Thursday, 10 September 2009

786 - Derren Brown Quote

I missed the show last night, where he correctly predicted the lottery numbers, and will miss tomorrow's, where he explains how he achieved his act. But I've been reading Derren Brown's 2006 book, Tricks of the Mind, where he makes clear his theory that the magic in a performance occurs after the performance itself, in our increasingly contorted attempts to reconstruct just exactly what happened.

So for my money, the performance is still continuing, and whatever explanation is given on Friday will, at least in part, take into account whatever everyone is saying about Wednesday's show here and now. Perhaps he has several explanations up his sleeve, and will choose to reveal the one, or ones, that have maximum impact on the day....

As he, like me, was a naive Christian at university, and as he, like me, still appreciates the 'still small voice of loveliness' (Tricks of the Mind, p. 8) at the heart of humanity, but is, like me, prepared to ditch absolutely everything that religion has to offer, I've got an awful lot of time for him. He'd probably agree that the way he has structured his performance this week bears more than passing resemblance to the Christian story, which has its people in a 'not yet' phase of believing, after the Christ event and before Judgement Day - in other words, at a point in time where the magic is still being elaborated in the mind of the witnessing community.

But I didn't come online in order to write that, just to record a quote from his book that I particularly like and will want to return to. It's this (pp. 116-7):

It is a shame that mnemonics are not taught in schools. The Renaissance replaced the love of the imaginary with a love of reason, and the art of memory, which had become associated too often with magic, began to die out. Later, during the Victorian period, science and information become paramount, and education became about rote learning and unimaginative repetition. As important as these shifts were towards embracing reason over superstition, they have meant we now have to rediscover memory techniques for ourselves. There is also a notion held by many teachers that education should be about understanding and reasoning rather than memorization, and that the latter is a poor substitute for the former. While that may be true when viewed from some angles, it does not take into account the fact that for a student the ability to memorize information is of essential importance, and the majority of students seem to value it at least as importantly as what might be seen as the 'higher' faculties. Especially in the case of younger children, learning such systems can clearly be an enormous confidence-booster and can make preparation for tests much more enjoyable.

I think this insight applies to storying as much as to memory skills. It's about the role of the imagination at the heart of what makes us tick, to which our current society plays lip-service, but not much more...

Hence the rarity of events like last night's on the telly. But maybe things are changing?

No comments: