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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » ASYMPTOTES. New book coming soon from Ben Blau (23 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Ben Blau
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On May 14, 2016, Robb wrote:
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On May 14, 2016, Magical Dimensions wrote:
I just was wondering........ After watching the video on the first page.......... Why would a mentalist SHUFFLE sooooooooooooo many times? This is what a magic trick looks like. Yes?


I know that my little picture over on the left shows me floating, and yes I was a magician for around 30 years. I've been in mentalism for the last ten and don't do any more magic. But at first glacé of the video, all I saw was a magician trying to make a card trick FIT into what he thinks mentalism is.

Just by using little phases with the words mind, influence, project your thoughts,, doesn't make card tricks mentalism. I am sorry but where is the mentalism? I couldn't watch all of the first video because the mentalist KEPT shuffling the cards...... Who does that other than a magician?

I understand that the key thing these days is mentalism and many magicians think that adding what they think is mentalism into their act (if they have one) makes them a mentalist. Uhhhhh it doesn't. Mentalism to me looks nothing like this? Now if I was still a card magician. I might be all over this book. It sounds like great card magic.

Ray


Agree completely, Ray.

It's card magic, not mentalism. I don't think that a lot of guys can recognize the difference which is a problem in my eyes.

It's like saying country music is suddenly jazz because you include a diminshed 7th chord. Not the way it works.

I've been discussing this with Ben and others on various places. They want to know WHY it isn't mentalism.

My answer is because it lacks the emotional and dramatic impact of mentalism. There is no feeling that the choices being made (or any of the actions for that matter, including the cuts and shuffles) have any real process behind them. Procedure, yes, process, no. It FEELS like the spectator could have just said anything and the outcome would have been the same, which is of course the case.

Now, Ben says that the reactions have been amazing. Well, maybe from magicians, and maybe there is some element from lay people of, "Wow, how did that happen?", but that is not what makes a presentation mentalism. Mentalism isn't just a happy accident.

Just my opinion, as always.


As I've stated, I'm fine with you having this opinion. However, just for the record, you are not the final authority on defining what is or is not mentalism. You have a certain philosophy, and that's great. But I really doubt that Max Maven would have written the foreword to ASYMPTOTES if he felt that it wasn't mentalism.

I could do a whole bunch more name-dropping at this point of famous mentalists (far more well-known than you) who have contacted me to praise my work, but I will refrain.

You have made your point. But in my view, you're too entrenched in a dogmatic way of thinking. You have no idea what my general narrative is as a performer, and (understandably) lack the context in which to consider my material. Obviously, you don't see it as being suitable for you. Great! Fine!

But others DO, and to them this IS mentalism.

It certainly is to me. I could explain my reasoning within the context of my narrative and personal performance philosophy, but I can see that devolving into an uglier debate in this thread. I don't want to see that happen.

I have reached out to you privately, offered to let you watch other videos of mine, and to talk about what I believe is important in mentalism. You've ignored me.

As you've done on Facebook, you seem to be on a mission to dissuade others from appreciating this work.

My advice to them is to follow their own instincts, and decide for themselves whether or not my material is suitable for their character.

-Ben
brehaut
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If using playing cards is not for you when performing mentalism---fine. I don't understand the bashing of this book. I'm not a fan of readings. I have my reasons and I know some love using readings in their performances. Just because they are not for me I don't go around bashing any effects or material using readings.
Ben Blau
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On May 14, 2016, brehaut wrote:
If using playing cards is not for you when performing mentalism---fine. I don't understand the bashing of this book. I'm not a fan of readings. I have my reasons and I know some love using readings in their performances. Just because they are not for me I don't go around bashing any effects or material using readings.


Same here. There are plenty of mentalists out there (some of whom are high-profile) whose acts and material I just don't "get". But going out of my way to bash them would be the height of hubris. Just because I don't get it, it certainly doesn't mean I'm right.
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Quote:
On May 14, 2016, Robb wrote:
Quote:
On May 14, 2016, Magical Dimensions wrote:
I just was wondering........ After watching the video on the first page.......... Why would a mentalist SHUFFLE sooooooooooooo many times? This is what a magic trick looks like. Yes?


I know that my little picture over on the left shows me floating, and yes I was a magician for around 30 years. I've been in mentalism for the last ten and don't do any more magic. But at first glacé of the video, all I saw was a magician trying to make a card trick FIT into what he thinks mentalism is.

Just by using little phases with the words mind, influence, project your thoughts,, doesn't make card tricks mentalism. I am sorry but where is the mentalism? I couldn't watch all of the first video because the mentalist KEPT shuffling the cards...... Who does that other than a magician?

