Bob Cassidy - Mentalism - Tricks - Compleat Principia Menta.pdf

July 14, 2017 | Author: commasum | Category: Parapsychology, Magic (Illusion), Mediumship, Reality, Truth
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The Compleat Principia Mentalia Robert E Cassidy


Not authentic without this mark


Robert E Cassidy

In memory of Stu Scott, Dennis Mead, Joe Haller, Don Garnett, Yvonne Moray, and, of course, “The Forty Thieves.”

‘ “You’ll Never Know…”

Table of Contents

The Compleat Principia Mentalia

Part One - Fire Prologue Principium 1 Riding the Web Remote Viewing Principium 3 Extra Sensory Switch Principium 3 Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust Principium 4 The Triple Prediction Principium 5 The Phantom’s Thought Foretold Principium 6 The Erisian Force How I Found the Holy Grail The M.C.A.M.N. Test Part Two - Earth Introduction Principium 7 The Journey Continues Principium 8 Messing Around The Microphone Switch Principium 9 The Telepathic Diary Take your Pick Upside down and Backwards Principium 10The Monserrat/Cassidy Booktest Return to the Web The Synchronistic Crossword Tossing things around, and other ruminations on things psychic Principium 11 Business Card Telepathy The Jaxian Phone Book Test Part Three - Air Introduction Principium 12 Blind Man’s Bluff Principium 13 The Die and the Canisters A Vibration from the WEB The UFO Black and White, and Red All Over ESP Card Divination The Options Force and a Murder Mystery Part Four- Water Introduction Principium 14


5 5 7 8 10 12 14 17 17 18 19 22 23 24 24 26 27 30 30 31 31 32 34 36 37 37 40 41 42 42 44 45 48 48 50 50 52 54 54 55 56 57 58 60 60 62 65 67 70 70 70


Robert E Cassidy

On Originality The Weird Revelation The Writer's Ditch Principium 15 Spellbilleted Principium 16 Jazz Mentalism Principium 17 Rip It Up Principium 18 Conclusion Principium X

70 71 72 72 73 75 76 81 82 83 84 84

Copyright © 1995, 2002 by Robert E Cassidy All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced by any means. Violators will be subject to some very serious stuff, the least of which will be forfeiture of the offender's soul and repossesion of same by Pazuzu. So watch out!

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


Part One - Fire Prologue Mentalism is often viewed as a branch of conjuring- an "adult form of magic," as Annemann put it, but a definite subcategory of conjuring nonetheless. It is, in fact, quite a different art form. This is probably why many otherwise talented magicians, relying on conjuring ploys, presentations, and psychology, are unable to present mentalism effectively. A brief look at the history of modern mentalism reveals that its roots lie not in magic, but in charlatanism. Mentalism evolved in response to public belief in spiritualism and second sight. While their performances occasionally included homage to such beliefs, the fathers of mentalism weren't Robert Houdin, Alexander Hermann or Harry Kellar. They were performers such as the Davenports, Washington Irving Bishop, Anna Eva Fay and Eric Hanussen. The exploits of such notorious and noted mediums as Henry Slade, Daniel Dunglas Home and Arthur Ford created the backdrop before which the art grew. Men such as the Comte Saint Germain, Cagliostro and Rasputin provided the legend. They were the godfathers of our art. (Which would, I suppose, make Madam Blavatsky the fairy godmother.) The decline of spiritualism, and the exposure of fraudulent mediums by Harry Houdini and others, led to the "scientific" presentation popularized by Joseph Dunninger and, more recently, Kreskin. It is still characteristic of most present-day performers. Fundamental methodologies, however, such as nailwriting, billet switching, and cold reading, remained those devised by the mediums and seers. With the revelation of the mediums' secrets, an interesting assumption was made by magicians. Here, they reasoned, were new magic effects that could be incorporated into their programs. Careful reading of Theodore Annemann's JINX, the leading source of so-called "mental magic" in the 1930's and early 40's, reveals that most contributors practiced an almost ironic approach to mentalism, cloaking their presentations with the same patter stories and obvious props used by conjurors. The original methods of the "charlatans" were thoroughly appropriated, modified, and, in a few cases, improved upon by ingenious innovators. The marriage of the two art forms hasn't always been a happy one. Since the premise and methods of mentalism are claimed by magicians to be the property of the conjuring fraternity, they expect its presentation to conform to the accepted model of magical entertainment. That model requires that performers don't pretend to be anything other than clever tricksters. To claim or imply paranormal abilities often results in censure, or, occasionally, the public defamation and exposure of the offender. It is purportedly a question of ethics. Conjuring is seen as "honest" deception intended for entertainment purposes only. The public expect magicians to lie and deceive to create harmless illusions. Many magicians seem to feel duty bound, as protectors of a gullible public, to condemn those who use magical methods for any other purpose. Mentalism, lacking the glitzy props and slick patter that would clearly brand the practitioner a trickster, is seen by many magicians to be unethical. Mental effects, however, presented in a traditional magic act, or preceded by a disclaimer of psychic abilities, are considered acceptable. Since many practitioners believe that the very essence of effective mentalism is the simulation of psychic ability, they have dissociated themselves from magic and magicians. Some mentalists, however, deny psychic ability and claim instead that their effects are accomplished through "purely scientific means for entertainment purposes only." This generally keeps crusading magicians and CSICOPS off their backs. As


Robert E Cassidy

magicians and their organizations are an excellent source of clever methods and gimmicks useful to the mentalist, this compromise has been made by many. Besides, most of us are very good at reading the fine print. People who believe in paranormal abilities don't believe the disclaimers anyway.

Magicians, though, have always outnumbered mentalists, and the magic organizations haven't offered much to the psychic entertainer beyond the occasionally useful idea. Various attempts have been made to create associations of mentalists, but none were particularly successful until 1978, when the Psychic Entertainers Association was formed. Founded by Tony Raven, Scott Gordon, and myself, the P.E.A. was born out of the realization that mentalism and magic were quite distinct. Mentalism was defined as the "presentation of seemingly paranormal phenomena for entertainment purposes." Leaving the question of disclaimers up to the individual member, it simply required that the performer did not create detrimental reliance on his abilities by members of the public. This has always been my position. Many magicians, realizing the popularity of mental effects and believing that mentalism offers an easier and less expensive route to commercial success, have sought membership in the Association. In most cases they have been denied. The reason is that most magicians are hobbyists and amateurs far more interested in fooling each other than in entertaining the public. Since they repeatedly perform for each other they constantly seek novel effects and methods. This is not so with the professional who is constantly performing for new audiences, and is thus far more interested in developing his performing and promotional skills. Furthermore, mental effects presented as magic tricks, or in a magic act, are no more than puzzles. Since they don't require digital dexterity or skill (from an audience viewpoint), they aren't inherently impressive. They are more likely to bore than to intrigue. Only the utmost in showmanship can make them entertaining. Mental effects presented as "the real thing," however, can be intriguing to believers and skeptics alike. Mentalism, I think, is this type of presentation as a form of professional entertainment. I leave it to the reader to decide if claiming extraordinary natural abilities one doesn't really have, is any more "unethical" than claiming psychic talents. Personally, I prefer to paraphrase Dunninger's classic line: For those who believe No explanation is necessary. For those who don't I couldn't care less.

Success in mentalism, however, presupposes a firm mastery of its basic principles. It is mastery that allows the performer to be believable. Since I view the art as an exclusively professional activity, the common dictum that a mentalist need not exhibit professional performing skills is ridiculous.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


The purpose of this book is to teach effects with an emphasis on presentation and the underlying techniques. At times I will challenge many widely accepted premises- not to denigrate them, but to make you constantly reevaluate everything you have assumed to be "true" about our art. Enjoy the ride.

Principium 1 Plausibility depends on context (or, as Annemann asked, "What would a real mindreader do?") Mental effects in general, and book tests in particular, have often been criticized as illogicalassomethingthat a "real mindreader" wouldn't do. Why shouldn't the spectator be able to think ofanything at all? Why does he need a book to think of a word? Why does he have to write things down or pick cards or DO ANYTHING BUT THINK? Isn't that the way a REAL MINDREADER would do it? This is an easy question to answer. So easy, in fact, that I'm surprised no one's ever suggested this before. All you have to do is watch a real mindreader and see what he does. Then you will know. If you can't find a real mindreader to watch, you'll just have to take a guess at what he would do. That's what mentalism really is after all- a presentation of what mentalists assume real mindreading looks like. But you're in luck. You see, I am a real mindreader. (Ten thousand dollars to anyone who proves, to my satisfaction, that I'm not. Almost like the deal the debunkers give.) I use book tests all of the time. I also have people pick cards and write things down. Why? To keep them from lying and making me look like a fake. It used to happen all the time when I told people flat out whatever it was they were thinking about. Others got scared and wouldn't come to see my show again. I was harassed by skeptical scientists who said any evidence I produced in this manner was merely wishful thinking on the subjects' part or cold reading on mine. When presented with testimonials by those whose minds I read, these same scientists called the evidence "merely anecdotal."


Robert E Cassidy

I've been told that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. And let me tell you this- it's hardly extraordinary, or even difficult, for me to tell most people what they're thinking. Usually I just say "The same to you, buddy," and leave it at that. Do you suppose, as I once did, that the book test was devised by magicians to simulate mindreading? Actually, it was originally performed by spirit mediums to prove contact with the dear departed. The medium, while in trance, would give a page and line number in a certain book which, when checked later, would contain a message to the sitter. Usually the book was on the sitter's own bookshelf and had not, presumably, ever been seen by the medium. This, of course, is not the typical modern presentation of the test. The closest thing I've seen is a prediction of a passage in the Book of Numbers which revealed the total of several numbers called out by spectators. The point is, that the effect is consistent with the claim being made. (ie. contact with the dead demonstrated via revelation of information seemingly unknowable to the medium- or to anyone else, for that matter) Thus it is believable. As applied to mentalism, the principium simply means that the performer himself defines the parameters of his claimed abilities. Since his proof is the material he performs, his effects must stay within those parameters in order to be believable. He thereby creates the illusion of doing what "real" mindreaders do. My own parameters are defined by a concept I call the "Web." It is a subscript that underlies all of my presentations. A mentalist’s persona must have depth that goes beyond the theatrical stage. If you think the only time you have to appear psychic is when you're on stage, you will never develop a believable image. The following is my theory of the Web. It's how I explain mentalism to the public, and it has served to create a plausible argument in support of psychic functioning. It provides context to my act and is the


essence of my persona as a performer

Riding the Web an approach to Parapsychology and a cover story for mentalists

ESP, or "psi," as it is now called by parapsychologists, has long been a phenomena without an identifiable scientific basis. But, if we imagine for a moment that our individual “minds” may actually be parts of an infinite “universal mind,” psychic ability is easily explained. This simple change in our reality view allows us to speculate that psi may actually be nothing more than the ability to decipher signals that are passing through a network, or, by analogy, vibrating throughout a web. Imagine a spider web of infinite size whose strands connect everything that exists. You and I, as individuals, are tiny specks attached to the center of the web, but since the web is infinite, the center is everywhere.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


As a result of cultural and biological programming, western man has come to view himself as an entity distinctly separate from his environment and the rest of humanity. This feeling of separation, coupled with the mechanistic views of modern science, serves to keep most people from allowing themselves to accept unifying experiences as “real.” They need to “see it to believe it,” when, in fact, the reverse may be true. It is only when we transcend the illusion of separateness that we begin to appreciate that we are one with the web. A vibration emitting from any point travels throughout its infinite expanse. Since everything that exists is in a state of vibration, the web resonates with a symphony produced by the orchestra of all things. The web is "real." It is our sense of separation that is the illusion. History is filled with instances of people suddenly experiencing a connection with the web. Many who spoke of their experiences were misunderstood. Frequently they were persecuted by those who mistook the illusion of separation to be the reality of existence. You may wonder what this has to do with psi, or with mentalism for that matter. It’s really simple. Operating from the premise that all minds are separate, telepathy, for example, cannot be understood within the confines of accepted physical laws. If all minds, however, are actually connected by a unifying web-like structure, knowing another person’s thoughts may simply be a matter of listening to your own. There are a few other aspects of this hypothetical web that should be noted. Since it is an infinite structure, vibrations are not restricted by traditional notions of space and time. A vibration commencing at point A, for example, does not travel to point B. It simply occurs at point B at the same instant it occurs at point A. Interestingly, this sort of space/time “jumping” as actually been observed and acknowledged in the field of quantum physics. There is nothing new about the web motif. It is generally accepted in eastern philosophy and usually rejected in western thought. Fortunately, we are not faced with an "either/or" selection. These two, apparently opposing, viewpoints are entirely reconcilable if one learns to accept that all interpretations of reality are the result of both subconscious programming, and the suppression of any sensory input which contradicts the accepted reality model. Reality views are neither true nor false, right nor wrong, black nor white. They are simply the result of subconscious programming and the filtering out of input inconsistent with the chosen reality view. Like everything else that exists, all reality views exist somewhere on the web. (The "everything" on the web includes ideas.) In learning to "ride the web" we learn to release ourselves from the constraints of restrictive programming. Only then will we finally delete the "para" from "parapsychology," "paranormal," and "paradox." We mentalists, of course, will need to find jobs.


Robert E Cassidy

Remote Viewing We've come a long way since the days of the spiritualists. Remote viewing is a technique recently popularized by Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, formerly of Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and founders of Delphi Associates. Delphi was dedicated to developing practical applications for RV, such as predicting fluctuations in commodities market. Targ and Puthoff's books offer valuable material to the professional mindreader. Remote viewing tests involve recording information, taking photographs, and guessing which of those photos is of a place visited by an experimenter. They also involve writing things down and interpreting results. These "test conditions" precautions make it quite easy for a mentalist to simulate the phenomena. "Legitimate" remote viewing tests are easy to fake. Tests designed for stage use are even easier, since there is a simplified protocol and far more control by the performer. The following test was presented by me as part of a psychic development course. Since the course was primarily an exploration into the powers of the mind, in which the students judged their own work, there was really no need to cheat in the test to assure above average results. Self-validation allowed the students to convince themselves they had some psychic ability. Since they were looking for correspondences between their "psychic impressions" and a subsequently revealed photograph of a target, they simply made use of the mind's natural ability to find patterns and meanings in just about anything. I just couldn't resist giving them a subtle shove in the right direction. EFFECT: From a group of seven people, one was selected to act as a sender in a remote viewing test. I explained to the entire group that an envelope I held contained six drawings randomly selected from a computer clip art collection. My assistant, Denise, was to take the envelope and accompany the sender to a different room. Once in the room the sender was to remove one of the folded pictures from the envelope, focus on the image and give verbal impressions to Denise. Denise was to make a written record of his comments and feelings about the target. In the meanwhile, I led the remaining participants in a relaxation exercise. Each was provided with pencil and paper and was asked to let images and sensations flow through their minds. They were to record their impressions. Since I didn't know which target had been selected, I freely provided feedback and encouragement to the receivers. About fifteen minutes was devoted to the exercise. At a prearranged time, Denise had been instructed to let the sender refold the target picture and replace it in the envelope with the other pictures. She was to deliver the envelope to the testing room without comment. The envelope was opened and all of the pictures removed and unfolded. They were placed on a table in front of the receivers, who were then asked to find correspondences between their impressions and one or more of the targets. Again, since it was apparent that I couldn't know the identity of the target, I freely gave advice and helped them find correspondences. Finally, after several minutes of finding correspondences and interacting with each other, the subjects were asked to vote on which picture they thought had been the target.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


Denise and the sender then reentered the room and revealed the target picture. Denise's written notes of the sender's comments and impressions were read to all of the participants, and further correspondences were noted with the receivers notes. The test was an astounding success. ALL of the subjects had successfully identified the target, and many had picked up on the subjective impressions recorded by Denise. No one suspected they had witnessed a mental effect or magic trick. The test was accepted as proof of "the real thing." Whether we had proven telepathy, clairvoyance or controlled synchronicity, was the subject of much animated conjecture. I immediately noticed the potentially dangerous opportunity presented. These people were prepared to accept any explanation I could give about the phenomena, since I was the "expert" who had allowed them to experience psychic phenomena first hand. METHOD: The envelope Denise took to the other room contained eight identical pictures. Previously planted in that room was another envelope containing seven randomly selected pictures. While the sender was concentrating on his selection and giving his comments and impressions, it was simple for Denise to exchange envelopes, thus allowing the forced target to be later returned to the envelope containing the random pictures. Knowing beforehand what the selection would be gave me the opportunity to lead and encourage the receivers to accurate impressions. The impression created was far greater than could have been provided had the effect been presented in a magic or mental program. If mentalism were defined simply as the simulation of psychic phenomena, the effect is perfect mentalism. There are those who would argue that this is exactly what mentalism is all about, and that realizing this is what will bring us back to our true roots. But there is the ethical question again. If mentalism is defined as psychic entertainment, which doesn't create potential detrimental reliance on the performer's claims, the effect is not mentalism, but is actually a form of controlled brainwashing. Ironically, if the effect as written were performed to induce real psychic ability by creating confidence and belief in its existence, it could, according to some parapsychologists, be a completely acceptable and ethical approach. This is the area in which the ethics of mentalism must be constantly examined. It's one of the main reasons I prefer to remain on stage and out of the classroom. It's also probably why I don't earn nearly as much as those who have taken to the motivational speaking circuit. If you were to attempt the above effect as part of a stage program, it would fall apart completely. There is obviously no entertainment value at all. Who would want to watch several spectators sit and compare


Robert E Cassidy

impressions? It's sad to think, though, that there are many mentalists (I hesitate to call them "performers") who actually inflict such things on audiences.

Principium 3 No effect is plausible if the context is wrong. Conversely, anything is plausible in the right context. The trick is figuring out which is which.

Principia 1 & 2 having been set forth, we now return to the stage Remote viewing as part of a stage performance requires a completely different approach. It can be handled as an effective variant of design duplication. Rather than duplicating a picture selected or drawn by a spectator, the presentation focuses on geographic locations. My "Name and Place" routine, in The Art of Mentalism 2, could easily be adapted to a remote viewing theme by having the spectators think of places they have visited before. They would be asked to imagine that they had returned, and to concentrate on their surroundings. By requesting them to think of well-known spots, it would be easy for the performer to describe the places. Many mentalists have experimented with packets of postcards. Either by stacking or marking them (or, if you want to be really subtle, both) it's easy to remote view. [Just in passing, I know there are some purists out there, well versed in remote viewing protocols, who will argue that this isn't remote viewing at all, because no one goes anywhere. In certain situations, though not usually in a stage performance, it would be quite possible to send the volunteer to the selected location. The remote viewing would take place after allowing him time to get there. It would be a good way for those with a small repertoire to lengthen their programs. Unless used as a Dunninger type "Brain Buster," however, I don't recommend this approach. What if your volunteer didn't come back? The effects I'm describing are remote viewing because the performer says so. Again, a real mindreader does what a real mindreader says he does. In any event, the spectator is asked to imagine that he is in the selected location due to the obvious physical problems of sending him there.] A more intriguing approach is to not mark or stack the postcards at all. Just show them to be all different. Allow the spectator to mix them up, spread them face down on a table and select one. The backs of the cards have been covered with blank cardboard to preclude marking. The effect works on the same principal as Goldstein's Zodiaction and my own Atlas Test. All of the cards show the same location. From a distance, though, they don't look alike because they are all different

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


photos of the same subject. There must be a hundred different post cards showing New York City, or Seattle, for example. For close up work, I would recommend this variant on Koran's Five Star Miracle. EFFECT: The mentalist exhibits a packet of about forty-eight post cards. He passed them from hand to hand before his volunteer, who verifies that they are all different and represent locations from all over the world. The pack is mixed, turned face down and handed to the volunteer. He is requested to deal them, one at a time, face down on the table. He is to stop dealing whenever he feels like it. He is asked to concentrate on the location depicted on the card where he stopped. The performer either remote views the location or opens a prediction envelope previously exhibited to the audience. In either event, he has accurately described the spectator's selection. METHOD: If you are using a forty-eight-card packet of post cards and wish, for example, to force New York City, you would proceed as follows: Find four postcards depicting different views of New York City. Buy three copies of each card and obtain twenty-four other cards depicting different places from around the world. Cover the backs of the cards with opaque paper or card stock. Stack the pack as follows (from the top of a face down pile): The top six cards are random locations, as are all of the subsequent cards at even numbers from the top. The seventh card is the first New York picture, the ninth card is a different picture of New York, as are the eleventh and thirteenth cards. The sequence of force cards begins again with the fifteenth card and continues through the twenty-fifth. The remaining twenty-three cards are random. If the packet is spread face up, you'd have to show twenty-three cards before you got to the first force. Beyond that point the cards would still appear to be all different, because the duplicate force cards are eight cards apart. The cards are given a Charlier (or false haymow) shuffle by the performer. A pencil dot on the top card assures that it can be cut back to the top, thus restoring the full pack order. The spectator is instructed to deal cards one at a time, face down, onto the table. After he has dealt about five of them, tell him he can stop dealing any time he likes. Count the cards as he deals so you will know if he deals an odd or even number before stopping. If his last card dealt is odd, it is a force card. If the last card dealt is even, he has a force card on the top of the pack in his hand. Either way you know which one to ask him to concentrate on. End by remote viewing or by revealing your prediction.


