JACK TRUE IN CONVERSATION
JACK TRUE AND THE MAGIC THEATER
OCTOBER 22, 2011. Here is another interview with Jack True, my late friend and colleague, hypnotherapist extraordinaire.
This conversation contributed to the eventual creation of the Magic Theater.
Q (Jon): Talk about the word “identity.”
A (Jack): It’s a poor word, a lousy word, a deceptive word, a meaningless word—because it seems to encompass the whole individual. If a patient “loses his identity,” he’s got nothing left. He’s in a vacuum. That’s nonsense. He doesn’t lose his identity. I prefer “role.” There are many roles. You can pick one and act it out, and if you don’t like it, you can throw it away and pick another one. There is no “identity.” It’s a phony word, in this context.
Q: So in hypnotherapy, you don’t fool around with “identity.”
A: Of course not. I sometimes present a stage, a theater, though. It’s a space where the patient can picture anything he wants to. It’s open. It invites creative action. It has characters on it. Not mine, the patient’s. A stage gives you real experience.
Q: An example?
A: The patient invents a scene. Let’s say he puts a mother up there arguing with her son. Drama. Then, a few stragglers show up and mill around. Then, a tiger walks out on the stage and starts talking.
Q: A tiger?
A: Sure, why not? You have something against tigers? He talks about his life, or he talks about the price of coffee, or he talks about the mother and the son. I’m not doing any of this, you understand? I’m not making any suggestions. The patient is. He fleshing out the scene. Some remarkable things happen. Often, it’s fun. The patient feels liberated. He can populate a stage with characters.
Q: Sounds a little like Psychodrama.
A: Yes, but you see, the patient picks the roles. And there is no way to know why. Or what connections exist to him, if any. It’s wide open. Just like existence. Why hem it in. We have whole universes to play with. Once I had a man who staged a whole Central American revolution on stage, in his imagination. As I recall it was secretly bankrolled by Coca Cola. He was laughing much of the time. He had CIA people moving in and out, KGB, Chinese spies, ETs. It was like a Bosch painting reworked by Groucho Marx. At the next session, he told me he’d just had the happiest week of his life.
Q: Opening up things.
A: Of course. That’s the whole point. You invent characters and you have them talk to each other and do things to each other. I picture it as a kind of tinker-toy set expanding out of the mind. A set of characters. It’s the change from mono-theme, which is the setting of the mind under usual circumstances, one theme, one attitude, one circle of emotions you play over and over—you extend mind with characters popping out all over the place. You theatricalize the mind, and the mind seems to want that, seems to have been waiting for it.
Q: The word “mono-theme.” That strikes me as very important.
A: Well, that’s what mind tends to do, see. It takes one central viewpoint and everything comes out from there. It’s like the mouth of a trumpet. All the music comes out there. Mono-sound. And then, and this is the revolution, you change that. Instead, the person invents characters, roles. All sorts of roles. Any roles. King, peasant, slacker, alien, ant, fly, tiger, tree that talks, rock that talks, sky, a cloud, a piece of gold, whatever. And there is no formula for picking these roles.
Q: Now, is the patient under hypnosis when he does this?
A: He’s in a light trance, which is to say he’s relaxed, he isn’t thinking about ordinary stuff.. He’s in an easy frame of mind. But I’m not making any suggestions to him then. I’m not telling him what stage to invent or what characters to choose. None of that.
Q: You’re making basic assumptions about reality?
A: Damn right I am. I’m assuming that people live in a shrunken reality, much narrower than they want. But there they are. And this is a problem. You might say it is THE problem. From it flow all sorts of difficulties. So I’m setting the stage for people to open up that narrow reality. I’m encouraging that tendency. I’m opening the windows so more light and air can come in. Look at it this way. A guy goes into his garage and sees his old hopeless car. Lots of things wrong with it. He fixes this, he fixes that, he hopes the car will last. He tries to hold on to that car for as long as he can. So what is he thinking about? The one car. The only car. But instead, I introduce him to another garage in which there are 100 cars. Bang. Everything changes. Well, this is the mind. It tends to focus on a limited number of things. It works those things over, and eventually the mind feels there is a cloud of a problem looming overhead. Why? For no other reason than it is focusing on a very limited number of things, possibilities, ideas. The things themselves really aren’t the problem, although the person certainly thinks so. No. The problem is the narrow focusing. The constant massaging of the same material, the same old stuff. Over and over. So I open all that up. I set the stage so the person can imagine and invent 30 new things. On a stage. Characters interacting. Some characters stay, others disappear. It doesn’t matter. Nobody’s keeping score. No rules.
