I still remember my first magic dvd, over a decade ago. I always loved gambling movies and I was obsessed at the time with poker (watching world series of poker, trying to get my friends into poker,…). I wanted to play like they did in the movies and saw “Rounders” a movie with Matt Damon and Edward Norton. Matt Damon is the poker whizz and Edward Norton is his crooked friend who cheats to get one up on life.
I loved Norton’s character. Once you’ve been cheated out of so much in life, after you have seen that others without any skill, but with beauty or money, get ahead of you, you want a part of that game, so you go looking for ways to cheat, and my curiousity got the better of me and I started to look for ways to cheat with cards, and this is how I got my first Magic DVD, I wanted to learn how to cheat. Maybe not the best way to get to card-cheating, but I didn’t know any better then. My first DVD was Born to perform by Oz Pearlman. There are only a few card effects explained on that dvd, but I was hooked. Big time. I bought more and more things, more and more decks of cards. More and more hours of training. Even still today, although less fanatic and with a more expertise look on magic. I can look at most effects now and see where they got their influence or figure an effect out by just watching it and see how they telegraph their moves. Most magicians, if you know what to look for, telegraph their moves.
Now a decade later, I established what I wanted to do. I’m one of those guys you don’t want around your card table. I can false deal (from the bottom, second deal and from the center), I can stack the deck in my favour. I can false shuffle (overhand, hindu, riffle shuffle). I can switch decks even. So, I don’t think you want to play games with me. I got towards my goal though. I got what I went in for, but I got more.
The psychology behind a magic effect became more interesting to me. A lot more interesting. I watched Tommy Wonder and his philosophy. I learned that “the hand is quicker than the eye” is bullshit, as a fast movement will stand out if that is not your usual way of moving. I never move quickly, I always have a casual way of moving and if I moved quickly, it would stand out, so I never move quickly. Also a habit, most magicans have is telegraphing that their hands are empty, you will never see me do that, or the movement must suit me and the occassion. I have other ways of showing that my cups are empty.
Magic thought me to look for human psychology and how it can be exploited. I know a dozen ways how I could steal something from under your nose without you even noticing. Yes, I am that guy that takes your cellphone. Let’s you notice that I took your cellphone and will even teach you how I took your cellphone, only to do it again 20 minutes later. I can take an item that has been sitting in front of you the whole damn time and you won’t even notice, until I put your attention to it.
Magic thought me a lot, because thanks to magic, I went looking. I was interested in learning more about psychology, but not the theoretical part of psychology, I wanted those that I could apply to my life, like for example how I learned (from a book) how a member of the opposite sex shows their attraction, and how I can make them attracted to me. How I can use some of my natural gifts (like humour and my factual knowledge) to show them I have something of value and maken them interested. This is something I had to learn, something I had to look for.
Before magic, I was a wallflower. I hardly ever got out and didn’t dare to speak my mind. I didn’t dare to show the world my true capacity. When I started to perform more and more, I learned to show myself more and more and started putting myself into my magic effects more and more and eventually branched out to mentalism, in which you don’t hide behind props, but where your personality is what matters, and what makes the effects work (besides a large part of psychology and the occassional hidden prop). So I observed what worked in my life and more and more I used those strategies to be able to ask for whatever I wanted, to get what I wanted without being intrusive. I can get favourable treatment in a store just by being more gentle and patient than all the other customers, when they don’t have an item in stock, instead of becoming angry, I just order it and let them keep it aside for me, so I pick it up with a smile at a later date, I will hardly ever become angry when such things occurs. I will be dissapointed for sure, but I won’t show it then and there.
I have learned a lot of the hidden social rules by applying things of magic: observing, adapting, intuition of the situation to everyday situations. It is very difficult to teach these things, but they become a habit once you start to do them more and more. I can learn you how to read people and I have proof that there isn’t a lot of original thought, and that a lot of people are similar, but that is something for another blogpost perhaps, as this one is quite lenghty already.