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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » The Alchemical Tools - Paul Brook (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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PerryCarp
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Quote:
On 2011-11-08 13:28, Magic-Daniel wrote:
Can one benefit from this book even if you don't perform mentalism?


I believe so. It has a lot of good "performance psychology." Heck, I sense myself using some of the material in everyday interactions. Undoubtedly, you will already know some of what Paul shares. But (IMO), one of the real benefits to the book is the systematic way that Paul lays out the material. That helps reenforce what you may already know and then fills in a ton of gaps as well. Simply having a name for some of the techniques that you use or have seen is also beneficial because it can help your thinking become more structured and intentional.
dkarahan
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Even if you are completely,totally uninterested in mentalism, the tips, techniques, information it teaches about psychology, influencing , leading is really worth the price, I cant think of any mentalism books that I enjoyed more
MatCult
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Just to add to the praise already (and quite justly) heaped on this book, here's my review:

Name: The Alchemical Tools

Author: Paul Broook

Price: £38, includes UK postage, $80 non-UK

Publisher: Self-published (I believe)

Pages/Length: 398 pages

Link: Clickety Click

Difficulty: Hard to say. The effects included are straightforward, almost self-working, but this book isn't really about effects, it's about character development, psychology, interaction with the audience and presenting real, believable magic.

Out of 10: For me personally, 9/10 - because nothing is perfect but this comes close. These things, however, are entirely subjective.

Contents:

The book contains chapters on: (amongst other things) Character/Persona, Language, Non-Verbal Communication, Pacing and Leading, Timing, Psychology, Believability, Developing and Adapting Routines, Scripting and Cold Reading.

It also includes the following effects:

At the Doors of Perception - A deck of cards is never touched by the Mentalist. The volunteer secretly selects a card and shuffles it into the other cards. After the deck has been shuffled by the person the Mentalist is then able to remove one card from the deck; it is the spectators. (No Forces, No Stacks, Genuinely shuffled by the volunteer, Cards can be borrowed)

Deuterium - A thought of card effect, where you have a 1/6.5 chance of guessing the card that the volunteer is thinking of. (No Forces, No Pre-Show, No Writing Down)

Insightful Sequence - The numbers 1-10 are written onto 10 business cards. The volunteer is asked a number of questions in order to psychologically profile her. After some mental calculations the Mentalist writes a secret number onto a piece of paper, then folds it up and gives it to the volunteer. The cards are also reordered based on the information that the volunteer provides.
The volunteer then chooses what order the cards are placed in to. When the volunteer opens up the piece of paper, the number sequence of the cards matches the sequence predicted on the paper. (No Forces, No Switches, The volunteer makes free choices, Once the prediction is made it is never touched by the Mentalist)

Killer-Hertz (kHz) - Five ESP cards are given to a group of four people. The Mentalist turns around and faces away from the group. Each person selects a card leaving the Mentalist with the not chosen card left upon a table. Before the Mentalist turns around he/she removes a sealed envelope from his/her pocket, and throws it onto the table.
Whilst the cards are all hidden, the Mentalist turns around and correctly guesses what every person has selected. The envelope on the table is opened by a volunteer and an ESP card, matching the ESP card left for the Mentalist, is found within. On the ESP card a note states, "I am always left with the circle!" (No Forces, No Pre-Show, No Writing Down, No Glimpses, No Marked Cards)

Comments:

This is probably the most important book I've read on mentalism (although it should be said that the advice is applicable to magic or any performance for that matter). I wish I had read it before Corinda and Annemann. Not to take away from the "13 Steps" or "Practical Mental Magic" - as is often pointed out, these two works contain enough performance material for a lifetime, but they don't tell you how to perform, how to take the bare bones effects within their pages and turn them into breath-taking miracles.

"The Alchemical Tools" does just that. It breaks down, step by step, how to approach performance. The book takes you from building a convincing and coherent persona, to developing routines that fit this persona, to treating your audience with respect and drawing them into a world where maybe, just maybe, impossible things will happen and they will react like they saw REAL magic.

