Matthew Holtzclaw and Prakash Puru practice classic sleight-of-hand and "mentalism"--to the disbelief of fellow Fortnight contributor, singer Tamar Korn.
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"Magic happens in your mind," says magician Matt Holtzclaw to an astonished Tamar Korn. An apocryphal Italian magician by the name of Girolamo Scotto allegedly performed the first recorded act of "mentalism," or performative intuition, at court in 1572 (a renowned Venetian printer of the exact same name died that year).
Clairvoyance sparked imaginations the world over during the Spiritualism religious movement. Originating in the teachings of a Swede, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), Spiritualist ideas soon reached a 19th century America that was already consumed with Christian revivalism. In 1848, sisters Kate and Margaret Fox of Hydesville, New York claimed to have elevated their basic psychic powers (psychic powers being recognized at the time to include clairvoyance, telepathy and precognition) to necromancy. Disbelief followed: By the 1920s, master magician Harry Houdini (1874-1926) joined forces with Scientific American to expose the fraudulent, staged practices of such mediums. Curiously, the Society of American Magicians now holds an annual Halloween séance to contact Houdini—their former President—on the anniversary of his October 31st death.
Today, mainstream magic has again embraced "mentalism." Magicians such as Derren Brown (b. 1971) conduct séances to demonstrate the psychological and technical details of original Spiritualist parlor tricks to popular audiences.
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