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PostPosted: Oct 29th, '07, 00:07
by themagicwand

Really, magic or mentalism? Who cares.

I have the upmost respect for Craig and have learned a heck of a lot from his posts over the years, I also like the guy as an individual. However I see myself primarily as a mentalist but I use cards in my routines all the time. I know Craig hates this, but it works for me in the environments that I'm employed in.

Personally I see no problem in mixing up the various disciplines and styles. The great divides that others perceive perhaps aren't as great as they imagine.

PostPosted: Oct 29th, '07, 00:29
by mark lewis
I don't believe it is compulsory to specialise. You can if you wish and it does help you focus your energies. But it isn't mandatory. Karrell Fox and Johnny Thompson are well known examples of the general practicioner kind of magician. Karrel did hypnotism shows, mentalism shows, MC work, comedy magic, trade show magic, kid shows and much more. I think Thompson had a broad range too.

You can't pigeon hole people.

I am basically a card magician and a pretty good one. However if I just realised on cards alone I would starve. So I do hypnosis shows, kid shows, mentalism shows, magic shows. I will sell svengali decks and do psychic readings.

Lack of specialisation is not a sin. A mentalism only section with restricted access does indees seem a little elitist to me although I do have the key to the door. No big deal but I suppose I can see how a few people might get irritated by it.

PostPosted: Oct 29th, '07, 00:57
by Miles More Magic
Mark and others,
I must admit that I made a mistake, in that it seemed as if I was having a dig about there being a mentalist only section, or sections. My fault for not making it clear, for which I apologise. It was really the fact that in the egneral forum, mentioning magic and mentalism together ending in posts that the mods have felt needed locking.

yes, it did seem as if there was a great divide, as this is what was being pushed down our throats. As stated before, this thread has had a good selection of replies from different genres of magic.

My comments were to bring out a response. This is the first thread on learning specific, against learning a range of, magic that I have read for ages which has been conducted civily. I thank you all for the replies given so far.


PostPosted: Oct 29th, '07, 03:22
by Trickyfied
I have been a member of this forum for a short while but am finding it hard to contribute for fear of exposure, without access to the restricted areas it is increasingly harder to talk magic. I cannot imagine being invited into the mentalist area based on my posts alone and I know not to ask, hopefully some of the decision makers are great mentalists and can divine that I am very much into mentalism as well as all forms of magic. I remember a while ago I made a post about a secret area of the forum as a joke and instead of understanding the humour people thought I was having a dig at the restricted area (which i wasnt and to save arguments I deleted my posts). Long and short of it, I agree there must be a restricted area to combat exposure but I feel it should all be unlocked for any one individual all at one time.

PostPosted: Oct 29th, '07, 09:08
by DrTodd
Tomo wrote:
DrTodd wrote:Gotta agree with you there! Mix, match, grow, learn...have fun...

Indeed. Cross pollination of ideas is a good and creative thing. It avoids stagnation and a static or even shrinking "gene pool".

I wrote a little essay about this on my blog in which I see we have a 'performance possibility frontier' that draws on our relative knowledge and experience in magic and mentalism. These are kindred and allied arts that show infinite variety bounded by only by our own creativity.

My remarks were not meant to be tongue in cheek, but a genuine call for maturity, thinking, and curiousity about things, which will lead to higher levels of knowledge.

The blog is here:

PostPosted: Nov 4th, '07, 05:46
by Saxon Greye
This is about the magicians wanting to learn some mentalism...

I read this thread a little while ago and decided to learn mentalism to figure out what mentalism entailed. I discovered to my vast astonishment (and I make no claim to even truly understand it well.) mentalism and magic are almost different forms of art altogether, any magician who wants to learn mentalism should be allowed to, just to see what its like. I personaly decided to stick with my cards and coins. but maybe we should have a place for magicians or anyone really to be able to get a grasp on mentalism, maybe just a note on how the two are so different and just discriptions on what they really are from people who know what these two catagories of magic really are.

Just a suggestion.

