What rough magic?
But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I'll drown my book.
William Shakespeare The Tempest ACT V SCENE I. Before PROSPERO'S cell.
By Bogus Magus
We have plenty of people to tell you about psychology, shamanism, magick, NLP and such subjects. Just join the forum and start talking.
Myself I consider myself an agnostic on many things. In fact I could quote my mate Tony Allen (Advocate Heckler, Anarchist Parasite and Mixed-Ability Shaman) on the subject:
"See, the God squad, they KNOW God exists. They KNOW! It was then that I sussed out that some of my comrades in the Can't Pray Won't Pray campaign were atheists. Fucking Atheists. They KNOW as well. They KNOW God doesn't exist. Everybody fucking KNOWS, don't they? Me? I'm a militant agnostic - I don't know! I'll go further - I know I don't know! See, I'm capable of holding two opposing opinions on any given subject, plus a lateral third option and arguing them all of them, at the same time, 'til the cows come home, to the meat-packing plant, that's after the ranchers have chopped down the rain forest. Now in any other walk of life, this would be seen as needing psychiatric help. Luckily I'm a creative artist so it's all right. Goodness knows what's gonna happen when the right hand side of me starts working."
[used without permission (heh) - whole script in his book Attitude, on Amazon - or you may prefer to buy it directly from the Gothic Image Publications.]
I have a little Irish wonder left in me, but many might consider me a sceptic. I enjoy to escape to higher order...
When discussing psychics, mediums, and mentalists (and all sorts of other pranks, puzzles and apparently Fortean events) I want to recommend The Straight Dope. Try Cecil on "Cold Readings" for instance.
They [the committee entity called Cecil] consulted Ian Rowland for the article. I'll offer just one beautiful example of devious words from Rowland's own book, possibly the best available on Cold Reading :
For example, the psychic says, "You don't work with children, do you?"
The question has been expressed as a negative, so if the subject replies, "Yes, I do," the psychic says, "Yes, I thought so."
If the subject replies, ""No, I don't," the psychic says, "Yes, I thought not." It's a hit either way!
All kinds of common and semi-predictable patterns do exist in humans (although we have to allow for cultural variations), which people can exploit to surprise an individual who doesn't realise they form part of a statistical group, and maybe even think themselves unique.
Mosbunall ['most but not all' - RAW neologism] people when asked quickly for a number between one and ten choose 7.
Mosbunall choose red as a colour.
Mosbunall choose a rose as a flower (in the UK at least). etc
If I ask you to think of two digit number between 1 and 50, where both digits are odd and different from each other mosbunall say 37.
As to what to do when you don't hit? Well, on TV, of course, you edit the thing out... ignoring that frivolous reply however... I suspect Blaine has various endings, what magicians call 'outs'. The audience don't know what the magus intends to do, so he simply goes right ahead like a jazz musician after a blue note (one in a different key, but not a 'wrong' note), and keeps on keeping on to improvise a different ending.
If every time I did a card trick I pulled out one card and then said "name a card" I will have a mind-stopping trick once every 52 goes. Actually rather better than that, as if they say Nine of Clubs, then Nine of Spades might still freak them out, or Eight or Ten of Clubs...now we got down to odds of 13-1 as "near misses". If the thing misses completely you could just shrug and compliment them on being an independent thinker resistant to influence (heh) and carry on with another trick. Or stick that 'wrong' card in the pack NEXT to their card (if you know how) or perhaps just get on with the trick during which you secretly find their card and force it on them for the second trick (then mention the weird time shift), etc. MULTIPLE OUTS - such a brilliant tool. Say you hid cards all over the room (and can remember where) - they could name a card and you say "go over to that flowerpot and lift it up -what card is hidden there?" A screamer. These primitive examples (not necessarily ones I would do) give you an idea of magical thinking. See what I mean? Devious.
Oh, and women often pick the Queen of Hearts if asked to think of a card without hesitation, (other people may pick the Ace of Spades). You can always narrow the odds in your favour with this stuff.