Robert E Cassidy

Fact: Dr. Faustus was dyslexic and actually sold his soul to Santa. So-called test conditions effects have always been favorites of mine because they capitalize on the growing legitimacy given to psi by parapsychologists. They also serve to illustrate the "reality" of the Web. The next few effects, presented according to the first principium, are sure to create favorable response. The first is called Extra Sensory Switch and was inspired by an old Howie Schwartzman card move. Its use is not limited to cards. As will be seen, it also makes an excellent envelope switch.

Extra Sensory Switch EFFECT: The performer shows two sets of five ESP cards. One set is placed in a row, face down in front of the performer. The mentalist examines the other set and places those cards in a row, face down above the first row. He explains as follows: "The cards in each row are not in the same order. In fact, only one of the pairs matches. Only I know which pair that is." Addressing the spectator, the performer continues, "I'd like you to point to two of the cards. The two you point to will be switched. Afterwards, I'll have you point to two other cards and I'll switch those also. Just point to two of the cards in the row closest to you." The volunteer does so, and the performer switches the positions of the two cards. Again the spectator points to two different cards, and those are switched also. Only one card has not been moved from its original position. Turning over both rows, it is seen that all of the pairs match. METHOD: This is a straight out con and is similar to a Paul Curry effect in which cards arranged in a numerical sequence were switched at places designated by the spectator to arrive at a predicted sequence. At the outset, both rows are arranged in the same order. All of the cards match.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


The two "switches" appear to alter the positions, but leave the cards exactly where they were to begin with. The move is simple, although you will find it a bit awkward at first. There are two basic ways to legitimately switch the positions of two cards. The first is to pick up one card in each hand and crisscross the hands, replacing the cards on the table. The second is to take one card in each hand and exchange them from hand to hand and place them on the table If you do both things simultaneously, the switches cancel each other out. So it goes like this- Pick up a card in each hand. Crisscross your hands and exchange them from hand to hand as you do so. This is facilitated if the card in the right hand is held between the thumb and forefinger and the card in the left between the index and middle finger. The hands come together, and the card in the right hand is grasped between the thumb and forefinger of the left. The card in the left is grasped between the index and middle finger of the right. When both hands do this, they release their original cards and crisscross. In other words, the right hand continues to move to the left, and the left hand to the right, the right hand passing over the left wrist. There is no need to be furtive or quick with the move. It should be performed slowly and naturally. It's best to use the ESP cards with the original borderless back design, as they add to the deceptiveness of the move. If you follow the directions with cards in hand, you should have no trouble. The reason the move is awkward is because you will experience a natural tendency to separate the hands after the exchange. In other words, you'll want to move the right hand back to the right and the left hand to the left. A little practice will get you through this. Don't overlook this because it seems obvious. Here's an alternate presentation which, I think, makes the effect even subtler. Begin the effect by writing a prediction which states, for example, "Only the circles will match." After initially laying down the two rows of cards, emphasize that you have arranged the pairs so that only one of them matches. Through mental influence alone, you will cause the volunteer to match one, and only one, pair. The only difference comes when you lay the cards down. See to it that only the circles match. Since nothing's going to change anyway, the prediction is sure-fire. As I suggested earlier, the switch is particularly practical with envelopes. In the following example the hand movements are modified slightly. Instead of crisscrossing laterally, the hands move directly toward and away from the volunteer. The envelope in the left hand is held close to the performer's body between his index and middle fingers. With the right hand he reaches forward and takes an envelope from the spectator, grasping it between his thumb and forefinger. The right hand is pulled back and the left hand goes toward the volunteer. The switch takes place as the hands pass each other. At the completion of the move the performer's right hand is against his body and his left hand is extended forward.


Robert E Cassidy

In this form, the switch is not quite as visually deceptive if a spectator keeps an eagle eye on his envelope. Verbal misdirection, though, covers it nicely. Since people naturally look at you when you say something, the act of asking the volunteer a question as you perform the exchange makes it completely unnoticeable. EFFECT: The spectator and the performer each write a three-digit number on the backs of business cards. Each inserts their card into an envelope. The envelopes are exchanged and opened. Both have written the same number. METHOD: Before reading further, I think it would be a good exercise if you tried to work this out for yourself. Forget the logic of sealing the cards in the envelopes, we'll deal with that later. For now, just try to figure it out. Here's a clue- the performer is allowed to make a mistake somewhere along the line. It is the mistake, of course, which makes the effect possible. The performer writes anything he feels like on his card. The flaps are tucked into the envelopes (they are not sealed), and the exchange executed. The performer, while performing the switch, says, "I want you to put my envelope into your inside jacket pocket, and I'll put yours into mine." After this is done, the performer explains, "You wrote down any two digit number that came into you mind. I also wrote something." Since the spectator was originally told to write a three-digit number, he or another audience member will correct the performer. If not, he just pretends to hear a correction. "I'm sorry," the mentalist continues, "Three digits are a lot harder. Give me my envelope back for a moment." Retrieving his envelope, the mentalist opens it, removes the card and notes what the spectator has written. He now crosses out (obliterates, actually) the spectator's number and rewrites it. He reinserts the card into the envelope and returns it to the volunteer. Again he reiterates what has taken place. It only remains for the performer to remove what is apparently the spectator's envelope, open it, and misread the contents as the spectator's chosen number. The spectator is asked to open the performer's envelope and read the contents aloud. The numbers match. Three principles, therefore, are brought into play here- the envelope switch, the feigned mistake, and misreading a billet. Worked together they serve to create an effective method. Later, I'll explain how this same approach is applied to a new version of the Card at Any Number effect.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


Principium 3 If more than one subtlety is at work, your method is well concealed. When I was a kid, I was always fascinated with an EZ Magic number called "The Devil's Canister." Maybe you remember it. It was a brightly painted tin can into which you could drop dollar bills, cards, billets, or whatever, and then set them on fire. The gimmick was a hole in the bottom back of the can from which you could retrieve the object. About an inch down from the inside top of the can was a circular ledge on which was glued a fabric soaked with lighter fluid. I wonder if anyone ever actually performed this. I certainly hope not. It's a perfect example of magic shop mental effects which are only profitable to those who are selling them. They offer no profit to those who would dare perform them in public. Often, however, they plant a principle in the neophyte's brain and, years later, a practical application springs forth. Here's what popped out of my cerebellum. Its uses are many. We'll call it:. . .

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust EFFECT: The spectator is handed a slip of paper. He writes whatever the real mindreader deems necessary for the experiment. He drops the slip into an ashtray and burns it. At no time does the performer touch the paper, yet he is able to divine the spectator's thought. This is accomplished without the use of impression gimmicks or other standard devices. METHOD: It all lies in the ashtray. It is the black plastic type- round and almost two inches deep. A circular portion of its bottom has been cut out. A piece of absorbent paper is stuck to the remaining portion of the bottom and has been soaked with lighter fueL. After recording his thought on the paper, the spectator is instructed to fold it into quarters. The performer approaches him holding the ashtray in his left hand and a cigarette lighter in his right. He holds the ashtray just above the spectator's eye level and asks him to drop his slip into it. The slip, of course, goes right through the bottom into the performer's hand. The performer lights the fuel soaked dummy and returns to the front. The slip is opened and read under cover of the pad on which the performer writes his impressions.


Robert E Cassidy

That's the skeleton of the presentation and method. The prevailing angles of vision dictate the manner in which the ashtray is held. If you don't mind touching the slip ( and it really makes no difference, provided that it is kept in plain view until dropped into the ashtray) you may take the slip and drop it in yourself. The style of ashtray may also be changed to allow for greater cover. Don't use anything too big, though, or you might as well go back to using a painted tin can. This is an example of putting new wine into an old bottle. From the audience's point of view, the effect would look no different if you used a billet switch, an impression device, or a center tear. I plead guilty, therefore, to providing you with something that your audiences will never notice. If there's an amateur magician sitting in your audience, though, and I've run across quite a few in mine, this will cause him serious confusion.

Principium 4 Varying your methods keeps you one step ahead of the dilettantes. While on the subject of ashtrays and burning billets, here's the way I normally read the stolen center after performing a center tear. This is best for a one on one presentation, but can be worked onstage provided you're not surrounded. If you can position yourself in a corner, the cover will be fine.

After you've torn the billet and stolen the center, drop the pieces into an ashtray. Ask your subject to light the pieces. You should be standing to her left, practically shoulder to shoulder. Your left hand holds the ashtray in front of her, and your right hand holds the stolen center behind her back.

Open the center behind her back. While the pieces are burning tell her you'll turn your head "just in case the pieces open."

That's as good a time as any to read the slip. Ford Kross advises that the late Chet Miller used the same technique to cover pocket writing. He simply used the spectator's body as cover and the audience couldn't even see that he had his hand in his pocket.

For years, close up magicians have boasted that their miracles are performed under the audiences' noses. The fact is, the closer you are to someone, the less they can see.

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The Triple Prediction Years ago, Stanley Jaks released his classic effect "This Way Out." Basically, it was a one ahead triple prediction with a psychological choice used instead of a force- a "Mental Epic" without the slate. Later, there were many writers, including Tony Shiels and Phil Goldstein, who pointed out that there was more unity to the effect if all of the selections were related thematically. If gambling, for example, were used as a theme, the selections could be the roll of a die, a number on a roulette wheel, and the identity of a hole card. This was far more logical than predicting any word thought of, a number from one to a million, and concluding with a card prediction. The first two categories are so broad that the use of a card for the last prediction is a puny anticlimax. The presentation of Alan Shaxon's "Confabulation," has become popular, not only due to its clever method, but because the predictions are consistent- the make, model and price of an imaginary car. Here is my contribution to the genre. It utilizes the gambling theme and incorporates some standard methods. The twist is that nothing is written down at any time, and, with the exception of the second selection, the performer apparently has no idea what's been selected until after all of his predictions are made. EFFECT: The mentalist demonstrates his ability to influence the actions of his audience. To me, this is much more plausible than claiming to predict the future. It also keeps you from looking like a cheapskate when you won't tell anyone tomorrow's daily lotto numbers. A large die is shown to the audience along with a leather dice cup. Both are handed to a volunteer seated near the front. "Before you do anything," says the performer, "I'll write down what I secretly want you to do." The mentalist jots something on a 3 x 5 pad, tears off the sheet and folds it into quarters. He writes the word "die" on the outside of the slip and drops it into a glass or ashtray. "Think of a number from one to six- one of the numbers on the die you hold. As soon as you have a number in your mind, put the die into the dice cup so your number is facing up. After you've done that, pass the cup around to the people near you so that they can also see the number you've selected. That way you can't change your mind later and make me look stupid. "Now that you've done that, just dump the die out of the cup and toss it to me." The volunteer tosses the die to the performer who either puts it into his briefcase or casually drops it into another dice cup resting on his table.


Robert E Cassidy

The audience's attention is drawn to a dartboard. A second volunteer is selected and the performer hands him or her a dart. "In just a moment you are going to throw the dart at the board. But before you do that, let me write down just what it is I secretly am willing you to do." Again the performer jots something on the 3 x 5 pad, tears off and folds the sheet. On the outside of this slip he writes the word "dart." The slip is dropped into the same container holding the first prediction. The volunteer is positioned about 6 feet from the dartboard and is told to close his eyes. "It only counts if you hit the board. If you miss, you'll try again." The volunteer throws his dart. When he succeeds in hitting the board, you ask him to return to his seat. The dart remains in the board for all to see. "So far we've played some dice and we've played some darts. How about some cards?" The performer removes a pack of cards from its case and has a nearby volunteer verify that all of the cards are different. The performer shuffles the cards and spreads them, face down, before a spectator. [NOTE: this description presumes that the performance is in a nightclub setting where the audience is seated at tables. For stage use, or at a private party where a table is not convenient, the cards are spread on the floor before the volunteer. The card SHOULD NOT be selected with the pack in the performer's hands. This would be inconsistent with the die and dart selections which took place without any apparent control by the performer.] "Before you do anything, let me write something else down. Again the performer writes on a slip and folds it. He tells the audience that he will write the word "card" on this one. The slip is placed with the others. "Now sir, hold out your finger and move your arm back and forth over the cards. Whenever you get the urge, just bring your finger down on one of the cards." As soon as the volunteer complies, the performer cautions him, "Don't look at the card, just hold it up against your body." The performer hands him his selection and retrieves the rest of the pack. All that's left is the revelation. A fourth volunteer comes forward and the predictions are dumped into her cupped hands. The performer continues by addressing the person who thought of a number on the die. "For the first time, sir, please tell all of us the number you were thinking of." "Three," he replies. (or whatever his number was- it was, after all, a free choice.) To the onstage volunteer the performer says, "Now open the slip marked 'die' and read aloud what I willed him to do." She reads the slip aloud. "Three!"

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I'm sure you won't be surprised that the slip marked "dart" predicts the number hit by the dart, and the revelation is handled the same way. That is, a spectator calls out the number hit with the dart and the prediction is then read. The sequence is changed for the final prediction. The onstage volunteer reads the "card" slip aloud before the third volunteer shows his card to the audience. It is the same card predicted by the mentalist. METHOD: As I said, the effect isn't new. The routine, though, should have you puzzled. Some rather knowledgeable P.E.A. members came to see me perform about a year ago at one of the area's "biker bars." (For reasons beyond my understanding, I have this following of stereotypical bikers. It's fine by me. Since they started following the show I've had no problems with hecklers.) Afterwards, they complimented me on the show, but confided that they felt I'd used a stooge in this effect. They could think of no other explanation. Were it anyone else, I would have explained the effect as yet another example of synchronous happenings on the Web. But I let them in on it and they liked it. Here's the handling: The only fair part of the effect is the throw of the dart. The card is the only item forced. That's done with a “Pop-Eyed Eye Popper” deck, which is essentially a rough and smooth Svengali pack.As you'll recall from the description, the spectator is asked not to look at his card. At the same time the performer picks up the selected card and puts it to the volunteer's chest. While picking it up he separates the roughed pair and hands the spectator a force card. The reason for this force is that the selection itself is apparently made while the performer is still standing at some distance from the volunteer. I realize that it takes some nerve to spread a heavily gimmicked deck out before a suspicious volunteer. Just do it- mentalism is not for wimps. If you're bold enough, you may well forego the rough and smooth and use a one way force deck. But the rough and smooth nature of the deck is what allows the performer to show all of the cards to be different prior to the selection. I like that touch. Note that a rough and smooth deck may be overhand shuffled as much as you like, as long as you keep a firm grip on the cards. So, to start the effect, the performer uses a one ahead and writes the name of the card to be forced on the first slip. While claiming to write the word "die" he actually writes "card." In order to go one ahead, it is now necessary for the performer to know the selected number on the die. Now you could just let the spectator roll the die and see for yourself what it is. In earlier variations, the performer did just that. But it's far subtler if it looks like the mentalist doesn't know the number until all of the predictions have been made. If you are fortunate enough to own a Lubor Feidler Memory Die, this is an ideal place to use it. Those familiar with its method will see that this presentation is tailor made for the effect. Also, by putting the effect into this routine, it apparently becomes much more than a simple one out of six revelation, which is the basic shortcoming of such effects.


Robert E Cassidy

By slightly modifying the routine, the Die Cipher effect could be used here. You'd just use the metal container instead of the dice cup. The metal die and container, though, look a little strange. The best way I think, probably because it's my way, is to use an unprepared die about one and a half inches to a side. It should just fit into the cup and not be able to roll to a different number once it goes inside. The die is either made of ivory or white plastic. Put a dab of lipstick on the inside bottom of the cup. When the spectator tosses the die back to you, it is a simple matter to note which side has a smear of red on it. The opposite side is the selected number. It doesn't get much easier than that. It is that number that is written on the second slip. Claiming to write "dart" on the billet, the performer writes "die." The dart throw is just that- a random dart throw. Since you are not standing too far away from the board, you see what number is hit. The audience thinking here is that you didn't see the die and you didn't see the card. Therefore it hardly matters if you saw the dart or not. On the third slip you write the number hit by the dart, fold the slip and label it "dart." The slip is placed in the glass or ashtray with the others. When the fourth volunteer comes forward to read the predictions, the slips are dumped into her hand. Since they are all labeled, she doesn't have to open them all out before reading the first one. That's something I never liked about some earlier versions of the effect. The rest is self explanatory. By the way, if for some reason you can't see the smear on the die right away, don't spend much time looking for it. Just take a guess. If you are wrong you will be wrong on the first revelation. In routines such as the Jaks' original, in which a psychological force is used for the third item, with everything else being fair, the danger is that you'll be wrong on the last item. That, to my mind, brings the effect to a poor conclusion. Being wrong does occasionally enhance an effect, but remember this-

Principium 5 To err is human, it makes you seem real, But err in your closer and you’re a Schlemiel.

Earlier, I had my say on book tests. Here is a variant presented mainly to offer you a new twist on David Hoy's classic effect, The Tossed Out Deck. It was inspired by a Bruce Bernstein idea.

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The Phantom’s Thought Foretold EFFECT: The performer exhibits an envelope and claims it contains a paper on which is written a word. "A word that came into my dreams last night." Three spectators each select a word from a paper back book. They are given slips of paper and instructed to write their words and then crumple their papers into small balls. After due concentration, the mentalist calls out three words and tells the volunteers to sit if their words have been called. They all sit down. The three slips are collected by a fourth spectator who, in turn, selects one of the papers. The remaining two are burned. After reading aloud the word on the selected paper, the prediction is opened and found to contain the same word. METHOD: "So what's new about that?" you might ask. It seems to be nothing more than forcing the same word on each spectator, and predicting that word in advance. That's the basic Hoy idea (although he did it with cards) with the prediction climax suggested by Bernstein in his book Psi-Tech. Bruce's reason for finishing with the prediction was fundamentally sound- it allowed a time delay after the spectators sat down, reducing the possibility of them talking among themselves and discovering they all had selected the same word. The same problem, though, arises when the prediction is revealed. All you need is for one of the volunteers to blurt out, "Oh, he predicted my word," and you could run into trouble, because all of the spectators had the same selection. To avoid this entirely I suggest this approach, which is applicable in any effect where three spectators each select the same force item, be it a card, a word, or whatever. As in the Bernstein variant, have each of them write their selections on slips of paper (flashpaper looks good when two of them are later burned.) Assume you've forced a word, as described under "Effect," by riffling through a book in which a page has been cut short, arranging to stop at that page when the spectator says "Stop." Let's assume that the force word is "policeman." In your prediction envelope you have written a prediction that says, say, "photograph." Your right trousers pocket contains a slip of paper crumbled into a pellet. On it you have written the word "photograph."