The mentalism trick I figured out (let me know if this even is a form of mentalism) is you have someone think about a number between one and ten, while under the table you have a rubber band you snap under the table the number of times that you want the number to be so say six times, then ask them if the number 6. This trick has worked on alot of people for me.

PostPosted: Nov 4th, '07, 13:55
by Tomo

I enjoyed reading that a lot, Todd. Here's an essay I wrote over the summer for Online Visions, which I think backs up what you're saying but from a different angle:

PostPosted: Nov 10th, '07, 00:07
by Morgan
I’m rediscovering Magic (seems right that the “art” should be referred to with a capital M), after losing interest in my teens.
What I am finding on my journey of rediscovery is that there are whole spheres of specialism out there which I will hardly ever delve into in any great depth, such as coin work and stage illusions. That said, this doesn’t stop me from researching into these areas to find little “snippets” of information that I can use elsewhere.

I basically came back because of my kids. They’re at the age where I can put on a show for birthday parties to save myself a few pounds and don’t have to hire a “professional”. Now, whilst I enjoy “doing tricks” for my kids and our regular guests (my wife’s a childminder), I’ve found that doing full fledged kids shows for parties is just not my bag. I love kids but the chaos and stress just puts me off.

Hats off to all the kids entertainers out there.

I’ve thought about working a little close up in local cafés as a sideline to not only boost my modest income but also to help me develop as a performer, after all, what’s the point of learning this stuff if no-one else gets to see it? However, I’ve not actually gone down this route because I’m beginning to question myself as to WHY?! Why am I doing this trick or that trick? What possible reason could I have to vanish your ring and make it appear in my wallet? Or make a steel ball pass through a brass tube too narrow to accommodate it?
In a lot of ways, I see this as the “bread and butter” of this Art of Magic. Close-up teaches us about angles, audience psychology, misdirection and the importance of patter to elevate a trick from a simple puzzle to a real miracle.

Those last couple of lines I think encapsulate the ethos behind EVERY branch and specialism there is.

Personally, I’m more interested in Mentalism than anything else at the moment. I thought it was due to the ever popular D.B that I finally found a branch of Magic where I felt truly comfortable with not only WHAT I was performing but WHY I was performing it. Not only that, I could do it without feeling that in some way I was in some way patronising my audience in taking them on some fantastical journey in order to “sell” a trick.
In many ways I think it was the fault of Max Maven and his t.v shows in the Eighties that put me off “traditional” Magic per se.

Anyway. I digress.

Having come full circle in a purely amateur sense ( I in no way claim to be professional or truly competent in ANY field), I feel that whilst there will probably always be a divide between Mentalists and Magicians there really is no reason for any kind of animosity to exist between them.
Mentalism is merely an area of magic which those who specialise in other areas, coins, cards, kids, stage illusion will barely delve into in their lives to any great depth.

Fact is, I don’t think any Mentalist worth his salt would restrict himself to doing purely Mental work because it would restrict his/her effects too much.
Likewise, Close Up and Street Magicians can EASILY incorporate Mental effects in their repertoire not only making them better performers but also greatly enhancing the audience’s experience.

Fact is, we all like to feel special and different from everyone else. We all like to hold our little “specialties” close to our chests.
In essence it all about the individual doing the effect and how it is performed. What suits you does not necessarily suit me. It’s the old adage coming back to haunt us folks. It’s in just about every book on Magic I’ve read….

Be Yourself.

If you feel the need to go out and learn some Mentalism stuff (or any REALLY good Magic Effects for that matter)…go do it….if you feel it will enhance your performance….go do it…research it…buy the books and find your path….just don’t expect anyone to give you the answers freely.

Another old adage springs to mind: “Advice is free, the right answer will cost you plenty
Whilst I agree that really there is no need to single out Mentalism as a separate forum to everything else here at T.M. there are very good reason why a separate discussion forum SHOULD exist for it.
In much the same way that there should be a separate area for those who specialise in Street Magic or Card Magic and such like so that the stronger effects and routines can be freely discussed amongst those who have proven the required knowledge and expertise to REQUIRE a little secrecy and “Elitism”.

