Review of Mischief by Harling & Nyrup

This book took me a long time to get through it for some reason. The subject interests me as I’m a serious student of a branch of magic known as mentalism, yet it was a difficult read for me. Mischief is an expanded compilation of two previous books (Sleight of Mind & Giest) by the same authors.

I’m not sure if it was the type-setting, oversized fonts or the book with no line spacing between paragraphs or the writing style, but I found it a difficult read to follow. The book is thick and is produced like a music “fake” book, the same type of paper and quality.

The tagline for the book is “Radical Hypnosis & Mind Control” and the premise of the book is to help magicians strengthen the effect of their magic or mentalism routines through techniques that encompass NLP, Inductions, Suggestion Techniques and contexts of performances.

I think one reason I had a hard time following is that :

1) It read like a textbook at times with very scholarly labels and categorizations of techniques. So it felt dry and overly academic.

2) The categorization of the techniques did not flow naturally or logically. For example, the first part of the book is a revision of “Sleight of Mind” which focuses a lot on NLP techniques. Then, a chapter on Cold Reading pops up. I understand how Cold Reading aids in choosing different NLP techniques to apply to different individuals but the placement in the book seemed at an odd place and added to the difficulty in trying to read the book. Later on, the book delves into memory techniques in between a chapter on relaxation and hypnosis and suggestion. Now, you may understand why I had so much trouble trying to follow the authors’ line of thought.

The second half of the book “Geist” is the authors’ way of explaining the importance and uses of “Geist”. It took me another few re-readings to try to understand what the authors’ were defining as “Geist”. Basically, they use it as a noun (in most cases) to refer to a presentation context or a presentation framework. So, a mentalist like Derren Brown adopts the “Geist” of an expert of human psychology and mind manipulation as opposed to a “Geist” of someone born with supernatural powers. The use of the word “Geist” was really confusing to me as it was so abstract and the authors had different subtle uses of the word in their writings.

The authors do have a number of routines and effects described in the book that they interweave with their theoretical propositions. Again, I think if the organization and presentation of the material had been better, the context of the routines would have been easier to appreciate.

I think there is good potential for the material in the book but it suffers greatly from the (IMO) bad organization and presentation of the material. It also felt like it was trying to be too technical and academic without the need to be so. Honestly, it reminded me of some of my university Sociology textbooks; trying to frame a subject into categories with technical names, jargon and long-strung sentences that you have to reread three times in order to fully understand it. And yet, you are not sure you did.

If you are a serious mentalist, this is a book you might consider adding to your library if you are prepared to work through it… if you have the other two-dozen must-have books first.

You can buy it here from Ning’s sexy Magic Boutique here.

This month Sep 2010, for local orders only, if you spend over S$60, you get a free movie DVD FREE! Take a break from magic, sit back, relax and grab your popcorn!

Remember, to sign up as a Magic Boutique customer as you get a lifetime 10% discount. In addition, Magic Boutique has reduced shipping costs for you so you save the most with Magic Boutique!

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About J C Sum

International Headline Entertainer, Content Creator and Investor
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