Robert E Cassidy

You guessed it- you are going to predict a word that none of them selected! That's the whole point of my variation and, I think, introduces a principle which will have value in many other routines. While the spectators are concentrating on their words and holding their pellets of paper, the performer calls out the words "transistor," "policeman," and "photograph." Since all of the spectators have written "policeman," they will all sit. During his revelation, the mentalist has clipped the pellet in his pocket between his index and middle fingers, in preparation for the standard cigarette paper pellet switch. The spectator who later collects the three pellets and brings them forward, is told to burn two of them. The performer picks up the remaining pellet, switches it, and hands it to the volunteer to be opened and read. The prediction is opened and shown to be correct. The whole point of this procedure is to provide a further safeguard against the possibility of a volunteer saying "He predicted my word!" as would be the case if the force word were predicted. Instead, each will assume that "photograph" was a word selected by one of the other two spectators. Thus, they all hear their own word called out in the first part of the effect, and they each hear someone else's word when the selected pellet is read aloud.

Principium 6 It's not what you take with you that counts, It's what you leave behind

The Erisian Force Superficially, Principium 6 means that it's the impression you leave, and not how much you got paid, that determines your merit as a performer. But since you've become an insider by buying this book and reading it, you surely have realized by now that all of the Principia have hidden meanings. I'll leave it to you to puzzle over numbers one through five. Principium 6 is the basis of a unique force for which I am sure you'll find many uses. The reference is to a technique of lateral thinking, which allows us to look at a problem from a new perspective.

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My original problem was- How do you let a spectator cut some cards, and know in advance exactly how many cards he will cut? You could, of course, just put a bridge in the deck and hope for the best, but that wasn't good enough for the effect I had in mind. None of my solutions met the sure-fire criteria, until I saw that my perspective was wrong. I had been focusing on the number of cards cut off the deck by the volunteer. I should have been looking at the number he left behind. That was something that could be controlled. The basic gimmick, a glued together block of cards, was something Paul Harris marketed years ago. I don't think it's been used this way before. Actually, you don't even have to glue any cards together. It's a lot easier and less messy to use cellophane tape. Here's how it works- Wrap a piece of tape around the center of a packet of, say, twenty-nine playing cards. (Around the narrow sides, just like you'd put a rubber band around a deck) Put this block on top of the twenty-three remaining loose cards. Glue a joker onto the top card of the block to conceal the tape, which will now be only marginally visible if you look at the sides of the deck. The spectator, of course, will never get this opportunity. The deck can be overhand shuffled quite freely. It's an easy matter to cut the block back to the top. If the pack is held face up, the cards can be spread freely up to the block. Hold the cards in dealing position in your left hand. This conceals the tape at the sides. Obtain a little finger break just below the block. Ask your spectator to "just cut off a bunch of cards" and place them in your right hand. When she grasps the cards, drop your left hand leaving the block in her hand. You will, of course, have exactly twenty-three cards in your left hand. Follow by putting the cut off block into your right jacket pocket while saying, "No one could possibly know how many cards you cut to. Please count them." (There's a bit of double speak here designed to plant a false memory that she counted the number of cards she cut off.) She'll count and tell you she has twenty-three. That's the force. By changing the number of cards below the block, you can change the force number. Those of you who are card experts will realize that it's possible to do the same force without gimmicking the deck. You merely need to take a break over the requisite number of cards. There remains, however, the possibility that the spectator won't grasp the deck deeply enough, resulting in cards falling on the floor. Not good. Besides, you need to go through additional handling to get your break at the right position. You could use a short card, but you're still apt to end up with cards all over the floor. Why take chances?


Robert E Cassidy

By now you're probably wondering what I had in mind when I came up with this. It was one of my solutions to the “Any Card at Any Number” effect. The effect has always been my Holy Grail because it seems so perfect.

How I Found the Holy Grail (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) - And what I did with it after I found it with apologies to Malaclypse the Younger

I first read the effect in Jean Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks in the section describing the Nikola Card System. Briefly, a spectator called out a number from one to fifty-two. A second spectator called out the name of any card. The performer picked up a deck that had been laying on the table and handed it to one of the volunteers who counted down to the selected number. At that position he found the selected card. The effect was clean and the method was simple. Since the Nikola system allows you to know the numerical position of every card in the deck, all you had to do was perform a shift while picking up the tabled pack. You also had to do some calculations to determine where to make the shift to put the right card at the right number. That, for me, was the hard part. Do the calculations, determine which card had to be on the bottom for the selected card to be at the selected number, pick up the deck, obtain a break under the right card, and do a shift. After the calculating part, all of this had to be done while picking up the deck and handing it to a volunteer. Apart from the difficulty, the timing of the move was all wrong. To do a pass at that time was to invite discovery, especially if someone had seen you perform the effect before and knew what to expect. Since the effect is so powerful, it's not likely that people who had seen you do it before would have forgotten about it. My first solution involved putting the deck into a letter envelope. In the act of lifting the flap and dumping out the cards into the left hand, the right thumb could flip through the cards, find the right spot for the break, and let the cards above the break fall out first. The rest of the pack would follow. The pack was cut while dumping it into the hand. The envelope provided the cover. Still, I didn’t lke the timing. One of my later solutions first appeared in Bascom Jones' Magick and in one of the New York Symposium collections. It was intended for a larger audience and involved several people writing down the names of cards on billets that were then folded up.

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Other volunteers wrote numbers. A billet from each category was selected and a deck of cards produced. The effect concluded the same way as the original. (The two selected billets were switched for two billets I had prepared beforehand.) I liked the approach, but it lacked the directness of the original. Later I used the effect in my program. I accomplished it via pre-show work. The selections were made before the show- the card and number were obtained from two spectators using a one-hand center tear. I put the selected card in the right position and pocketed the deck. During the show I did some doublespeak that went like this"In just a moment, I'm going to ask one of you to concentrate on the name of a playing card, and someone else will concentrate on a number. Here's a pack of cards which I'd like this gentleman to hold." The cased deck was given to a spectator near the front of the room. Pointing to my first pre-show subject, I said, "Sir, you've been thinking of a card? Please tell us what it is." And to the second subject, "And are you thinking of a number? Please call it out." The spectator with the deck did the counting and revealed the card. Pretty direct and an excellent method for the stage. Not quite so good for small groups or in venues where pre-show work is impractical.

The Erisian force allowed the perfect solution for small groups. I call it -

The M.C.A.M.N. Test (my card at my number) EFFECT: The performer hands a cased pack of playing cards to a volunteer seated near the center of the room and asks him to put it in his pocket. Producing a second pack of cards, the mentalist approaches a second spectator who is seated on the right side of the audience. After showing her that all of the cards are different, he turns the deck face down and asks her to cut off a packet. She turns over the card cut to and calls out its name. The performer turns the card down and replaces the cut off portion. He then walks to the left side of the audience and selects a third volunteer. Offering him the cards in his left hand, the mentalist asks this spectator to cut off a bunch. The volunteer counts the remaining cards and calls out how many are in the packet. Thus a card and a number have been selected in a very clean, and apparently very fair, manner.


Robert E Cassidy

Of course, when the original volunteer removes the deck from his pocket and counts to the selected number, he finds the chosen card.

METHOD: The effect is accomplished via the Erisian force. Two decks are required. The first is prepared by putting your force card at the position corresponding to the number you plan to force on the third volunteer. This is the pack given to the first volunteer, who places it in his pocket. The second pack, still in its case, is placed in your left jacket pocket. This is the Erisian deck. The card to be forced is the first face down card below the block. The total number of cards below the block corresponds to your force number. Since you already know how the Erisian force works, the method should now be apparent. The possibilities of the Erisian force are endless. Those of you who prefer to avoid playing cards will find it easy to gimmick a playing card size Tarot pack. By using Scotch Magic Tape instead of glue to form the block, the deck will not be ruined. The finish on the cards protects them when the tape is removed. By now, you must realize that I have no qualms about using playing cards in my act. Again, it is the context in which they are used that makes them acceptable. Any prop, for that matter, is acceptable, PROVIDED that it appears to be only incidental to proving the performer's outright or implied claims.


The purpose of this volume, and of the next three, is to stimulate the creativity of the reader. I hope that my ideas and routines serve as launching pads for your own ideas. My theory of mentalism holds that props are merely incidental. Other than the “Pop Eyed Eye Popper” deck used in the “Triple Prediction” routine, there is nothing in this book that requires a trip to the magic store. With the exception of invisible gimmicks such as nailwriters and thumbtips, I've always felt that if I couldn't obtain the props I needed in a stationery or department store, I didn't really need them in the first place. Nor have I relied on currently faddish themes in the presentations. (As I did, for example, in my Trivial Pursuit effect in The Art of Mentalism, Part 1). Too many mentalists still perform

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outdated routines which once were considered hip. (Just as the word “hip” seriously dates me!) Sadly, the same is true of many of the "comedy" lines used in their acts. The fundamentals of our art have changed very little since the days of our forerunners. Art lies, I believe, in the refinement and recombination of familiar concepts, constantly leading us to see things that we never noticed before. The Holy Grail of mentalism doesn't lie in the newest book or the latest new "secret." It is, and always has been, inside of you.

Thus endeth Fire

(Author's note: By now, you must have realized that this book is not exactly what it appears to be. In chaos will order be found.)


Robert E Cassidy

Part Two - Earth

Introduction I am gratified by the reception given to the first volume of this series and am particularly pleased by Brother Shadow's comment in Reticulum de Umbra that the section "Riding the Web" alone is worth twice the price of the book. Cost considerations aside, I'm glad that he recognized the section that, to me anyway, is one of the primary points of the book. Those who merely glanced over it or considered it to be "padding" are missing one of the major points of the series. Go back. Read. Argue with me. The Web is real and we're all on it. Understanding the concept will alter your perception of most reality views and help to put the views of such diverse groups as CSICOPS, The Fortean Society, and The Psychic Friends Network into better perspective During recent lecture appearances, members of the audience have repeatedly asked me why I put my actual performance material into print. The answer is that it is the only way I know to illustrate my philosophy of our art. I am not particularly afraid of being "ripped off" because such an occurrence is extremely remote. Those who elect to use the presentations exactly as written are doomed to failure, because no matter how they may try, it is virtually impossible to duplicate another mentalist's stage persona. For example, try memorizing all of Dunninger's presentations. Dress like him. Talk like him. Be a failure. You can't be Dunninger any more than you can be anyone else. You are you and your performance must be you. For it is only the mentalist as a personality who can hope to be remembered by his audience. Otherwise you're just another guy who does some strange stuff, as in the following familiar dialogue"Did you see that guy on TV last night who made his assistant turn into an elephant?" "What was his name?" "Gee, I don't know, but can you do stuff like that?" etc. etc. etc. THAT GUY WHO DID WHATEVER. If that's the way you're remembered, you're not going to get many repeat bookings. Which brings us to:

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Principium 7 A Mentalist's primary product is his name and personality. The effects should merely serve to reinforce his image and reputation.

The Journey Continues How to make your effects look like the "real thing" One of the primary secrets of self promotion is to make it appear that you may just be the "real thing." You don't have to come right out and make the claim, but if you present mentalism as tongue in cheek conjuring you are a pseudo mentalist at best and, at worst, not a very memorable performer. Everything should seem to be extemporaneous if you are to establish an image of a "real" mindreader. You must make it look like you're almost making it up as you go along. "Real" psychics free associate. It's what makes them seem legitimate. If an experiment appears to be well planned, an audience will assume that you have no doubt as to the outcome. Therefore, what you are doing will be perceived as a trick of some kind. That's why no matter how effective a stage illusion may be, it can never approach the impact created by a seemingly spontaneous paranormal event. Well planned and choreographed stage presentations are, due to their elaborate presentations, necessarily perceived as being fake. Which of the following scenarios is more amazing and memorable? 1) An illusionist in a Las Vegas revue levitates his assistant and causes her to fly all over the stage. He then puts her into a chromed frame box, covers it, and changes her into a tiger. 2) You're sitting in a bar discussing the occult when suddenly the guy you're talking to levitates off the bar stool. (This used to happen to me all of the time.) Obviously, the second selection would have a tremendous effect on the observer, while the first would be seen as just another Las Vegas or TV illusionist.


Robert E Cassidy

"How does THAT GUY do it?" How often have you heard that question? Usually, the querent can't remember the name of the performer. That's because, as I've already noted, the effect has been given priority over the performer's personality- if he has one. Mentalists must be "personalities." No performer, no matter how skilled, can be considered successful until he is no longer referred to as one of the "they" in "How do they do that?" When the people start asking, "What about that guy (insert your name here)? He was amazing."- that's the beginning of success. Looking at our brother magicians for a moment, try to answer this. Apart from the longest lasting name recognition in the history of modern magic, what did Houdini have that NONE of today's illusionists have? It was the illusion of spontaneity. His escapes were done as challenges and he gave the appearance of not being in control of the conditions of the effect. He was in total control, of course, but the point is that he made it appear that the audience was calling the shots. Dunninger did the same thing. His panel of judges were made to appear to be controlling the terms of the challenge. Muscles readers such as Russia's Wolf Messing did the same. His challenge was to act out a series of commands created on the spur of the moment by the audience. Note the similarity here to improvisational comedy or to jazz. In the following sentences are to be found the secret of "real" magic:

Principium 8 Reputations are not made by what you do. They are made by what people BELIEVE you can do.

Nothing done as part of a set performance will be nearly as effective or as important to your reputation as the little "miracles" that seem to occur on the spur of the moment. With this in mind it is extremely important to put as much planning into your offstage repertoire as you do to your formal performances. The good news is that the public is easier to catch unawares when they have no idea you're about to do something.

What effects, then, fulfill the conditions I have set forth? That's one of the most important questions you

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must address. Slick presentation is anathema to impromptu or formal presentations. It reeks of "magic trick...fake," and is just as bad as garish, obviously store bought, props. It's relatively easy to seem extemporaneous in an informal atmosphere. On the stage it's much more difficult.. So many of today's mentalists have cultivated what I call a "disc jockey (AM or FM) persona" Others, equally phony, come on like they're either selling time shares in vacation condos, or telling you the benefits of the latest pyramid scheme. Still others sound like telemarketers reading from a prepared script. (We'll ignore for the rest of this series, the boneheads who have no concept whatever of how to entertain an audience. Effective performance, impromptu or formal, requires well honed performing skills. But that's the same as effective acting- if it looks like you're acting you're not doing it right. Your performing skills must be subtle and being natural is the key.) Any presentation that sounds scripted loses its believability. Effective presentation of mentalism requires understatement. As I indicated earlier, the important thing is what the audience is led to believe you are capable of doing. This is far more important than what you actually do. The legendary Russian psychic Wolf Messing provides an excellent example. Reputedly one of the former Soviet Union's greatest psychics, the legends about Messing abound. He was popularized in the West in Ostrander and Schroeder's Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, an interesting, if shuteye, view of Russian parapsychology. A recent biography, Wolf Messing, by Tatiana Lungren, makes it clear to the knowledgeable reader that Messing was, in fact, an excellent mentalist and muscle reader. The format of his program was similar to Dunninger's Brain Busters insofar as he utilized a committee from the audience to test his abilities. In essence, members of the audience would write down complex tasks they wished Messing to perform. The papers would be collected and given to a committee who would select the most challenging of the tests suggested. A typical test might read as follows:

1. Go to the man sitting on the aisle of row 3. 2. Remove his glasses and put them on yourself. 3. Bring the man to the stage and take his handkerchief from his jacket pocket. 4. Clean his glasses and put them back on his face. etc. etc.

After the committee had secretly selected a test, Messing would ask one of the committee members to stand and to hold his hand. The committee member was told to concentrate on each motion Messing was to carry out in order to complete the test. Messing would then go into intense concentration and then perform the test, dragging the concentrating volunteer around with him. (ala Kreskin finding his paycheck)


Robert E Cassidy

This was, essentially, Messing's entire act. Due to restrictions imposed by the Soviet government the lecture preceding his performance, given by his wife, credited his abilities to scientifically verifiable powers of the human mind. He did not claim supernatural powers. The legends surrounding Messing, however, bore little resemblance to his professional performances. Reputedly, while still a child, he had mentally compelled a train conductor to believe that a laundry slip was a train ticket. As an adult being tested by Joseph Stalin he supposedly mesmerized the dictator's guards into believing that he (Messing) was Beria, Stalin's chief of security, and was thus able to obtain entrance into Stalin's private quarters. These stories, and many more like them, are probably apocryphal, but nonetheless were claimed to be true by Messing himself. The few actual tests performed on Messing by scientists were not nearly as dramatic nor did they establish that he was anything other than a skilled performer and muscle reader. Be that as it may, these legends became widespread and Messing was, and is, believed by many to have possessed amazing psychic abilities. It was Messing, the legend, who gave credence to Messing the stage mentalist. Although he actually only performed one effect in his programs, he was credited with having done innumerable supernormal feats. And that's the point of the Principium. It's also the lead in to the next effect.

Messing Around The effect is pretty much the same as performed by Messing. The methodology is similar to what I occasionally use in a question answering act. While no actual muscle reading is used, the routine provides excellent on the job training in the art of contact mind reading. Members of the audience who may be aware of the existence of muscle reading techniques will credit the performer with having almost supernormal mastery of the technique. If you recall the rationale behind my card memory routine in Part One, which used trickery to simulate super mnemonic technique, you'll understand how the present routine fits into my philosophy of mentalism. While you may not wish to go so far, I actually tell my audience something about muscle reading and lead them to believe that I have taken the technique virtually into the realm of real mind reading. AND THEY BELIEVE ME! Even those who would be skeptical of a psychic explanation are completely taken in by my apparent openness in explaining my techniques. Many end up convinced that I can read their thoughts simply by observing their body language and involuntary muscular responses. It's a powerfully deceptive approach which has the added advantage of derailing the ever present fundamentalists who would, if I proffered a "psychic" explanation, decide I was a Satanist. EFFECT:

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Five audience members are selected to serve as a committee for the experiment to follow. They are either seated on the stage or near the front of the room, preferably at a table. Slips of paper and pencils are distributed to the rest of the audience. They are asked to write a series of actions they wish the performer to take. They are cautioned only to write tests which are not beyond the physical ability of the performer or outside the boundaries of good taste. (Of course, the latter is up to you. If you're working in some of the places I've worked, matters of taste are left largely to local custom.) They are told to fold their slips into quarters. The billets are collected in a large basket, or other container, which is passed around. A spectator seated near the front is asked to stir up the slips and to remove five of them from the basket. These are handed to the committee. The committee is instructed to open the slips and read them to themselves. They are to decide which test is to be attempted by the performer, to remember the actions prescribed in the test, and to refold the chosen slip. The mentalist now approaches the committee with a pay envelope and the person holding the slip puts it in the envelope and seals it. The committee retains the envelope. One of the committee members is asked to assist the performer. He stands next to the performer and the performer takes him by the hand. The committee member is asked to visualize each of the steps the performer must take to complete the test. After a false start or two the performer, taking the committee member with him, goes through a series of actions. When he is finished, he carefully reviews with the audience the actions he has just taken. The committee member holding the envelope is asked to open it and read aloud its contents. It contains the exact actions just performed by the mentalist. The spectator who wrote the test identifies himself and also verifies that the test was performed exactly as written. METHOD: There are several good ways of accomplishing the effect. What I offer you here is a utility move which you will find very useful in many effects involving billets. I call it "The Microphone Switch." This doesn't refer to the on/off mechanism, but to a completely imperceptible method of switching one or several billets in full view of the audience. Before getting into the details of the switch, here are the bare bones of the effect just described: The five billets selected from the basket are switched for five marked billets previously prepared by the mentalist. Each contains an interesting test and each has been memorized. The markings are on the edges of the folded billets. The performer holds the envelope while the committee member inserts the selected billet. He sees the mark as this is done and thus knows the test he is to perform. The rest is acting. But as I said earlier, it offers the performer an excellent opportunity to test and refine his muscle reading skills by observing the spectator's reactions as he concentrates on each of the steps in the test. Oh yes, the spectator who verifies that he wrote the test is either a stooge or simply doesn't exist. In the


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latter case the performer simply acknowledges an imaginary spectator when he asks who wrote the test. More often than not you will find that someone will take credit, especially if the tests are not too off the wall.