I understand that the key thing these days is mentalism and many magicians think that adding what they think is mentalism into their act (if they have one) makes them a mentalist. Uhhhhh it doesn't. Mentalism to me looks nothing like this? Now if I was still a card magician. I might be all over this book. It sounds like great card magic.

Ray


Agree completely, Ray.

It's card magic, not mentalism. I don't think that a lot of guys can recognize the difference which is a problem in my eyes.

It's like saying country music is suddenly jazz because you include a diminshed 7th chord. Not the way it works.

I've been discussing this with Ben and others on various places. They want to know WHY it isn't mentalism.

My answer is because it lacks the emotional and dramatic impact of mentalism. There is no feeling that the choices being made (or any of the actions for that matter, including the cuts and shuffles) have any real process behind them. Procedure, yes, process, no. It FEELS like the spectator could have just said anything and the outcome would have been the same, which is of course the case.

Now, Ben says that the reactions have been amazing. Well, maybe from magicians, and maybe there is some element from lay people of, "Wow, how did that happen?", but that is not what makes a presentation mentalism. Mentalism isn't just a happy accident.

Just my opinion, as always.


The problem with your "opinion" is that it seems to have not been written from the perspective of a mentalist but rather a magician. I'm glad that you, single handed get to define what is and is not mentalism. Max Maven, Sean Waters, Mark Elsdon, Marc Salem, etc. must not have gotten the memo that you wrote out to everyone putting such a strict definition upon what is and is not mentalism because your strict guidelines would exclude they work too (not to mention their endorsements of this book). Why would a mentalist "shuffle the cards so much", gee I don't know. Why would someone testing for ESP use ESP cards and shuffle so much. You seriously need to read or watch Persi Diaconis work on randomness or perhaps take an academically valid statistics course.

Furthermore your comments about this have had nothing to do with Ben's current book, but rather a half finished routine that he made the mistake of ever sharing publicly where someone like you would take it and use it to cast doubt on his entire body of work. He made it clear when he posted it, that it was a half finished routine that he posted in order to get feedback. Another major mistake that he must have made, was accepting anyone into the private facebook group that he created in order to encourage people to discuss his routines when many of these supposed "critics" have admitted to never having ever purchased, nor read his book. So yes, lets debate a book that we haven't read, that Max Maven has written a forward of and rather just burn it in a pile of books like many other fascists have done in years past - all because it doesn't fit some definition of mentalism that we made up in our minds.

When you discuss things like "emotional and dramatic impact", you are truly discussing your abilities or lack thereof, to create original scripts. It isn't Ben's responsibility to write your scripts for you. If you want different creative twists and turns than you need to write them into the script. It shouldn't be about the method (at least if you were a true mentalist it shouldn't be). If you don't think that it's dramatic enough, that's because of your lack of knowledge with scripting and presentation. However your original criticism on facebook wasn't that it lacked emotional and dramatic impact, so please lets be honest. Your original criticism was that it was "too long" and you wanted it to be more direct. You wanted it to be like "think of this... boom this is what you are thinking of" and that is not what a mentalist is, nor what a mentalist does. I can cite you Derren Brown, Caleb Strange, and many other great performers who disagree with you and specifically point to mentalism as being specifically longer and that is what makes it mentalism, NOT MAGIC. If you want these short, hit and run 'tricks' rather than read mentalism then please see the $5 section on whatever your favorite magic trick website is but that's not mentalism.

Ben performs for real world people, not magicians. He has performed for magicians at a local magic shop but mostly he performs for real people in the real world. His material is tried and tested. To cite the Great Max Maven (someone who we are all in debt to), "This is smart material, for smart people... Clearly, when it comes to theatrical mystery, Ben Blau aspires to perfection."

Yours,
RM

PS: This has nothing to do with you not liking the book. Many of the routines are not for me either but I think that it's rather rude to around, take time out of your day, to trash the book on numerous places across the internet. If you wanted to say that it wasn't for you and give reasons for such, fine. Nobody has a problem with that, not even Ben but trashing someone else's work with vague comments and ill informed categorization is discourteous. It makes great creators to not want to publish their work and put themselves out there.
Robb
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Wow, so touchy! In any case, I was not referring to the book but the single video that Ray was referencing. Chill out man. The book may very well be chock full of great mentalism routines. Don't know, haven't read it. But the video in question, in my eyes, is not a mentalism presentation.

You really are mischaracterizing my criticism. You should learn to separate what a person is actually saying from your knee jerk reactions.
IAIN
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...on the naughty step NOW! all three of you!...

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Robb
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RM: "The problem with your "opinion" is that it seems to have not been written from the perspective of a mentalist but rather a magician. I'm glad that you, single handed get to define what is and is not mentalism."

