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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » How to Stop the Trivialization of Mentalism (91 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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MagicalEducator
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On Dec 26, 2015, JanForster wrote:
I want to meet the great pianist with classical education complaining about the triviliazation of classic piano music as there are to many beginners playing the first beats of the popular "Flea Waltz" with two fingers only... Jan


He or she would probably tap their foot and say "Love it!l It's nice to hear a "real" mentalist chime in with such a comment. Some folks seem to believe their own press and are just way too serious. I notice that Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame is now performing mentalism. He has an upcoming lecture on Penguin. I'm looking forward to hearing what a world class entertainer has to say as compared to some of the self proclaimed experts on this forum. It grows so old to hear them resort to such self serving arguments about how only they know best..
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Mindpro
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Yes, as many here may remember I was part of Jason's mentalism show in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. However, knowing Jason (he isn't "now performing mentalism", he has for years) he will be the first to tell you he doesn't consider himself a mentalist and when it comes to our art he is far from a world-class performer.

It odd to me some of the perspectives some here seem to have. That somehow Jason's views would be more tangible or legitimate than ours here, Jan's, Bob's mine or any others here. We do this for a living. I would suffice it to say I probably have booked more mentalism performances than anyone here on this board, yet your personal digs of those here just being proclaimed experts is amazing and again only opinion. Why can't people here separate facts from option? But since Jan is the only real accepted mentalist here Bob, myself and others will let him speak for all of us if that makes you happy. Especially since he often comes from the same beliefs, mindsets and perspectives as all of us - full-time working professionals that care about out art and industry.
IAIN
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I think its a real shame that all non fulltime pro's get dismissed/talked down to, and also all get labelled with the idiot-brush...thats what causes some to not listen to what's being said at times...
Mindpro
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No unfortunately that's what some of them do to the rest of you, two different things. Those that are true students of the art and are dedicated to both the learning and the process, get ruined by these that may in fact be idiot-brush (your words, not mine). As I said in an earlier post, you think these magicians have enough of their own problems to be concerned with and clean up rather than bringing it into mentalism.

The fact that those that don't do this exclusively for a living seem to think they have the same understanding of those that do is ludicrous. They can't possibly, so therefore it all becomes opinion and theory. Even watching mentalism is far different that performing and experiencing it. Sooooo many great longtime pros that have shared valuable information have been run off by these guys that talk more than they should listen. The reality is all are not on the same level. Experience is achieved over time and real world, hand-on experiences. It is this of which some of us here speak. The rest is just unsupported theory or opinion. Huuuge difference. I'm only sorry that some can't seem to understand that. Just because all can exist on the same forum in no way makes all equal.

So many here think this is a debate. It's not when some of us post it is for the sole purpose of sharing based on knowledge and experience.
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Its because all levels can exist on a single forum and can all get access to the same material is really where the problem lies. Mentalism and magic was never really meant to be so accessible. The internet is the problem and the easy to find dealers. Amatuers or semipros don't need the experince or insights the full time pros are offering because they will never use it. They have a different agenda and motivation to be here. The problem lies within the ease of getting hold of material.
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Dec 26, 2015, Waters. wrote:
Mindpro,

I want to make sure I understand. What you are talking about is context and presentational themes being fundamentally different, correct? That is the core of understanding, yes?



Since you seem to genuinely be asking...

No. The foundational differences themselves of both mentalism and magic. Before an effect or ability is ever performed. In the way mentaism is both accepted/received and the way it is performed vs. magic.

Although myself, Bob and others have gone over this repeatedly here over the years, but here it is once again. Magic is the art of trickery, disbelief, illusion. The audience knows and understands this. They know it is not real, that it an illusion, trick, deception. They approach magic knowing and accepting this. A magician asks them to suspend their belief that it is not real and watch and buy into the illusion of a skilled performer to make it look real while completely understood that it is not. To be amazed at how well they were deceived and fooled. After a show they will often talk about how fooled they were and how it was done. A magician used to be admired for such clever skills. Magic is deception entertainment with a total and complete understanding that it is not in any way real. They are coming to be fooled, tricked and deceived. The only exception is small children with undeveloped minds and beliefs of what is possible. Hence why so many magicians begin and stay as only kids magicians. No offense, but it's quite easy to fool them. A novelty store trick can fool them just as easily.