The Microphone Switch Prior to performance the prepared billets are in the performers left trousers pocket. They are finger palmed during the writing and collection of the slips. The performer holds his microphone in his right hand. When the left hand, holding the finger palmed slips is removed from the pocket, the microphone is transferred to the left hand, thus hiding the slips. The microphone serves the same purpose as the magician's wand of old. It hides the palmed object. But unlike a wand, it is a device which, while in full view of the audience, is virtually invisible. It's such a commonplace object for a performer to be holding that its presence and handling go unnoticed. The mechanics of the switch are similar to the cigarette lighter technique used in my Name/Place routine in The Art of Mentalism 2. That move was originally described in Bascom Jones's Magick and is very similar to the pencil billet switch described by Phil Goldstein in his "Color Series." The committee should be seated to the performer's left. The spectator who selects the five billets from the basket is to the right. When the five slips are drawn from the basket, the performer extends his right hand to take them. They are handed to the mentalist one at a time, thus giving him the opportunity to square them into finger palming position. The performer then turns to his left to approach the committee. At the same time he transfers the microphone from his left hand to his right, thus covering the billets in the right hand and revealing those in the left. This must be done as the performer is turning and walking toward the committee. It is one fluid action and is completely imperceptible. The utility of the move in a question answering act should be apparent. Assume you have a billet in your left hand (covered by the microphone) the contents of which you already know. In your right hand you hold a folded billet which you are divining the contents of. In fact you're revealing the information contained on the slip fingerpalmed in the left hand. As in the standard one-ahead you then open the right hand slip, using both hands. The switch is done after the slip is refolded as you return it to the writer. That's the simple way to use it. If you exercise a little imagination you'll discover how it can become the critical move in a much more deceptive Q and A routine. In Part 3, "Air," you'll see the move again in the context of just such an act.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


Principium 9 If your initial claims are plausible, your later claims will be far easier to accept.

The philosophy of claiming a "real" skill, such as mnemonics or muscle reading, and then demonstrating that nearly psychic effects can be attained by their mastery, lays the foundation for later demonstrations when you move into the "psychic" arena. I generally claim that the visualization required to master mnemonics and the sensitivity necessary to read unconscious reactions are prerequisites to the development of psychic functioning. Thus, when I lecture on the development of psychic ability, much emphasis is place on these and similar skills. This all goes to the plausibility of what I do and leads naturally to a discussion of "The Web" when I get involved in a lengthy discussion, as in a newspaper interview, of my "abilities." The rationale for the remainder of the effects in this volume is purely psychic, or synchronistic, functioning. I feel that all of these routines are much more plausible if included in a program with items that demonstrate heightened natural abilities, such as the card memory routine or the apparent muscle reading.

The Telepathic Diary My earliest version of this effect appeared in PseudoMentally Yours in 1977. It utilized a mathematical formula to determine the identity of a card listed in a pocket diary. Unfortunately, the formula as it originally appeared was incorrect due to the omission of a crucial step. In the commercially released version, "Chronologue," the need for the formula was eliminated, but the effect was not exactly as performed by me and an apparent misunderstanding regarding the construction of the diaries made it impossible to reveal the prediction until after the diary entry was read by the volunteer. The effect is far stronger if the prediction is revealed BEFORE the entry is read. This is impossible in the commercial version unless mnemonics or a crib sheet is used. Here, for the first time in print, is the actual method I have used since 1980. No formulas, no sleights, no memory and no "after-facting" the prediction. Just presentation. PRESENTATION AND EFFECT: (The patter is exactly as used in my act. Use the basic format, but remember the curse that accompanies any attempt to use my, or anyone elses, presentation word for word.)


Robert E Cassidy

"How many of you have ever had your Tarot cards read? Tarot cards, you know, are the ancestors of modern playing cards and much of the arcane knowledge that went into the creation of the Tarot is still to be found in today's cards. "For example, did you know that a deck of cards is really a calendar. Think about it, there are fifty-two cards in a deck and fifty-two weeks in a year. There are twelve picture cards in a deck and twelve months to the year. There are thirteen cards in each suit, and there are thirteen lunar cycles per year. Four suitsfour seasons. And if you add up the values of the cards, counting the aces as one and the Jacks, Queens and Kings as eleven, twelve and thirteen, the total of all of the cards in the deck is three hundred and sixty-four. Count the Joker as one and you have the number of days in a year. “When I first learned this, I wondered if it was just a coincidence or creative juggling of numbers, or if there really were secrets in a simple deck of cards. So I tried an experiment. I bought seven decks of cards and shuffled them all together. The I bought one of those pocket diaries you find in the stationery stores and on each day in the diary, starting with January first, I wrote down the names of those cards in whatever random order they appeared. "Now I'm sure that no one here could have any idea which cards appeared on which dates in my diary, so you're perfect subjects for my test. "Sir, have we ever met before? No. Good. Please call out any month and day that have significance to you. You might call out a birthday an anniversary or some other special date. It's up to you. [the spectator responds] "October fifteenth. Good. Now you have no idea what card appeared on that day in my diary, do you? Of course not." The performer now removes a pocket diary from his inside jacket pocket and casually flips through it, pointing out the different cards that appear on each date. He hands the diary, or passes it on, to the volunteer. Just look up your date and tell us all what card appears written there. While you're looking for it I'd like to point out to the rest of you that before I left my hotel tonight I put one giant playing card in my pocket. [the performer removes a jumbo card from his inside jacket pocket and holds it against his chest, back of the card to the audience]

"Wouldn't it be strange... Sir, what card appears on your date? The four of spades? And what was your date? October fifteenth. What card was written on the fourteenth? [spectator responds] And on the sixteenth? [response] In fact you've looked through that entire diary and can verify that all of the cards are listed at random throughout the book.

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"Yet on your day, October fifteenth, is written 'The four of spades.'” The mentalist turns over the prediction card and exhibits it to the audience. It is the four of spades.

"Now, do you believe that's just a coincidence?"


I generally place this effect in the second spot in my act. I've already involved the entire audience with a series of psychological choices (see The Art of Mentalism2). In a shorter program it makes a good opening effect since the whole audience can see what's going on and no volunteers have to come to the stage, thus assuring that the effect runs at a good tempo. Two diaries are required. As in my original version, they are prepared as written versions of Five Star force decks. The Five Star premise is credited to Al Koran, though the deck only forces four cards. (!) You'll also need four jumbo cards. Pick four whose sequence you can remember easily. Personally I just use the two, three, four, and five of spades. The two and three are in my left inside jacket pocket and the four and five are in my right. One diary will be used for dates which are odd and the other will be used for all even dates. Thus, in the above presentation, in which the spectator called out October fifteenth, the odd diary would have been removed from the performer's pocket. The odd diary is prepared as follows: For the January first entry write the name of the first force card, in this case the two of spades. On January third write the name of the second force card, and on the fifth and the seventh write the names of the third and forth cards, respectively. For the January ninth entry start over again with the two of spades. Continue in this fashion until you have completed the month of January. For February start all over again. In other words be sure to start the month with the two of spades, the first force card. If you just continue the sequence without regard to the change in months it will be almost impossible for you to later quickly determine which card falls on the selected date. This was the defect in the commercially released version of the effect and the reason why the prediction could not be revealed until after the spectator called out his date. This procedure is followed throughout the remainder of the year. After you are done, turn back to January and fill in all of the even dates with random entries of playing card names. When purchasing your diaries, be sure to get the kind that show one full week, or seven days, on a two page spread. This assures that the force cards will not appear in the same places on sequential pages. The spectator doesn't have much time to inspect the diary carefully, but there is no point in making things too obvious.


Robert E Cassidy

The even diary is prepared pretty much in the same way. The only difference is that the force cards appear on the even number dates starting with the second day of each month. As I indicated, the original version of the effect required the use of a formula to determine which card appears on the selected date. It involved dividing the date by four, taking the remainder, adding one if it was an odd date, etc, etc. I don't bother with that at all. It's too easy to make a mistake with the math while you're preoccupied with the presentation. (You can't stand there silently and think! You'd look like you forgot what you were doing or were having an LSD flashback or something. Come to think of it, that was the biggest gyp of the sixties, I've been waiting for the promised aftereffects for thirty years now.) Instead you just glimpse the right date in any month at all as you are casually flipping through the diary showing all of the different entries prior to giving it to the volunteer. Simple. The presentation may seem wordy, but in practice it moves at a pretty brisk pace and it gets a good audience reaction. The fact that no volunteer need appear on stage also makes the effect ideal for short television spots or in interview situations. It also plays well on the radio.

Take your Pick When it comes to nailwriters it seems that every mentalist has his favorite, be it a boon, an undernail, a bandwriter, or one of the many variants that have appeared over the years. I have always favored a band writer fitted with Listo lead for three basic reasons. First, the band is the easiest writer to secure during the course of a standup act. Second, the Listo lead allows the writing to be seen by many spectators. In fact, if you write large enough it will look like it was written by a magic marker, the writing implement I use throughout my act. And third, a possibly most importantly, bandwriting takes place with the lead on the ball of the thumb rather than on or near the nail. It is not necessary, therefore to bend the knuckle in order to write, thus making it much easier to conceal movement.. Those who know me, though, know that I won't use any props in my standard act that I cannot make and/or repair myself. This is very important to me when I am on the road or in the event that unforeseen disaster destroys essential gimmicks. If you are as paranoid (or as cheap) as I am, you will be happy to learn that fantastic Listo bandwriters can be made in about two minutes at a cost of less than a dollar. All you need to do is visit a music store and buy some large, clear plastic guitar finger picks. These picks are intended to be worn on the fingers, not the thumb, hence the need for the largest ones you can find. Since they are made of plastic it is easy to further adjust the size by heating them over a cigarette lighter to widen the band.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


A clear plastic thumb pick will also work if you can't find a big enough finger pick. The lead, though, will end up being exactly perpendicular to the thumb, and it will be necessary for you to cut off the end of the pick. Heat a nail which is the same diameter as the lead you intend to use and melt a hole through the center of the pick. A rim will automatically be formed into which you can glue your chosen lead. If you make about six or eight of these at a time you'll never have to worry about the status of your writer.

Note: Since the above effect was originally published, several so called “ethical “ dealers proceeded to sell thumb and finger pick writers. Without credit to me, of course. The only authorized version currently on the market is manufactured, with my permission, by my good friend and fine mentalist, Ed Fowler, aka “Carlisle,” former medium in the Magic Castle’s famed séance room.

Upside down and Backwards While on the subject of nailwriters, here's a technique you may find useful. Many book and word tests require that you secretly obtain the first letter of a word in order to know which word has been selected. A nailwriter is a perfect way of "afterfacting" this aspect of the revelation. (AFTERFACTING: verb. Secretly writing something after the spectator tells you what he's thinking of, making it appear that you wrote it before he told you. Applies to most nailwriter effects.) If you are a stage performer, though, it is helpful if you do your writing on a large pad rather than on the back of a business card. Afterfacting the first letter of a word with a listo writer is fine, but if you are right handed it is hard to get the letter on the left hand side of the pad. You could, of course, learn to nailwrite with the left hand, but if you'd rather do it the easy way, try the "upside down and backward" technique. Hold your pad in front of you with its back to the audience. Since that back of your pad has no telltale markings no one will notice that you are holding it upside down. Nailwrite with your right thumb at the lower right corner of the inverted pad. Write as large as you can. Then casually drop the pad to your side while you repeat whatever the spectator has just told you he is thinking of. Turn the pad rightside up when you show it to the audience and the letter will appear to be just where you earlier pretended to write it- at the upper left corner of the pad.


Robert E Cassidy

Principium 10Art requires attention to detail

The Monserrat/Cassidy Booktest Among the most important requirements to the maintenance of one's image is the ability to perform anywhere at a moments notice. As mentalists we can't very well plead that we left our props home. (Of course, I'd consider a straight magician to be pretty lousy even he couldn't do something amazing at the drop of a thumbtip.) While it may be argued that there are more effective versions of the booktest, no one would be able to say that this one requires any thing other than a paperback book. Any paperback book. It is the very impromptu nature of this test that makes it so valuable to the working psychic entertainer. (The effect was inspired by my friend, mentalist Ralph Monserrat of Miami, Florida. He demonstrated a similar book test to me during a memorable (if memory serves) session at the Pike Place Public Market in Seattle. He gave me permission to include it in this book. After it appeared in the first edition, however, Ralph informed me that this wasn’t his method, that somehow I had come up with a completely different handling.) EFFECT: Any paperback book of standard size is handed to the mentalist. He need never have seen it before. The mentalist holds the book, turns his head away, and slowly riffles through the pages. The spectator is instructed to say "Stop" whenever he likes. With his head still turned away, the mentalist opens the book at the selected page spread and asks the spectator to think of the first word on the page facing him. The book is closed and the performer faces the spectator. After due concentration and showmanship the mentalist successfully divines the word. As you may imagine, this bit is particularly effective in bookstores. It's really pointless if you do it with your own book, because then you might as well use Larry Becker's wonderful "Flashback," or a similar test. METHOD: The fundamental principle, marking the spot where the spectator said stop and later glimpsing the word while flipping through the book, is not new, but this handling is especially clean. Also, no extraneous materials are used as secret bookmarks.

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The effect depends simply on a little finger break held by the left hand. In order to understand the handling clearly, it is best if you follow the description with a paperback book in hand. The book lays on your palm up left hand. The cover is right side up from your point of view. The inner left hand corner of the book should be near or touching just to the left of your solar plexus. Turn your head away and with your right forefinger, slowly riffle through the book from back to front at the upper right corner- right where you see the page numbers in this book. When the spectator says "Stop," raise both of your hands toward him so the back of the book is toward him, pulling the upper right corner back so he can see the first word on the page facing him. After he sees his word, remove your right hand allowing the book to close. At the same time obtain a left little finger break at the selected page. Your left hand should be at the book's lower right. The spine of the book should be facing up and the book angled so the spectator sees the top narrow side of the book. The break is thus hidden from view. The only bad angle is directly to your right or looking up at your hands from the floor. (But if there is anyone down there you're probably not working in a very good place.) Casually run your right forefinger down the upper side of the book while remarking on the wide selection that was offered. Look the spectator in the eye and have him focus on his word. Make him go through the process of visualizing it on a television or movie screen. Make him forget about the book for a while. A small presentational point is in order here. Before you make the glimpse about to be described make a stab or two at the letters in the word. A good approach is to say something like, "I get the feeling that the second letter is a round one..." Watch the spectator's reaction. If he's starting to disagree, cut him off and switch to, "No, don't say anything, that makes it easy. It's not the second letter at all. It's.. Wait. Let me just reiterate what we've just done." This last line is delivered as if you already know what the spectator is thinking. This little bit of business, properly delivered, serves to take the heat off the next move, the glimpse itself. I might add, though, that performed properly the move will appear to be completely natural. The spine of the book is still facing upwards. Grasp the book by the spine with your right hand and turn the book clockwise, rotating the back cover upwards. At the same time allow pages to riffle off your left thumb and raise the book so the front cover is facing the spectator. While commenting on how many thousands of different words could have been selected, simply riffle to the break, glimpse the first word on the page now facing you, and continue the riffle through the rest of the book. You'll find it easy to lose the finger break as your hands lower allowing the spectator to see the remainder of the pages slipping by.

This has been pretty difficult to describe, but if you follow it a few times through with book in hand I think you'll suddenly get the idea. Remember, though, it should appear as if you know the word before you do the final riffle. It should seem to be a mere afterthought designed to accentuate the difficulty of the test.


Robert E Cassidy

Return to the Web As I constantly emphasize, an audience must be led to believe that there are certain mental processes you follow in order to read minds or to otherwise demonstrate paranormal functioning. I often explain when lecturing, or in psychic development seminars, that alternate states of consciousness can facilitate psychic abilities. Concentration on a screen is only one way to create the desired mental state. A more detailed rational follows. Feel free to use it in your presentations. You will find that it will create as much, if not more, discussion and feedback as some of your treasured effects. But that's one of the things that distinguishes mentalism from magic. The illusion we create is in the audiences minds. I might also point out that I actually believe that what follows is quite true- at least in my current reality tunnel.

It has been observed that since states of consciousness are chemical in nature, an alteration of the brain's chemistry causes an altered state of consciousness. Obviously, drugs can alter consciousness, but similar chemically altered states are achieved in many ways, all of which create a suggestible state. In this state the subconscious is programmable. A normal person, when brought to a state of high awareness through rhythm, ritual, chanting, deep meditation, intense concentration, sensory deprivation, hypnosis, and the use of certain hallucinogens, becomes extremely suggestible. While the use of psychoactive substances is common in shamanic practices and native initiation ceremonies, their use by those by those for whom the L.W.M. (logical western mind) reality tunnel is predominant is extremely unpredictable. The various techniques used can produce sudden religious conversion, apparent demonic possession, mediumship or trance channeling in otherwise normal individuals. During the suggestible phase they can also produce false memories. This may account for apparent cases of past life regression, UFO abductions, childhood sexual abuse and/or Satanic activity, and, in fact, any "memory" consciously or unconsciously planted while the subject is in the trance state. These are also the techniques used to reprogram subconscious programs and the metaprograms that form the basis of our "reality tunnels." To "ride the web," we must first program ourselves to accept its "reality." The primary reprogramming tools are meditation and hypnosis. Students are encouraged, however, to experiment with other techniques. Interestingly enough, many ancient divinatory techniques, such as radiesthesia and scrying (intense concentration on a shiny surface, such as water, a crystal ball, an ink splotch, etc.) are very useful. This is because the required focus and concentration also produce altered states of consciousness. Just as these techniques help us to visualize and imprint new programs and reality tunnels, they also offer access to such "psychic" reality tunnels as the Web.

