Ta verbal caro Forces

~Te rbal Card Force' is something of a misnomer, for to \ J force the mental selection of cards through this method V depends upon attitude and non-verbal communication as much as the words you use. The aim of these techniques is to have a spectator mentally select a card, but as you describe the selection procedure you are actually suggesting a particular card to him. Almost all depends upon the selection of a responsive spectator and engaging him in the process correctly - and even then I cannot guarantee you one hundred percent success. You can get this working every time once you learn to use just the right amount of blatancy.

Let us consider the effect: you ask for a volunteer and explain that you are going to try mentally to send him a playing card. He is to see what impressions he receives, and not just guess or choose his favourite card. He must follow your instructions and wait to receive it, piece by piece. Now, this is a straightforward effect, and this is exactly what you are going to do: effect and method are identical. There is no cheating or chicanery - you are going to coerce him into thinking of the card you wish. Assuming that you have prepared the spectator appropriately so that they understand their task, let us look at two forces which I feel work best for me.

The Three of Diamonds

Sit facing your spectator and pick up a pad and a marker. The following words and actions are to be delivered at a speed that you will develop a feel for over time, but essentially you are talking forcefully and gesturing directly at him, drawing the Three of Diamonds in the air for him as you do so. This will read a little heavy-handedly, but in performance the talking and gesturing take only a few seconds. Please remember this as you read on.

You say, "And to help you, I will make the colour of the card bright and vivid to make it clearer. Okay, I shall draw the card here.' After suggesting thus that the card will be red, you take the pen and marker and clearly and deliberately draw the Three of Diamonds. Do not allow the audience to see what you have drawn, for if this does not work with the volunteer at hand, you should find that a lot of the other spectators would choose the correct card. Now, as you draw the card, you must allow him the opportunity to pen read its identity. This card is fairly easy to do this with, and the squeaks from the marker will aid the process. He knows that you are drawing the card: this is an action that will interest him. Even if he does not work it out at this point, he will have begun to form an idea. Place the pad down and get his attention by touching him on the shoulder. Move a little closer and deliver the following fairly rapidly.

"Okay, see a screen in your mind...with the four comers

[as you do this, you supposedly make the shape of a rectangle before him with your hands, but you do so at an angle so that he sees a diamond), with the little number, low - the number, low down in the corner [draw a '3' with your forefinger casually in the lower index corner], and the things down the middle [hold up your hand and point your thumb,

forefinger and second finger forward as if each had a diamond on the tip in a line straight down the middle of the card.

Your other hand is held up to obscure the view of these fingers from the rest of the audience, and you jab the three at the spectator as you apparently fumble for the ■ words 'pips' or 'spots'] what are they called? The bam-bam-bam down the middle [point to each imaginary diamond separately with your forefinger on 'bam-wy^l bam-bam' as you turn to the ^H^V^^H audience to ask what they are Wj called] Those things, down the

\ « ^^M middle, on the screen [Make the diamond shape again]. Okay, what's the card you can see?"

Invisible Deck as an 'out' until this becomes reliable. I use this as a means of selecting a volunteer for a demonstration who will be responsive to the suggestions I will be making throughout the performance. If it does not work on him, I ask who else in the audience did see a Three of Diamonds (to facilitate this, it is sometimes practical not to obscure their view of your three fingers) and then use one of them.

It is hardly worth saying, but these things do read very badly. In performance, you are bewildering someone a little and then giving them very blatant suggestions to see a particular card. Until you can do this in one flow of words and choreographed gestures, it will feel too obvious and silly. The spectator that you use will have an idea of you directing him to the card, as will the audience. You are actually doing exactly what you say you are doing, and your skill will be admired in achieving it. Once you develop a feel for this, and the next force described, you will find yourself using these techniques all the time - they soon become second nature.

One final note before I describe the second. Forcing cards in this way was always a dream of mine - I thought it would make compelling magic. For a long time I did not have the confidence in this technique to make it work, so I would fake it: forcing the card some other way and then appearing to use suggestion. People were fascinated by the apparent suggestive wording and considered this to be very strong magic - perhaps because it is plausible yet out of the reach of most people's estimation of their skills. When I was cheating I could, of course do it with any card, and very few words. But because the illusion of using these subliminal skills was so compelling to the audience, I decided to pick a few cards that might be prone to this type of forcing and work out a reliable way of doing it genuinely. These are the results of that work.

