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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Why does mentalism MATTER? (43 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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David Thiel
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It's an honest question.

The entertainment world is getting smaller. The internet, television -- even festivals are bringing a greater variety of entertainers in front of the public eye. Where I often heard "I've never seen a mentalist before" from people after a show, now I hear discussions about other performers the audience members have seen, or questions or comments about performers on shows like AGT.

Let's set aside the question as to whether or not all this attention being paid to mentalists at the moment is good or bad.

I'm very interested to know why -- or even IF -- YOU think mentalism matters in this modern world.

And before getting bogged down in definitions, let's just say that mentalism is a performance involving the mind as well as psi and the "paranormal." I am including the guys who do mentalism from the stage, close-up, trade shows, hospitality suites. I am also including the readers -- shuteye and otherwise.

If you feel open to discussing it here (on what may just be the most contentious forum on the planet) define the question even more tightly: "Why does YOUR mentalism matter?"

David
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IAIN
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I think for it to matter MORE, is that it needs to change with the times... Remember the zinger annemann wrote in the opening of PME/jinx, about long gone are the crystal gazers etc...

I think we can stagnate very easily by doing things the same old way.

Beliefs, culture and audiences have changed, and weirdly (in part) stayed the same too.

Niche within niches if you look closely enough.

I think mentalism needs to ask more questions and provoke more up to date thoughts for people to get hooked on.

My mentalism matters because the claims are different, and I feel they are more authentic to me and the world I inhabit. And they touch upon how the world is currently in big and small ways.

I start from the point of what imagination is and go from there. There's a little bit of science in it, psychology and a few art influences too. As well as Stoicism...

So though we use the terminology, the micro-language involved in mentalism here, I don't use any of it anywhere else unless with friends...
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George Hunter
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Well-performed Mentalism can help people experience Insight, Meaning, and (especially) Wonder. Scientific types might say that does not much matter. Liberal Arts types might say that it matters almost supremely.

George
WitchDocChris
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In my opinion, no performance genre matters in and of itself. Meaning is derived or assigned by each person experiencing it.

It's up to the performer to be able to infuse a performance with something that can be taken as meaningful to their target audience.

For me the meaning of my performances is derived from a genuine fascination with the subjects I talk about. Mainly unsolved mysteries, the paranormal, and the untapped potential of the human mind.
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IAIN
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The thing I do like about mentalism is, if you take a small audience and its diverse, you'll have within that a myriad of opinions, beliefs and so on.

Let's say you a classic(al) mentalist and you perform a l&d test. They're not all going to believe it's real.

Some may even feel offended, others will take it at face value, and those that really deeply connect and believe in it will take it as proof that it's real.others will scoff and have questions, others will just enjoy it and forget about it in a week.

That of itself is fascinating to me. One thing exists, yet it also exists differently for those people at the same time, too...
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Mindpro
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Quote:
On Feb 24, 2020, David Thiel wrote:
let's just say that mentalism is a performance involving the mind as well as psi and the "paranormal."


Unfortunately this is missing from what most consider mentalism these days.
Matt Pulsar
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The human experience in every society can dominate and take over our experience of life. Art has the power to, if sometimes just for a moment, melt all the bull away. Live performance art, entertains, it’s an escape from pain and anxiety. People want better lives, they want to be better at being themselves. Stories help people make transformations unconsciously, metaphor is extremely powerful. Mentalsim performed well can do all these things, create an experience of real wonder, entertain, and uplift people. It can be real magic (and so can any art).

As for readings, that will always thrive, people need a mirror and a guide. Even if they don’t realise the guide is within them.
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Goldfield
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The popularity and obsession with social media only serves to remind us all how critical human connection is to our existence. Mentalism offers audiences a deep connection and is far more satisfying (and real!) than any device.
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weirdwizardx
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I show people the most powerful thing they have, their mind. And that if used properly they will be able to do things they werent before.
How just by changing our beliefs about ourselves we can change the things that we can do.
I make my presentations starting from real things, like referring to some psi experiment in the 30s and making my audience wonder if that could be possible, then I make a demonstration.
I think that one of the things that appeal to my audiences is that I talk about subjets that Im passionate about, and then using the subject as the premise of the effect.
One of the things that I think is very important regarding my performance (I will be cliché here) is “Its not about the destination if not the journey” that simple phrase had and will continually be making my effects and presentations better.
Other thing that I believe makes my magic matter is that people nowadays doesn't have the time to experience a wonderful and real connection while having an experience out of the ordinary and my magic tries to conceive that.
Finally by making magic I translate my participants into another reality, like alice in wonderland, the thing is that then I blurr the two realities making the reality that I brought predominant and making them ask themselves What is real? What isn't? What is reality? At least my goal is to get these questions into their unconscious better if it gets to the conscious.
Ohh and by doing all if the above and other things I'm making my final goal, transmit emotion, ideas and wonder finally expressing myself, making art.

Well those are some reasons that I think make my magic matter...
weirdwizardx
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Btw good post David!
IAIN
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I've thought some more, and mentalism doesn't matter... Not really, if it never existed, people wouldn't have made a difference.

Of course, those who love it now will give it more importance, that's natural. But ultimately, it's not as important as books, films, music and art...

Sure is fun though...

