Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: Self-Working Mental Magic by Karl Fulves

Today we're going to do the first official review for the blog.  I thought a good place to start would be to bridge the gap between magic and mentalism with a good starter guide to mental magic.  And what better place to start than Karl Fulves' "Self-Working Mental Magic?"  The advantage to this material is the ease of learning, the elegance of the methods, and the flexibility.

One of the reasons I find this such a good place to start is because it demonstrates and explains common, practical principles vitally important to mentalism such as pencil dots and one-way cards.  It's an effective way to cement these principles in the mind.  It provides a nice bridge from sleight heavy mechanics to more minimalist methods that require heavy presentation to work.

I'm going to be honest, I don't often use the number effects since they don't mesh with my style particularly well.  However, the book tests are a lot of fun, and you can also find three complete psychometry routines, including Anneman's original Pseudo Psychometry, which remains one of the best to this day.  No matter your style, you'll find good material. 

It's worth noting that there is a section of effects using confederates, what some would call (perhaps erroneously) stooges.  There's a major stigma to using stooges in modern magic, but let's be realistic.  The audience doesn't care about the method, and most of them have no desire to know.  Reading these effects should open your mind to the possibilities.  Like any method, it's not something you want to be overly reliant on, but it is an effective tool.  Remember, you're a liar.  If you have a problem with lying to achieve an effect, you might be in the wrong hobby/line of work.

Though the book describes its content as "67 Foolproof Mind-Reading Tricks" it goes beyond mind reading and also covers predictions, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and haunted magic.  Some of the card effects such as Remote Viewing are highly effective uses of basic sleights that can be presented a number of different ways depending on your personal preference.  Since I prefer mind reading and clairvoyance, I tend to go that route myself, but if you wanted to use a prediction or mind control presentation, that's entirely doable as well.

The Instant ESP chapter will provide plenty of impromptu effects for the budding mentalist, though you only need two or three to build a decent pocket show.  Highlights throughout the book include Remote Viewing, Mind Power, Pseudo Psychometry, and Think of a Word.  Include some of these in your act and you have a solid start.

Pay particular attention to the principles used as I said before.  This book is effectively providing you a primer course leading up to Anneman's Practical Mental Effects or Corinda's 13 Steps to Mentalism.  For those just getting started in mentalism it makes for an effective stepping stone as it's lower price makes it a more comfortable investment and the amount of content is enough to keep you busy without overwhelming the beginner.

This is my number one recommendation for the magician looking to expand his knowledge into mentalism.  On that note, I thought I'd point out that below here there's an Amazon dot com link.  I'm an affiliate now.  Hooray for me.  Now you can do yourself a favor by getting this thoroughly righteous book and do me a favor by putting gas in my car.  Everybody wins!

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