Mentalism = Mentalism is a performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Performances may appear to include telepathy, clairvoyance, divination, precognition, psychokinesis, mediumship, mind control, memory feats and rapid mathematics.
I enjoy reading about the many differing ideas and process’s of routines created by the great performers of the art – Tony Corinda – Banachek – Luke Jermay and a personal friend Dee Christopher are just four of the masters. Corinda wrote a masterpiece which is still considered one of the best insights into mentalism and many a famous name started their careers using ideas gleaned from its chapters.
The mentalist stands on the stage and he’s using techniques adapted and reworked from the ideas of fellow artists. His act becomes unique after he has refined his interpretation to such a degree the original idea is hidden.
No mean feat. A stage show of six ideas/acts may take six months to work through and many subtle changes will be made as the performance is honed from mediocre to razor sharp. And each performance will be reviewed with a critical eye. Such is the perfection of the masters.
The show may run for a few months, the fat lady sings, the show is over. The process of writing the next show begins again. Heaven forbid the writer brings in any old routines from the previous show. Although in truth most of the original show will be used! Each act a reincarnation of original ideas turned into ones which are perceived as new. Sadly I cannot give you any examples as I would betray my fellow mentalists.
A good friend of mine once demonstrated three card ‘sleights’ in a row. After each one I showed amazement, wonder and showed an interest in how each one was performed. He was, I believe pleased to have impressed me and I did not reveal to him that I knew the techniques used. Its the way of mentalism and magic, never allowing anyone to know ‘the how’ and if the observer knows ‘the how’ he should never let on!
The mentalist reads as many books, watch’s as many shows, films, YouTube videos and DVD’s of fellow performers with the object of discovering, how, and why. He or she’s major force is silence. Leaving the audience asking ‘How did he do that?’
I spend many hours perfecting my mentalism routines and I use many of them daily. The ‘why’ I do so will stay with me until my final sleep. Magic and mentalism trains the mind to keep secrets and really keep them, the mind is strengthened by hermetic discipline.
My writing has the same process and no secrets. I think about my stories, make notes, record ideas and conversations on my iPhone and take pictures of anything I find unusual. The reason for this accumulation of ideas is NOT to form a story it is to collect parts of a story which may be used later – Most writers are able to take into their memories all which their senses can gather and like the mentalist can cultivate the memories into a story.
Over the last few weeks I have recorded a number of interviews with other writers, indeed, the podcast episode I published only a few hours ago is one of those interviews. I have discovered the interviewers technique also has to be honed and there is a specific method which should be used to get the best possible interview. Random thoughts and intuitive technique is only for the very experienced.
The writers interviewed all talk of differing ways of writing, finding inspiration and finalising their work. So, although they use similar tools and concepts the actual methodology becomes their own. Another aspect I find interesting is that the writers interviewed who have made considerable progress and achievement seem to have more varied and complex ways of exercising their mental talents.
This is not to say the writers who use a simpler approach are not producing great essays, books, booklets or recordings. And do not think I believe the complex way is the better way or makes for better creations. The point I am attempting to make is that the thread which ties the whole of this essay together, is the more we do anything, the more thoughts, ideas we can utilise in our work. And, the more we progress, the more we have to think and adjust what we already know. As the mentalist or writers skills progress, the quality of their presentation seems to be simpler, more expressive and easier to understand. In the end it is not the illusion it is the presentation, which leaves the audience thinking ‘How did he do that?’ In the same way the reader of the book does not remember every page, she remembers the plot, the problems, the cast and the principal character. That’s the sign of brilliance.