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Brad Burt
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Hello: As some may know I have been working the following topic over and over and over for some years now. This is the latest incarnation and there will probably be more. I honestly believe that the utilization of the following technique 'has' to make your magic better. It's a kind of 'magic mindfulness' that focuses upon what the 'illusion' presented as it is supposed to be perceived by the audience. Hope you like it.....again.... ;-}

Benign Psychosis: The Magic State of Mind

By Brad Burt
Copyright 2011

What is the ‘Magic State of Mind’? It could mean a lot of things, but in the context of this essay it is: The mental framework that a magician has in place to enhance his ability to make his magic as believable as possible. It is the ‘attitude’ the magical performer carries and uses when doing his routines. It is the substrate of thinking which carries ALL THE OTHER presentational aspects of a magic trick or routine.

I spent a LOT of time on the paragraph above. I have spent a ton of time thinking this essay through and attempting to make it not just understandable in the abstract, but USEFUL in the performance of any magic routine or act.
Let’s start this way: Take a coin, any coin. Place it in your right hand. Now, close both hands, lift them about chest high. Look forward and say to yourself, “The coin is in my LEFT HAND.” Do it over and over. I want you to say this with total conviction. I want you to FEEL the coin in your LEFT HAND. You have just performed a perfect ‘fake transfer’ with a coin from Right to Left, leaving the coin ACTUALLY in the R.H., but everyone hopefully believing that it is IN the Left Hand. You are buttressing that mechanical motion with a mental attitude toward it that speaks the reality of which you wish to convince the audience. That is, that the coin REALLY IS IN THE LEFT HAND.

The important thing is that it’s not about what YOU know to be true, it’s all ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT YOUR AUDIENCE TO BELIEVE!!! My contention is this and has been for over 30 years: That if YOU work at believing what you want THEM to believe a host of small, but determinative factors will come into play.

What are some of those factors?

#1- You will subtly move your muscles, posture, head alignment, etc. in such a manner that you will key to the ‘fake reality’. That is, that your head, eyes, etc. will tend to direct in a subtle manner your audience’s attention where you wish it directed. In this case that would be the empty L.H.

#2- Your conviction of the ‘fake reality’ will subtly help convince your audience of that which you wish them to believe.

In an essay a week or so back I talked about making logical movements with our hands, arms, etc. in order to establish the normality of what we are doing at any particular moment. This is just one outworking of the idea of the “Magic State of Mind” as I conceive it.

To review, the idea was this: You just made a fake transfer. Again, the coin is supposed to be in the L.H., but is actually in the R.H. palm. There are more possible ways to handle what comes next, but we’ll look at the two most obvious and most used.

#1- You vanish the coin from the L.H. and then show both hands empty using some maneuver to that end.

#2- The coin in the R.H. is ‘ditched’ somewhere so that your R.H. is REALLY empty. Coin vanished from the L.H. and both hands show empty, etc.

What we talked about that last time was #2 and how the R.H. might be shown empty BEFORE the L.H. was opened. The most obvious and the most wrong would be to simply show the R.H. empty illogically before making the coin vanish, “Look hand empty.” I’m talking about showing the hand empty in an obvious manner.

My ‘Magic State of Mind’ at this moment: “I HAVE a coin in my L.H. and my R.H. is empty (Whether it is or not!).” But, assuming I have already ditched the coin from my R.H. and ‘could’ show it empty…what would I do? Within the context of the ‘Magic State of Mind’ what would be the most logical thing to do?

The truest answer frankly is: Do nothing. The hand IS empty, why prove the obvious? And, this is good, solid application. But, let’s dig deeper. In fact non magicians ARE getting savvy to some of what we do! And, so , strategic convincers placed at just the right time and IN THE RIGHT MANNER CAN GO FAR IN ENHANCING THE MAGIC!

So, keeping the ‘Magic State of Mind’ that the R.H. is EMPTY….we now use some ‘natural’ gesture to prove it so without being at all blatant about what we are doing! That’s the crux of the thing. IF you show the R.H. empty in some fashion that is unconvincing of WHY you are doing so then it will help dilute the impact of what you do.

So, you might raise your R.H. up in a ‘swearing in’ type gesture, palm open and forward, and say, “I swear you folks are going to love this.” I grant that’s a gross example, but I am trying to show that there are many possible ways to do this and YOU have find the ones that work for you. I can get away with some things that other folks can’t because of my performing personality. LOOK for what WORKS FOR YOU!

A favorite of mine is to reach forward with the R.H. and gently take the arm or shoulder of the spectator and draw them forward just a little saying, “Look, get even closer.”
Take time now and even IF you never intend to vanish a coin, try to imagine TEN ways to do the above that you think would work for you. Look at each routine you do and try to see any weak points. Try to look at it and think, “What would be the Magic State of Mind here?”

When you do this what you are really doing is looking at each routine or trick and LOOKING AT IT FROM THE SPECTATOR’S POINT OF VIEW! That’s good stuff. Really, really good stuff. I can tell you that after 40+ years in magic it is HARD to remember what it is that THEY see. You start doing the routines by just going through the moves forgetting what it is that the audience is experiencing on the other side of the stage even if the stage is just a coffee table and close-up mat.

Being aware of the ‘Magic State of Mind’ keeps you in touch with what the ‘reality’ of the situation is for those who are watching the magic happen. It’s a tool. But, it’s a tool that if you use it for a while will become automatic. Then it really becomes valuable.

That’s it for now. If you have any comments or questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at:

All best,

Brad Burt
Brad Burt
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