It should not be a question of WHY is there a separate Mentalism area but “WHY shouldn’t every other specialism have it’s own area?”.

PostPosted: Nov 10th, '07, 00:27
by Morgan
Actually, one thing I hadn't really bothered to be bothered about is this:

If there is a Restricted area for Mentalism, why do we need a whole seperated Restricted area for members who have bought a particular book?
Can space not be found to create a thread within an already restricted area for such a thing?

Just a thought, which I do not intend in any way to be a personal attack on anyone.

PostPosted: Nov 10th, '07, 14:23
by Mandrake
Morgan wrote:why do we need a whole seperated Restricted area for members who have bought a particular book?
Can space not be found to create a thread within an already restricted area for such a thing?
Excellent questions and thank you for raising them!

Assuming you mean the Naked Mentalism Area, this was specifically intended just for book owners so they could share ideas and thoughts as a consequence of reading it - a few years ago we had similar areas for owners of particular effects and utilities such as Neil Tobin's X-Pert. Due to the nature of these items, any open discussion would rightly be classed as exposure, there's no other way of discussing them, so needs to be restricted to those who can demonstrate that they actually have the item - even in the Restricted Areas we get secrets seekers! From a technical point of view (or more likely due to my incompetence in setting things up!) it wasn't possible to put a Restricted Area inside another Restricted Area hence it was created in it's own little part of the TM Universe. I hope that helps explain but please feel free to ask if there are any other questions.

PostPosted: Nov 10th, '07, 20:27
my final thoughts on it all...

i don't pay for the upkeep of this place, i have a free choice to go where i choose...i paid my dues here, reviewed, help out, links etc etc...

then after a while, i got into the first lot of secret areas, FOR MAGICIANS, where you can discuss your own work in deeper still can't reveal someone elses work, or learn any free effects (that wasnt aimed at anyone, more towards lurkers who might be out for a freebie...)

then again, after a while, of contributing, adding ideas, blah blah blah, and my stuff started taking a natural lean towards mentalism, i bought the books, learnt all over again, and eventually got access into the mentalism area...

i personally, wouldnt want someone in there who didnt "do their time" in the rest of the site, as some of my work is up there, all the people in the mentalist area, even though i dont know them all, i trust purely cos i trust the people who mod this place to make the right judgement call...

im still not allowed into the secret areas of two other magic/mentalism sites, fair enough! it just means i either dont go there (girlfriend) or i contribute more within their rules..not my rules...theres!

so there..nyah... :D

PostPosted: Nov 11th, '07, 00:35
by Craig Browning
themagicwand wrote:Really, magic or mentalism? Who cares.

I have the upmost respect for Craig and have learned a heck of a lot from his posts over the years, I also like the guy as an individual. However I see myself primarily as a mentalist but I use cards in my routines all the time. I know Craig hates this, but it works for me in the environments that I'm employed in.

Personally I see no problem in mixing up the various disciplines and styles. The great divides that others perceive perhaps aren't as great as they imagine.

I only hate the guys that think that doing NOTHING BUT CARD TRICKS is the same as being a Mentalist and too, I believe they are a distraction for reasons we've discussed in the past. I do however have several routines that I present that use playing cards and for some strange reason just purchased two one-way force decks :roll: (not that I'd stoop so low as to exploit the thoughts of one of our stronger personalities around here... like Paul Brook)

When I first came into magic the books explained the divisions of magic as well as the specialty areas such as the Manipulator or Traditional styled performers ala Channing or even Shimada in those days. There were 4 primary fields of magic i.e. Grand Stage, Stage/Club, Parlor and Close-up describing the venue factor then you had the reduction from there and the variables set within each field; Jules Lenear was a noted "coin man" but Tony Slydini was the recognized King of Lapping methods... both were close-up and manipulation artists however. Neither ran around trying to take any and every show date that came along by having a balloon act, escape act, and psychic show; they did what they knew and they hung around with the others that specialized in their particular field.

