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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Mentalism Definitively Defined (11 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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paul180
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Because it seems to be debatable, I offer this http://www.memidex.com/mentalism

What we think dosn't really matter although like in all professions, we may have our own vocabulary. It's why lawyers still use Latin, to keep us from knowing what they know.

So maybe our definitions matters more? A consensus would be helpful.
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BEWARE these Debbie downers and anything they say. They simply lack the self esteem or good will, to be positive or productive. Your belief in self, is more
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Martin Pulman
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That's the definition relating to Philosophy, not the performance art.

The "mentalism" we are discussing here is the performance art that creates the illusion of supranatural powers, which grew out of the stage mind-reading and spiritualist acts who recreated the effects of "real" spiritualists and mediums in the mid to late 1800s.

There really is very little real debate about this. We have been offered no evidence that 19th century psychic readers, mediums and faith healers ever called themselves "mentalists"-in fact the evidence presented so far suggests the opposite. The earliest printed mention discovered so far of a "mentalist" in a mind-reading context was a performer, Mr Wm. Broderson, advertising himself as an "illusionist and mentalist" in 1906. Although there are adverts from the 1800s were performers are promoting themselves as "mind readers and anti-spiritualists". The history of scepticism in stage mind-reading and mentalism is a long and proud one.

Hope that may be of some help.
Mr. Woolery
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So where do those who display what Corinda called “super mentality” fall in the supernatural description of mentalism? I’m not being argumentative, just pointing out that mnemonists and lightning calculators fit in somewhere, though I don’t know if it really fits in a definition of mentalism.

Years ago, someone here had a definition that said roughly “magic does the physically impossible, while mentalism displays the great potential of the human mind.” Anton James says “mentalism does tricks with the mind.”

Both of those are pretty broad, which is perhaps for the best, but they can also be a bit frustrating because such definitions lead to fuzzy edges. Would mental math be mentalism? How about readings? For both of those, there are people who say yes and others who say no. I tend toward inclusiveness.

Patrick
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F.W.H. Myers, one of the founders of modern scientific psychology said in the late 19th century that all mental abilities can be described as a continuum ranging from insight and intuition at one end to genius, savantism and mysticism at the other.
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It's a tad bit more complicated and with America being a relatively young country, compared to England, the written history is less. Starting around 1848 there were traveling "medicine" shows springing up out in the west. These "shows" had varying degrees of entertainment associated with the primary function of selling "cures" which would later be known as "snake oil". Some of these showman displayed mental feats, memory, hypnosis (trances), fortune tellers, mystics.....etc.

The spiritualist movement started a bit later, followed by Vaudeville and then the magicians exposure of mediums era.

So an exact definition with an exact date is a bit of a problem. The term remains elusive in the context of a true performer (only) versus someone performing to setup the taking of a mark. The two were not mutually exclusive and many were related to each other.
paul180
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Quote:
On Oct 20, 2017, Martin Pulman wrote:
That's the definition relating to Philosophy, not the performance art.


There are actually numerous definitions on the site, that range from Psychological to performance art.

RCP, I really love the historical context of your post and all around commitment to understanding the past. I also agree having read other posts of yours, that for one to understand the present, we must give homage to the past.

However, my intention with this post for US as a group of professionals and others, is to try to define OUR definition of the word. I'm hoping that this can be the beginning of a vocabulary the WE can all agree on, in an attempt to be clear and concise with ourselves.

We should I believe, include a historical reference to our modern day definition, to give a clear springboard to where we are now. Like knowing the meaning of the root of a word or it's main origin.
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a foolish man can learn from a wise answer.

Attributing negativity to a topic or post doesn't make the topic or post negative,
it shines a light on the negativity of the person or persons, making the attributions.

BEWARE these Debbie downers and anything they say. They simply lack the self esteem or good will, to be positive or productive. Your belief in self, is more
important and is all that matters, for your success to be glorious.
RCP
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Not to belabor the point but as far as the general public is concerned a TV show has defined the modern day definition. An actor, who probably knows nothing about the subject, is The Mentalist.
George Hunter
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The show had consultants from the ranks of professional mentalism and the actor, who did an engaging job, was tutored. Most good actors learn something about the character whose role they play; some pay the price to "inhabit" their role.

George
Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Oct 20, 2017, Mr. Woolery wrote:
So where do those who display what Corinda called “super mentality” fall in the supernatural description of mentalism? I’m not being argumentative, just pointing out that mnemonists and lightning calculators fit in somewhere, though I don’t know if it really fits in a definition of mentalism.

Years ago, someone here had a definition that said roughly “magic does the physically impossible, while mentalism displays the great potential of the human mind.” Anton James says “mentalism does tricks with the mind.”

Both of those are pretty broad, which is perhaps for the best, but they can also be a bit frustrating because such definitions lead to fuzzy edges. Would mental math be mentalism? How about readings? For both of those, there are people who say yes and others who say no. I tend toward inclusiveness.

Patrick


Hi Patrick,

I wrote "supranatural", not "supernatural". That term covers memory demonstrations and lightning calculation effects.

Regards,
Martin
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Quote:
On Oct 20, 2017, George Hunter wrote:
The show had consultants from the ranks of professional mentalism and the actor, who did an engaging job, was tutored. Most good actors learn something about the character whose role they play; some pay the price to "inhabit" their role.

George

Yes, Luke Jermay
RCP
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Martin, I cant find any info on your 1906 Mentalist, Mr Wm. Broderson? Do you have a source?

Thanks
Max Hazy
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Quote:
On Oct 20, 2017, paul180 wrote:
There are actually numerous definitions on the site, that range from Psychological to performance art.


Yes, it's there too. Those definitions don't go much away from what happens.

