Tricks Of The Mind Paperback – 8 Oct 2007
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"Tricks of the Mind exposes Derren Brown as a master manipulator, with not a cauldron or genie in sight" (New Statesman)
"Clearly the best dinner party guest in history - he's either a balls-out con artist or the scariest man in Britain" (Charlie Brooker Guardian)
"If you see anybody with this book, go the other way" (Hilary Mantel Guardian)
"Lifting the lid on some of the darkests secrets from the world of magic, Derren reveals with brutal honesty how some tricks work, how to perfect particular techniques and how to spot lies through people's behaviour. You'll be reading minds in no time! ****" (OK!)
"Will delight anyone with an interest in the weirder things people think and they they think them" (Independent on Sunday)
The definitive book by Britain's favourite illusionist...See all Product description
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Pretty well, on the whole, is the answer. "Tricks of the Mind" is part confessional/autobiographical, part meditation on the many perennial ways a brain can be fooled, and part description of the mental arsenal that a conjuror must acquire - a chapter leading by degrees through useful and easy memory tricks up to the focussed discipline by which a conjuror can, ultimately, memorise the order of an entire shuffled pack of cards. Which goes to show us that some effects can't be picked up from a pamphlet in the course of an evening, but, on the contrary, are - in the words of the professional gambler - "damned hard money."
Brown's early steps into conjuring, we learn, came at university. A bright, maverick, restless student, he was given to anarchic hoaxes which can't have helped his coursework much, but which have proved a great rehearsal for his career. He started trying to hypnotise his friends. For my money this is the best part of the book.
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a stage hypnotist? Here's the answer. Brown seems at once fascinated, conflicted, and slightly paranoid at the thought that people do seem to grant him (or at any rate act as though they'd granted him) a surreal degree of control. Are they winding him up? Is it his Svengali-like influence? A heightened sort of role-playing? He explores the various theories of the hypnotic state, its capabilities. People fall asleep suddenly, they undergo surgery without anaesthetic; and I'd also add they can be captivated by storytellers ... or galvanised into madness by a screaming dictator. Granted, we now know that no mystical force is emanating from the hypnotist, so presumably, the hypnotic state must originate within the subject himself - but could it originate in solitude? I don't think so, and neither I suspect does Brown. The hypnotist must be, at the very least, a catalyst. So how far can the hypnotist be held responsible? What do we mean by a trance state anyhow? After hypnosis, Brown probes his subjects further - how much did they feel they were in control? What did they experience? - but afterwards begins to worry that a good hypnotic subject might seek to co-operate by giving answers that the hypnotist wanted to hear. Who's fooling whom? I bet Christopher Nolan could make a whole movie out of this. I'd pay to see it. Though you might find it revealing, as I did, that Brown has apparently chosen not to find out the answer simply by undergoing hypnosis himself.
Subsequent chapters deal with the "Tricks of the Mind" of the title. There's a section on NLP, which, reassuringly, turns out to be not nearly as sinister as it sounds (it reminded me a bit of "The Game" by Neil Strauss). There's a layman's overview of Scientific Method (with a somewhat idealised view of what actually goes on in the lab); there's a chapter on how we humans, even scientists, usually guess wrong when it comes to statistics; there's a section on New Age remedies, and one on fraudulent mediums and psychics. All very commendable, although there is one thing that jars throughout, and it is this. At university, it seems, Brown fell in with a charismatic wing of the Christian Union, and is now going through a phase of militant apostasy, a bit like St Paul in reverse. This is clearly a major preoccupation with him, and takes up a fair bit of the book, recurring frequently. Exasperatingly, the anti-theism extends as far as the bibliography - so Francis Wheen is in there, but there's no mention of the late, great Martin Gardner, amateur conjurer, recreational mathematician, and author of the classic, seminal text, "Fads and Fallacies".
Towards the end of the book, I'd more or less made up my mind to give it a four star review - five stars for being entertaining, and for the chapter on hypnosis, minus one star for the public crisis of faith, and the wit which sometimes feels a bit scripted. I was thinking maybe I should check out the TV show. Brown represented himself (especially in the fake psychics section) as being averse to the seamy side of the media that seeks to drag mad or inadequate people out into the glare of the spotlight for a few moments of public entertainment. So it's a pity that right at the end, he can't resist doing the same, by sharing with us some of the loopier contents of his mailbox. Look, readers! What a load of crazy wackoes! Side splitting or what? This, to me, is hypocrisy. Three and a half stars.
Essentially what you are telling us in the Memory Chapter is in the Episode of Trick or Treat where you got the guy to read a library of books by running his finger down each page for a week was complete BS? Of course there is speed reading then there's taking the piss!
There seems to be a lot of self-opinion here. If indeed the speed reading episode of Trick or Treat was 'showmanship' then what was the point and what was the point in introducing an actual method into the book?
Then we move on to NLP which is pretty much dismissed by Almighty Brown though not completely as that would understandably peeve a lot of NLPers off especially in the posh London areas where many have made businesses out of this farce :P
Maybe next time Derren a little more of the technique and less of the opinion on the stunted growth of the world through religion.
Also probably not noticed by everyone but the image of Derren on the spine has two hairs stuck up in a Derren with horns look :P
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Most recent customer reviews
His tricks are just amazing.
This book does not tell you how he does those tricks, however, it discusses the basic magic...Read more
I bought it after reading Happy by the same author, which is a good read, especially if you want to know about Stoicism.
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