The Jack of Spades

This is a different way around the same idea, I prefer the speed and directness of the first force, but the reader may find this more reliable at first and easier to handle. Again, it is presumed that you have first placed your spectator in a responsive mood.

"Imagine a deck of cards. You shuffle them - do this in your mind for me now, and then you separate then into two piles: a red pile and a black one. [Yoh gesture the placing of the red pile to your ¡eft and the black to the right, and emphasise the 'black' with a stronger hand movement and tonality.] Now, in your mind only, pick up one of those piles, getting red of the others [Mime picking up the black pile with the right hand and sweeping away the reds to the left with the other. Turn half axoay to the right as you do this. Yes, you say 'red'

instead of 'rid' as you szveep the reds away] and spread them out before you. [In the same gesture, mime the cards being spread before the spectator, using the same right hand]. You now have two suits before you - keep the spare, the one suit you like and are most comfortable with, and lose the klutzes, the bums, the others. [This odd sentence should direct them to keep the Spades and lose the Clubs. The xoord 'spare' makes no sense here: after saying it, carry on with the sentence as if you are correcting yourself] Now, you see in front of you one suit, with a load of numbers [gesture from right to left in front of him] and three picture cards.[pause the sioeep and then continue to show where the court cards are.] Now, we need to narrow it right down, so get rid of one of those groups, so you lose a whole bunch more and now just see a few. [Casually mime the removal of the number cards in the spread. I turn away again here as if I am not interested in what he is doing and do not wish to influence him. Pause to give him time to process the instructions]. Now, you are looking at either a lot of number cards or a few Royal cards. Remove a pair - a couple - so that you leave one on its own, or a spread of eight, depending what you're thinking. [The words 'Royal' instead of 'Court' and the instruction to move a 'pair - a couple' rather than 'two' should push him to remove the King and Queen]. Now, if you have one card left, please concentrate upon it. If you have a whole bunch, think of any one of them. I believe you have in mind the ... [C/ose your eyes] ... Jack of Spades?"

The next most common choice is the Jack of Clubs, especially amongst magicians. For some reason we prefer Clubs over Spades, in direct opposition to the general public. So if the spectator squirms a little, correct yourself and say 'No, the Jack of Clubs.'

Both of these forces will work or fail depending upon your attitude. You must be forceful, yet casual. It is a useful skill to give very specific instructions in a way that sounds off-hand and casual -the 'Perfect Coin Reading' effect described elsewhere in this book uses a similar idea to direct the spectator to use a particular coin for the effect. Much has been written on methods of psychological forcing - Banachek's Psychological Subtleties comes to mind, but I know from experience that there is a lot of untapped potential in this area if one really works at it. Much depends upon being able to engage the spectator in the right way to make her very responsive to your suggestions, and this can only be achieved if you are able to maintain an honest and compelling rapport with your audience.

Again, 1 wish you luck with these methods.

nm thoughts

Aaahhh, my loves, and so we come to the end of a wonderful journey: we have dipped our toelets in the shimmering pool of secret wonder and emerged triumphant. I wonder if this book will affect your performance of magic or mentalism. I wonder, again, about that word 'mentalism.' Let us roll up our collective sleeve of integrity and reach down deep into the raw, foetid effluence of dull, unconvincing effects: past the steaming turds that are billet switches; past the faecal nuggets that are sealed envelopes and 'gaps left for a nail writer;' and deep below that dead otter - that single stinking stool of immense proportions that is the standard book test, or the 'sealed prediction.' Let us together suppress our communal gag reflex and reach far below these vile grotesqueries and feel for the scatologist's true treasure: the shimmering gold that is the purification of all that stinks and smears: a glittering alchemical prize that screams to all those with ears to hear: "No one cares about your sealed predictions! Put away your nonsense wallets! You are a tiny, ridiculous man!" The purple splendour of real magic; the delight of wonder; the rich might of awe. Together we will bring this bright goodness to the surface and polish it until it shimmers and dances, beckons and seduces. This we will display to the world and the world will see its goodness, and in its goodness will appreciate its delightful evil.

Laugh at me at school would they? Soon they will all pay. The fools! I'll teach them - I'll teach them to mock me. No, I'll teach them not to mock me. Yes.

