Reading Writing: Handwriting Analysis for Mentalists and Magicians
by Ariel Frailich
Published by I Saw That! Exclusive
Hardcover, 6" x 9" (15 x 23 cm), 196 pages
Reviewed by Ian Keable
One of the weirdest books in my library is Don Lawton’s Autograph Book which comprises a number of famous magicians’ autographs, complete with a page of what their signature tells us about each personality, as analysed by ‘certified graphologist’ Glenda Ross. She says in her introduction that “all have the trait of great secretiveness.” I’ve always wondered if she would have written that if she hadn’t known in advance they were magicians!
You can probably tell from the above paragraph that I’m pretty much a sceptic when it comes to analysing hand writing, or graphology, to give it its proper name. It is hard to tell whether Ariel Frailich, the author of Reading Writing, is of similar thinking. Given that he recommends restricting yourself to upbeat and positive readings (the classic advice for anybody having a go at ‘cold reading’) makes me think he probably is. If you were really 100% convinced in the authenticity of what you are analysing, then surely you should have an obligation to tell people (or at least their partner) that somebody is a cold hearted, egotistical psychopath - if that is indeed what you are ‘reading’ from the ‘writing’.
At the end of the day, however, it is the performer’s decision to determine his own moral code and the extent he wants his audience to believe he can genuinely analyse their handwriting. What is certain is this book gives you all the necessary tools to be convincing.
The first section, Graphology, explains exactly what graphology is and introduces you to the basic reading of the words (sloping letters, size of writing, pressure of pen, spacing, where they are placed on the page etc.); it also covers signatures and the tools required to do a proper analysis. This is very comprehensive, well set out and the author makes it easy to assimilate all the information, even giving you a few exercises to check on your process.
The next section, Readings, goes into more detail how to give a full reading – this is aimed at those who want to earn money exclusively from hand writing analysis; and this, and the next section on Markets, would be invaluable to anybody wanting to supplement their income in this manner.
The remaining part of the book is perhaps of most interest to magicians, as it shows how you can incorporate graphology into your magic and mind reading tricks.
With the Mentalism section, several classic plots are considered – such as Living and Dead tests, pseudo psychometry, pendulum swinging and triple predictions; and the presentation, patter and the many different methods are gone into in commendable detail. Analysing hand writing is actually fairly incidental to most of the routines; and in some ways this section is really just a series of excellent mind reading tricks that anybody into mentalism would find instructive to study.
Unsurprisingly, when we come to the Magic section, the link to graphology is even more tenuous; doing a reading of somebody’s signature in an Ambitious Card routine; getting a spectator to write down a phrase in which a picture changes; or producing a physical representation of somebody’s favourite colour, stretches the added presentational angle of analysing their hand writing to almost breaking point. Magic and graphology seem to make uneasy bed fellows.
The final section, called A Little Extra..., throws in some ‘bonus material’ (a phrase, along with ‘underground magician’, that should be banned from all magic literature) on how to analyse individual letters, which could easily have been included in the first section. Finally there is information on how to interpret the drawing of a tree – apparently a genuine psychological test – together with a trick, by Jeff Hinchliffe, to make use of this skill.
Reading Writing is illustrated with many examples of hand writing to assist your understanding of the techniques taught; and the style and layout makes it an easy read. The author clearly knows his subject and is very good with his credits. In summary it is highly recommended for anybody wanting to use graphology, either as a stand-alone skill, or as an adjunct to their mind reading repertoire.
Published by I Saw That! Exclusive Magic
Hardcover, 6" x 9" (15 x 23 cm), 196 pages
Suggested retail price: £37.00
Available from the publisher and through magic shops
© Ian Keable, April 2013