Mentalism is exactly the OPPOSITE. Audiences want to believe it is real. Even if you tell them otherwise and insist, they still often believe it to be real. That this person (performer) has special abilities that allows him to do these incredible things that they can't and that they believe to be special and unique abilities. The performer executes in a way of demonstrating and proving to such claims. A good mentalist will tell them things and demonstrate things they couldn't possibly know which can only be validated in the audiences mind as somehow real through special unique abilities. It is believable (when performed and executed correctly, based on this principal foundation). After the show their mind goes to trying to understand the abilities and what it would be like to be able to do that themselves, NOT how the "effect" was done. They aren't trying to figure how the skill, slight or how they were deceived, but how it is to posses this real and amazing ability and how it must feel compared to how they are able to feel towards the same ability.

It's only when people feel deceived or that they are being tricked that mentalism is really ever questionable, which usually comes form mentialism being performed from a magic/magician's perspective of tricks, deceit, puzzle or fooling them.

Why do you think psychics like Jonathan Edwards, Sylvia Brown, Jennie Dixon and yes even the former Miss Cleo have such profitable and widely accepted careers? It's because of the foundational beliefs of the public/audiences. They want to believe! Even those that are skeptical, really want to believe and want to be proven otherwise.

One can not even begin to approach the art of mentalism without the foundational elements and understanding in place. Then, once in place it is an entirely different (actually opposite) way of then proceeding with such knowledge. It is then taking control of this knowledge and foundational information and understanding and learning to work and execute within this. This is which I was referring, not presentational, that comes much later.

Presentational themes are dictated by the audience's credibility and believability of the performer, which is dictated by the initial belief and perceptions of the audience, which is dictated by the understanding of the foundational beliefs and differences between mentalism and magic.

The foundational beliefs of the audience dictates both the performer and the presentational themes and abilities that the performer can get away with (demonstrate or possess). This is exactly why when a magician even beings to try or enter the realm of "mentalism" into a magic show, he almost immediately discredits himself as a "mentalist", the audiences intelligence and foundational beliefs (or wanna-beliefs) and the art itself I s threatened and/or compromised.

It's just like when a magician brings a spec on stage and says "I'm going to out you into a slight trance..." and then does a sven deck trick. No one in the audience (again, maybe a kid) for even a moment believes the magician actually really hypnotized the person, so therefore it was a trick. Even a joke. Period. This is their natural default. No thought or thinking effort is required. Why do you think so many hypnotists are appauld when a magician uses the facade of hypnosis? Only the magician themselves is fooled into believing they are somehow pulling it off or believable. Same for when a magician trying to bend silverware. Really?

Any performer must first understand and accept the existing belief system and credibility components before even thinking of presentational content. I hope that better clarifies what I was referencing for you.
Mindpro
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On Dec 26, 2015, IAIN wrote:
I think its a real shame that all non fulltime pro's get dismissed/talked down to, and also all get labelled with the idiot-brush...thats what causes some to not listen to what's being said at times...


So what the whole community must be brought down to this level to accommodate them?

Trust me, pros have to tolerate much more than the level of guys which you are referencing.

I think its a real shame that full-time pros get perceived as difficult or problematic when they are only trying to share while assisting and teaching others. Again, respect for the industry and those who have contributed and come before you, and as Mindpunisher said, easy access to info, is at the root of the problem. Trivialization begins with lack of proper understanding and respect.
IAIN
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Quote:
On Dec 26, 2015, Mindpro wrote:

So what the whole community must be brought down to this level to accommodate them?


nope, and I didn't say that, nor did I infer that...
Mindpro
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Well then the real shame is that this exists. Perhaps if they acted more responsibly and respectably it wouldn't exist and you wouldn't feel that way? This is how we all did it and how it was done for generations. Acknowledging, identifying and addressing it is the first step, correct? It is a self-imposed perception and position.

If I had access to the plethora of valuable information and and direct contact to the knowledge of working pros offered here when I was starting, I would have made my first million a decade or two earlier.
Keith Raygor
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Quote:
On Dec 26, 2015, Mindpro wrote:
Need we say anymore?


Yes, Specifically who is "we" that you are speaking for?

Quote:
On Dec 26, 2015, Mindpro wrote:
Yes, as many here may remember I was part of Jason's mentalism show in Las Vegas a couple of years ago.


Many don't, including myself. It may be because you're using a pseudonym. It was important enough for you to lead with it: What part did you play?

Quote:
On Dec 26, 2015, Mindpro wrote:
As I said in an earlier post, you think these magicians have enough of their own problems to be concerned with and clean up rather than bringing it into mentalism.

Quote:
On Dec 23, 2015, Mindpro wrote:
Gotta love magicians.


Either you see how divisive this is, and choose to use it anyway, or you don't. I might remind you that your entrance to mentalism came by a very narrow path, not the path of almost all those this board represents - through magic. The masses here, that come seeking knowledge AND context, arrived to mentalism by magic. Can you speak to them from their perspective? Or are your words for and from the few?

