Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Why I Love Mentalism
I fell in love with magic when I was over 40 years old.
This, of course, is not typical of magic which usually
attracts its adherents young. But it was a very particular
type of magic - mentalism - not magic in general which
suddenly swooped down one evening and captured my
And it was sudden. Very sudden. In fact I fell in love
in the space of a single routine:
Used Car Salesmen
(Note: This is the American version of the same routine,
which I saw in its original British form, which I prefer,
but which I couldn't find on-line.)
In the original British version, the piece is accompanied
by Derren Brown speaking on the techniques he used
to tell truth from fiction - even when the liar stays silent.
I was hooked by a single question which always grabs
me in the best of Brown's work:
Is the mind really capable of this?
And the same question in inverted form:
Is the mind really vulnerable to this?
A new way of exploring what it means to be human
opened up to me at a time when I really needed
something new, because the world seemed to be
steadily growing smaller.
It came at a time when I was disappointed by the
inability of my latest feature film, Black Mail, to find
an audience and so build my career as a writer-
director on the comparative success of my previous
film, Nightingale in a Music Box; at a time I was
frustrated in my attempts to get a new film or theater
project off the ground; and at a time when my heart
was being broken by the prolonged dying of a
Mentalism opened a new horizon and made the world
bigger again. It had nothing to do with psychic
phenomenon, which held no interest for me; it had
everything to do the with the mystery of being human.
The secrets it brings to light are not altogether pleasant,
for instance we are endlessly manipulable, but they do
inspire wonder and the realization that we have capacities
to be explored that we have been too lazy to look into.