Nope, I'm a mentalist only. Never performed magic except as a kid. And yes, we ALL get to define what mentalism is. Naturally, the definitions will vary. Mine requires what I said... Emotion, drama, mystery, direct, etc. If your idea of mentalism doesn't include these things, that's ok with me. If you believe the routine being discussed (as demonstrated in the video) includes those elements, that is also a matter of perception, isn't it?

I will agree with you on one point: it was probably unnecessary and rude to comment yet again on my feelings about this demonstration, so I apologize to Ben for that. I'm certain he's written a great book and I hope he sells a boat load.
Ben Blau
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Still not clear on which video you were referencing. The one on the first page of this thread was a demonstration of "Ishin-Denshin". Is that the one? Or were you referring to the ESP match-up I posted elsewhere?
Robb
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Wow, yeah, it was the ESP match up routine. Sorry, confused them. I actually like the one you shared on the first page, that is much more interesting to me. Still a little on the procedural side for me. I tend to see things through the lens of performing for a group, not one on one, so I'm a little skewed in that way as well.

But yeah, this one strikes me much more as a true mentalism piece. Ironic, given it uses playing cards whereas the other one uses ESP cards. This one feels it's much more about the participant and what is going on between your minds and that is not lost or diluted by an overly long and complicated procedure as I felt it was in the ESP matchup routine.

Sorry, Ben, I should have checked to confirm that Ray was referencing the same video.
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I don't know that your material overall isn't for me. I was only discussing two specific videos... And like I said, I think I was overly opinionated in my critique. I am always hesitant to evaluate others performances because I know how important confidence in what we're doing is and I don't want to be the guy to throw doubts into someone's head. That said, you did say that the routine was a work in progress so I was coming from that angle as well, trying to offer something constructive but it failed to come off that way.
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John C
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I am liking ishin-denshin. Nice stuff Ben. Real nice.
The ULTIMATE Routine Series: rebirth soon!
Ben Blau
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On May 15, 2016, John C wrote:
I am liking ishin-denshin. Nice stuff Ben. Real nice.


Absolutely one of my favorites. Knowing this routine is infinite power. Since it's completely
impromptu and relies only on subtlety, you can pull off a miracle any time a deck of cards happens to be handy!

Thanks, John!
Ben Blau
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This evening, I received an email from Eugene Burger (in regard to the ESP match-up routine, "UNFAZED"). Here is what he wrote:

"Hi Ben

Thanks so much for sending this to me. It is a wonderful routine and very deceptive. In fact, it fooled me completely the first time around -- and bewildered me the second viewing...

...I am a bit awed that you figured this all out!

I love your work. It is so clever and deceptive. Do send me anything else you think I might enjoy. You are very creative!

Best always, Eugene"

To be fair, he did indicate that he believes the routine is currently too long, which is something I was already aware of from the beginning. Nevertheless, tightening it up is my task to accomplish, and it WILL be accomplished. Now that I've had the opportunity to perform this a couple dozen times, I'm convinced of its effectiveness. There's just denying the reactions it's been getting.

"UNFAZED" is not in ASYMPTOTES, and I'm not yet sure if or how it will be published. I am releasing a custom symbol deck soon, so it will perhaps be released as part of that project.

-Ben
Ben Blau
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On May 16, 2016, Ben Blau wrote:
Quote:
On May 15, 2016, John C wrote:
I am liking ishin-denshin. Nice stuff Ben. Real nice.


Absolutely one of my favorites. Knowing this routine is infinite power. Since it's completely
impromptu and relies only on subtlety, you can pull off a miracle any time a deck of cards happens to be handy!

Thanks, John!


I meant to type "intimate power", not "infinite". Although infinite power would be nice!
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Quote:
On May 16, 2016, Ben Blau wrote:
This evening, I received an email from Eugene Burger (in regard to the ESP match-up routine, "UNFAZED"). Here is what he wrote:

"Hi Ben

Thanks so much for sending this to me. It is a wonderful routine and very deceptive. In fact, it fooled me completely the first time around -- and bewildered me the second viewing...

...I am a bit awed that you figured this all out!

I love your work. It is so clever and deceptive. Do send me anything else you think I might enjoy. You are very creative!

Best always, Eugene"

To be fair, he did indicate that he believes the routine is currently too long, which is something I was already aware of from the beginning. Nevertheless, tightening it up is my task to accomplish, and it WILL be accomplished. Now that I've had the opportunity to perform this a couple dozen times, I'm convinced of its effectiveness. There's just denying the reactions it's been getting.

