What is the difference b/w mentalism & mental magic?

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

Postby Edward Pungot » 04/25/12 11:27 PM

Just out of curiosity, can someone please tell me what the distinction is, because it's sort of blurry for me. Thanks.
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Postby Tom Stone » 04/26/12 03:11 AM

As I understand it, the distinction has to do with context:
If it fits in a magic act, between 20'th Century Silks and the Linking Rings, without loosing credibility - it is mental magic.

If it lose something essential when performed together with more standard magic effects, then it's mentalism.

And if it's only published but never performed, then it is Bizarre magic.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 04/26/12 08:09 AM

I get the impression that:

If you think they should care about what you're saying - it's bizarre magic.

If you have cartoon props and/or sequins - it's magic.

if you get them wondering how you could have known and what else you might know ... mentalism.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 04/26/12 11:12 AM

Jamy Ian Swiss:
Teller once commented to me, many years ago, that the reason mentalism is so boring is because it largely concerns itself with the revelation of proper nouns, "a job best left to museums." Considering this observation a step further, I would say that mental magic is the revelation of proper nouns, while mentalism is the revelation of thinking.

I believe Stephen Bargatze once roasted a prominent mentalist by saying "You go around asking people questions that you already know the answers to. That's just annoying."
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Postby Max Maven » 04/26/12 11:15 AM

There have been many definitions regarding these terms -- so many that the distinctions have become amorphous, hence the practicality is lost.

That said, I've found that when most people use these terms, what they really mean is, "What you do is mental magic; what I do is mentalism."

In which case, I do neither.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/26/12 11:23 AM

Tom Stone wrote, "And if it's only published but never performed, then it is Bizarre magic."

hahaha--that's funny.

Tom, it's too bad you never attended any of Tony Andruzzi's Invocational conventions.
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Postby Barefoot Boy » 04/26/12 11:42 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Tom Stone wrote, "And if it's only published but never performed, then it is Bizarre magic."

Outward sunshine; Inward joy,
Blessings on thee, Barefoot Boy.
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Postby Diego » 04/26/12 11:46 AM


"Ladies and gentlemen, you should know, that there are magicians who are actually FAKING what I do!"
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Postby Edward Pungot » 04/26/12 11:47 AM

I think Mentalism is an attempt to solve two issues:

(1) The Too Perfect Theory
(2) The How Did You Do That? Problem

Magic in general is too perfect, hence the common reply during or after witnessing magic of asking how is it done. By putting the emphasis on process and procedure mentalism gives plausibility to the outcome. From a performance standpoint this is simply just another layer to the deception, but I think it takes the sting off of being challenged or fooled by trickery.

Intellectually it is more satisfying for both the performer and the audience. Emotionally speaking thoughthat guttural reactionmagic excels because of the inherent disconnect b/w method and effect, hence the wonder as to how it is done.

As far as power-dynamics go, I think mentalism when properly performed, has the upper advantage. Swiss-Army Mentalism wont do the trick for the reason of believability. I also think that this is the flaw that the Magician also shares with the Swiss-Army Mentalist. The fiction of what you are doing will become apparent when you can do everything. But I think theatre, persona, and character development solves these issues.

In the end it's the performer who we want to see. That to me is the indication of success. I want to go see Max Maven or Michael Weber or Juan Tamariz. Why? Because you're going to be amazed and entertained and perhaps learn something along the way. That they do tricks and mentalism stunts, well, that's just a bonus. Stellar performers seem to transcend the cultural baggage and preconceived assumptions/notions/definitions and blow them out of the water and become a name, not just another act.

These are just my interpretations of ideas already openly discussed by prominent Mentalists such as Max Maven, Michael Weber, Bob Cassidy among others. Thanks everyone for the input. I am sure in a couple of days as it sinks in, it will probably revise what I currently think about mentalism and magic. Again, thank you. It kind of helps to get some sense of what exactly it is that we are doing. But I suppose one cannot overly analyze it without killing it as they say.
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Postby Doug Dyment » 04/26/12 08:40 PM

I think Tom's definitions are pretty good, actually. Another useful way to think about the distinction is that if they ask, "How did you do that?", it was probably mental magic, whereas if they ask "When did you first know you had this gift?", it's likely mentalism.

Really, it's about context, but that would require a non-simplistic discussion.
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Postby Banachek » 04/27/12 02:00 AM

The older I get, and the more I do this I think it all comes down to the performer. There is a magical way of thinking about this and a "psychic" yet entertaining way of thinking about magic. You see the difference plainly when many magicians decide to take up mentalism.

I used to think like many do, it was the props. But a great mentalist can take a magic prop and still make it look believable. Believability is the key even if you have a strong disclaimer. It should look and feel real as it is being performed in the moment. What could be more magic than a doll house illusion yet Derren used one in a very believable manner for a prediction effect.

Magical thinking tends to be clever where as mentalist thinking tends to be subtle. For instance, years ago I had an effect where there was a chance a version of the words right would be chose as in rite, write and rite. I had but here was a place where a different word could be chosen. I chose to put the word ripe in there. Now I could say.. "I am getting ripe... (if no reaction continue with.. no right." Now my magic friend Scott Wells put the word wrong in that place. He thought he could say.. 'Would I be wrong in saying your word was right?" if no then he would say, "Well I would be right in saying it was wrong." Clever but very magical way of thinking. My version makes it look like I am close and honing in. The other way looks like you are just being clever.

Dougs statement above about the questions you are asked after are right on target.
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