People Willing To Believe

In line with the Power of Suggestion, discussed in Lesson 2, is the Credulity of People, their Willingness to Believe.

Always remember that the first impulse of people is to believe. Doubting is secondary.

To make it clear to you, I will give you this example. When you read something in the newspaper not honorable about a man whom you thought highly of, for instance, your first impulse is to believe it. You probably say, "Who would have thought that Mr would be involved in anything of such a nature?" Then after this belief may come a reaction and the thought that perhaps you should not believe the newspaper. You have, no doubt, experienced in other ways this tendency to believe what you are told. We all know the malicious stories of the old-maid scandalmonger. Her stories are so harmful because of this willingness of people to believe what they are told. Her vicious tales sometimes sound so true that some people don't even get the reaction of doubt.

So it is in Magic. People want to believe that you make that coin disappear, that you vanish the burning cigarette. When you tell them that they have the coin under the handkerchief in Lesson 1, far be it from them to doubt you.

In Magic there is almost no tendency to the reaction of doubt.

So remember, you are betting on the safe side when you play your stakes on this impulse of people to believe.

Seeing, Hearing, Feeling with the Imagination

We can carry this further. People believe not only what you tell them or what they actually see or hear or feel, but they believe what they imagine they see or hear or feel. Imagination plays as tremendous a part in forming ideas as the senses do.

A common example of seeing with the imagination is one that we have all, no doubt, experienced. I refer to meeting a man on the street and saying "How do you do" to him, thinking he was Mr. James. There was a similarity of features between this man and Mr. James and your imagination formed the idea that he was Mr. James. It proved not to be Mr. James at all, and if you had looked at this man with your eyes, you would have seen that he was not Mr. James. You saw him, however, not with your eyes but with your imagination.

Now this is how seeing with the imagination applies to Magic. In the Mystery of the Burning Cigarette you suggest to your audience that your hand is empty by showing it to them with the thumb tip pointed toward them. They believe that your hand is empty and consequently do not look for anything on your hand. They imagine they see nothing on it.

This applies also to the senses of hearing and feeling. In the Dissolving Coin trick, you suggest to them that the coin is under the handkerchief, and when the spectator takes the disk under the handkerchief in his hand, he imagines he feels the coin. Also you have suggested to him that he is dropping the coin and consequently he imagines he hears the clinking of the coin when he drops the disk. As a matter of fact, if he really felt with his hands and not his imagination, he would feel the disk because it does feel different from a half dollar. And if he were hearing with his ears and not his imagination, he would hear the disk because its sound is different from that of a half dollar.

You are safe, however, in counting on the willingness of your audience to believe what you tell them and on their using their imaginations instead of their senses of seeing, hearing, and feeling while you are performing. This has been true since time immemorial and holds true today. It is an infallible part of the working of the Psychology of Magic.

Magic is so bound up with this science that almost its whole basis is Psychology. Psychologists the world over are intensely interested in Magic for that reason. Magic gives them an insight into the working of people's minds such as they could get from no other profession. I give you this Psychology of Magic so that you may understand how closely Magic is interrelated with psychology. Its relation with other sciences I shall discuss with you later.

Principle:

Art of Misdirection

Directing the eyes of your audience is another great power you have and the principle of the Art of Misdirection plays a tremendous part in Magic.

The audience follows your eyes. You have a palmed coin in your left hand, for example. You hold it in a natural position and look at your audience and use your right hand while giving them the patter. Your audience will follow your eyes to your right hand and will not even glance at your left hand, which has the coin. That is why I told you in Lesson 1 not to watch your hands. Even a hasty glance will lead someone in the audience to follow your glance and suspect that you have something concealed.

You may try this little experiment to prove to yourself that people follow your eyes. Pretend you are throwing a coin up into the air and look up to an imaginary point that the coin reached — but really retain the coin in your hand. The eyes of the spectators will look upward just as you did. You can do this many times and each time the audience will look upward.

Almost every trick has some element of Misdirection in it. So remember, in performing your trick — NEVER LOOK AT THE OPPOSITE END OF YOUR EFFECT. By the opposite end, I mean the thing you are really doing -- that is, looking at your hand which is holding the coin, rather than looking upward for the effect. If you look at your hand, the audience will look at your hand—that is the opposite end. If you look upward, the audience will look upward -- that is the effect.

That is the basis of Misdirection. Whatever you direct their attention to, the audience will look at. In the Dissolving Coin trick you use the Art of Misdirection when you direct the attention of the audience to the dropping of coin (?) in glass. Every person in that audience is watching to see what will happen when handkerchief is lifted and you must look in that direction also. Meanwhile, you can put your left hand in your pocket to dispose of the coin without being detected.

One thing you must keep in mind is that it is a psychological fact that a person does not hold his attention on any one thing for more than a few seconds. Your job is to keep renewing his attention by the things you say or by varying the thing this person is to attend to -- until you get your work out of the way.

You must work fast so that you don't bore the spectator and find him watching you instead of the thing he should be watching. You must remember that his attention wanders and you must be quick so that you are through with your "opposite end" before his attention comes back to you.

To get the Art of Misdirection clearly into your mind, I want you to practice this little move:

Stand before your mirror and watch yourself.

Take a coin in your left hand. You are going to get the effect of passing it to your right hand. For a few times really pass the coin from your left to your right hand. This is to give you Naturalness in faking the pass and also to give you an opportunity to observe how your eyes go from your left to your right hand.

After you have done this a few times, go through the same moves but retain the coin by finger palming it in your left hand. Close your right hand as if you had the coin. Your eyes must follow the pretended passing of the coin just as they did when you actually passed it. Your audience will follow your eyes to your right hand and will not even notice your left hand.

It is unbelievable until you try it yourself how easily large objects — even a rabbit — can be moved about almost under the very noses of the audience without their seeing or suspecting anything if you know the Art of Misdirection.

Nearly the whole art of Sleight of Hand depends on this Art of Misdirection. Your seemingly miraculous effects depend on speed and cleverness in directing the attention of the audience away from the opposite end of the effect -- away from what you are really doing. You will find this intensely interesting when we begin to study Sleight of Hand.

In training you to be a Magician, I am training you to be so well equipped with the principles of Magic and effects that you can vary your tricks to fit any occasion and to be ready to meet any emergencies when you are performing.

I give you variations of tricks based on the same principle. Sometimes it may be necessary to repeat a trick within a short period of time and some of the old audience may be in the new one. You can throw these spectators off the track by presenting the trick by a different method of working. You can add some little twist to the trick, and even those who see it for the second time will not discover how you do the trick. There are "close investigators" in some audiences. You will have no difficulty in mystifying them if you vary your effects, even just a trifle. I give you also similar effects based on different principles.

A magician often fools another magician with just this style of working. He will introduce a new twist of some kind or a new method of working and he has his fellow magician puzzled.

In this lesson I teach you String and Ring Tricks—two methods of taking rings off a string that is held at both ends, and a method of removing a ring made by tying a knot in the string itself.

You can always carry with you the apparatus for these tricks so that you are always prepared to do them. They are impromptu effects that go over big anywhere. Try them in the office of a business friend or at some friendly gathering.

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