What was stressed in those days was discipline and learning to focus on one thing until you are the best at doing that one thing e.g. I locked onto grand stage illusions for about 20 years or so blending what is best described as Escape-Illusions into the show show for a brief period (after getting hurt a few times I stepped away from it). Do note that there is a major difference between illusions that appear to be an escape, such as a Sub Trunk or Assistant's Revenge vs. real escapes (which are rarely gimmicked... at least not in the way most envision).

My passion for illusions placed me in a world in which I was exposed to most every version and make of key props e.g. those within that field talked and swapped ideas and these things were "our secrets"... they weren't published over night nor did we have 1,001 up-starts insisting that they deserved to know what was what.

Think of it from a military perspective -- it's not your field of endeavor e.g. you have no "need to know".

When it comes to the Mentalism Section and why it was dedicated, the issue was quite simple; it was to help those wanting to learn about that specific area and not all the other stuff.

There are other forums that have a breakdown for Card Magic, Kids Magic, Bizarre, Escapes, and every CATEGORY of performance and venture, there are even those forums with Chirstian or Gospel themed magic categories on their menus... again, it is to allow focus as well as safety; the ability to speak with others that KNOW or are learning about one specific area within this vast art form.

The other problem when it comes to the Mentalism Only section and the invented discord certain folks seem to be wanting to weave, is that they do not understand (or accept) the fact that Mentalism is not about tricks but technique and tactics. Most of these people perceive mentalism in the same exact manner as they do magic and yet, they will be the first one's whining over not getting the same kind of results when they try something; forever refusing to listen to experience or read material that precedes the trend of this past decades' making.

I can assure you, if Steve Baker were here he'd want to know where the Escape Artist section is in that he wouldn't want to talk openly about his side of the craft to just anyone. He wants to communicate with people who are serious about the field that happens to have been his career. Then again, I'm certain someone akin to John Pendragon or Franz would like to see a section dedicated to stage Illusions specifically so they could help walk people through on how to properly set props or help someone getting ready to buy a new device find the best quality as well as better design of each system... believe it or not there are HUGE differences as well as nuances that aren't of common knowledge but again, it's a "need to know" type of thing.

I've found that sibling nit-picking such as a few keep insisting on expressing around here, typically stems from jealousy far more than anything else. All I can say is that I'm sorry if I've seen more, done more and know more than the average bear but it's not my fault, it's just how my life has unfolded over the years. Then again, the bitterness of my bite comes from the fact that I survived learning from old guys like Vernon, who would crack your knuckles with a wand if you screwed up, or task masters like Peter Reveen, who expected one to actually work when the work had to get done. I didn't grow-up with the benefit of a "normal" life and I can assure you, not everything from my past is as "enchanting" as I oft times make it sound, there are many nightmares attached to it all as well.

The bottom line, at least in regards to this idiotic thread's theme, is that there should be some division that helps clarify specialty areas of study. BUT, as I have pointed out, this board was not laid out that way while others have been and perhaps those that are moderators of such forums should simply mind their own herd and not try to insist on this board being the same as the other... then too, perhaps those that want a specialty section that is more item specific, need to just find those forums that have all the categories... like you'll find at the Magic Cafe or any number of other amateur-hour type sites.

TM has worked just fine in its current configuration for a very long time, free of acts of deliberate rudeness, such as we've seen recently, most all of it aimed in my direction by the same three or for people, only two of whom I've had any kind of interaction with to speak of, one of whom I used to consider a friend.

PostPosted: Nov 11th, '07, 08:34
by DrTodd
Tomo wrote:

I enjoyed reading that a lot, Todd. Here's an essay I wrote over the summer for Online Visions, which I think backs up what you're saying but from a different angle:

Likewise Tomo...I enjoyed that!

PostPosted: Nov 11th, '07, 14:32
by Part-Timer
I hadn't even seen this thread until today, so I feel a bit like I'm arriving at the party at midnight (although I suppose that feeling depends upon the sort of parties you go to).