The best magicians that I have met are actors in their own right, or at least have a personality of successfully applied creativity. They are artists. And when a group of artists comes together, the last thing they should do is talk about their art. This kind of behaviour leads only to monstrosities such as writers' groups and other mincing, ineffectual hellholes. They should talk about life, experience and meaning, for this is where art begins and ends.

Life. Anything else, my weary friends, is touched by the swollen hand of Onan. There is one word to describe our general approach to our art, and that one word is 'auto-erotic obsession.' We all know it. As we shuffle our little decks in the privacy of our rooms, or (for some) in the thrill of the open club-house, our magic books become our pornography, our full-length mirrors become our full-length mirrors, and fanning powder really comes into its own. Furtive, frantic delights that beget nothing. Choose life, ladies and gentlemen; choose, my petals, life. We are arch-creators in a world of wonder and the unfurlors of surprise. We can take people to the edge of their representation of this world and let them glimpse the dark, screaming abyss where their understanding runs out. We present a metaphor: that the map is not the territory, the menu is not the meal, that the interpretation of an event is not the event itself. And as we teach, we learn this for ourselves. And we can make it clearer for others. And somewhere in that lesson is wonder, and somewhere in that cocoon of wonder lies a tiny, mewling, perfect miracle.

As you go and nurture that miracle, and allow your performance to resonate with the integrity and respect that it deserves, and as you learn to take more seriously the task of imparting wonder, come to delight in the feeling of your endeavour becoming more exquisite, more finely-tuned, more perfect as you bring your performance closer and closer to the aesthetic ideal that you set for yourself. So that your magic becomes slowly as you think Magic should be. Set for yourself high standards and do not compromise them, and seek out the fine joy that comes from the moments when you achieve that ideal. And keep it about life.

I wish you every heaving, bloated resoundalment of success. I've been Derren Brown, and you've been splendid. Good Morning.


The following have all been uncommonly splendid in their assistance with the formation or background of this volume. Full French kisses to them all.

Ian Rowland. After a bad hair decade in the eighties, which outstayed its dubious welcome well into the nineties, Ian became the foremost transatlantic TV faux psychic. (Re-reading that phrase it sounds as if women's clothes were involved. They were not and Ian stands by this.) In his usual, nauseatingly helpful and generous way, he gave up hours of his busy life normally spent in his local library swigging meths by the radiator, to plough through a manuscript of this book and offer pages of painstaking pedantry and snide sideswipes which he called 'feedback.' Should the reader find any glitches in spelling, grammar or style within these pages, Ian's oversight is to be blamed.

Ian is the author of the Full Facts Book series. I have already mentioned The Full Facts Book Of Cold Reading, which is the definitive work on the subject. It is huge, up-to-date, and astoundingly comprehensive. Details of this volume and the rest of the series are available from Ian's website, at www .irow land .demon .co .uk

Terry Sadowitz. Many thanks to my friend, a genius in his fields and host of one of the most innovative series on British terrestrial television, for his time, feedback and input.

Steve Bedwell. Lovely chap. Particularly grateful for his help with crediting.

Martin Taylor. For getting me into all this nonsense when I was a student. Martin performs the most contemporary and original hypnotic act in the country.

Martin Macmillan. Son of Ron, the face of International Magic in London, and a tremendous source of encouragement as well as invaluable assistance. I am unspeakably grateful. I'm not crying, 1 have something in my eye.

Peter Clifford. A good friend and a splendid magician. Peter took the photographs, and regularly has to sit up very late while I humiliate myself into the night with a deck of cards. I apologise unreservedly for not knowing when to put the cards away and just go home.

Ian Carpenter for looking a bit like Frasier and proofreading. Also to blame for any mistakes, and should be contacted directly. Figaro. For shutting the Christ up sometimes

Nancy. For installing in me such a deep-seated misogyny that I now avoid relationships and have my creative urges free to employ in the formation of better performance.

Ray Frost at Davenports for his encouragement when I was a nipper.

Frank Sinatra

Vanessa Feltz

Cliff Richard

People beginning with H

That Bloke The Other Night Who Said That Thing The Lord

If I've forgotten anyone then consider yourself thanked - apart from one person who thinks he should be mentioned but whom I have purposefully omitted because he wasn't as helpful as he thinks he was. You know who you are.

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