You haven't commented on the real secrets presented earlier. You've only repeated the battle cry about the trivialization of mentalism, while denigrating many that have given wonderfully of themselves towards the advancement of the art. Before 2010 or 11, there was only discussion of the trivialization of <i>magic</i>. Max Maven discussed it in 2002. He made compelling points worth looking up. I'm hoping you see the connection between Max, a mentalist speaking about the trivialization of magic, and this discussion today. He wasn't speaking only to straight card and coin magic people. He was talking to ALL of us. Those that practiced all branches of the art.

Around 2011, Mr. Cassidy used it to describe the same problem in his particular area of expertise. But it goes back much farther than even Max. No one denies the trivialization of magic (and I'm including mentalism in that category for now). Many people disagree on the <i>cause</i> of it, and how to fix it. But commenting on the 'causes' and the 'how-tos' means giving thought beyond blaming all those bad people out there besides you, and setting yourself up as a proud elitist, as you've written. And you do all that behind a pseudonym, which just isn't nice, OR verifiable.

Here's my version of your post:
I've been an entertainer for the last 42 years, and 33 of them are full-time. I was the entertainment director for 3 ships, a cruise director, a years-long member of IATSE with front and back of the house experience with a multitude of acts you have in your CD collection and well-known touring Broadway plays, a member of the Air Force Band of the Midwest, and on and on; and in the thousands of your posts I've read over the years, I rarely agree with you.

For everyone else, I believe the answers are in your act and the way you treat others.
IAIN
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The point is, is that there exists the full-time working professional performing mentalist...

then there's everyone else...

when you pop onto a forum such as this, you see some of those pro's (whether or not they actually are full timers, I don't know, I can only go by what they themselves say to a degree, not privy to any other info) - talking about "everyone else" like there is only one other level...

again, not saying all pro's do it (far, far from it), but you do see it...and its that kind of thing that sometimes (again, can't quantify it) that can cause a bit of a backlash...

that backlash is not because the "other" disagrees with what is being said, but maybe how it is delivered, and how it makes that "pro" come across...and the person reading it thinks "hmmm, hang on a minute - please don't talk to me like I'm some kind of crazy fool who is mixing sponge balls in with a colour and shape psyche f*rce..."

that's why what mindpunisher is so pertinent...its very, very easy to tar everyone with the same brush, and it causes misunderstandings, arguments and sometimes resentment too...

i know enough performers who make a very good living from mentalism (gigging), who are beyond ok/competent, but happen to NOT do this full time...again, I'm sure they (and i) understand the differences in pressure (for starters) of what it is like as a full timer, and having no other income other than your gigs...they do not do it full time for their own reasons, and I wouldn't like to put words in their mouths...

then there's those who only perform socially for friends and friends of friends, and have zero interest in anything else...and amongst those, its just a fun little hobby...there's those that are gripped by mentalism fever and want to take it further and don't know how...etc etc etc

there's far too many variants to list...

so what often happens is that we personalise what is said on a forum, because afterall, that's kinda how it works to a degree, we read something, it passes through our own personal life-filters, and we react to it...pro's do it, everyone else does it, bees do it...

for me, the respect you mention is a two way street, rather than a cul-de-sac...it should always be human being first, job second...

if I had a time machine, I would love to have met richard Burton - but imagine if I had met the sarcastic, drunk, vitriolic Burton, instead of the thoughtful, articulate and engaging one? that would make me not feel the same when watching Equus or The Medusa Touch...it would spoil the experience...but if I'd met the engaging one - then I would buy him booze and he would tell me stories, do impressions, maybe even recant poetry...

not saying all working pro's need to be "on" and never annoyed, that would be ridiculous... I'm just saying that a lot of us do listen and try to understand things, however, not all of us do a psychological f*rce with a red sponge ball - and maybe its fair to be spoken to like we have a modicum of intelligence and thoughtfulness...rather than being accused of all sorts of things just because we might want to experiment in some way, or attempt something that's maybe against the norm - and its not done out of ignorance or ego, but because we are excited and have our own 'vision' to follow...don't take it as an insult if we're getting something wrong... Smile

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Mindpro
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I guess reality and the truth is something that doesn't want to be accepted here. Just as in any other profession there are different levels from enthusists and amateurs to working pros to those that are the industry elite. Seems everywhere else this is honored and accepted.

It really a shame that one gets chastised for trying to protect the art and industry that they live every day of their lives, especially when seeing and identifying a problem or trend that is or can be damaging. Perhaps it's kill the messenger, I'm not sure. It does affect those that do this for a living and their livelihood differently that is does those on other levels. Again, same as other industries.