Mentalism is a subset of magic, just as, say, property law is a subset of law. There are materials that are of interest to commercial property lawyers that are just too specialised to matter to general lawyers, sometimes even ones that dabble in property law (doing a bit of conveyancing, in among the discrimination claims, sale of goods actions, cowboy builders, divorce and will-writing).

With magic techniques, there is also the fact that secrecy is important. While we are largely willing to share some secrets and ideas with other performers, there are some things that only people with sufficient experience 'should' see, and yet more that perhaps we only share with our friends, with certain particularly hot concepts kept back for ourselves.

By creating a mentalists only section, it can encourage people not only to post ideas that fall into the second category I listed above, but also to get an idea of who might fall into the penultimate one.

I wouldn't have a problem with being excluded from an escapology section, for example. As it is, I've still not been allowed into the Naked Mentalism area! :)

I think part of the problem is that Craig uses the term 'magician' in a perjorative way. I am sure that he has a lot of respect for a lot of magicians, but the problem he's getting at is (at least) two-fold.

The first is a lack of respect for a branch of magic that almost requires subtlety. Many mentalism effects 'look' easy, certainly compared to those expensive boxes on stage, or years spent learning a flawless backpalm, or to do 20 straight Faro shuffles while balancing a pen on your nose.

Those who've not taken the time to study the field might think that all there is to a book test is saying the word. That doesn't apply to all magicians, as experienced ones should understand the real work, but there are plenty of performers who just want to do cool stuff that gets great reactions. Even long-time magicians can miss exactly why an effect is powerful. Getting a good response (when they should be getting a great one) may provide false validation.

I think backs are put up because Craig tends to express this as being of universal application to magicians, when really it's a generalisation and perhaps one that's not too generous to magicians.

The second issue is to do with approaching mentalism like a magician. I think there is more than one aspect to this. The first is 'thinking like a magician' and covering all possibilities, instead of having the right 'mental' (:wink:) attitude. I don't think this is relevant to the current discussion.

The next element is the generalist approach of some performers. I think the clearest illustration of this is the story Craig has of a clown doing the MOAB at a child's birthday party. It's a great book test, but I doubt many people would justify its inclusion in a kids' show. Clearly, to Mr Blinky (or whatever) it was a great trick, so why not fit it in alongside the magic van, and balloon animals?

However, this point goes further. If you do kids' shows, or restaurant work, does your persona support you doing a 'proper' mentalism act at all, even if kept separate?

Does your credibility suffer if someone remembers you with the big wooden rabbits at their Katie's ninth birthday bash while you are on stage acting like an expert in psychology, or someone who has the gift of precognition?

What about the credibility of another performer who has dedicated himself to mind reading? Do you care? Should you?

There is some validity in keeping mentalism apart from other types of magic. When Derren Brown started doing his 'mind control' work, he specifically distanced himself from card tricks and other magic. That wasn't entirely successful, because some people rightly spotted that he was still doing tricks, but I see why he did it.

On the other hand, Kreskin used to do magic tricks on talk shows, but always made out that this was just a hobby, and unrelated to his actual work.

This doesn't mean you can't study, or like, other types of magic; it's often invaluable, as it allows for cross-pollination of ideas.

It is certainly possible to work more than one style of magic, including mentalism. What I think bears some thought is how we, as performers, can give ourselves and our audiences the best possible acts.

Sorry for the huge post, and for veering off-topic a bit. I am trying to explain why a separate mentalism section is justified (it's buried in there somewhere!)

PostPosted: Nov 11th, '07, 19:20
by bronz
By my bed at the moment I have The Garden Of The Strange, a work that sits squarely in the Bizarre Magic/Mentalism camp (which is where Jermay says he lives too if that makes it easier to categorise if you must). It contains among other things a routine that uses both psycho-visual suggestion, pure mind magic if you like, and the judicious application of a Raven. Make of that what you will.