Anything That Interests Me! :)





Saturday, October 18, 2008

Anything that interests me - how magic and mentalism work!

Anything that interests me - how magic and mentalism work!

Alright - to raise revenue by giving advertisers and readers a more focused content, I shall really talk about my interests ONLY - it just so happens that I have many interests and these are the ones that can pay me, so I shall be writing more about mentalism, magic, psychology, economics and philosophy, instead of anything to do with my personal life :) That should keep me safe and sound from the censors too (because I heard that some people got arrested just for wearing some t-shirts). Thus, two things: writing focused content is a very good practice, and also, the police won't come to my door and accuse me of something bad.

On that topic of censorship since I am a liberal conservative (or a conservative liberal), and as my ex-girlfriend said "you're too westernised", I must say that I don't agree with censorship, but I think that in Singapore's case we happen to need it, so as long as censorship is not overboard it's perfectly alright. We need to preserve racial harmony and so we cannot have irresponsible talk because that would hurt the fabric of our society, and as I am a historian I have no wish for my country to become another Yugoslavia.

OK - how magic and mentalism work. The real focus of this rambling, I mean, beautiful post.

Mentalism is a kind of magic, so I shall actually be just speaking about how mentalism works. My friends are sometimes amazed that I can do card tricks (just two actually) and they come up with all sorts of innovative explanations to explain how I do it. But it's very simple, really - mentalism and magic are nothing more than just bar tricks/ parlour tricks that play tricks on your mind and fool it.

For experts on magic and mentalism, don't hang me on this because this is my interest and in no way means that I am a pro or an expert in magic or mentalism:

Magic and mentalism are basically about showmanship. Sleight of hand magic is basically magic that fools the eyes into seeing things that aren't there, and the speed and the legerdemain involved are the ones that convey the magical experience. On the other hand, mental magic or mentalism isn't like that - there really is no sleight of hand, and everything is done right in front of you, and right in front of the spectators and their faces. Therefore, the real magic of mentalism lies in the fact that it is all about showmanship and presentation.

There really is nothing difficult in predicting what someone will say if you already know what they are going to say. The really hard part about mentalism that makes it work is the showmanship.

Let me give you an example - I did some magic tricks last week when organising the German society Stammtisch. Actually I just helped out, because the major organisers were my friends, so I just did the entertainment. Hence: the magic. I actually predicted a card wrongly because I saw it wrongly. The crowd went ballistic and started laughing as my magic did not work. I paused, had another look at the deck of cards, then said, "OK, then is it this card then?" And that silenced them. The thing about it is that showmanship is key - they do not expect you to make mistakes and when you do, they relax, but you can easily make it all part of the skill, you clever clogs.

Misdirection means to misdirect someone away from the real thing and go for the bluff. By deliberately making a mistake you can misdirect someone.

Thus, in the same way, when I do my magic trick of memorising lists, I usually try to make it seem that there's another way that I memorise things. But there really isn't must to this magic trick, because this is just some memory trick. To flesh out this example: when you misdirect someone using a memory trick, you try to suggest to them that you do it using some kind of thing, by touching the words, by using the atmosphere, whatever. That will misdirect them. Next, you pretend that to do this particular trick is harder than it actually is, and voila - you are an amateur magician and mentalist as I am. It works, trust me. Go try it our on your unsuspecting, I mean, your erstwhile friends.

So to answer my own question posed at the start: how does mentalism work? Or how does the magic of mentalism work?

It's all about showmanship and misdirection. Mainly showmanship because there really isn't anything hard about it.

I suddenly feel a bit like Warren Buffett's relative who wrote a book on fishing. Heck, how do I know whether people have the same interests as me - magic, mentalism, psychology, history, philosophy, academics and stuff like that? Simple, I don't know. But in a whole bunch of people and with a suitably large number of readers, there certainly has to be something that I write that will interest you because I have tonnes of academic interests. Alright, cheers!

Anything that interests me!

Post script: There is also something I must say - there simply aren't any good old movie reviews around. Nowadays people always seem to go for new movies, which is good, but some of the older movies or the old movies are really good, and people don't go for them, which I think it's a crying shame. At the same time if I start writing a review blog of old shows and old stuff people are going to hang me, and I will run out of time to write about psychology and philosophy, which really interest me. Economics comes to play here - trade offs, trade offs! Sigh.