Escamotourettes is an amazing magic and mentalism blog that I plucked out from Andster’s link list, and I’m glad I did, as he seems to be covering a lot of ground in the topics he covers. From a good blog roll worth taking note of on his sidebar to even discussions about how the ministrel movement that was both demeaning and empowering to black performers back in the day is also somewhat reflected by magicians who perform mentalism without being capable of establishing the distinction.
And on that note, I’m led to do a bit of introspection into how I carry myself and perform, because I often tend to mix and match the two for my own purposes, although I prefer the veneer of combining mentalism with escapology, rather than out and out razzle-dazzle magic.
I suppose that it’s a valid criticism that when a magician performs mentalism inadequately, it is not necessarily them encroaching on the mentalist’s territory, but rather, as the blogger succinctly mentions, it becomes a caricaturization, or outright bastardization of mentalism that becomes the issue.
Thanks to the popularity of mentalists in The Story Circle, you can see a lot of young magicians who, in their attempt to emulate their idols Anthony Co or Erik Mana or David Elefant or Rannie Raymundo or even Nomer Lasala, quickly put down the playing cards and learn to bend a couple of forks and classify themselves as mentalists already.
Folks, it doesn’t work that way.
Mentalism isn’t just about reading minds, or bending metal, or hypnotizing people: it’s doing it, and having the gravitas and the credibility of doing it. If you look like just another trickster who’s trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes rather than a genuine mystifier, then you just cheapen the whole conceit of mentalism by turning it into puzzles and mindgames when it should be something more uplifting, if not, unsettling.
I’d talk about this more, but maybe I should save this for a full-on essay eventually in December. All I know is that in my four brief years as a (semi) professional performer, I’ve done what I can to uphold the integrity of the art form, and in having this integrity, I have managed to distill exactly what it is that makes a mentalist tick, as opposed to a magician with little regard for the nuances of mentalism performing some mental magic.
There are so many subtleties that the uninitiated fail to pick up on, and personally, I’m just grateful I saw the distinction earlier on than most. I in no way assume this makes me perfect or a cut above the rest, but this self-awareness does help me know where I stand as a performer, rather than just flit from one role model to the next.