Monday, 27 May 2013

Derren Brown creates "religious experience..."

Derren Brown, Master Showman.
The fact that the new arch deacon of British atheism even contemplates the idea of creating  religious
experiences in people might seem contradictory or at best inflammatory to some people. But, as most faithful readers of this blog will know the leap is not such a strange one at all.

Here at the Illuminated Showman we believe the archetype of the Showman to have originated in the Shaman. The Shaman was a leader figure from a time so far back there was no separation between the societies' roles of priest and doctor. The shaman served as both of these. He, or she, was also, at heart, what we here on this blog  call Showmen, with a capital S. Someone who knows there is real power in the actions of Showmen. Real powers which can create real change in real people that will make positive contributions to the Crowds who experience them and hence in the world at large.

In light of this, the fact that Derren Brown uses the Craft of Showmanship to create a genuine religious experience in a devoted atheist, is not such an unlikely event. There is no doubt that Derren Brown is a Master Showman and that he wields his Craft in the most effortless and powerful way. To such an extent that in the beginning of his career even yours truly, found himself taken in by his expertly way of creating the illusion of giving away the Methods to his Effects. I too thought that surely this man is something other, perhaps something more, than a conjurer. With such fabulous confidence he presents his unique take on mentalism that it becomes almost unrecognisable as magic. His blend of psychological subtleties and magic and hypnotism is very fine indeed.

As I have written about, in detail, there is great power in lies. There is no particular bestowed upon things simply because they are true. (Unless you count the results created by science based medicine vs the medicine which is called alternative medicine. A medicine which would fall in under the domain of fellow craftsmen of Showmanship.) Truth has no added power because of its truthiness. Unless the person is a staunch rationalist which would be moved by "truth" in similar ways people might be moved or biased by god, crystal healing, or homeopathy.
Derren Brown is a Showman and he performs "tricks" but that does not make his powers any less real. The emotions of the woman which is "converted" in the video below is real. She has what would be described as a religious experience by any person leaning in that direction. Since she is not religious she has trouble classifying it. What do we atheists and Showmen of all denominations and sexes call this type of experience?

I have had such an experience. Entering the lobby of the Natural History Museum in New York City I was moved to tears by the enormous display of dinosaurs in the grand hall of science. A predator attacking a giant Brachiosaurus with a child and the mother rearing up in defense. It is a stunning depiction of the world of the Deep Past.
To me the well of emotion, the deep connection, the perspective - rendering me feeling as unique yet insignificant as a snowflake - was so powerful and so real it made me cry. There is no doubt, if I was a believer I would call it a religious experience. A deeply felt experience of god's creation. But since I am not a believer it was instead a real experience of the real world.

It is a great show and I hope you enjoy it.

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