How about "Visualise a simple geometric figure. OK, now think of another INSIDE that one." Mosbunall people end up with a circle with a triangle in it, some with a triangle with a circle in it. Except for those 'independent minded' ones (heh) - this compliment can act as a really effective induction, someone told me.
If a trick has a mathematical basis (what we call "a self-working trick") the magus hints at skilful trickery, as they can't catch you 'up to anything'. If the thing depends on those very skilful and sneaky tricks that magicians learned from card-sharps and pickpockets, etc then one needs to appear without skill or guile. Always wrong-footing people - we call it MISDIRECTION.
Oh, and we phoney magicians have things called thumbnail writers (starting to give away real tricks, now) - so if I hold a blank pad in one hand, write "you will think of...", put the pencil away, and then ask for a number, I can secretly fill in that number on the card just with my thumb... This little gizmo's name? The Swami Gimmick. Heh. You can have fun with this. Carry a little calendar, pretend to circle a date and put your pencil away - ask them their birthday and then (covered by a little patter) just circle it with your thumbwriter. All you need with this one simple gizmo - a bit of imagination. Phew. I'd better go get the first cup of coffee of the day.
Many people here tell me magick works, and they may well have a point.
I prefer the fun stuff. The simulation of magic. Actually, making a daily practice of simulating magic, or telepathy, or other mysteries sounds like a magick practice in itself - simulate it until you make it true, fake it until you make it. And when trying to work out how Blaine and Brown do their stuff, I can't offer better advice than this, from Sir Conan Doyle writing as Sherlock Holmes in The Beryl Coronet, “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever you have left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
Still, Conan Doyle had an uncritical interest in spiritualism, so when he saw Houdini walk through a wall onstage, he could only guess that he dematerialised and rematerialised the other side. You couldn't call him as rational as his fictional alter ego. He seems more like Dr. Watson! So I know how easily one might convince oneself that 'magick works'. And if you can convince yourself a placebo works then it does. I think of the 21st Century as the Century of the Imagination (in the widest sense) and so placebo studies seem really interesting, along with visualisation, hypnosis, magick, etc. I generally employ Occam's Razor and Holmes' advice. And yeah, I do know how Houdini did it.
Curiously enough, Houdini appears to have employed lot of stuff that gets called 'magick' around here.
Look at this description of something that sounds like Crowley's 'invisibility' trick, in an article about Houdini by his friend Sax Rohmer.
One so well known as Houdini could quite easily have obtained seats by means of merely sending a message to the management. Nothing of the kind occurred, however.
No one seemed to recognise him.
Attendants, fighting with the throng in file before the box-office, never so much as glanced in our direction. We walked in and walked up the stairs to the circle. No one challenged us -- no one asked us for our tickets - - no one asked for Houdini’s card!
Apparently no one saw us.
We walked into the circle. Houdini glanced about for a moment and then, again grasping my arm, led me to two unoccupied seats adjoining the centre gangway in the second row.
He drew my attention to the architectural characteristics of the building, and we listened to the orchestra. Admittedly it was a good orchestra.
"We don't want to see the picture," he said, "we are going on somewhere else."
And standing up just as the picture commenced, we went out as we had cone in, unchallenged and apparently unseen!
Blaine didn't invent the levitation that made him famous - the stunt (an old vaudeville trick called The Balducci Levitation) has been around for ages. If you read The Tao of Muhammad Ali you will see it described by the journalist interviewing Ali, although he didn't appear to understand how Ali did it). Seeing the original "floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee" man actually floating, even briefly (6'6" or whatever he is) must have seemed awesome.
If you can't figure it out (using Holmes's rule) but want to know how it works then please be aware that in the original TV footage they cheated when they showed him lifting clear of the ground. When he actually freaks crowds (reaction shots) you can't see his feet. We can assume they did that as a pick-up shot, using a crane and wires, etc - with just a matching jacket in the edge of the frame (matches the shot of the real punters freaking out).
If you want to know how to do it WARNING SPOILER Wiki explains it in words here. If you have a more visual approach to learning, try this site. If you prefer to believe in magic, then don't go there.
Now they'll never let me into The Magic Circle (sigh)
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
The Second Coming W.B.Yeats