This is how I define mentalism when people ask me about it:

It's the study and reproduction of mental phenomena for entertaining purposes. It has 3 approaches:

1- Behavioral Psychology / Non-Verbal Communication
2- Illusionism Principles / Unorthodox Methods
3- Esoterism / Arcane Techniques

Works for me.
"Your method is in my opinion the very best way to do Q&A"
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Arcane Grimoires Vol 2- http://www.maxhazy.com/Codex-Mentis/
Mr. Woolery
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Thanks, Martin. I did, indeed, misread it.

Patrick
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Quote:
On Oct 21, 2017, Max Hazy wrote:
Quote:
On Oct 20, 2017, paul180 wrote:
There are actually numerous definitions on the site, that range from Psychological to performance art.


Yes, it's there too. Those definitions don't go much away from what happens.

This is how I define mentalism when people ask me about it:

It's the study and reproduction of mental phenomena for entertaining purposes. It has 3 approaches:

1- Behavioral Psychology / Non-Verbal Communication
2- Illusionism Principles / Unorthodox Methods
3- Esoterism / Arcane Techniques

Works for me.




"As a mentalist, you must become accustomed to perpetrating outright swindles without so much as a twinge of conscience...”
Tony Corinda.

That works better
Max Hazy
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Quote:
On Oct 21, 2017, RCP wrote:
"As a mentalist, you must become accustomed to perpetrating outright swindles without so much as a twinge of conscience...”
Tony Corinda.

That works better


I thought we were defining mentalism, not mentalists (or what mentalists must become accustomed to, to be specific).

I don't think that would work better for me at least, because my main language isn't english, so it gets a very different connotation.
"Your method is in my opinion the very best way to do Q&A"
Millard Longman

"Max has pushed some less known and seldom used principles a huge step forward"
Jan Forster


Arcane Grimoires Vol 1- http://www.maxhazy.com/arcane-grimoires/apocryphal-reach/

Arcane Grimoires Vol 2- http://www.maxhazy.com/Codex-Mentis/
RCP
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Godzilla
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That RCP fella, 'DOES KNOW', Jack ! Smile
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Max Hazy
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LOL
"Your method is in my opinion the very best way to do Q&A"
Millard Longman

"Max has pushed some less known and seldom used principles a huge step forward"
Jan Forster


Arcane Grimoires Vol 1- http://www.maxhazy.com/arcane-grimoires/apocryphal-reach/

Arcane Grimoires Vol 2- http://www.maxhazy.com/Codex-Mentis/
funsway
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Looking at Max's triple definition, I seek some clarification.

I have often performed demonstrations of "little known or unexplored human abilities" of a mental variety. Innate abilities is another possible phrase.
Most in an audience would perhaps accept these as "mentalism." I have shared some of these with known mentalists (including Bob) with no definitional glitch.

However, such demonstrations are not supernatural, supranatural or in any was connected to the 1800's history/approach.
So, where does such a demonstration fit into this definition?

One obvious example is a pendulum. Anyone can do it. It is a very natural ability even if the why/how of it is mysterious.
The fact that some mediums or performing mentalists have pretended to control it thought "unnatural agency" or "personal power"
does not make of it anything except a natural, universal and innate ability.

So, why is it performed by mentalist? Where does it fit in these definitions?
Certainly, a pendulum demonstration can be made very entertaining by adding some mysterious hoopla,
and one might infer/claim that some people have a greater ability than others. No problem. But, is it mentalism?
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Max Hazy
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Quote:
On Oct 22, 2017, funsway wrote:
Looking at Max's triple definition, I seek some clarification.


Pendulum work can be framed both as superatural or scientific. Such elements, including developed skills (e.g. super memory, intuition, etc) could fit in Unorthodox Methods, Non-Verbal Comunication or Arcane Techniques depending on how the performer framed it. That, of course, in my definition.

About readings, it is a bit more personal. I do think readings has classifications that don't fit. For instance, I consider Cold Reading as mentalism but I don't consider Psychic Readings to fit in the mentalism realm. Just like mentalism has things relating to magic, readings has things relating to mentalism, but both situations don't fit in entirely. It doesn't even has to be in the supernatural side to be the case, it also goes to the psychological approach (e.g. I don't consider Graphology Readings to be mentalism, but it could also be included in a mentalism act).

As to why such cases are performed by mentalists, it's even more personal. In my case, I'm fascinated by mystery and human mind. So whatever involves it, calls my attention. From illusions to subliminal messages and pareidolia, etc. If I had to describe myself 100% accurately, I would call me a prestidigitator, mentalist (in all senses of the word, including philosophical), hypnotist who also do palmistry, cartomancy, cold reading and body language reading, among other stuff. Too many things to care about being defined by a single word (artist maybe). I do refer to myself mainly as a mentalist simply for the sake people knowing that most of what I do relates to the mind, not only for actually doing mentalism. But people are much more familiar with the term magician, which technically, I am too. Plus a reader, so I had to adapt the definition to my reality and make people closer to understand it, without derailing it's actual meaning.

BTW, notice that I don't consider graphology or psychic readings to be mentalism, but it actually fits elements of my definition of mentalism (e.g. psychic readings is esoterism / arcane technique and graphology relates to Behavioral Psychology and Non-Verbal Communication). Any further generic case could fit in Unorthodox Methods. There are special cases, for instance, Psychic readings wouldn't always apply to the definition because it's not always for entertaining purposes (but can be too).
"Your method is in my opinion the very best way to do Q&A"
Millard Longman

"Max has pushed some less known and seldom used principles a huge step forward"
Jan Forster


Arcane Grimoires Vol 1- http://www.maxhazy.com/arcane-grimoires/apocryphal-reach/

Arcane Grimoires Vol 2- http://www.maxhazy.com/Codex-Mentis/
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