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‫א‬ (The above is an Aleph. It's all there)


The Synchronistic Crossword Just prior to the invasion of Normandy a fascinating crossword puzzle appeared in an English newspaper. The answers revealed the code names of the beaches on which the Allied forces were preparing to land. Even the secret name of the operation, "Overlord," was one of the answers. Naturally the matter was investigated by British intelligence. After extensive questioning and investigation of the puzzle's author, it was determined that he was not a Nazi spy communicating secrets, but just a guy who wrote crossword puzzles. That the answers to this particular puzzle related directly to the upcoming D-Day invasion was determined to be purely coincidental. PURELY COINCIDENTAL. Right. Like that explains anything. It sounds like radical CSICOPS reasoning to me. If something can't be explained by natural means it either 1. Didn't happen 2. Was mis-reported 3. Was fraudulent 4. Was a hallucination (MASS hallucination if there were lots of witnesses) 5. Was MERE COINCIDENCE. Of course, if you're familiar with Jung's theory of synchronicity and can imagine this giant web where everything that happens affects everything else, there's really no such thing as mere coincidence, just unperceived connections. The above story, which, by the way, is absolutely true, sets the stage for the following prediction effect. I've used two distinct methods for the effect. Use the one you like or, better yet, create one of your own. If two of you come up with the same method it will be assumed to be merely coincidental. EFFECT: The mentalist exhibits a completed crossword puzzle printed on an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper. It could be


Robert E Cassidy

an actual copy of the one described in the above story, or one from the local newspaper. The puzzle is initialed by members of a committee. On the reverse of the puzzle is taped a business card. This is also initialed. The puzzle is folded and sealed in an envelope. This, too, is initialed and kept by an audience member. The committee is instructed to safeguard the prediction until a specified date, presumably the date of the performer's next show. When the date arrives, the initials on the envelope are verified and the envelope is opened. The signatures on the puzzle and the business card are also verified by the committee. One of the committee members removes the business card from the back of the puzzle. On the reverse of the card are indicated letters in the puzzle. For example, it might read like this: 4 DOWN- 3rd letter. 32 ACROSS- 2nd letter. 15 DOWN- 5th letter. 63 ACROSS- 1st letter. etc etcA large copy of the puzzle is put on display so that the audience can witness the decoding of the prediction for themselves. As the letters corresponding to the prediction are determined, they are found to spell out the day's headlines, horserace winner, or whatever.. The performer attributes this result to mere coincidence, much to the audience's amusement. METHOD: This is the original method I used to accomplish the effect as described. I have since modified the presentation and simplified the handling, but you might prefer my original approach. The alternate method will follow. At the outset the business card is not actually taped to the back of the puzzle. It has tape on it, but the glue has been removed from the portions of the tape extending beyond the edges of the card. It is actually held in place with a very small dot of wax or bluetak. After the puzzle and card have been initialed (the card is held in position with the performer's thumb while it is being initialed) the performer folds the puzzle and puts it into the envelope. During the folding the card is palmed off by the right hand. Later, the clues necessary to make the prediction work out is written on the back of the signed business card. The protruding portions of the dummy tape are cut off and the fresh tape is put on the card. The card is placed, with the tape sticky side up on a table located at the place of performance. This method is intended for revelation of the prediction on a stage. The table is covered with a white cloth and from a very short distance the card cannot be seen. In any event its presence will be masked through the bulk of the performance by the mentalist's other props.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


During performance of the revelation the committee member holding the envelope is asked to stand. All of the events leading up to the preparation of the prediction are revealed to the rest of the audience and the committee all verify the procedures followed. The performer asks for the envelope and takes it to each committee member so that they may each verify their signatures. He returns to the stage with the prediction envelope held high. Standing next to the table, the performer cuts open the envelope and removes the folded puzzle. He unfolds it puzzle side to the audience and states that the puzzle itself has been signed by all of the committee. The entire committee is requested to come to the stage. (It makes the effect look big.) As they approach, the mentalist lays the puzzle atop the business card. While the committee members verify their signatures, the performer will find it very easy to press down on the puzzle, thus affixing the card, under the pretext of pointing out the signatures. The rest is all presentation. The initialed card is now stuck to the back of the puzzle and contains the correct information for deciphering the code into the desired prediction. ALTERNATE PRESENTATION AND HANDLING:

Due to the fact that the business card is laid out on the table, my original presentation is not generally suitable for an intimate audience. For that reason I devised the following. All you need is a thumbtip and a stack of pay envelopes set up for a flapless envelope switch. While I've described my use of the Shaxon envelope switch in previous books, all you need to do is have a business card which has been folded into quarters placed in the second envelope- ie. the one on top of the stack just below the flapless envelope. When the prediction is first set up with the committee they are shown a business card and asked to sign its face. The back of the card is not shown to the committee and they are told that it contains information which cannot as yet be revealed to them. After the card is signed, the mentalist folds it into quarters and places it into the flapless envelope. If the Shaxon flap method is being used a committee member can put the card into the envelope himself. The mentalist grasps the flap of the second envelope (containing the dummy card) and pulls it from the stack, at the same time asking the committee members to sign the envelope. The envelope, however, is not yet sealed. The performer now shows the crossword puzzle and has it initialed. A committee member may fold it up and insert it into the envelope along with the card already there. The envelope is now sealed. If desired, this envelope may now be sealed into yet another larger envelope which is also signed. A committee member is asked to hold the envelope until the night of the performance. Fixing things so that the prediction comes out is now a simple matter, as the performer has the original


Robert E Cassidy

signed business card in his possession. He also has a copy of the puzzle. (That's also a prerequisite for the first method, I might add. Otherwise you'll really have to be psychic to make this work.) He puts the necessary information on the back of the card, refolds it and inserts it into a thumb tip which goes in his right trouser pocket on the night of the performance. When the envelope is brought forward, the mentalist opens it and removes the pay envelope inside. All of the committee members verify their signatures on the pay envelope. With a small scissor the mentalist cuts off the end of the envelope. He first gives it a slight shake to be sure that the dummy billet falls to the bottom. He puts the scissor in his pocket, at the same time securing the thumb tip. Blowing open the envelope, the performer inserts his thumb and pulls out both the folded puzzle and the business card in the thumbtip. With his right hand he hands both of these to a committee member for verification of the signatures. At the same time, the left hand crumples the pay envelope (along with the thumbtip and dummy billet) and pockets it. The rest is self evident. Everything will now come out in a synchronistically satisfying manner.

Factoid: A dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac recently stayed up all night trying to decide if there really was a dog.

Tossing things around, and other ruminations on things psychic No matter how creative a performer pretends to be, most of us have found tried and true friends in the classic routines of the past. The first mentalist I ever recall seeing was Joseph Dunninger on his 1950's television program. He performed "You Do as I Do" in the classic manner and left his audience stunned. I didn't have a clue. Neither did my brother, Tom, or my dad, both of whom I would have expected to at least have a theory. That's about the time I decided to start reading about magic, particularly this mindreading stuff. Later, when I had progressed to the point of finding out about key cards, it dawned on me that Dunninger's trick was so unbelievably simple that my dad, brother and I had to be pretty dense not to be able to figure it out. I had yet to appreciate just how deceptive simplicity can be. Nor did I yet realize that it was one of the cornerstones of effective performance. But I started doing "You Do as I Do," first for my family and later for friends. I was sure they'd see right through it.. They didn't. In fact, it scared them a little because it looked like real mindreading. My Tante Olga started lecturing me about the virtues of being a good Christian and not messing around with this "Satanic stuff."

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That convinced me the trick was good. Years later, in the movie version of William Goldman's "Magic," Anthony Hopkins used the trick to seduce Ann- Margret. That particular application hadn't dawned on me yet, but I was quite distressed that the trick was exposed. Never again, I thought, would I be able to show my favorite miracle. I was wrong. No one I spoke to remotely understood what Hopkin's evil ventriloquist figure was talking about when he exposed the trick to the disillusioned Ann-Margret. So the trick stayed with me having survived condemnation by my aunt and exposure by a dummy. I perform it still. With a few variations... You might call my version "Do it the way I do it- Just don't hit anyone in the head" Feel free to add it to your act. The method is old, but the handling is strangely cool. EFFECT AND PRESENTATION: The performer shows two decks of playing cards. He removes them both from their cases and puts a rubber band around each. Both are thrown into the audience. The specators who catch the decks are told to remove the rubber bands and shuffle the cards. They are then to reband the decks and toss them to other people. Once again, the bands are removed, the decks shuffled and rebanded. One of the spectators is told to toss his deck back to the performer. The other spectator is told to stand and to follow the performer's actions exactly. The performer removes the band from his deck and puts it on his wrist. The volunteer does the same. Both now place the decks on their palm up left hands. With their right hands both withdraw a card from the center of the pack and place it on top. Both peek at their respective cards and then cut the decks. The decks are cut once more. Both performer and spectator put the rubber bands back around their decks. “Now, do exactly as I do," says the mentalist. "I will toss my deck to you, and you will toss yours to me. At the same time. Ready, go!" The performer and spectator have now exchanged decks. (Note: If, during the course of all this throwing of the decks, one of the bands should break, you will, of course have cards scattered all over the place. While this adds to the fun, provided no one gets hit too hard in the head, the performer should have two extra banded decks nearby for use in case of emergency. He just starts over and tells everyone to be more careful.) Both remove the bands and toss them aside. The performer instructs the spectator to shuffle the deck anyway he likes. The performer does the same, trying to imitate the spectator's shuffle. There's room for some more comedy here if the spectator's handling is somewhat less than professional. "Now," says the performer,"At least four people have shuffled these cards. Before I even touched your cards, you shuffled them and selected one. I did the same with my deck and we tried to imitate each other as closely as possible. I'd like you to look through the deck you're holding, find the card you selected, and hold it against your body so no one can see it just yet. I will do the same with my card." After both have found their cards and following some more build up by the mentalist, they both turn over their cards to face the audience.


Robert E Cassidy

Both are identical. METHOD: Same as the one Dunninger used, which has appeared in countless books on card magic. You just have to glimpse the bottom card of the spectator's deck before he selects his card. That's your key card. Later, after the decks are exchanged, his selected card will be directly under the key. It's not just the throwing of the decks that makes this different. It's the act of putting the rubber band on the deck. If a spectator doesn't flash the bottom card while shuffling (and he's standing up when he shuffles which almost guarantees a flash) he will almost certainly flash it to you while banding the deck. With this handling I have made what was formerly a close up effect into a perfectly suitable club routine and furthermore have not, in almost ten years of doing it this way, ever failed to get a flash of the bottom card. Try it.

Principium 11 What's simple isn't always good, But what's good is almost always simple.

Business Card Telepathy This routine is based on an Annemann idea (as is a good deal of my stuff). It utilizes the long card principle. To prepare for the effect make two stacks of your business cards, each containing about thirty or forty cards. With a paper cutter, cut all of the cards in one stack about a thirty-second of an inch short. You have to cut them about two or three at a time unless you feel like taking the stack to the printer and getting them done with a guillotine type cutter. Put a rubber band around the narrow sides of the shortened packet. Place both packets in your pocket. EFFECT: This is primarily designed for close-up, seemingly impromptu work. The performer produces a packet of business cards bound with a rubber band. He removes the band, places it on his left wrist, and hands the cards to a spectator along with a pen. The spectator is told to take any one of the cards. The rest are returned to the performer.

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The performer instructs the volunteer to concentrate on a thought or a question and to visualize that thought. After she has the thought in her mind's eye she is to print it on the blank side of the card. The performer turns his back while this is done. When the volunteer is finished writing, she is to turn her card writing side down. The performer turns to face her and hands her the remainder of the business cards. She is told to put her card among the others and to mix them all up by haphazardly pushing them around on the table. (There is a politically incorrect name for this type of shuffle, but since you are a mindreader, you will already know what I'm referring to.) She is then to gather the cards into a packet and hand them to the mentalist. He snaps the rubber band around the packet and puts them face down on her outstretched palm. She covers the packet with her other hand and the mentalist encloses her hands with his own. (Another excellent feature of the effect) After due concentration, the mentalist reveals her thought or answers her question. He takes the packet from her and drops it, still banded, to the table. The volunteer is asked to remove the band and to run through the packet and find her card. She is allowed to keep it as a souvenir. METHOD: Since you already know the principle, you should have figured out that the performer switches the short packet for the long one while his back is turned and the spectator is writing. After the shuffle on the table, the performer takes the cards and cuts them once by the short ends. Due to the fact that the spectator's card is a long one it is easily cut to the bottom of the packet. Glimpsing the writing is facilitated by the fact that the mentalist has the rubber band on his right wrist. He must remove the band in order to reband the packet and in so doing the bottom card is naturally tilted toward him for a second. The glimpse has been made. The card is still on the bottom of the packet, which is the other reason that the performer holds the spectator's hands in his own. This prevents her from turning the packet over and reading her own mind. Which leaves us with the problem of tossing the packet to the table at the conclusion of the effect and letting the spectator find her card somewhere around the middle. You do not require the skills of a Dai Vernon or Erdnase to perform a standard shift with a packet of business cards. And I presume that you're already aware of the fact that the rubber band will not hinder performance of the shift if it's not bound too tightly. This effect offers you a nice way of making new friends.


Robert E Cassidy

The Jaxian Phone Book Test This effect is based on a principle first developed by the late Dr. Stanley Jaks. (I changed the spelling in the title because Jaksion looks too presidential.) His idea originally appeared in the "New Phoenix," and required a clip board and the nearly impossible task of aligning a page of text with a duplicate page inside the board. Some interesting approaches to making this easier were published by Al Mann some ten or twelve years ago, but I think you'll find the following to be as simple as you can get it. And you don't even need a clipboard.

EFFECT: The performer shows a large, metropolitan area phone book and flips through its pages. He approaches a spectator and instructs her to say "Stop," as he is flipping through the book. He opens the book at that spot and folds the front half of the book back against itself so the book is held vertically with the selected page facing the spectator. She is handed a pen and told to circle and name and phone number on the page.

Having done so, the performer tells her to tear the page right out of the book and to fold it up. The performer tosses the book offstage or onto a table, depending on the place of performance. The mentalist is now in a position to reveal the chosen name and number in any manner desired. METHOD:

Two phone books are required. Carefully remove one page from near the center of one of the books. Open the other book to the same page. You shall be forcing via a short page force an odd numbered page, that is to say a page on the right. For the sake of description assume that your page number is 235. Put the duplicate page into the other book following page 237. Thus there is one page separating the force page and its duplicate. On the back of page 237 paste a piece of carbon paper. Using a razor blade, cut all of the pages from the original page 235 to about page 251 along the long side. You have made a block of short pages. This makes it extremely easy to flip through the book and stop at page 235. The spectator never handles the book, so don't worry about the preparation being noticed. As you may have guessed, the carbon paper causes the same name and number circled by the spectator to be circled on the duplicate page. The performer holds the book through the entire process, keeping the selected page facing away from him during the selection. He should also turn his head away so it doesn't look like he's trying to get a reflection from the volunteer's eyeballs, or something. (Yes, I've been accused of that.) The manner of revelation depends on the venue. If you are working on a stage, all you have to do is toss the book into the wings. Your helpful assistant can then find the name and number and write it on your large pad which she will later hand you.

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If you are working alone you may toss the book into your briefcase. You get the information later when you open the case to retrieve your pad and marker. The problem with this is that too many mentalists I've seen would probably spend too much time apparently rooting around in the case looking for a jumbo pad(!) The best way, then, is to reiterate what has taken place. Once again flip through the book (as in the Monserrat test) and get your peek. For privacy's sake you announce that you will reveal only the last four numbers of the phone number. The real reason is that it's easier to remember four numbers at a brief glance.

Thus endeth Earth

(Author's note: By now, you mayt have realized that this book may well indeed be what it appears to be, albeit only occasionally, if at all.)


Robert E Cassidy

Part Three - Air Introduction In the previous two volumes I included much of my material on the "Web," a convenient reality tunnel for explaining mentalism to a lay audience. It helps a great deal if you can suspend your own disbelief and actually adopt a similar reality view. For general purposes, I find that this paradigm offers a satisfactory explanation for anything from synchronicity to the prevalence of alien abduction reports. The way you think about things greatly affects the persona you project as a mentalist. To that end I would seriously suggest that you read anything by Robert Anton Wilson, especially Prometheus Rising and The New Inquisition. Apart from expanding your mind and offering you an excellent foundation in what Wilson calls "guerrilla ontology," it should cure you of the 1940's view of Psi which characterizes most mental presentations. You would also do well to read anything by sociologist and P.E.A. member Marcello Truzzi, particularly his columns in Vibrations, the official publication of the Psychic Entertainers Association. Obviously, if you are not a member of the P.E.A., the latter will is impossible to obtain. But since you've made it with me to Volume three of this series, you are obviously ready for membership. Just concentrate and they'll send you an application. You will find that the best books for mentalists aren't about mentalism or magic. You'll gain far more in terms of background and presentation by doing most of your reading and research outside our traditional sources. (Personally, my greatest influences, apart from Wilson and Truzzi, have been Joseph Campbell and Ed Sullivan.) In this era of the new-age and neo-paganism you are going to come across many believers who have adopted a reality tunnel that is remarkably consistent with the idea of the "Web." By knowing where these people are coming from you can easily gain acceptance from them. Whether your motives are to entertain or to make a living doing readings, you simply cannot succeed with new-age types unless you understand their beliefs, habits and drugs of choice. You can get a pretty good idea of what's going on in so called New-Age thought if you pick up a copy of Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon. Her chapter on the Discordians is illuminating and you'll also find some interesting quotes from Truzzi and Wilson.

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Principium 12 If charismatic you would be Act enthusiastically

This speaks for itself. But if you ask yourself why any individual is considered charismatic, invariably you will find that you are discussing a person who shows enthusiasm, or as John F. Kennedy put it, "vigor." I can't tell you how many times I've watched a so called "mentalist" drone monotonously from effect to unrelated effect. That is not showmanship. It's not very effective if you are presenting yourself as the real thing, either. Recall Uri Geller's excitement as he demonstrated his powers, his almost manic approach. While that might not be your style, I think you get the idea. It is important, I think, for you to videotape your act. THIS offers a dual benefit. Not only will you get an objective view of your performance, you'll learn what type of misdirection works for you. By taking careful note of your unconscious mannerisms you will see the best ways for you to conceal secret moves, such as the opening of a stolen center in a center tear effect. And the best way to develop mannerisms which conceal secret actions is to act enthusiastically. Use your hands when you speak. Stand with your arms akimbo, whatever that means. In short, your body language not only contributes to your image, but it also offers you the opportunity to discover methods which will be unique to you. Here's how the above approach enabled me to do a center tear or to secretly open and read a switched out billet. (It's also the first effect in this book, which will remain unknown to those who skip the really important stuff and just read the tricks. It shall therefore remain untitled.) I noticed, while reviewing tapes of my act, that I occasionally strike a Jack Benny type pose. If you fold your arms and then lift your left hand to your chin, you'll know the one I mean. This leaves the right hand concealed by the left elbow. As long as you are wearing a jacket, this position offers perfect cover for reading a stolen center or a billet concealed in the right hand. You strike the above pose while asking your volunteer to concentrate on his or her thought. Use the umbrella move to open the billet. (Ie. Stick your thumb into the folds and push it open.) Clip the billet between your index and middle fingers. Make sure it doesn't protrude from the back side of your hand. (see figure 1) To read the billet, simply drop your left hand to your lapel and open your jacket. Reach into your inside jacket pocket with your right hand to retrieve a pencil or whatever you feel like retrieving. As you are doing so, it is perfectly natural to look down. This is when you read the billet and ditch it in a completely natural manner. A similar approach works well for me if I need to imperceptibly look at the window in a window envelope or a Jaks wallet. With the wallet (or envelope) in your right hand, simply put it into your outside jacket pocket. Don't look down at it, keep your eyes looking straight at the audience. Fumble- miss the pocket. THEN look down, ostensibly to locate the pocket opening. Read through the window and place the device in your pocket. This clever subtlety was first shown to me by my good friend, E. Raymond Carlisle, who for many years played the medium at the famed Magic Castle seances. He is a master at using natural movement to cover the secret work.


Robert E Cassidy

Figure 1:

(I thought it was a nice picture.)

Now, if you choose to ignore my advice and simply stand there like a statue, you are going to find it very difficult to get away with anything. Your goal is not that of the close up card magic fanatic who seeks to attain slow motion camera perfection while boring everyone but his fellow magi. Instead you are seeking to allow your natural mannerisms to provide cover for the needed "work." Later we'll discuss ways to develop your natural charisma, but first we'll discuss a mental effect you could literally do for a blind person. Think about that for a moment. Apart from self working mathematical effects, how would you convince a blind man that you could read his mind?

