Mental Magic: A display of skill or something more?

Instead of mentally projecting your mentalism thoughts, type them here.

Postby prospero » 07/02/04 10:35 AM

There has been, particularly in recent years, great amount of discussion in the magic community about the presentation of mentalism and magic, and consequently, the presentation of mental magic. I read somewhere (and have read it many more places over time) that mentalism can be presented as "real magic" whereas no matter how advanced and brilliant the presentation, close-up magic will never be able to be perceived as anything but a sound display of technical skill. "I see, it's very clever." The spectators assume, no, they know that the magician must employ some form of sleight-of-hand or other devious subterfuge to create the effects which he presents. In mentalism the spectator has nowhere to turn and the entertainer can convince his audience that he is creating these effects through psychic powers, psychological influence, muscle reading, or whatever he wishes his audience to believe.

Where do you think mental magic falls? A display of skill? Or a possible presentational flexibility: "real" magic?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/02/04 11:49 AM

Originally posted by Matt L.:
...Where do you think mental magic falls? A display of skill? Or a possible presentational flexibility: "real" magic?
Somewhere else. Try to keep in mind that magic is a feeling. How you induce that feeling, or what approach you take to that induction, is almost irrelevant. There is no 'one path' in that sense of the term.

Perhaps you are concerned that the cognitive impact of mentalism is closer to the sense of internal identity than the cognitive impact of physical conjuring, which usually appears to effect that which is physically perceived as opposed to internally perceived.

The conjurer of physical impossibilities and the conjurer of mental impossibilities are not in competition for the emotional response of the audience.

Both also face the possibility of being dismissed as merely clever or manipulative.

Whether a user of the thumbtip or nail writer, both performers have their means, procedures and theatrical requirements.

Of course they really know how much change you have in that pocket... and how many keys too. :D
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
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Postby Guest » 07/15/04 11:08 AM

Nice post Jonathan!

"Mental Magic" at least from the more mundane pov, is more "propish" if you know what I mean. That is to say, it lays within the realm of "impossibility" vs. the potential of being plausible. Too, because of the "devices" frequently associated with it, be it a slate or dry erase board, playing or ESP cards, etc. the psychological translation (at least based on the reactions I've watched coming from the public over the years)in the viewer's mind, is that it's a clever trick that only mimics psi or paranormal phenomena.

Mentalism goes much deeper I believe, and when handled correctly, comes off as being more "real" simply because it tends to be "clean" and free of gadgets (other than maybe, a pencil and small bit of paper... maybe some borrowed items here and there.)

At another forum I recently pointed out to someone new in "Mentalism" bragging about all the junk he stuffs into his pockets and how he can do 20-minutes "Impromptue", that I do close to 90-minutes without a deck of cards or anything more than my wits, and perhaps a few bits of paper and a borrowed pencil. It's "true" mentalism vs. the masterbative antics of propo the clown, who has yet to learn the "art" of the craft and still views "Mentalism" in the same light he did magic... possibly even refusing to acknowledge that a difference exists.

Long story short (I know, I'm too late for that, but bear with me), Mentalism give the performer as well as the audience FREEDOM vs. restriction. It encourages the imagination in a way that induces a unique kind of "belief" and perception. Mental Magic on the other hand, allows the "Out" as it were -- the mental perception, nine times out of ten, is that it's a trick, little more!

Saying this, I am not putting down Mental Magic... I intentionally insert bits like Poison Monte and Casino Royal into my shows just to break up the more intense and "real feeling" demonstrations. After all, I'm there to ENTERTAIN and if I plan on getting the fee + a tip, I dang well better do so, e.g. there is value in both and finding the balance between the two, is a matter of personal style.

Interesting thread, hope others join in.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/15/04 11:25 AM

Originally posted by Craig Browning:
..."Mental Magic" at least from the more mundane pov, is more "propish" if you know what I mean. ...
Mental magic is where you use a garish clipboard and incongruent props, and mentalism is where your character and circumstance happen to provide the props.

The difference seems to be that one performer respects the audience and the other wants to show off the nice toys purchased.

The phone is about to ring.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
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