People tend not to say as much with magic and mentalism in comparison to other forms of entertainment. Goes back to stories and emotional attachment I guess.

And yes, in the moment, it can be heart felt and touching or mysterious and so on..but I think we convince ourselves that we do that on a regular basis. Most of us, including me, don't.

It's very hard work to be consistent and meaningful.
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IAIN
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I blame my phone for this
"I've thought some more, and mentalism doesn't matter... Not really, if it never existed, people wouldn't have made a difference"

What I meant to say was, if suddenly all mentalism disappeared, then there'd be no void imo. It wouldn't be missed in the same way as other artistic entertainment...
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Bill Cushman
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Quote:
On Feb 25, 2020, IAIN wrote:
I blame my phone for this
"I've thought some more, and mentalism doesn't matter... Not really, if it never existed, people wouldn't have made a difference"

What I meant to say was, if suddenly all mentalism disappeared, then there'd be no void imo. It wouldn't be missed in the same way as other artistic entertainment...


Bob Cassidy shared essentially the same sentiment with me many years ago.
DrTodd
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Great question and one worth discussing. I really like the flavour of the responses here.

Mentalism can be for something, rather than something in and of itself. As a means for communication and learning, as well as raising fundamental questions about the human condition and social justice, as well as the roles of faith, belief, science, explanation, and epistemology alongside entertainment all come to mind.

For a 105-page answer to the question, please see:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/todd-landman/th......826.html

The volume's contributors address so many of these questions and the topics range from forensic psychology to the latest advances in AI and machine learning as applied to classic approaches to mentalism. Can we make mind reading machines? The chapter by Stuart Nolan shows us how. Is there a 'CSI effect', Tracy Wise shows us how she has explored this through performance. Is there a connection between luck, love and the psychic, Eddie Dean argues yes. These and many more aspects of this large question from David are addressed.
Stunninger
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When I was a child and first saw The Amazing Kreskin and Uri Geller on TV, those early impressions changed me instantly and forever. They ignited a passionate interest, a deep fascination and wonderment about the untapped potential of the mind, an intense curiosity to learn more, and eventually led to a passion for interacting and connecting with others using mind reading.

And I think some we perform for must have this experience too.
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Mindpro
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The reason we had those feelings at that time was because we believed it to be real.
IAIN
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If someone appeared like Geller these days, he wouldn't do spoon bending... I wonder what they would do instead?

Did Geller do stage shows at the height of his fame in the US?
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Mr. Mindbender
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It matters to me - because I think it makes me a better person. It makes me a more social person. It's one (of a few) ways I get to express myself. I'm hoping that based on the reactions and feedback I get, others find it entertaining, thought provoking and interesting, but I'm not presumptuous enough to say that it matters to them -- but it does to me.
David Thiel
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Guy gets up in the morning with a sigh. He goes into the kitchen and makes himself a coffee...like he does every single day. He's not unhappy, you understand. But each day he goes just a little deeper into the grey of obligation and responsibility and...repetition.

One day this guy wakes up contemplating something different to his routine. He is looking forward to a social event that night. At the very least, it will be something different and not another night spent in front of the TV while the minutes slide by.

There's a performer at this event and this guy hasn't considered the performer one way or the other. He's just there for the adventure of "something different." When the performer takes the stage this guy thinks maybe he'll give him five minutes to see if what happens on that stage will be any good because he's ready to step outside and smoke...because that's what he does.

But the performer is doing something this guy has never seen before. Effect follows effect...demonstration follows demonstration...and this guy is watching from the dark audience and he repeatedly has to remind himself to close his mouth because his jaw hangs open a little wider each time he sees something happening that looks impossible.

New...impossible.

...I mean........REALLY?

.................is there even a REMOTE possibility this is.......real?

........................ ........................

Maybe this guy doesn't buy the whole premise. (Not entirely anyway.) But for a period of time he is sitting in the audience, brushing up against something that is no-doubt-about-it amazing, like a splash of red paint thrown against a grey door. For a period of time this guy remembers what it was like to experience WONDER. And underneath all of that is the tantalizing possibility that...well...if HE can do it, maybe I can as well.


Hmmm.

When I posed the question above it was a genuine question. And I have been thinking about it all day. I didn't have an answer in mind. Honest. What's above is what I've have come up with.

There isn't another performing art I can think of that has the POTENTIAL to communicate literal wonder. You can stand in awe of the range of a singer, be moved by the skill of an actor to weep or gasp or laugh out loud. A writer, working his alchemy on a blank page can take you places you've never imagined and involve you in the lives of people who don't exist outside of his mind. A magician can surprise you and leave you chewing over how exactly he did what you just saw him do for days. A juggler...well...never mind. Smile

But MENTALISM? It bristles with questions and apparent answers. It entertains. It challenges. It teases. It mystifies. Well done mentalism engages on every level and leaves behind the very thing it started with: wonder.

So yeah. Having considered it carefully I absolutely believe mentalism matters.

David
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John C
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The question is if mentalism didn't exist wouldn't you still be doing magic? Or, if it existed and went away wouldn't you just do magic?

I would.

Because when you break it down aren't we really entertainers? Or are we "mentalists" or "magicians" or "mindreaders" or "jugglers"

I know my answer.
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