Perceived Imagination

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The mage asks his participant to fan an imaginary red-backed deck before her and memorizes any card. She is then directed to mime removing the imaginary card and placing it face-down on the table. The mage picks up the imaginary card and notes its identity. He writes his perception of what the participant is imagining on the back of a business card. The business card is left writing-side down in view on the table. The red backed deck is then put away and the mage produces an imaginary blue-backed deck. The mage is pleasantly surprised to find that the participant and audience claim to be able to see the blue deck. The process of fanning and selecting is repeated with the participant placing the real blue-backed version of the previously imagined card face down on the table. The mage reminds the audience of what he had recorded on the back of the business card. That recorded perception is found to match the face down card.

This effect is the result of my reflection on an intriguing bit of metaphysics: Where does imagination stop and perception begin ? You require a high quality marked deck and a quick attaching thumb writer.

Set Up: Place a business card and pen in your left jacket pocket and the blue-backed marked deck into your right jacket pocket. Place the thumb writer into the ticket pocket (which is usually on the inside of the right jacket pocket).

Working: Bring out the imaginary red-backed deck from the left pocket and give it to your participant. As you explain what she is to do (I can never resist the "aren't you going to take the cards out of the box?" gag here) pull out the business card, hold it in your right hand and use it to illustrate fanning a deck of cards in front of your face for her to imitate.

After she has acted out memorizing and placing the imaginary card onto the table, mime picking it up, noting its value and placing it back onto the table. Ask your participant to put the imaginary cards back into the box while you pick up a pen and mime writing on the back of the business card. Place the card blank side down on the table near the edge, where you can easily pick it up again while you are wearing your thumb writer.

Retrieve the imaginary deck from the participant while you reach into your ticket pocket and attach your thumb writer. Pick up the blue marked deck and bring it out of the right pocket as you mime putting the imaginary deck away into your left. Keep your thumb under the card box as you pass the marked deck to your participant. I comment here on how the participant's imagination has warmed up to the point to where she can now perceive the card box.

Pick up the business card with the right hand, hiding the thumb writer behind it, and mime fanning the cards just as you did with the imaginary deck. Have her find the same card, and place it face down on the table as she did with the imaginary card. Tap the tabled card and emphasize that it is the blue backed version of the one she earlier imagined; this is your chance to glimpse the card's value marked on its back. Thumb write it onto the business card.

As you drop the business card onto the table, it is important to emphasize that what is written on its back is your perception of something she imagined. Have the participant show the tabled card and then read what is on the business card.

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