Reading Derren Brown reminded us, honestly, of the Biblical Prophet Isaiah.
“What care I for the number of your sacrifices? says the LORD.
“I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats I find no pleasure.
“When you come in to visit me, who asks these things of you?
“Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me.”
We thought of Isaiah not because Mr. Brown’s book is spiritual.
Nope. There are parts and pieces of Mr. Brown’s book that make you feel as if he is decidedly anti-Christian.
He mocks Christianity – or perhaps we misread that which is meant to be serious as sarcastic.
So, if he is not biblically spiritual, he is nonetheless inspiring enough to read and re-read.
Consider the Isaiah-like pronouncement Mr. Brown makes:
“Aaahhh, my loves, and so we come to the end of a wonderful journey: we have
dipped our toelets in the the shimmering pool of secret wonder and
I wonder if this book will affect your performance of magic or mentalism.
Let us roll up our collective sleeve of integrity and reach down deep into
the raw, foetid effluence of dull, unconvincing effects: past the
steaming turds that are billet switches; past the faecal nuggest that
are sealed envelopes and ‘gaps left for a nail writer;’ and deep belowy
that dead otter – that single stinking stool of immense proportions
that is the standard book test, or the ‘sealed predicition.”
Like Kierkegaard in the world of (later) non-Christian Existentialists, the point is that once you have an understanding of your world, you are free to do as you need to live as you should for He who you know.
Use cards, Mr. Brown argues, use them if you need to or want to if it has anything to do with the effect you want your audience to feel.
Do not use cards because you are comfortable with them or because you know a neat trick.
Mr. Brown describes an epiphany when he sat at a table and imagined what it would be like to be a typical diner being approached by one of us, a table-hopper.
“I remember recently visiting the restaurant where I regularly perform here in Bristol. I was sat in the spacious, Byzantine lounge area where attractive staff and a belly dancer pampered the guests.
“This was after maybe ten years of performing, but was the first time I ever got a clear sensation of exactly how I would feel if I were to be approached by a magician.
“It occurred to me that in those years of performing, I could never have really considered that. I realized how easily a chirpy, adequate magician would have made me cringe and been utterly out of place. I saw that I wanted to be pampered, not made to feel self-conscious.”
So what do we do with this epiphany shared? Do we accept it as Gospel to be shared with the world? Do we keep it under our bushel? What can one do?
So many of us – the author included – is exactly the chirpy, happy guy that approaches a table with the words, “Take a Card, Any Card” on his lips.
Heck, even the famous starving artist David Blaine did it.
That’s how he met the guy that gave him the birthday party gig that gave him the chance to go to Europe.
By many accounts, that’s enough. By Mr. Brown’s account, that’s insufficient.
Because as Magicians or Mentalists we are called to something greater than just doing tricks to make tips or to make connections sufficient to make deals with ABC. We are called to do real magic.
Mr. Brown does not claim to perform real mentalism. He readily admits that he can’t but he does admit to knowing people and knowing – in a manner similar to the methods of Dai Vernon – what they are saying by their movements and absence of movements.
He watches carefully but without giving the appearance of watching.
We began this review noting we have read and re-read Mr. Brown’s book often.
This is significant not only because it says so much about the book but it says so much about the method in which we came to own his book because we actually purchased it.
We usually receive material to be reviewed by contributions from authors or inventors or innovators. But we bought this book and can tell you that as we write this in the backseat of Quinlan’s Inside Magic
1979 Mercury Monarch — it was the only way we could be near a free wifi connection — this is some kind of book.
We have a few books we read often.
We have a dog-eared version of The Royal Road to Card Magic, Principles and Deceptions (with original leather cover), the Tarbell Set (soon to get on CD – tough to dog-ear a CD), Expert at the Card Table, Claudine the Circus Woman (we wrote it so we feel it is special), Bobo’s Coin Magic, and The Lindsay Lohan Illustrated History – Volume II.
This book will be added to that dog-eared group. Mr. Brown offers not only wonderful insight into the world of magic but also great effects magicians of our ilk can perform.
We have never met Mr. Brown. If he lectures in the United States, we will try to see him. He inspires us to think about magic in a new way.
We think if you read his book, you’ll keep it by your bedside to read as well. It is special in a world where everyone with a lecture tour has a book.
Buy this book. It will change your life.
Quinlan’s Inside Magic Rating: Five out of Five – Our Highest!