Monday, April 27, 2009

Getting Past Mental Block

You know the have hundreds of card tricks stored in your head, then someone asks to see a trick and you suddenly forget everything you've ever known. Mental block! We live in the information age. As we acquire more knowledge, it becomes more and more difficult to filter through it all. That's the challenge—adding to our knowledge base without forgetting past learnings.

To help avoid mental block in magic, I have a few mnemonic devices I use to help trigger my memory, especially in off the cuff performing situations. I begin by preparing a list of some favorite effects and group them by number, one through six. Each number represents a category of tricks to choose from. Here's an example I use:
  1. ONE = Tricks where just one card is selected (Optical Opener; Double Trouble; spectator peek)
  2. TWO = Tricks where two cards are selected (Club Sandwich & Double Monte; two-card transpo)
  3. THREE = Think "tri" as in TRIumph; Collectors (three selections); or a sandwich trick (one selection between two cards)
  4. FOUR = Four-card production, etc. (Color Blind; Tailspin; The Ripper)
  5. FIVE = Five cards are used...four-of-a-kind plus one selection (Palm Reader; Homage to Homing)
  6. SIX = The "X" represents the ending destination...a closer. (Ambitious; Ballet Stunner)
By grouping the tricks, it allows you to remember much more. It's similar to how we remember phone numbers in groups of three or four numbers rather than trying to remember all 10 digits at once. The fun part is choosing effects that have meaning to you and associating them with the appropriate number.

Sometimes instead of numbers, I'll use an acronym. Choose any word that has some significance to you or a specific performing situation (such as stroll or magic). Here's an example with the word impact:

I = Intro trick such as a shuffle demo / Invisible Deck
M = Monte / Money trick
P - Production (aces or selections)
A - Ambitious
C = Card change / Clairvoyance
T = Transposition / Triumph / Tailspin

Here's another example using an alphabetical order:

A = Advertising (my new version of Optical Opener) / All-backs
B = Biddleless (new) / Behind-the-back Triumph
C - Club Sandwich & Double Monte
D - Dreamcatcher (my version of Armstrong's Instantaneous Sandwich)
E = Either Or (new)
F = Flying Card (using Audley Walsh's Long Distant Spinner)
G = Syner-Gee Ace production
H = Homage to Homing / Here, There, Everywhere
I = Invisible Deck

So, call me a geek, but this stuff works. It allows me to store a lot more information, have some flexibility during performance, avoid mental blocks, and focus more on my audience. It enables me to carry an organized mental list with me wherever I go...especially handy when someone hands me a deck and asks to see something.