Magician and mentalist Alain Nu calls himself “The Man Who Knows.” If your immediate response to that statement is “…what you did last summer,” then welcome to the grumpy smartarse club, but cast your weary cynicism aside for a moment, because the guy has some serious magic chops.
In an interesting interview with the Washington Post, Nu outlined what is either a sincerely held philosophy or an immaculately maintained element of his performance persona. Mentalists, man. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
So what is it that Nu “knows?” Well, for a start he knows that every person is “connected in a strange, mysterious, invisible way.” That sounds like a bold claim, but it’s technically true. We are all connected, albeit socially, emotionally, intellectually and perceptually rather than in the spooky, spoon-bending way the wording implies. The truth of the statement is a matter of perception, and Nu has been playing silly buggers with people’s perception for the best part of 40 years. He uses the language of philosophy and neuroscience to keep his work intriguing and his world view nebulous. Does he buy into his own a act, or is he saying things that are technically true? Does that even matter if the audience believes it? Like I said, mentalists, man.
Here’s another thing Nu “knows:” “pretty much anything that you think about can become reality.” That one seems ludicrous until he gets into the nitty gritty of what constitutes “reality.” As he says later in the interview:
The tricks that I do can be very, very deep and may actually manifest something that is very real. And they give the audience the option of believing it into existence — or not. Oftentimes I don’t even know why that thing took place. There’s a gray area in which I ask the audience to believe in it. And when it works, it’s perfect, it’s a beautiful thing. I want to experience the inexplicable just as much as my audience does.
I strongly suggest you give the rest of the interview a read. It goes into Nu’s numerous influences and his start in the magic business. Even if it’s all just part of his shtick, it’s interesting stuff.
If you’d like to see The Man Who Knows live, he performs live shows at The Watergate Hotel’s rooftop restaurant and Kingbird restaurant on Tuesday evenings and during Sunday brunch hours respectively. Or check out his website for more info.