Pardon the bad joke, but mentalism has been on my mind lately — especially after watching the BBC special above.
Specifically, I’ve been fascinated by the different ways mentalists present their art. Some, such as Mike Super and Nate Staniforth, are ultracasual about it, and quick to claim that they don’t have real powers. Mentalists such as Uri Geller, Jim Callahan and The Amazing Kreskin are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Rich Ferguson, the creator of Tagged, gave his two cents during this podcast interview.
So where do YOU draw the line? Whether you know the answer to that question or not, you’ll find some interesting reading in this post on the Ye Olde Magick Blogge. B.D. Erland, the man behind the blog, offered a couple of interesting axioms: Every magical effect has an implied claim to power, and it is inherent in the performance of a strong magic effect for spectators to seek a power-based explanation, whether or not you claim it.
But even mentalists have to be careful about the powers they claim, despite playing in the realm of the more plausible magic. After all, it’s going to be difficult to support the claim that you’re a mind-reader if you have to ask for a spectator’s name before each routine. Again, though, these things can be played with. Performers have been known to secretly get that sort of information before the effect starts, and even trying to downplay the revelation of the name as not really being an effect. Also, you can state that perhaps some things are easier to read than others — for instance, emotions and imagery — and in fact this can open fun doors presentationally, by using emotions and imagery as the motifs necessary to bring about an effect to a successful conclusion.
The post is long, but worth the read.