Blind Man’s Bluff (In deference to those, primarily the "13," who prefer to figure things out for themselves, I shall follow the traditional effect/method approach.) EFFECT: A spectator is asked to concentrate on the full name of someone he knew in school, not a spouse or anyone who has the same last name. "Visualize that name on a mental movie screen. Actually see it in your mind's eye," instructs the mentalist. (If actually performing this for a blind person, I suggest you alter this instruction.) "In a moment I'll snap my fingers. When I do, you will call out five full names. Only one of them will be the name you are focussing upon. The others will be names you just made up. Names that belong to no one that you actually know." The performer snaps his fingers and the spectator calls out five names. After due concentration and without further questioning of the spectator, he reveals the spectator's original thought. METHOD: It's tempting to say that all you have to do is try it, and you'll immediately know the target name. I will, however, give you some tips to make this totally foolproof. First of all, you will know the correct name because it will stand out like a sore thumb. The performer has given the spectator no time at all to think up four fictitious names. They are, therefore, likely to be obvious fakes.

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Second- The target name is usually the third one called. It is almost never the first or last. Third- There will be no hesitation prior to the spectator calling out the real name. Since he's making up the fake names as he goes along, he will tend to hesitate before calling them out. Occasionally there is an obvious hesitation before the real name- this is an attempt by the volunteer to deceive you by acting like he just thought up the name which is, in fact, the target. This is easy to pick up. The effect itself is based on the old lie detector routing where the spectator writes down the real name amongst a list of fakes. The impromptu versions of that effect take advantage of the same psychological ploys used here. And since those ploys work whether he writes the names or calls them out loud, why not capitalize on the fact that you can accomplish the same thing without using any props at all. This is an excellent effect to do over the telephone and gets away from the usual card or mathematical principles used in such effects. But most important, the effect will train you to pay attention to things you otherwise take for granted. It is an excellent device for honing your own cold reading skills. You will learn one way of detecting a lie from the truth. And best of all it's simple. Which brings us to-

Principium 13 The more complex a routine, the less "real" it looks. That's one of the differences between mentalism and "mental magic."

This directly follows the idea of Principium 11- what's good is usually simple. In terms of method, simplicity refers to directness, not necessarily to difficulty, for sometimes the best method may indeed be rather difficult. Failure to recognize this accounts for the many magicians who have taken up mentalism because they think it's easy. But in terms of effect, the presentation must also be simple. Not only should it be direct and easy to follow, but it cannot be cluttered with incongruous props. Research has shown that the average audience member recalls about 25 percent of what he sees or hears. If you have a message to get across, or if you want to be remembered at all, you'd better make everything as direct as possible.

You make a claim and you prove it. It's as simple (?) as that.


Robert E Cassidy

The Die and the Canisters (Or, the Proof is in the Can) EFFECT: Ten film canisters and a die are exhibited. The die is just big enough to fit into a canister and cannot tumble about if the canister is shaken. All can be examined. While the performer's back is turned, a spectator puts the die into one of the canisters and notes the uppermost number. He puts the lid back on the canister and mixes all of the canisters around. The performer turns around and holds his hand over each canister without touching them. Finally, he points at one canister and proclaims it to contain the die. The spectator opens the canister and discovers the performer is correct. As a second climax, the performer correctly reveals the number showing on the top of the die. METHOD: If you've been a faithful reader of this series, I'm sure you've worked out the second climax. It is yet another use of the lipstick principle described earlier in the series. (By the way, black lipstick can be obtained in costume shops and is far superior to any other color. It doesn't show on the inside bottom of the canister, and the black smear it leaves on the bottom of the die just looks like a sloppy spotting job.) Since the die is slightly oversized it cannot tumble about when placed in the canister. ALL of the canisters are prepared with a splotch of black lipstick on the inside bottom. Thus, no matter which canister the spectator selects, a black mark will appear on the die opposite the selected number. At the climax of the effect the spectator opens the canister selected by the performer and is told to toss the dice to him. The performer is now able to reveal the selected number. Refer to the three part gambling prediction in Principia Mentalia-Fire for further details. The number of canisters used is arbitrary, but there should be at least five or six. Of course you are wondering how the performer knows which canister contains the die. There have been many previous methods devised to do this. My original solution, which appeared in my first book, Pseudomentally Yours, nearly twenty years ago was to hand the spectator a cellophane tape dispenser and have him tape all of the canisters shut. Prior to performance the serrated edge of the tape is cut off with a scissor. Thus, the first canister taped shut is easily identifiable as all of the other canisters will be sealed with a piece of tape with two serrated edges. The selected canister will show only one serrated edge. The problem with this method is that it takes quite a bit of time to tape up all of the canisters. It can be sped up a bit by having all of the canisters taped shut at the outset. The spectator would then tear the tape off of the selected can, insert the die, and then retape with the dispenser provided. The other standard method involves lining up scratch marks on the canisters and the lids. When the selected canister is reshut after insertion of the die, the marks will be out of line, allowing later identification. That is unless you are terribly unlucky and the volunteer accidentally realigns the marks

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when replacing the cap. In this case, to use the proper technical phrase, you are screwed. There are two solutions, however, which I think more than satisfy the criteria of simplicity and directness and are, at the same time, completely unfathomable. The first has been around at least since Annemann. The second is, to the best of my knowledge, a completely new application of an old principle. In fact, I'd venture to say that it would completely fool anyone who hadn't read this book. The former relies on the so-called "Blackboard Peek," which first appeared in the Jinx as The Mystery of the Blackboard. It also appears in Practical Mental Effects. In this case all of the cans are marked with a number. If you are using five canisters they are coded from one to five respectively. The best markings are scratches on the lid. If the lid is visualized as a clock face, one-quarter inch scratch is made at the twelve o'clock position. A shorter, eighth of an inch scratch is made at the one o'clock position on the first canister, the two o'clock position on the second, etc. At the outset the canisters are lined up on your table, or on a tray, in numerical order. The spectator is brought forward and positioned behind the table. You hand him the die and walk away. Although you can get away with this without a blindfold, it is best to put one on at this point. I recommend the stainless steel type which allows vision over the nose. Richard Osterlind's is the best version of this type that I have seen. Ask the volunteer to pick up any one of the canisters. Pause for a count of two and say "Have you done that?" At the same time turn toward the spectator. Since you are speaking to him, it is perfectly natural to turn your head. Note which can he has picked up and immediately turn your head away. Most people will never notice that you turned. And even if they did, the blindfold eliminates any suspicion. The reason that you can get away with this without a blindfold is that all the cans look alike and the audience, at this point, has no clue as to what you are about to do. The subsequent mixing of the cans confuses the issue enough to make the turn totally innocuous if noticed. For nearly ten years I used this method in my presentation of Russian Roulette (see The Art of Mentalism I). The move was never noticed or questioned. Finish as described. My new method uses a backward application of daub. With the same black lipstick used inside of the canisters, put a small speck just off-center on each of the lids. It is virtually impossible to open the canister, insert the die and replace the lid, without removing the mark. The selected canister, therefore, will be the only one that is not marked. Don't overlook this secret because I have described it on just one page.. To paraphrase Annemann, “A thousand-dollar bill is likewise just a single sheet.”

(QUESTION- Did you ever notice that all of my stage material is filled with jokes and humorous asides, while all the close up stuff is really serious and simulates actual psychic phenomena? This is because I only perform close up for single, attractive women. Entertainment value is a distinctly minor goal.) (The above question and answer are not necessarily the opinion of the author. All rights reserved.)


Robert E Cassidy

A Vibration from the WEB Those of you who have read the first two volumes in this series know that the "Web" is a model I use to explain psychic functioning to my audiences. While I make very little reference to it in my performances, it nonetheless is a crucial part of the act. It is the subtext I use to hold everything together in a consistent manner. As a mentalist, I am primarily an actor pretending to exhibit psychic ability. My stage persona is a person who has developed powers that are latent in everyone. He has discovered something he calls the Web, and manages to manipulate it to create synchronistic effects which appear to be "mind reading." He intentionally operates within a non-traditional reality tunnel. The point I'm trying to pound home here is that you cannot be believable as an actor if you do not have a subtext which is completely consistent with the abilities you apparently exhibit. It is the failure to recognize this essential fact that accounts for the fact that very few performers ever "make it" in mentalism. It is the presence or absence of consistent subtext which marks the difference between a trickster and a true magician- between a practitioner of mental magic and a true mentalist.

The UFO or "What's real depends on which tunnel you're in" EFFECT: "Thought forms create an individual's reality view. None of us can see, hear or feel reality directly. Everything is filtered through our innate physical and mental 'hardware' and our individually and societally imprinted 'software.' These are, according to John Lilly and others, the programs and metaprograms of the human biocomputer. "By reprogramming the computer, we alter the reality of the individual, and, in many cases can alter the reality of the society to which that individual belongs." So begins the mentalist in this routine inspired by an effect originally devised by Ted Karmilovitch. “How many of you believe in UFO's?" asks the performer. "Today there have been thousands of sightings and countless reported contacts with extraterrestrials. How many of you have actually seen a UFO? "Good, because I'm about to show you one." Opening his briefcase, the mentalist removes two paper plates which have been taped together, face to face, to form a saucer shaped object. Given the seriousness of the opening remarks, this usually generates laughter.

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"Okay, so it's just two paper plates stuck together, but stay with me for a moment. Just pretend for a moment that everything I'm about to tell you is true. Really try to believe it. If you can do that you'll see just how easy it is to make the impossible happen. "I'm about to scale this saucer into the audience. Whoever catches it will please stand up." Suiting action to words, the mentalist launches the 'saucer' and whoever succeeds in catching it stands up. Addressing this spectator, the performer continues, "Shake the saucer. Do you hear something rattling about inside? It's a folded up piece of index card. And there's something written on it. "We've never met before and you have no idea what is written on the card, do you? "Of course not. But use your imagination. On that card is written a date, a date only you could know, for it is a date on which something important happened in your life. "Imagine this to be true. Imagine that you have opened the saucer and removed the card. See yourself opening it and reading the date. "See the date. Have you done that? Good. Now, nice and loud so everyone can hear, call out that date." The spectator complies and says, for example, "June 23, 1949." "June 23, 1949,"repeats the mentalist. "Are you sure? Didn't you mean to say December 12, 1963? Isn't that the date that actually appeared in your mind? Isn't it a fact that you are really a secret skeptic who is trying to debunk me by intentionally calling out the incorrect date? "No? You mean that's actually the date that popped into your head. Well, let me prove to you that you were wrong and really thought of December 12, 1963." Approaching the volunteer, the performer and almost angrily takes the UFO and tears it open. The card drops out. "I don't want to touch that card. You take it and open in. Read what's written inside." Written on the card is the following: "December 12, 1963. Although you will try to lie and say June 23, 1949."

METHOD: This is an effect I devised because I liked the counterpoint of the serious talk and the obviously cheap and fake UFO. It reminds me of an Ed Wood movie. The method involves pocket writing, but don't be put off by that. Your ranting on about the spectator being a liar, makes the whole think look like a put on. You have all of the time in the world to write the date on the card in your trousers pocket with a small pencil stub or, as I do, with a band type writer attached to the forefinger. Mine is fashioned from a guitar finger pick as described in Volume 2, Earth. The words "December 12, 1963, but you will lie and say" are written on a half piece of blank index card prior to the show. It should take up no more than the top half of the card. Remember, you'll be


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writing in the pocket and won't be able to see what you're doing. If you prefold the card into quarters and then open it out, you'll find that it is easy to feel the center fold and to write below it. Just be sure to keep your pre-written text above the center fold. The writing is easily covered if you recall my earlier advice about natural gestures. In this routine I feign an attitude of "So what, you think you're so smart by purposely picking the wrong date." This mental attitude I take is consistent with the script and is illustrated by my body language. Putting both hands in my trousers pockets, I tilt my head up and basically talk to the ceiling while writing in the pocket. Other attitudes will provide other cover. Again, by paying careful attention to your natural mannerisms you will find the cover that is uniquely suited to you.

Black and White, and Red All Over Back in 1979, in commemoration of the Psychic Entertainers Association's first convention, I created an effect utilizing film canisters, balls of newspaper, and a dollar bill. It remains, I think, one of my best creations. Here is a refinement of the basic principle which allows the effect to be performed with a borrowed newspaper. Instead of film canisters, security lined letter envelopes are used. EFFECT: From a borrowed newspaper the mentalist cuts five dollar-bill size pieces. Each of these is folded into quarters and placed into security lined envelopes. The flaps are tucked in. Going into the audience, the performer requests the loan of a bill. The higher the denomination, the better. The lending spectator is instructed to fold the bill into quarters so that the green side of the bill is on the outside. The volunteer accompanies the performer back to the stage and is handed the five envelopes. The mentalist reiterates that each of the envelopes contains a bill sized piece of newspaper. "If one of those envelopes were to contain a real bill, you would have no idea which one it was because the security lining of the envelopes prevents you from seeing through them. "When I turn my back I want you to mix up the envelopes, select one, and drop put the rest in your pocket, or on the table." The performer turns his back. "Have you done that? Good. Remove the folded piece of newspaper from the envelope and we'll make a trade. Here's your bill. Trade me for the newspaper." The mentalist puts the bill behind his back so the spectator can trade it for the newspaper "bill." "Put your bill into the envelope and seal it up. When you've finished doing that, take the rest of the envelopes and seal them up, too. "While you're occupied doing that I'd like to point out to the rest of the audience that if all of those envelopes were now to be mixed, no one here could possibly know which one contains the bill. All we

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can know for sure is that one of them does. "I know there are some skeptics here who figure that I must know where the bill is, so I'm not going to do this experiment. One of you will." The mentalist approaches a young lady sitting near the front. "I think it will be you. Have you ever had a psychic experience before? Have you ever had two in one night? "Let's see how our friend is doing." He addresses the onstage spectator. "Are you finished sealing those up? Good. Mix them up thoroughly and give them to me." The performer, accompanied by the young lady he has just selected, returns to the front and takes the sealed envelopes. He continues,"Now if I were to find the envelope containing the bill, that would be pretty good. But if you were to find it [speaking to the woman] that would be a miracle, wouldn't it?" The mentalist now has the woman select one of the envelopes. She is asked if she'd like to change her mind. If she does, she is permitted to trade for any of the other envelopes. When she's finally satisfied with her selection, the mentalist turns to the lender of the bill and says, "Do you think she picked the right one? Do you think she's got the power? "Well, I've got confidence in her and I'll prove it." While saying this the mentalist has removed a lighter from his pocket and he sets fire to the remaining envelopes. He drops them into a stainless steal mixing bowl resting on his table and the flames leap upward. "I put some lighter fluid in there to make sure we got 'em all." The performer ad libs with the volunteers, especially the lender of the bill, who will be quite concerned about the fate of his money. The woman is asked to tear open her envelope and look inside. She sees the bill. The performer takes the envelope and lets the lender look. "It looks like she was right. Let's take this a step further. Take your bill. I'll turn my back and you stand next to her and unfold it. Have you done that?" The performer picks up a clipboard and marker from his table. "Concentrate on the serial number. Try to project it to me. I'll write down my impressions." The performer writes, the volunteer reads the number aloud and the effect is concluded with a successful serial number divination.

METHOD: While the general effect is not new, it contains some elements that will baffle anyone who might be familiar with previous versions. Consider, the woman is really allowed to change her mind until she is happy with her selection. Only one bill is in one of the envelopes. The others really do just contain


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newspaper. The envelope containing the bill is selected and the bill sealed therein while the performer's back is turned. If you're familiar with my original effect you will have correctly deduced that the newspaper cues the performer as to which envelope contains the bill. Prior to the performance the five envelopes are marked. Nail nicks or pencil dots will do fine. The pieces of newspaper are cut from the upper corner of the paper. All have a page number printed on them. When the performer folds the pieces and puts them in the envelopes at the beginning of the routine, he is sure to fold them so the page numbers show on the outside after the folding. He simply notes which number goes in which envelope and makes a mnemonic association. If he's using his own newspaper, as will usually be the case, he can cut the bills beforehand and make sure they're numbered one through five and that they go into their respectively marked envelopes. Prior to the performance the performer folds a twenty-dollar bill into quarters, having memorized the serial number. This is finger switched for the spectator's bill while the performer is bringing him to the stage. That accounts for the final revelation. If the idea of a finger switch scares you, just remember that no one knows what you're about to do. You could actually take the bill and put it in your pocket to do the switch and you'd get away with it. Banish completely any residual magician's guilt you might have and you won't think anything of it. When you trade your twenty for the piece of newspaper the spectator takes out of one of the envelopes while your back is turned, the page number on the newspaper will tell you which envelope he is putting the bill in. The byplay with the female spectator while he seals and mixes the envelopes gets you away from him for a moment, adding to the fairness of the procedure, and also serves to kill the dead time which would result if you just stood there the whole time. The correct envelope is initially forced on the woman. I use a simple fan force. The fan force is safe because it really doesn't matter that much if you miss. The ESP switch, described in Volume One, solves that problem. As you know, the switch allows you to apparently switch two cards, or, in this case, envelopes, without really switching them at all. The motion of the hands, however, is forth and back instead of a criss cross. It goes like this: An envelope is selected. Drop all but one of the rest of them on your table. Say, "Now you can keep that one or trade it for one of these." If you have successfully forced the correct envelope on her, the one you have retrieved from the table contains newspaper. If not, pick up the one containing the bill. Hold it in your left hand between the first and middle fingers. Say, "Would you like to trade for this one?" As you say this, grasp her envelope between the thumb and first finger of your right hand. Bring your right hand back and your left hand forward. As the hands pass each other grasp the left hand envelope between the right first and second finger and the right hand envelope between the left thumb and forefinger. Don't stop the forward or backward motion of the right and left hand respectively. You will apparently be offering her the envelope you just picked up from the table. In fact your giving her back the same one she selected. Depending on if she wants to trade or not, you either repeat the switch in the opposite direction, or you let her keep her own envelope. The point is that YOU decide whether you really need to switch or not, and then either perform the move or not as the situation requires.

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Never look at the envelopes while doing the switch. Look the volunteer in the eyes at all times and you'll have no trouble. (If you look at your hands, you'll probably confuse yourself. The switch looks that fair.)

In this routine I've eliminated the main defect of the traditional Bank Night effect where the performer offers spectators a chance to win some money if they can pick the envelope containing the bill. Of course the spectator always loses. The audience is disappointed and the performer appears to be a smart ass. This is not a good choice of image.

ESP Card Divination (The Mentalists' Packet Switch) This is a move I've kept under wraps for some time. In my opinion it is worth far more than most utility devices you can buy. It is a completely indetectable switch of up to twenty-five ESP cards, business cards, or playing cards. Your imagination should provide you with numerous applications for the principle. Here's the effect that led to the development of the switch. You may decide to use the effect as written and save the switch for another routine of your own devising. But, in any event, I originally developed the effect from a Larry Becker concept and a later Ray Piatt elaboration. EFFECT: A pack of ESP cards is exhibited and thoroughly shuffled by a spectator. The packet is placed into an envelope, sealed, and kept by a spectator. Audience members call out several numbers from one to twenty-five and the mentalist writes them on a chalkboard or similar display. After due concentration the performer draws a symbol next to each of the numbers. The volunteer opens the envelope, removes the cards and counts to the cards designated by the selected numbers. In each instance, the mentalist has correctly divined the designs appearing at the selected positions. The original method simply used a stacked ESP deck consisting of twenty-five cards in traditional cyclic order (circle, cross, wavy lines, square, and star) and a white #6: letter envelope. The pack was false shuffle by the performer and cut by several spectators. They were then sealed into the envelope. Handing the envelope to a volunteer, the mentalist simply glimpsed its face and saw the bottom card of the pack. The envelopes are hardly opaque and the black designs showed through very clearly. The fact that every fifth design was the same as the card glimpsed allows the performer to count forward or backward in the stack in order to determine the designs located at the selected numbers. Performed this way you have a very good effect with, I believe, far more impact than the simple one card revelation which was the climax of the original Becker routine. (Remember, ESP cards, like a single die, offer a very limited selection if only one is chosen. Four to one or five to one odds are not that great. A single ESP card, or a single number on a dice is hardly a dramatic target. Such selections should be used only in the context of larger routines. The triple prediction in Volume one and the film can test in this


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book are good examples.) Those of you who possess Ray Piatt's translucent plastic card box, which, to all intent and purpose, appears to be opaque will find it perfectly suits the present effect. The weak spot in the routine, though, is that the performer shuffles the cards. If the spectator could do all of the shuffling and cutting the effect would be a stunner. [FINE PRINT- Don't you love how we writers of mentalism always refer to our routines as "stunners,” "blockbusters," and "drop dead miracles?" Truth be told, this is all a lie- NO effect, standing alone, is a stunner or a blockbuster, or anything. If you don't know how to sell it, if you're not willing to do it hundreds of times to attain effortless perfection, then it is just another way to annoy people. Wanna see another card trick???]

