I think it clarifies what the OP is trying to say: Our job is not so much to "be cultured and educated", but to be intelligent enough to be able to speak the same dialect as our audience.

But my follow-up question is this: Which is more important - speaking the audience's language or being true to our character?
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IAIN
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C.J.
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If we're sharing videos narrated by British comedians, I like this one:

Connor Jacobs - The Thought Sculptor
Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur
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Mifune
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It seems that I have made an involutary focus on grammar, that anecdotes are the latest, but I have heard predictions of cities failing, movies with wrong actors, song with different performers and C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.


Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, funsway wrote:
Methinks you are correct in your theme, but disagree slightly on your focus on mentalism.


Then I haven't explained my point very well, because that's what I meant. Thank you for helping me to express one of my points.

Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, IAIN wrote:
Up with this, I will not put!


I don't get it. Hypercorrection?

Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, C.J. wrote:
So how does this tie in to the original question here? I think it clarifies what the OP is trying to say: Our job is not so much to "be cultured and educated", but to be intelligent enough to be able to speak the same dialect as our audience.

But my follow-up question is this: Which is more important - speaking the audience's language or being true to our character?


That's not what I meant, or at least consciously. I always try to express myself (correct? Smile ) and behave correctly, I don't think that lowering your language is correct.

Anyway I have seen also performers trying to emanate a wiseman aura and using hypercorrect words or expresions that are too high to the rest of their language. Sometimes I've tempted to say the famous Princess Bride quote "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Wyatt
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, Mifune wrote:
Imagine these two situations that I witnessed recently, a sealed prediction in full view, the mentalist (very professional and entertaining) take notes of decissions of people in a slate and had a mistake in a foreign name, later at the revelation we could see the same mistake in the prediction, this could be more or less acceptable, but I can think of effects that could have been ruined for this mistake.


Admittedly I once did something like this onstage--I spelled "Uruguay" wrong in front of a fairly large crowd when copying down their suggestions. But to make things a bit more awkward, it was spelled *correctly* on the prediction. I didn't even notice this until after the performance was over. Ah, mistakes to learn from.
Martin Pulman
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I would agree that a poor command of language could potentially harm a mentalism performance, but it seems more important to me that your choice of vocabulary and grammar should be consistent with your persona.

The big mistake is to try and be something you are not on stage. As Edith Piaf used to say, "Use your faults, use your defects; then you're going to be a star."

Funsway,

I don't quite understand your point about actors in sit-coms? Do you think they should all speak the Queen's English regardless of the situation?
Sean Giles
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, C.J. wrote:
Argg! Someone brought up grammar! Must...restrain...myself!!! NGGRRRR!

Funsway's points are mitigated by the fact that common parlance trumps correct grammar almost every time. Look at all the people who think that "myself" is simply the formal or business form of the first person pronoun. They are completely incorrect (myself is only used as a reflexive pronoun where the speaker is both subject and object of the sentence), but it's become the accepted thing now in business to say "Please direct your concerns to your manager or to myself". Drives me crazy, because they should have said "me". But in a language like English, which has grown through continual evolution, b*stardisation and borrowing, unfortunately over enough time, the majority rules.

So how does this tie in to the original question here? I think it clarifies what the OP is trying to say: Our job is not so much to "be cultured and educated", but to be intelligent enough to be able to speak the same dialect as our audience.

But my follow-up question is this: Which is more important - speaking the audience's language or being true to our character?


A connection with your audience is far more important than perfect grammar. Talk however you are comfortable because if you force yourself to talk in a way that you are not comfortable with, that unease could show and that's never a good thing.
funsway
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, Martin Pulman wrote:

Funsway,

I don't quite understand your point about actors in sit-coms? Do you think they should all speak the Queen's English regardless of the situation?


of course not -- but they should be congruent to their character.

I have always felt that writers of these "popular" shows do not attempt to keep a person in character, but try an use language that will shock or surprise another character.

Thus, they represent as "natural" language that is neither normal to the character, cultural background or even "common" English for the setting.

The viewer can come to believe that such language is normal or appropriate when it is only contrived for humor or impact.

Yes, the problem is that many viewers treat TV shows as representative of actual life, which often is not so. The result is a decline in vocabulary and proper grammar -- and eventually, understanding.

But, my point in response to the OP was that Mentalists should not be held to a higher standard than anyone else. They should be congruent to their character.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Mortimer Graves
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I think it's more than okay to ask a spectator/volunteer how their name is spelled. Especially since nobody has ever complained about it, as far as I can remember.

But in the case of names of cities, countries, etc., there's not much excuse for misspelling, say, Prague or Worcestershire.

Knowing our own strengths and weaknesses can help a lot on avoiding those little problems here and there, and being careful not to reach too far into areas we aren't good with can also keep us from encountering that old bugaboo, the "sudden loss of confidence in the middle of the show".