"UNFAZED" is not in ASYMPTOTES, and I'm not yet sure if or how it will be published. I am releasing a custom symbol deck soon, so it will perhaps be released as part of that project.

-Ben


I have to agree, Ben! Very fun and straightforward routine! Brilliant in its simplicity! I have no doubt people will be chomping at the bit if and when you release it! Cheers!
Tada!...

.
Ben Blau
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After sending Eugene the method to "UNFAZED", he wrote back:

"Hi Ben

Thanks for sending this. Watching the explanation cleared up some confusion I had in trying to reconstruct it. I must say that this is a truly wonderful routine that I just may begin performing. I really like it. So deceptive and a terrific ending. I am so impressed! Thanks again, Eugene"

I'm basically speechless!
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Hi Ben
I was wondering if you had any news on UK supplies. I suspect there are a few magicians waiting for the restock? Can you have a word with the wholesaler. I for one am looking every day but the whole of the UK is out of stock! Got to get those sales coming In?
Ben Blau
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On May 21, 2016, mattH wrote:
Hi Ben
I was wondering if you had any news on UK supplies. I suspect there are a few magicians waiting for the restock? Can you have a word with the wholesaler. I for one am looking every day but the whole of the UK is out of stock! Got to get those sales coming In?


I do know that the wholesaler has placed several orders. My only guess is that the preorder demand was underestimated, and that they are fulfilling all of the back orders.

I am not happy about the situation, but I can arrange to have the book shipped anywhere in the world. My publisher has a plant in the UK, and we can have a book sent directly to you. Send me a PM and we can arrange this right away.

Thanks!!!
John C
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Quote:
On May 14, 2016, Robb wrote:
Quote:
On May 14, 2016, Magical Dimensions wrote:
I just was wondering........ After watching the video on the first page.......... Why would a mentalist SHUFFLE sooooooooooooo many times? This is what a magic trick looks like. Yes?


I know that my little picture over on the left shows me floating, and yes I was a magician for around 30 years. I've been in mentalism for the last ten and don't do any more magic. But at first glacé of the video, all I saw was a magician trying to make a card trick FIT into what he thinks mentalism is.

Just by using little phases with the words mind, influence, project your thoughts,, doesn't make card tricks mentalism. I am sorry but where is the mentalism? I couldn't watch all of the first video because the mentalist KEPT shuffling the cards...... Who does that other than a magician?

I understand that the key thing these days is mentalism and many magicians think that adding what they think is mentalism into their act (if they have one) makes them a mentalist. Uhhhhh it doesn't. Mentalism to me looks nothing like this? Now if I was still a card magician. I might be all over this book. It sounds like great card magic.

Ray


Agree completely, Ray.

It's card magic, not mentalism. I don't think that a lot of guys can recognize the difference which is a problem in my eyes.

It's like saying country music is suddenly jazz because you include a diminshed 7th chord. Not the way it works.

I've been discussing this with Ben and others on various places. They want to know WHY it isn't mentalism.

My answer is because it lacks the emotional and dramatic impact of mentalism. There is no feeling that the choices being made (or any of the actions for that matter, including the cuts and shuffles) have any real process behind them. Procedure, yes, process, no. It FEELS like the spectator could have just said anything and the outcome would have been the same, which is of course the case.

Now, Ben says that the reactions have been amazing. Well, maybe from magicians, and maybe there is some element from lay people of, "Wow, how did that happen?", but that is not what makes a presentation mentalism. Mentalism isn't just a happy accident.

Just my opinion, as always.



Just your opinion certainly. I hope others understand this is your opinion and from that form their own opinion.

"most" any card trick can be performed as mentalism. This isn't my opinion it's more of a fact. If I have to explain this here then whomever needs to read the explanation won't get it anyway.

So, that's all I have to say on that.

Ben's stuff is a blueprint in my mind. Lots of ideas and methods put together in various ways that most of us haven't thought of or are too busy to think of.

I like his thinking a lot. What he offers isn't CEMENT. it's more like porous gravel or like a rubber cement that can be moved around until it's positioned correctly for a more permanent working, yet not permanent for eternity.

Why do some posts begin as grievances or jealousy then end with "just my opinion!" I mean why not start off with saying, "I respect Ben's work and the fact that he put in the time and discipline to publish his work for the rest of us. I haven't read it yet but geez it could be good."

Or at least, "My work is much better, here's a FREE sample download ... MYWORK.PDF

Instead of "IT'S CARD MAGIC, NOT MENTALISM!" sounds like a definite statement of fact to me.

And I'm a musician too and the analogy to country and jazz is pretty lame. (my opinion of course!)hahaha

Like a master mentalist - who does use PLAYING cards BTW - always says.....

Keep the change,

j
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