The obvious solution was to switch the shuffled pack for a stacked one after the shuffle and cut. Putting the pack into an envelope offered the obvious cover. While the switch works fine with ESP cards, you may prefer to use it with smaller packets or with small stacks of business cards. It is a perfect alternated method to the microphone switch in the Messing effect described in Volume 2. As an additional convincer the switch utilizes a totally opaque security type envelope (#6: letter style). Here's how it works: The breast pocket of your jacket must be empty. The envelope is prepared by treating the pointed area of the flap with rubber cement. The corresponding area of the envelope proper is also treated, thus making a self sealing envelope. The stacked packet of cards is placed into the envelope and the flap is tucked in or left sticking straight up if you decide to put it into a box of similar envelopes prior to the presentation. I prefer the latter approach over withdrawing the envelope from my pocket or briefcase as it will later look like you just grabbed any envelope from the box. After the packet is shuffled by the spectator, produce the envelope by either taking it from the box or your pocket. Pull out the flap if it was in your pocket. Hold the envelope in your left hand with the address side to the audience. At a very short distance there is no noticeable thickness to the envelope. If you stick to about five or ten business cards you can work right under their noses if you like. The size of the cards seats them below the opening on the reverse side of the envelope, which means it can be casually shown on both sides and will appear to be empty. Retrieve the shuffled cards in your right hand and apparently put them into the envelope. Actually, they go behind the envelope where they care clipped by the left thumb. (The left hand is holding the envelope at the middle of the long bottom edge.) Pretend to lick the flap and seal it down. Actually just sandwich the shuffled packet between the flap and the envelope proper. Hold the flap down with the left thumb. Putting the packet between the flap and the envelope prevents the rubber cement from sealing the envelope. This sequence looks totally natural. The illusion of putting the cards into the envelope is enhanced if the right fingers actually go into the envelope. Address the spectator who shuffled the cards: "I want you to hold these, sir. Put them in your outside pocket like this and leave the envelope sticking out so that it remains in view at all times."

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Demonstrate by putting the envelope, now held in your right hand, into your outer breast pocket. Leave most of it sticking out- sort of like a large handkerchief. Release the cards under the flap and they will drop down into your pocket. Gravity will take care of that if you are using more than a very few cards, otherwise give them a shove down with the right thumb. Remove the envelope from the pocket and squeeze the flap down as you hand it to the spectator. The envelope is now sealed with the stacked pack inside. The switch is complete. Remember that the action of putting the envelope into your breast pocket is covered by the fact that you are showing the spectator what he is to do. IT IS NOT A "MOVE!" If you'll try this in front of a mirror you'll see just how deceptive it is. Every move is completely natural and it is all you could ask for in terms of easy execution. For close-up work in a one on one situation, it is not necessary to go to the pocket. It wouldn't make any sense either. It is far better to just hand the envelope to the spectator and have him sign his name across the flap. In this case we make a slight modification in the handling. It is necessary for you to be seated at a table directly across from your spectator. A pen should be lying directly in front of the spectator. This is accomplished in a preceding effect. After the cards are place in the envelope and the envelope apparently sealed, tell the spectator to sign his name across the flap. As you tell him this, transfer the envelope to the right hand, address side still facing the spectator and the right thumb taking the place of the left in holding the flap down over the shuffled packet. Lean slightly forward and extend your left hand to pick up the pen. At the same time, bring the right hand back to the edge of the table nearest you and let the bottom narrow edge (the envelope is being held vertically) hang over slightly. As you pick up the pen, lift the right thumb a bit and let the shuffled cards fall into your lap. Be sure your legs are together. In this way you've invisibly lapped the shuffled cards and have subtlety made the switch. Finish by handing him the envelope, pressing the flap shut as you do so. Remember, it is leaning forward and extending the left hand for the pen that provides the cover for the dump into your lap.

The Options Force and a Murder Mystery EFFECT: Describing the escapades of psychic detectives, the mentalist offers to demonstrate just how psychic crime solving works. Twenty business cards are handed out to as many audience members. Four people are requested to think of famous cities in the world. Four are asked to think of famous murderers. The three other groups of four spectators are asked to think of weapons, colors and numbers respectively. Each of the twenty


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volunteers is told to print his selection on the blank side of the business card and then to turn it writing side down. One member of each group gathers all of the cards in his group and mixes them. Another member of the audience selects one card from each group without looking at them. They are sealed in an envelope which this volunteer keeps in his pocket. Thus fives pieces of information about an imaginary crime have been collected in a manner which would preclude anyone from knowing what that information was. Except for the mentalist, of course. Lightly touching the volunteers pocket, the performer begins to receive "vibrations." He tells a story that goes something like this: "I'm in a large city. There's a river nearby and people on the bank. I keep getting a sense of the word 'left.' Left bank, river, yes I think it's Paris. "There's a number, it's an address I think. There's a three in it, but that's not the first number. No, no, it's a thirteen. I get the number thirteen on a door. "I am opening the door and there's something lying on the floor. I almost tripped on it. It's a gun, it's a large gun. "Somebody's here. He's wearing a red shirt. Or is that blood? No, it's a red shirt with blood on it. There's blood all over. "There's a letter coming into my mind, the letter 'M.' He is the son of a man. A man's son. That makes no sense to me, everyone is somebody's son. I don't know what this means." The mentalist concludes his impressions and the volunteer holding the envelope is asked to open it and remove the cards. The selections are "Paris," "Thirteen," "Gun," "Red," and "Charles Manson." "A man's son, of course..."

METHOD: Just another application of the packet switch. The more participants, the better. The selections are all psychological forces. With a sufficiently large audience, at least one member of each group will think of one of the force items and will naturally assume that his card was one of the selections. Although the individual selections are almost obvious psychological favorites, their combination into a crime scene makes them seem unique. Five cards, prepared by the performer in different styles of writing, are in the envelope prior to the effect. They are arranged with the Manson card on the bottom of the packet, thus assuring that it is read last. This allows the closing line to follow logically and quite dramatically.

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You might think it a good idea to have someone record your impressions as you receive them. This is not necessary. The audience will remember everything you said when they hear the selections.

Thus endeth Air (Editor’s note: The author’s reality tunnel is not very populated.)


Robert E Cassidy

Part Four- Water Introduction Several years ago I was informed that a fellow performer presented my act, practically word for word at one of the major magic conventions. My informants were outraged at this and naturally wanted to know how I felt about it. At first it didn't bother me at all. I mean I DID publish the whole act in The Art of Mentalism 2. I was mostly disappointed that the performer, a gentleman who was well known to me many years ago in the early years of the Psychic Entertainer's Association had completely missed my point concerning the presentation of mentalism. My jokes, my lines, and my presentation will always be uniquely mine, simply because, as far as I know, I am the only me currently around (unless there is a döppelganger floating around somewhere). I imagined what my performance would be like if I used Kreskin's or Dunninger's lines verbatim along with their material and decided I would be better off as an Elvis impersonator. At least they intend to pay tribute. In a way I was flattered by the incident- happy that someone thought my act was so good it was worthy of copying, but after a while I started to get angry. It's not like this performer used my material in a local nightclub or at a banquet engagement. Instead he performed it in front of an audience containing many of my peers- people who know me and who have seen me perform many times. What was his point? I have no idea, but it did inspire the next Principium:

Principium 14 If Someone Else You Try to Be, You're Condemned to Mediocrity.

On Originality As a performer evolves, his act evolves with him. Over the years and after countless performances, the act will become uniquely his. As mentalists, we are limited by the nature of the material we can use, which accounts for the great number of standard effects in the field. Our presentations, though, are not so limited and should, I believe, be uniquely individual. You've seen, in the previous volumes of this series and in my other writings, the exact presentations I use to cloak skeletal effects. In this, the final volume of Principia Mentalia, I will focus on the skeletons themselves with only passing references to presentation. This you will provide yourself.

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♂ The Weird Revelation In the summer of 1995 I had the pleasure of meeting with fellow mentalist Ed "Weird" Rapoza. Coming from Japan, he was on his way to Voodoc Island to invoke and convoke with his weird brethren in the interesting field of bizarre magic. During his all too brief stay in Seattle we had some fascinating discussions about the world of the psychic in general, and the field of mentalism in particular. He introduced me to a new approach in handling David Hoy's classic effect "The Tossed Out Deck," which, with Ed's kind permission, I pass on to you here. As you know, in "The Tossed Out Deck" three spectators each peek at a card in a rubber banded deck which has been tossed into the audience. In the original method a one-way pack was used which pretty well assured that all three volunteers would be thinking of the same card. (Parenthetically, I have always used a Telomatic Deck for the effect since the cards can be freely shown before being rubber-banded. Each to his own.) The spectators thinking of cards remain standing while the performer concentrates. He calls off three cards and tells the volunteers to sit if their cards were called. All of them sit. The weak spot in the effect is that there is no individual confirmation by the spectators. They merely sit as a group. What Ed has come up with is a way to get confirmations individually and, even more important, a psychological ploy which seems to prove that all of the spectators are thinking of different cards when, in fact, they are all thinking of, say, the nine of hearts. It goes like this: Speaking to the first volunteer the performer says, "I get the impression that you are thinking of a red card, is that correct?" The response, of course, is "Yes." To the second volunteer the performer states, "You're concentrating on a number card, rather than a picture. In fact it is an odd number. Am I correct?" Again there is an affirmative reply. To the third volunteer the performer says, "And from you I get the strong impression of a heart. Am I right?" Of course he is. The performer says to the group, "I get the clear impression of three cards. The five of diamonds, the King of hearts, and the nine of hearts. If I've named your cards correctly, please sit." Reread the presentation and you will see that the performer has simply described different aspects of the same card, the nine of hearts, while getting his individual affirmations before the final revelations. The cards called out at the end are all red- two hearts and a diamond and the two hearts are both odd numbered cards. This is what prevents the volunteers from tumbling to the fact that you are describing the same card to all of them. It's a subtle point but it makes a great difference to the overall effect. Constant affirmations from audience members throughout a performance of mentalism create the wonderful cumulative impression that the performer can probe anyone's mind at will.


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The Writer's Ditch No, I'm not talking about a variation of writer's block, but rather the means by which the nailwriter should be disposed of after its use. At a recent convention I had the pleasure of watching a very good performer (who shall remain nameless here, because I'm about to accuse him of making a mistake) stun an audience of psychic entertainers with a clever variant on the nail written prediction effect. Later, as I reviewed the show on videotape, I was surprised to see the manner in which the mentalist disposed of his nailwriter. An audience volunteer had called out a number. The mentalist stood on stage, an envelope in hand and nailwriter on his thumb. He asked the volunteer to stand. Since audiences will naturally turn to look at someone who is asked to stand up, the misdirection was perfect for the secret writing. So far, so good. The volunteer was then asked to come to the stage. As she did so, the performer's right hand quickly went into his right jacket pocket and immediately came out again. Not so good. Furtive, meaningless moves are never good. Once on stage the performer tore the end off the envelope he'd been holding and asked the spectator to remove the contents. As she did so he casually deposited the torn off end of the envelope into his pocket. THAT'S when the nailwriter should have been ditched. While he was doing something totally natural. And that's the point of Principium 15:

Principium 15 To Avoid Detection Use Misdirection.

It is very important to disconnect everything, if you know what I mean. If not, you should do it anyway because it is a good thing. - Dr. Bob

Which naturally brings me to a discussion of billet work, which, as you know, I consider to be one of the prime foundations of effective mentalism. When you can read minds using nothing more than a pencil and a few slips of paper, you will never be in an awkward situation when asked to perform. In this effect we will use the idea of doing two things AT THE SAME TIME to provide misdirection, with a multiple method billet test designed to be presented to one spectator.

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The billets used are made from blank 3 x 5 rainbow pads which have been cut in half forming billets measuring 3" x 2 1/2 ". The rainbow pads are made from a heavy newsprint stock and are opaque. These are prefolded into quarters, opened out, and a stack of about ten of them placed in the right trouser pocket if you are working standing, or in the right jacket pocket if you are seated. One folded billet is also placed into the pocket. The effect to be described uses a modification of Dai Vernon's "Spellbound" move as a billet switch. You'll understand the mechanics of the switch (which we'll call the "Spellbillet" switch, just for laughs) if you follow my instructions with two folded billets in hand. The billet about to be switched is held at the fingertips of the left hand. The fingers point upward and the thumb faces you. The dummy billet is finger palmed in the right hand at the bases of the middle and ring fingers. Keeping the middle, ring and little fingers of the right hand curled in naturally, extend the forefinger as your right hand approaches the left. As soon as the left-hand billet is obscured by the right hand, clip it in a right-hand thumb palm. At the same time grasp the dummy billet with the left forefinger and thumb and crease it tightly, using both hands. The move looks exactly as if you were holding a folded billet at the left fingertips and creased it tightly with both hands. It is natural and completely indetectable. During the creasing process, you will find it very easy to manipulate the thumb palmed billet into right finger palm position, thus preparing yourself for a switch back if necessary. Cover for the switch can also be provided if you unfold the previously palmed billet as the switch is performed. In this case it looks just like you reached over to the billet it the left hand and unfolded it with both hands. You probably already see how useful this move would be in a question answering act. Believe me, it is, but we'll get to that later. For now we'll concentrate on our one spectator routine. It's called-

Spellbilleted EFFECT: The performer removes a packet of billets from his right pocket, removes two and replaces the remainder in the same pocket. While the performer's back is turned the spectator is asked to write a piece of information onto one of the billets. For the purposes of this description we will assume that he is writing his birthdate on the billet. When the spectator is finished, the performer asks him to fold the billet into quarters. When this is done the performer turns back to the spectator, takes the billet, creases the folds tightly, writes a number "1" on it and tosses it to the table. The spectator is asked to take the other billet and, when the performer's back is turned, to write, say, his mother's maiden name. When done, he is told to fold that billet so it looks just like the first. The performer takes the billet from him and writes a number "2" on it. He then tosses it on the table next to the first billet.


Robert E Cassidy

The performer tells the spectator to pick up the number "1" billet and to follow the performer's actions. The performer picks up the number "2" billet and tears it up. The spectator does the same with the first billet. The pieces are tossed in an ashtray and the spectator is told to burn them. The performer turns his back during the burning "in case any of the pieces should unfold." When the burning is complete the performer reads the spectator's mind, revealing both the date of birth and the mother's maiden name. METHOD: This is an elementary combination of a billet switch and a center tear. While none of the elements are completely original I think you will find the addition of the "Spellbillet" switch and the subtlety of numbering the billets add to the overall impact of the effect. Prior to the performance the performer folds a dummy billet and writes a number "1" on the outside. At the point in the routine where he returns the packet of billets to the right pocket, the dummy billet is fingerpalmed in position for the switch. Turning to face the spectator, the performer takes the first billet from him with his left hand. AT THE SAME TIME, with his right hand, he removes a pen from his inside jacket pocket. He writes a number "1" on the spectator's billet. It doesn't really matter if the writing matches the dummy, since the spectator will never see his original slip again. That because the switch is executed as the performer creases the slip. It is tossed to the table, number side up, and the performer instructs the spectator to pick up the second slip. AT THE SAME TIME the performer replaces the pen in his inside jacket pocket and retains the stolen billet in his right hand. He turns his back to the spectator during the writing of the second slip. This is when he unfolds the dummy billet and notes what is written. The performer turns back to the spectator and takes the billet from him with his left hand. AT THE SAME TIME, his right hand goes to the inside jacket pocket to retrieve the pen. THAT'S when the stolen billet is switched. At this point the performer will execute a center tear with the number "2" billet while the volunteer tears up the dummy. The stolen center can now be read in one of two ways. The performer can either read it by turning his back during the burning process, or he can put BOTH of his hands into his trouser's pockets and open out the stolen center against the stack of billets in the right pocket. In the latter method the center is read later when the performer removes the stack of billets so that he may write down his mental impressions. The center is ditched with the unused billets. My point in giving you the previous routine is to illustrate one way misdirection works in mentalism. Examine your current routines. At any point in any effect where you must perform a secret move, something else should be going on AT THE SAME TIME. You might give the spectator something else to do. You might tell a joke. You might reach into your pocket to naturally deposit or retrieve something. The point is that you can't just stand there and blatantly do a move. There are, by the way, two ways of accomplishing the above effect without doing the switch. The same misdirection is used but the methods are somewhat different. You can number or not number the billets as you please, and there is no need to switch in a dummy. Only two billets are required. The first is, I believe, attributable to Phil Goldstein and involves having the spectator write his birthdate on one billet and his Zodiac sign on the other. Obviously, if you center tear the birthdate while the

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


volunteers tears up the sign you will know both the birthdate and the sign. This is very clean and works well unless the spectator doesn't know his sign or for some reason blurts it out when you ask him to concentrate on his birthdate. Believe me, this has happened: "Write down your birthdate." "Come on, it's obvious I'm a Taurus." Oh well. The second method is to use the method set forth in my "Name and Place" routine in The Art of Mentalism 2. The third is so obvious I'm surprised I haven't seen it written up before. Simply tear up both of the billets yourself. Pick them both up and stack them one atop the other so that the centers are aligned. Tear both of the slips as if they were one and steal both centers. If you try this approach with the standard center tear you might find it difficult. Use the Al Koran approach instead- In the Koran method the paper is first torn into thirds. Sidejog the stolen centers to the right after the initial tear and keep them side jogged and toward you during the second tear. Turn the packet a quarter to the right and the stolen center or centers will now be down jogged. Clip them by the corner (s) between your right middle and third finger tips. While tearing the packet a third and final time, this time right down the center, close your middle, third and little fingers into the right palm, thus neatly stealing the center (s). While the spectator is doing the burning, either turn away and read the centers, or open them out against the packet in your pocket as in the original effect. You'll find it just as easy to read two of them when you remove the entire packet from your pocket to obtain a blank slip.

Principium 16 He Who is Wise Knows How to Improvise...and all that jazz.

In the second volume of this series, "Earth," I gave you my microphone switch and showed how it could be incorporated into a pseudo contact mindreading effect called "Messing Around." I promised to show you how the move was used in a question answering act. But first it was necessary for me to demonstrate the effectiveness of multiple methods and capitalizing on your own strengths and idiosyncrasies. The following question and answer routine may at first seem chaotic to you, at least in terms of methodology. And in a sense it is. But there is an order in that chaos, an order that will be dictated by you as the routine progresses. I call it…


Robert E Cassidy

Jazz Mentalism Note: Since I coined the term “Jazz Mentalism” in the first edition of “Water,” it has been appropriated and claimed by many. Unfortunately, based on some of the performances I have seen, there seems to be some confusion regarding the difference between the forms “jazz” and “blues.”

