P is for “Pretty Shit Trick”; Psychologica shits the bed
by Wouldn't you like to know?
Seeing as how much you all loved the review of Benjamin Earl’s F For Fiction, here’s another nail in the coffin
In today’s installment, we’ll be looking at…. PSYCHOLOGICA
Let’s first look at the advertising blurb:
So, I have a very special Christmas release… Psychologica. Limited to only 250 copies (each numbered and signed). This is a miracle territory effect which I have been fooling the living bejesus** out of ‘muggles’*** with for many years. If you want to break out the ‘big guns’ and devastate someone with something so impossible that they soil themselves or start doing chimp flips… then this is it.
Bending reality through principles of deception and magic
The performer legitimately mixes a deck of cards face-up and face-down (so that they are in a complete mess), the spectator now takes the deck, and the performer never touches the deck again. The spectator also shuffles the cards face-up into face-down and even looks down to see the chaotic mess of cards spread between their hands! They think of a playing card, and still without the performer touching the deck, every card goes the same way except for the card they were thinking of!!! While the deck is in their hands! WTF?! Yes.
This is real magic… with an ordinary deck!
‘Psychologica’ doesn’t feel like a standard ‘Triumph’ routine; it feels like a deeply powerful moment of mind-control, fused with visual and mental magic. It’s the most powerful and perfect ‘Triumph’ effect imaginable; I wanted the spectator to handle the cards themselves, shuffle the deck, look through the cards (genuinely seeing that they are hopelessly mixed) and without the performer touching the deck, the cards all go the same way except for a card they were just thinking of! This sounds completely impossible, but this is exactly what ‘Psychologica’ achieves.
Forget every other version of ‘Triumph’ you’ve ever seen; ‘Psychologica’ is a completely impossible deception game, a devious effect, which looks and feels like real magic while pushing ‘Triumph’ into brand new deceptive territory.
No table, no difficult techniques, no gaffed cards or gimmicks and no bad angles. It can be done with a borrowed, shuffled deck if you want. This routine isn’t a pipe-dream; it has been developed and refined over many years of performance in the real world. I have used this routine at professional engagements for many years, but more interestingly… it is one of my favourite ‘go-to’ effects in a private, informal environment when I want to do something sensational.
Even though I have kept ‘Psychologica’ a closely guarded secret for many years, a very famous magician (who uses it constantly), virtually begged me to keep it a secret and not release it! But like I said to him, “If you want to keep something secret… then put in print!”
Now that the hype is out of the way, let’s take a look at how the effect is printed in the booklet:
A spectator thinks of a card and the deck is cleanly mixed face up and face down. They see the deck is a complete mess and they take the deck in their hands and mix it further. Without the performer touching the deck, the cards all straighten out with the exception of a playing-card of which they are thinking.
Notice the subtle difference in the two?
HYPE: The spectator also shuffles the cards face-up into face-down and even looks down to see the chaotic mess of cards spread between their hands!
BOOKLET: They see the deck is a complete mess and they take the deck in their hands and mix it further.
The word SHUFFLES turns to MIXES. This might not make sense now, but keep reading…
HYPE: …. They think of a playing card, and still without the performer touching the deck, every card goes the same way except for the card they were thinking of!!! While the deck is in their hands! WTF?! Yes.
BOOKLET: A spectator thinks of a card and the deck is cleanly mixed face up and face down
Hold on a second… The timing of the spectator thinking of the playing card is different now….
Okay, I was going to gradually build this review up a bit more, but … fuck it.
Here is what happens in steps:
- Spectator peeks a card (Yes, this is used often in the “think of a card” context and it doesn’t bother me)
- Slight tweaks on a very common handling of Triumph
- Subtlety to show cards are face up and face down while doing an overhand shuffle
- In the hands riffle/faro shuffle convincer; he calls this the Hallucination Shuffle
- Deck is NOW given to the spectator
- Spectator gives the deck a cut (THAT’S IT! That’s the spectator’s “mix”)
- Then cards are spread face down to reveal the “thought of card” in the traditional triumph way
It makes sense now why Ben changed the terminology of the spectator shuffling to the spectator mixing. A cut is not a shuffle, but a cut is, in the vaguest sense of the word, a mix.
This is essentially a triumph where the spectator does the final cut to center the selection. In between the triumph and the cut, there’s a bunch of convincers and subtleties; the overhand shuffle convincer is good (with some touches from Lennart Green). The Hallucination Shuffle…Ben must have been high off his ass when “coming up” with this. What makes this the Hallucination Shuffle? Apparently it’s where the spectator looks and how firmly you tell them about the mixed condition of the deck.
So if I take this concept further, I could do a standard overhand shuffle, make the spectator put his head in front of my bare asshole and call it the Rusty Trombone Shuffle.
Anyways, back to the “Hallucination Shuffle”. It’s ballsy and if you think you can convince someone that a shuffle where bunch of face up cards falling are “face up AND face down cards”…. Good luck to you. I’m not saying you won’t get away with it, but I’d rather use a better method, like the Tenkai Optical Revolve or the Jennings/Goodwin Display. The Hallucination Shuffle, not so much.
This booklet also starts off with several pages on Psychological principles. It is kind of an interesting read, but the underlying question I found myself asking in the end was… why?
Is it necessary to include all that for a fucking triumph routine? Imagine someone writing a booklet on how to do the muscle pass, and spends the first half of the book talking about muscles, the different muscle groups, how they work together and why muscles are important… and then including an effect as an afterthought
Necessary? Absolutely fucking not!
Ignoring the psychological essay and the price tag, this trick is actually not bad. It can be strong for laymen, as with the original Vernon Triumph. My issue with this is the actual publication; This is not a revolutionary change or approach to warrant it’s own individual manuscript.
The script he provides for this effect is quite standard, except for the ending. You’re essentially giving the spectator several different possible ways you could find their card and then settling on the most impressive way of “doing nothing” and showing the card is now the only one reversed.
This is a pattern with Ben’s recent works. He emphasizes psychology in EVERY single trick, but the psychology and approach is so specific to that one instance. The only difference in PSYCHOLOGICA is that since this is just one “routine”, Ben needs to write more about psychology. I put “routine” in quotes because this is NOT a routine! This is a one-phase effect with convincers, not a “routine”.
In this day and age where single effect DVD’s and manuscripts are becoming far too common place, this is a prime example of duping your customer base because of your reputation. It feels like Ben has blown his magical load too early, with Past Midnight and Gambit being quite well done and thought out material. The manuscript has some interesting points, but is far too reliant on the psychological discussion to pad it out, and the discussion itself is too narrowly focused on this singular effect.
If there’s a need to emphasize the psychology of something EVERY FUCKING TIME, especially when it’s not mentalism, there’s something wrong with what you’re publishing. In this case, it sounds like Ben is trying to justify charging £45 for this. Definitely not worth that much!
PSYCHOLOGICA is one of those tricks that might be included in a collection of effects, but definitely not worthy of a release on its own.
Another underwhelming release.
Bingo, Bango, Bongo
Bish, Bash, Bosh,