To complain about the way advice, insight and experience is offered is amazing to me too. So it's not enough that pros come here, tolerate all of these opinions, arm chair perspectives and disrespect, but now they expect the information to be delivered with fairy dust, pretty wrapping paper and a big bow on it presented on a sliver platter. This is more than absurd.

Keith, I must say I am surprised and will reply to your post when I can. The show must go on.
IAIN
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Yup, typing in that tone and ignoring all the points made is exactly what I'm on about...
Keith Raygor
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Quote:
On Dec 26, 2015, Mindpro wrote:
I think its a real shame that full-time pros get perceived as difficult or problematic when they are only trying to share while assisting and teaching others.


That's not what's happening here. You include yourself as a full-time pro, and you want us to take your word for it, because you don't allow anyone to know your true identity, but your own words say otherwise. You may be a full-time working pro, but you are not a full-time working mentalist. And that matters to the discussion if you want us to take your words seriously. As a result, you represent only your point of view, not that of real full-time working pro mentalists.

Quite a few people have pointed out your difficult and problematic words and phrasing and taking others to task in ways that are unsavory to many of us that take mentalism seriously, and even perform it seriously. Assisting and teaching? No, that's not what's happening here.

How you treat others, and improving your act will slow down the trivialization of mentalism, which is a branch of magic, which is the type of forum you're anonymously writing on.
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To complaining about the way advice, insight and experience is offered is amazing to me too. So it's not enough that pros come here, tolerate all of these opinions, arm chair perspectives and disrespect, but now they expect the information to be delivered with fairy dust, pretty wrapping paper and a big bow on it presented on a sliver platter. This is more than absurd. (Quoted from Mindpro)

You ask for respect (reverence really) and do so by being condescending and disrespectful yourself. Your own behaviour tends to trivializes the art you claim to respect. Imagine that....people expect to be treated with respect. Read your very own words "...tolerate all of these opinions..." The arrogance of this comment is quite remarkable. Here's a thought for you to consider...maybe other pros don't agree with you. What a concept. You expect everyone else to come here with an open mind and to learn and why would you practice what you preach. Instead it's much easier to ignore other views completely and claim that you alone are the supreme arbitrator of these matters.

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Rolyan
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On Dec 26, 2015, IAIN wrote:
Yup, typing in that tone and ignoring all the points made is exactly what I'm on about...

Exactly, but Mindpro will never see it unfortunately. He'll certainly never understand that he contributes to the trivialisation himself.

Keith's posts are much more valuable, not least because he has credibility as a full time working mentalist who is prepared to say that others on here don't speak for him.
Waters.
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Thanks Mindpro. I understood the (seemingly) real vs. not real distinction.
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Paul S Wingham
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Mindpro; I'm not sure how you can say words of a full time pro hold more weight than say a regular performer who has a day job without putting your real name behind that statement. Perhaps others do know your performing name, but I don't and you wouldnt be the first person on the Café to boast of being a full time pro. I'm not saying you arent but why not use a real name?
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I have to say I think part of the problem is that the distance from A to Z (beginner to pro) is much smaller for our art from than others.
I know it hurts to consider that point.

I'm only referring to a technical level. A pro is going to do far more with his toolbox than an amateur. But an amateur can still amaze with half of that toolbox. And be put on par with a pro (by the public). I bet everyone in this room has been told by a friend "that's the same trick you do!"

It just isn't like that with athletes, actors etc.

I do think there is an unfortunate sense of "I'm a great mentalist even tho I'm not a pro" among people these days.

What I'm positing is that this is a structural deficiency of this art form. A built in component.
Keith Raygor
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DynaMix, I think it is the same with actors, musicians and even plumbers. I'm not sure it's exclusive to magicians and mentalists. There will always be pros with more or less talent, or technical skills, or experience than the guy working down the street. There are different types of venues and services. For example, cover bands, local theater, touring regional bands or theater shows. You'll find amazing performers standing next to someone who's still figuring things out.

With actors and musicians and magicians/mentalists, an audition process exists for advanced gigs that can help separate the abilities. It is true that technical abilities give us a wider selection of tools, but at the end of the show, it will be the audience reactions that tell the story and the truth about shows presented to audiences. And I believe that originality, talent, experience, personality and conviction will lead to the desired goals alongside technical abilities.

This need to break it all down to a box that one is either inside or out is so counter-productive to the furthering of any art.

Anyone reading Penny for a few years already understands the distinctions (and similarities!) between magic and mentalism - a thousand times over. The point is made regularly, and sometimes said differently than I would say it. But OK, we get it already. We know how some feel about it. Now, what's the next step? Continued humiliation for those that don't know the answers? I don't know any people in real life that talk that way to each other. In a place that brings LOVERS of the art together to question, answer, and celebrate.
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