I suppose that most of my performances could be described as having a jazz-like approach. Other than having a set sequence of effects, I never know exactly where I'm going to go in any given program. I try to capitalize on the unique aspects of a particular audience or any lucky breaks that come my way. The secret to doing this is simply knowing your material inside out so that you could perform all of the mechanics in your sleep. You can't work by rote.* Your act can't sound memorized. If you decide to pursue the following "jazz" version of question answering, you won't have to worry about that. You'll need to stay on your toes all the time and rely on improvisational skills as you go along. That may seem like too much work. But consider this- in this act there is no pre-show work whatsoever. Everyone in the audience writes their questions on index card stock which has been cut in half to form billets 2 ½ x 3 inches in size. When the questions are written, they are collected in any large container with the assistance of any volunteer from the audience. The container is placed in front of the room and the performer proceeds to answer as many of them as he feels like. Sometimes he opens them up for verification. Sometimes he lets a spectator open and verify them. Other times he doesn't open them at all. Occasionally he doesn't even touch the billets and just answers the questions. For a finale he lets the assisting spectator take any billet at all and seal it into an empty envelope provided by the performer. The performer writes his impressions on a large pad, which he then turns face down and places on the lap of an audience member. The envelope is opened and the onstage spectator reads the billet aloud. When the audience member holding the pad holds it up for the audience to view, it is seen to be a direct answer to the freely selected question. Sounds good? It is. * In my later works I have emphasized the importance of having a script. Some readers have said that I am contradicting myself in advocating a “Jazz” approach. Not really – even the greatest jazz musicians improvise off of the original sheet music, which, needless to say, they know note for note.

METHOD: There are a few methods at work here. Each one is designed to throw off anyone whose trying to find a single method. Most effects in magic and mentalism are accomplished by a single subtlety or gimmick. If it is discovered there is simply no mystery. If an effect can be solved by the application of pure logic it is not a good effect. What is missing from most elementary trickery is what the late Bob Haines called the Logical Disconnect. Simply put, the Logical Disconnect is a way of turning a spectator's own sense of logic against him causing him to discard as ridiculous the very method used to perform the trick!

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


David Copperfield's Flying Illusion offers a simple example. When David flies about the stage even the most naive spectator jumps to the conclusion that he must be on wires. They've all seen "Peter Pan." But when he flies into a solid glass box which is then covered with a lid, and continues to fly INSIDE THE BOX, the idea of wires is demolished. In mentalism the principle is applied by making the actual method used appear to be impossible. Years ago I released an effect called the "White Dwarf" which was based on the principle of a transparent envelope. At the beginning of the effect a spectator would verify that the envelopes used were absolutely opaque. That was the logical disconnect. The method was transparency. The disconnect was showing that was impossible. In Jazz Q and A all of the methods cancel each other out and, to the average intelligent spectator, the end result can only be attributed to some special ability possessed by the performer. And if the performer's professed ability is not too outrageous, it will be accepted as a plausible solution to the effect. This all relates back to Principium 9 and is the true secret to believability as a mentalist. The elements of Jazz Q and A are: 1. The microphone switch. 2. The Spellbillet switch. 3. Dummy questions. 4. George Anderson's "Dynamite Mentalism" technique. 5. Pocket work. 6. "Same Time" misdirection. 7. The Jack London billet switch. Items 4 and 7 require a brief explanation for those not familiar with the techniques. George Anderson's concept was to do an entire act just by answering questions merely thought of. He had several lists of questions likely to be thought of by different types of audiences. Young people, for example, were likely to be concerned with relationships or future careers. Older people would naturally be more concerned with financial, health and travel matters. Most people in the middle are concerned about job changes, changes in residence and problems involving spouses and children. I think you get the idea. By saving all of the questions you collect in each show and by taking note of each audiences demographics, you'll soon have a list of sure-fire questions that several in your audience will be thinking of. Number 7 refers to Jack London's idea of putting a billet into a thumb tip and later sticking the tip into an envelope and extracting the dummy as if it were the billet or bill originally sealed in the envelope by a spectator. Here's the skeleton framework of the routine. The only fixed elements are the stealing of the first question and the final, or test revelation: The performer's side jacket pockets contain billets and pencils. All of the billets have been prefolded into quarters and then opened out, thus assuring that they will be folded properly later. In his left trouser pocket are five marked dummy billets each containing a commonly asked question as per the Anderson concept mentioned above. (Each of these is marked with pencil marks along the folds to help them stand out. The positioning of the marks on the folds tells you which question is which. You have obviously memorized these in advance.) The right trouser pocket contains a Vernet type thumbtip. In the pocket, next to the tip (not in it) is a


Robert E Cassidy

folded dummy billet containing the question, "What is the next winning lottery number." This will be the first question answered and is kept in the right trouser pocket to keep it from getting mixed up with the other billets. The performer distributes billets throughout the audience while explaining to them that they are to write questions they would sincerely like to know the answer to. If they would prefer, they are permitted to test the performer by writing items of information known only to them, such as social security numbers, names, pictures, etc. When finished they are told to fold their cards into quarters and an audience member is designated to collect the folded billets. This is where the first deception takes place. It is assumed that the mentalist is working with a wireless microphone. (A standard microphone will do, although it will limit the performer's travels through the audience.) The mike is held in the left hand which now also contains the five marked dummies which were palmed out of the left-hand pocket. This is in preparation for the microphone switch. The performer wanders about distributing billets and pencils from the right pocket. The audience volunteer lags behind him waiting for people to finish writing in order to collect their questions in the container he carries. The key is to be very random in the distribution of the slips, moving back and forth through the audience, thus making it impossible for the assistant to remain anywhere near the performer during the collection process. When the distribution is about three-quarters complete, the performer doubles back and starts collecting completed and folded cards with his right hand. He collects five of them, exchanges the mike from hand to hand while returning to the assistant, and has thus switched five legitimate questions for the dummies. (It should be noted that by squeezing the dummies against the mike they are given a lengthwise crimp which makes them easy to distinguish from the legitimate billets collected in the container.) He tosses the dummies into the container and walks back to where he left off the distribution. He now holds the five stolen billets in right-hand fingerpalm position concealed by the microphone. (Refer to Volume 2 for further details on this switch.) On his trip back he changes the mike from hand to hand again and his right hand, along with the stolen billets, goes to his right jacket pocket, ostensibly to get more billets and pencils for distribution to those who have not yet written questions. During the remainder of the distribution, with the hand constantly going back to the pocket for more billets, it is an easy matter for the performer to open several of the stolen dummies against the face of the packet of billets remaining in the pocket. Once this is done, the entire remaining packet can be removed from the pocket and a few more blank billets distributed from the bottom of the stack. (Needless to say, the presence of a microphone in your left hand does not render the hand useless and the left fingers and thumb hold the packet while the right hand removes blank cards.) It's during this final distribution that the performer memorizes at least one of the stolen questions. These, along with the remaining billets are casually placed in the right trouser pocket, where the first memorized billet is refolded and thrust into the thumbtip. The dummy prefolded billet (containing the lottery question) is now palmed in the right hand and the hand removed from the pocket. Returning to the front, the performer replaces the mike into a mike stand and explains to the audience how they must visualize their thoughts in order for them to be picked up. A preplanned psychological choice involving the whole audience may be performed at this point to cover the time needed for the assistant to finish the collection process. Or, you can do as I do and simply ad lib until the container is returned to the stage.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


The assisting spectator is asked to place the container on a table or stool and to stand next to it on the side farthest away from the performer. Typically I have him at extreme stage left, the container to his right, and myself at stage center. Slightly behind me, to my left, is a small table containing my pads, envelopes, magic markers, etc. Time for a recap. Consider what the performer has done. In the simple act of distributing slips and helping to collect them, he has switched in five dummies, stolen five, and read at least one which now resides in a thumb tip in his right trouser pocket. The dummies in the container, in addition to being marked, so the performer knows which is which, have a big crimp down the middle of them so they may be easily found later when the performer reaches into the container for a billet. But at this point the mentalist does not approach the container. Instead, he asks the volunteer to stir up the questions, remove one, and bring it to the performer. This is where the first bit of jazz comes in. While the odds are that the assistant picked a legitimate billet, he may well have selected one of the dummies. Before the performer goes any further, he must note if this is the case. If it is, he takes the billet from the spectator with his left hand, touches it to his own forehead and hands it right back to the spectator. In this action he has noted the mark on the billet and knows which dummy question it contains. He need only answer the question and then let the assistant open it and verify it or read it aloud. If, however, as is usually the case, the spectator approaches with a legitimate billet, the performer takes it in his left hand in preparation for the Spellbillet move. He simply says, rather quickly, "I'm getting a series of numbers here. Let's see, I get a ten, a five, a twenty-three, a fifteen, a seventeen and a forty-two. I have no idea what this means. Let's see what the question is." The Spellbillet switch is performed as the slip is opened and handed back to the assistant, who is asked to read it aloud. He reads, "What is the next winning lottery number?" The performer replies, "Well I'm not going to repeat them, I hope you all have good memories. You know, it's funny, there's always somebody who asks me that question. Who wrote that?" Someone usually acknowledges the question, but it really doesn't matter as the audience will be laughing at this point. The performer continues, "I thought so. Did you ever stop to think that if I really knew the answer I'd be standing here telling it to you? Get a clue!" (Or words to that effect, preferably your own words.) The assistant is told to toss the slip aside and to select another one. Again the performer ascertains if it is a marked dummy. If so, he answers it. If not he says, "I don't want to touch it yet, but let me write down my impressions as I get them." He picks up his pad and a marker and writes down his impressions. It is under cover of the pad that he opens the stolen billet in his right hand, notes the question, refolds and repalms the billet. He hands the pad to the volunteer and instructs him to hold it against his chest. Taking the billet in his left hand he actually opens it and misreads it as the question just secretly noted. "And what was my impression?" he asks the onstage assistant, "Read it aloud and show what I wrote to the audience.” There will be applause at this point, and this is where the routine goes according to the performer's own


Robert E Cassidy

whim. For he himself reaches into the container for the next billet and is presented with the following options1- He can go one-ahead with the information on the billet he has palmed. 2- He can bend the corner of the palmed billet as he reaches into the container, leave it there and take out a dummy. Personally, I go one ahead, but only once. Then I bend the corner of the next stolen billet, deposit it in the container where I can see it, select a dummy and hand it to the assistant. I answer the dummy and ask the audience who asked the question. Since these are common questions and the answer is somewhat vague as to gender or personal data, someone is sure to acknowledge it. Then I ask the onstage volunteer to open the slip and verify for all that I did, in fact, answer the query. I DO NOT ask him to read it aloud. In fact, whenever the onstage volunteer is asked to acknowledge the accuracy of a dummy answer to the question he holds, and someone in the audience says that it was their question, I merely ask for a yes or no. This is to prevent the acknowledging querent from noticing that the wording of the question selected does not match the wording of the question he wrote. If no one acknowledges the question, however, the onstage volunteer is asked to read it aloud after the performer has answered. In this case I just nod to an imaginary spectator near the back of the room and say, "I knew you'd ask that." You can continue in this manner as long as you like. If you've managed to remember the second or third stolen question reposing in your trouser pocket, you can palm it out and apparently take it from the container and answer it. In this case, and in any case where you are actually holding a legitimate question that you just answered, you can immediately return it to its writer. The impression is that sometimes you return the questions, sometimes you just toss them to the stage or have the assistant do so. It's all improv at this stage. There's an interesting Annemann ploy that I've used many times when I've palmed a second stolen billet from my pocket to which I already know the answer. You simply reach into the container, remove a batch of billets and hold them over your head. As you get your impressions you let them drop to the floor one by one until you are holding only one. That of course is the palmed one, and upon receiving acknowledgment to the answer you return it directly to the writer. This is a very visual and very effective bit of business. And need I remind you that if you are standing directly over the container while stirring around for a question, that it is very easy to umbrella one open, read the contents and refold it? Just make sure the onstage volunteer is positioned so that he cannot see directly into the container. Use that billet with the Annemann bit of business if you like. All that remains is the finale, which is what most question answering acts don't have. Usually the performer says something about having no more time or being weary and just stops. This is hardly showmanship, unless you've been lucky and just gotten an incredible response to one of your answers. Normally, though, the act ends like this- The onstage volunteer is handed an envelope and he verifies that it is empty. He is asked to reach into the container, remove any question and seal it into the envelope. He does so. The performer picks up his pad, writes something, and puts it face down on the lap of an audience member. Obtaining the thumbtip containing the originally memorized stolen billet (remember that one?) on his right thumb, he approaches the onstage volunteer and takes the envelope. Tearing the end off, he sticks his thumb inside and removes the stolen billet between his right thumb and forefinger. The left

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


hand crumples up the envelope, along with the thumb tip and the selected billet and drops it in his left pocket. The right-hand slip is handed to the assistant and he is told to open it and read it aloud. When he is finished, the spectator with the pad reads the answer aloud and the effect is concluded. That's it. There's a lot going on here and the act never comes out the same way twice. You have all the leeway in the world to use your natural abilities and instinct to their maximum potential. It's my kind of mentalism. Pure jazz.

Principium 17 Cherish Your Mistakes, The Seeds of Miracles are Within.

I assume you're all familiar with Al Koran's classic Newspaper Tear Prediction. Briefly, the mentalist shows an envelope and asks a spectator to call out a number between one and thirty-two. He writes the number on the envelope and hands it to a volunteer for safekeeping. Producing a double wide sheet of newspaper, the performer tears it in half. He puts the torn pieces together and tears them in half again. He does this a total of five times, thus ending up with a stack of thirty-two pieces of newspaper. The performer deals the pieces to the selected number and hands that piece to a spectator. The envelope is opened and is seen to contain a prediction which exactly describes a headline or ad on the selected piece. There have been numerous variations on the method, most notably Ray Grismer's "Handy." All involve the application of binary math and a specific method of tearing in order to put the piece with the predicted headline or ad at the proper number. For two specific reasons, I never liked the effect. First, the fact that the number is called before the paper is turned weakens the effect in that an astute spectator could work it out logically. There is no disconnect except for making the tears smoothly and quickly. That means there can be no apparent thinking on the part of the performer. And that's my second objection. The published methods all involve calculation to put the right piece at the right number. In June of this year (1996) I had the opportunity of watching a fellow mentalist perform the effect. Not only did the thinking show, but he kept dropping pieces on the floor in an apparent attempt to correct an error made during the tearing process. This resulted in a pretty funny routine, but not a very amazing one. But it inspired the following version of the effect in which both of my objections have been overcome- the number is called out AFTER the newspaper is torn, and there is no calculation involved at all! The proper piece will none the less appear at the selected number.


Robert E Cassidy

Rip It Up The effect is exactly as in the Koran original except when the number is selected. The performer hands a sealed envelope to a volunteer and then produces an opened out piece of newspaper (full size, not tabloid). He tears it in half five times, producing a stack of thirty-two pieces. A volunteer calls out a number, it is counted to, and that piece is handed out. The prediction is then revealed. METHOD: Find a suitable ad or headline, make a prediction describing it and seal it in the envelope. During the tearing process, simply make sure that the force piece ends up third from the bottom of the stack. You can use any of the published methods to do this, or you can do as I do- simply keep the piece on the top and when you're done tearing casually cut the top three pieces to the bottom of the stack. As for a number between one and thirty-two. Hold the packet down at your side. If the spectator calls out number 2, simply turn the packet bottom side up as you bring it to dealing position and deal off two pieces into the spectators hand. Ask him if anyone could possibly have known which piece would now be on top of the pile. The answer, of course, will be "No." Take the force piece, now on top and hand it to someone else and then have the prediction read and verified to be accurate. If the spectator calls number 3, you just count three pieces into his hand and work with the last piece dealt. The same thing happens if 31 or 30 are called, you just don't turn the packet over before dealing. The above situation will only occur four times out of thirty. So what do you do most of the time, when any other number is called? Easy- you do what my friend did, you drop a piece as you are dealing into the spectator's hand. In theses cases you will always deal from the top of the packet. Suppose the selected number is 15. Subtract three from that. (OK, so there is ONE calculation involved, but I'm confident you can handle it.) That gives you 12. When you deal the twelfth piece, miss the spectator's hand and drop it on the floor. As you bend down to pick it up, just turn the stack over. (Be sure the packet is in your upstage hand.) Hand him the piece and finish counting. The force piece is at the number called. The idea of turning the pack over to get to the right number, of course, comes from an old card force involving cards secretly turned up on the bottom of the deck. But the misdirection of dropping the piece of paper actually makes it much easier to cover the turnover that it is with a deck of cards. Try it, you'll probably like it. And if not you will at least be getting rid of old newspapers that are cluttering up your room and are a fire hazard.

The Compleat Principia Mentalia


Principium 18 Anticipate the Inevitable, Because Murphy was right.

"Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" may be a cliché, but it's nonetheless true. If the possibility of error on the part of the performer or the spectator exists, that error will occur sooner or later. How a performer deals with it is what separates the professional from the wannabes. Everyone has a tough time when something unforeseen happens the first time. But there is no excuse for the mistake to ever happen again without the performer being ready for it. Several years ago I was performing my card memory routine, which has become my trademark closer. (It's described in full in my Art of Mentalism 2.) As you probably know, the effect involves a stack of sorts. Four audience members are allowed to each shuffle about a quarter of the deck, but the cards are collected by the performer so that the cards that were in each half of the pack to begin with remain in their proper halves. The performer then false shuffles the pack and proceeds with the pseudo memory effect. Now I've been doing a stand up false riffle shuffle for close to thirty years. I've had cards stick on the strip out, but I learned to always use new cards and to "give them some air" before the final part of the sleight. But never, never did I drop the cards. I assumed I never would. That night I did. Now what? I bailed out the hard way and just did the effect legitimately. The problem, though, is that really memorizing the cards takes me about 45 to 50 seconds. That's dead time because you're too busy with the mnemonics involved to engage in any snappy patter for the audience's amusement during the process. With the stack it only takes about 11 seconds, which is just about long enough. Will it ever happen again? Yes. I guarantee that eventually, as the result of a sudden attack of the clumsies, I will drop the cards again. Will I ever again have to bail out the hard way? No. While my point here is that you have to expect the unexpected, you may find my solution to the above dilemma to be useful to you. If you are doing the card memory routine or any other effect where the integrity of the two halves of the deck must be maintained it's a good safety measure. Simply mark one half of the deck on the faces. It's an idea that appears in Corinda's classic Thirteen Steps to Mentalism. Small scratch marks through the index pips will do. That way, if you drop the cards, or if an obstinate crowd insists on shuffling the whole deck themselves (although that NEVER happens to me because I don't tolerate bullshit [!]), you can simply pick them up, put them right side up, and proceed with the "memory." It's just a matter of holding the cards in your right hand and standing with your left side to the audience.


Robert E Cassidy

While you are apparently memorizing the cards, deal them from your right hand to your left, down jogging the marked cards as you do so. When you're finished, apparently cut the cards, really stripping the halves apart, and proceed with the effect. Card men will recognize the idea as Harry Lorayne's "Great Divide," and the rest of you might want to get hold of his excellent booklet with that title for some other applications of the move. Never again will you fear an attack of dropsy.

Conclusion Mentalism is an art, and is practiced most effectively by artists. Capitalizing on their own personalities, each puts his own unique stamp on the material he performs. It's been said that mentalism is easier to perform than traditional magic, but that it is far more difficult to perform well. The purpose of The Principia Mentalia (apart from implanting subliminal messages designed to corrupt your minds in ways known only to me and the Great Brotherhood of the Illuminati) has been to stimulate the creative ability that resides in any serious performer. That doesn't mean you have to be a creator of constantly newer and more devilish concepts. It just means that in order to stand out from the herd, you need to find your own unique approach.

Principium X "Trust No One"

And so endeth Water

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