It's why I'd rather do a design duplication effect than a bunch of addition, and tend to use "lucky dates" more than foreign place names. It's just less that can go wrong and make me look like an unprepared "hick" in front of everyone.
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IAIN
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..maybe (for the spelling thing) its more down to how your ability works?

if you hear the name being thought of, then the spelling mistake(s) are fine...
if you mentally 'see' the word, maybe you have less wiggle room? but even then, maybe it pops in and out of vision and is a little misty/blurry round the edges?

once we've learned how to read, we read by shapes, we don't consciously read each individual letter and form the word - its automatic (unless we've not come across the word before, in which case we'll probably try and either break it down into chunks and whack it back together, or we'll go phonetically and so on) - so we don't "read" we "see"...we see the words as an overall shape, its why you can do that word tset wehre as lnog as the frist and lsat ltetres are in the rgiht odrer, we can usaluly mkae snese of it...

so its always going to be about the context (for me)...

oh, and the "up with this, I will not put!" is a Winston Churchill quote -
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Mortimer Graves
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I knew Winston Churchill had a secret connection with Yoda, I just knew it!

Yeah, a clairaudient wouldn't have the word visible in front of them, right? They'd hear it and be on their own when it came to spelling.

If you pick it up intuitively, too, you might misspell it. The right (intuitive) brain isn't as good at spelling and grammar as the left brain.

There's always a way around it, I guess. You just have to be prepared for it.
'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.

Hastur, Hastur, Hastur! See? Nothing hap-

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Mifune
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, IAIN wrote:
..maybe (for the spelling thing) its more down to how your ability works?

if you hear the name being thought of, then the spelling mistake(s) are fine...

...

oh, and the "up with this, I will not put!" is a Winston Churchill quote -


Yes, that's why I said that the foreign name was more or less acceptable, but a simple word in your language? or locating a city in another country? For me this is unacceptable, I think that having a culture is important, and knowing what you know and what you don't. But at the same time, having a culture is not an hability that you can adquire in a month, is a continuous learning, and there are a lot of performers that don't put too much energy in it and even more they don't know the effect that this causes in the public.

For the quote, thank you for the explanation, I didn't knew who said it, but I remembered vaguely the quote from when I studied the english prepositions, I think that it was an example of hypercorrection of prepositions or something like that.

Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, Martin Pulman wrote:
I would agree that a poor command of language could potentially harm a mentalism performance, but it seems more important to me that your choice of vocabulary and grammar should be consistent with your persona.


Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, Sean Giles wrote:
A connection with your audience is far more important than perfect grammar. Talk however you are comfortable because if you force yourself to talk in a way that you are not comfortable with, that unease could show and that's never a good thing.



Quote:
On Dec 16, 2014, funsway wrote:
But, my point in response to the OP was that Mentalists should not be held to a higher standard than anyone else. They should be congruent to their character.


I think that we all agree here, the point is not to look like a wiseman, but expressing properly while keeping your character. As an example, I can't imagine Juan Tamariz expressing like a XIV poet, but he has a vast culture in a lot of fields and express himself clearly and without mistakes.

Thank you for contributing to this (maniatic) thread.
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I like this topic so much that I am going to now perform research on an otherwise unexplored chapter in the psychology of language -happy chomsky
Mortimer Graves
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I've found that so few members of the general public even know what half of the words they say actually mean it makes anyone who really knows what they're saying stand out as having an above-average mind. And having an above-average mind could possibly be seen as an asset in a mentalist.

Knowing what you're really saying and what it actually means is important. I think that if more of us took the time to exercise our minds for real, we'd all be that much better at pretending to exercise our strange mental faculties.
'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.

Hastur, Hastur, Hastur! See? Nothing hap-

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funsway
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Quote:
On Dec 17, 2014, Mortimer Graves wrote:
I've found that so few members of the general public even know what half of the words they say actually mean it makes anyone who really knows what they're saying stand out as having an above-average mind. And having an above-average mind could possibly be seen as an asset in a mentalist.

Knowing what you're really saying and what it actually means is important. I think that if more of us took the time to exercise our minds for real, we'd all be that much better at pretending to exercise our strange mental faculties.



I like your thoughts here, but resist the extension on "above-average"

If we continually "lower the bar" on what "being educated" means (including vocabulary and grammar) then won't everyone be able to be a Mentalist just by pretending to be educated? ;-)

That guy ahead of you in the grocery check out chatting on his cellphone may not be having a real conversation at all. He has an App that makes ti appear as if he is applying for an important job or scheduling a speaking engagement. Then he produces a food-stamp card and spoils the illusion. An extensive vocabulary (properly used) and good grammar are ways of verifying that you are indeed educated and eligible for your opinion to carry some weight.

AT least for the moment Mentalism is performed face-to-face -- a situation many in the audience avoid. Being willing to stand up before strangers and communicating effectively will put you "above-average" regardless of the magic you demonstrate.

You will be remembered as a person who could do what they could not (or will not do). The actual effect may be less important.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Mifune
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Quote:
On Dec 18, 2014, funsway wrote:
You will be remembered as a person who could do what they could not (or will not do). The actual effect may be less important.


I like very much this sentence.
Mortimer Graves
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Funsway makes an interesting point; some things simply cannot be faked.
'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
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