Don't get me wrong, I've read loads of posts on forums saying "Don't under-sell it", "Turn your tricks into miracles" and I'm sure that's enough information for some people, who are naturally gifted performers, to go out and make magic real. But for me, I had never read a clearly-expressed manual for how to make that happen, how to build belief and maximise spectators' responses, until "The Alchemical Tools". It's like a well-written recipe - you just know you'll be able to put it into practice and (with time and work and practice) start turning lead into gold.

And I don't think it would only benefit beginners like myself. I believe even seasoned performers will find something in these pages. They may not agree with all of it, some of it may just be "giving a name" to things they already know or do, but the book is so densely packed, so rich with wisdom, I'm sure they will find something.

This has fundamentally changed the way I think about magic/mentalism & performance. I think it will also change the way I answer "I want to be a mentalist, where should I start?" type posts on forums. I now truly believe "Alchemical Tools" and Bob Cassidy's "Fundamentals" are a better launchpad than "13 Steps" or "PMM".

In short: Brilliant, brilliant book. But don't take my word for it, it gets rave reviews from Jeff McBride, Colin McLeod and Todd Landmann HERE.
"Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business."
myrealsphinx
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Ordered mine... waiting climbing on the walls for it..
boboswitch
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Ordered this book first from his site ... then just ordered them all.
BlackZ
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All his books are real gems
George Hunter
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I have had the book for several years; read it, liked it, learned from it. But I have since distanced myself from two of the book's driving assumptions:

1. That typecasting, or performing as an amplified version of oneself, is (apparently) not an option; that one must adopt a "persona" and act as someone else.

2. That there are (apparently) only two options for adopting a persona for performance mentalism: you present yourself as a "psychologist" or as a "psychic."

George
BlackZ
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Hi George, may I ask you which are your solutions/ideas about these two points?

Especially, how do you present yourself?
George Hunter
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Hi BlackZ:

I perform as an amplified version of myself. Currently, I perform (and am still developing) an act with a Sherlock Holmes theme, but I do not dress like him or take on a Sherlock persona at all. I talk about things he did, involving cultivated skills like intuition, body-language reading, telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and logical inference, all informed by his advanced understanding of human nature and the history of crime. I then talk a little about my interest in Doyle's character and propose that we, together, simulate some of the things that people experienced with him. It engages people; it involves NO add-on dramatic persona.

If the audience would find it at all interesting, I may speak very briefly about my background in history, the behavioral sciences, theology, and communication theory (the field in which I did my terminal degree). In the performance, I use Shawn Farquhar's new Sheer Luck early in the act, and sometimes the S H Book Test 2.0, and a couple of Rick Maue's effects, and others; five to seven effects in a performance. After speaking early about Sherlock's intuition etc., I then never claim, or discuss, any "powers" at all; people enjoy reaching their own conclusions!

Hope that helps, or at least clarifies. Sorry if it was more than you wanted to know!

George
BlackZ
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Hi George,
thanks for the explanation, I appreciate.

I think that the work you are doing is great but in this situation, the theme itself, introduce you like a persona close to Sherlock Holmes, of course a non common person with particulars characteristics and skills that are above any normal persons and this characteristics and skills permit you to "sell yourself" like something similar to a "psychologist" (as Shelock at the end was) or as a "psychic".

If a person work in any other contest I do not see many other options than "sell himself" like a "psychologist" or a "psychic", a person with some kind of gift, but this is my own idea.

Thanks anyway for your post, I have appreciated it and I understand your point of view.

BlackZ
George Hunter
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BleckZ;

You may be right. I feature a Sherlock cartoon, and (early) perform Shawn Farquhar's Sheer Luck, and I talk about Sherlock, and tell several of the stories, and six or eight quotes from him, but I do not wear a deerstalker, or a cape, or have a pipe in my mouth. I tell people that we will try to "simulate" some of the ways people experienced him (such as lie detection). I do not at all play the role of the "consulting detective," but all of this may well influence people's perceptions of the performer. I try not to make it about me, but about the fictional character and what we may experience together.

George
BlackZ
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Hi George,
I understand what you mean and the idea behing the way you present yourself to the public and in this case, also if some of the public can perceive the things differently than your intention, it can work, but in nearly or the other presentation, it's difficult to present our character in a different way than a psychologist or a psychic also because of the public, I think, will anyway give to the performer such characteristic due to the way they perceive a man who has certain skills and ability, but this is only my idea.

Thanks for the explanation, no it's more clear.
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