Q: At first, this seems counter-intuitive.
A: Yeah, because the person has the habit of massaging six things in his mind over and over. But then the light dawns. He can invent characters, personae, roles. He can do it. He can do it without concern for plot or story or tight definition. He can just do it willy-nilly.
Q: So his mind relaxes.
A: It relaxes and it becomes more active, more adventurous, more imaginative. The patient feels this happening.
Q: From problem-consciousness to creative consciousness.
Q: Is reduction ever the answer?
A: Sure, if you’re engraving somebody’s name on a plaque. You concentrate on that and nothing else. But generally speaking, no. Some people suggest that if you can reduce thought and mind to zero you’ll be fine. Better than fine. Well, let’s say you could do that. Then what? Sooner or later you’re going to have to create. You’re going to want to create. And that’s where reduction doesn’t work. You’ll create one thing and one thing only? No. Create widely, with energy. The political destination of the power elite in this world is reductionism as a philosophy. But not for themselves. For everyone else. It’s a con. It’s a game wherein they try to convince people to shrink. As if shrinking is the answer. Shrinking is never the answer. Shrinking creates the apparent necessity of groups. The individual is submerged. That’s ludicrous. It’s theater with no theater. It’s like religion. See, religion is making a bet. It’s betting that the imagination involved in its stories are enough, are enough for the masses, are enough for the masses to say, “Well, I can’t imagine any kind of theater better than the theater in these religious stories, so I’ll stick with the Last Supper and Jonah and the Whale.” That’s what it all comes down to. It’s silly. But there it is. The bet. And I’m betting on the opposite thing. That a person can come up with stuff that makes those coagulated religious mass-stories look like child’s play. And I’ve been proven right. And when that happens, the patient becomes more joyful, more flexible, more alive. I like that. I like to see that.
Q: You’re running your own theater.
A: Yeah, I guess I am. The theater of expansion.
Q: When you have a patient, and he’s doing this kind of theater you describe, does it matter whether it’s tragedy or comedy?
A: That’s an interesting question. Here’s what I’ve found. If a patient starts out with sadness and gloom, if he keeps going long enough, if he keeps populating the stage with more characters, things get lighter after a while. It happens because he’s offloading reductionism and shrunken realities. He’s getting rid of that, and so his mood lightens. Things become more juicy and alive. He’s feeling his oats. He’s flexing his creative muscles.
Q: And that affects his state of mind and his feelings.
A: I told you, some time ago, that I stopped doing traditional hypnosis with patients, because I found that most of them were already in a hypnotic state. Some part of them was already in trance and reacting to old suggestions. At that point, my job was to figure out how to reverse the hypnotic state that was already there, was already in place. The answer was: get them to create. Get them to imagine. That reverses a hypnotic state. A hypnotic state is a state of reduced mind. Traditionally, a trance is induced to prepare a person for suggestions. But he’s already acting and thinking on the basis of suggestions. So what good does it do to add more crap to the pile?
Q: From an elite-control point of view, you’d want a whole population in a trance, so you could run their behavior through suggestions.
A: Yes, and that’s already happening. Media are the instrument for conveying suggestions. So our job is not to swat all the suggestions like flies. There are too many of them. Our job is to eliminate the trance. But even that isn’t enough. Because a person who just woke up needs more. He needs an overall direction. He needs a way to approach life. The approach is imagination and creating. But you see, you don’t create much if you don’t use imagination. Imagination gives you new avenues along which you can create.
Q: That kind of knocks out the idea of revelation.
A: Revelation is something you see suddenly. Something you never saw before. So suppose I could snap my fingers and make you experience a revelation. Then where would you be? You’d be sitting there seeing something fantastic. For how long? A minute? An hour? And then what? You only know seeing. (laughs) Get it? That’s all you know. Seeing. And then what you’re seeing fades out. And then you’re just there. You don’t have anything to do. People have a confusion about this. They think if they see something new, it’s all they need. That’s baloney. They need to imagine and create, because that’s endless.
Q: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall any religion with that doctrine.
A: (laughs) That doctrine would be a sure-fire way to empty out the churches.
Q: Maybe we need to start a religion.
A: The Church of Create Your Ass Off.
To inquire about the first Magic Theater workshop in San Diego, December 10-11, contact me at the above email.