Can You Keep A Secret?

Remember when you were a kid?  Sure you do. 

I'm equally sure that you can recall a time when you knew that a friend of yours was keeping a secret - and you were dying to know what it was.  Well, after weeks of thinking about it, you found out that this friend of yours had told somebody else, but sworn them to secrecy.  You then tracked down this secret-keeping associate and tried every angle that you could think of to get it out of them, but they wouldn't crack...damn their principled eyes!

By now, of course, you had collected other little bits of information that allowed you to guess at the nature of the secret, but you still lacked confirmation.

So, you resorted to employing a tool that every scoundrel has tried at least once in his life - the bluff! 

"Hey Chris, what is all this I hear about you and Molly?"

"Where did you hear that?"

"Oh!?  Johnny told me.  He's been telling everyone."

"That dirty rat!  I told him that in confidence!"

Confirmation achieved.  And from the mouth of the unsuspecting maroon himself.

That'll learn him.  No good lowdown chump sharing secrets with other friends, but not you!

So, let's flash forward to the present day and to the field of mentalism in particular.  What has this particular example to do with anything at all?

I'll tell you:  The Portugal Notes by Peter Turner. 

The Portugal Notes can be summarized in one sentence - Get someone to confirm what you already think is true.

I'm not joking here when I tell you that the man has made an ingenious method that relies upon essentially the same lowdown, swindling, unprincipled cad approach that I just outlined above.  And because the participant doesn't realize that they have shared their secret with anyone, what is presented appears as transcendent as it is sublime. 

Now don't get me wrong here:  to me, lowdown, swindling, and unprincipled are some of my highest forms of praise.  And Peter's text deserves high praise indeed.

Of course, there is more to this book than I intimated above - Peter guides you along a tour of the conscious thought process and script changes required as you perform, and he shares specific formulae required to achieve the results that he so beautifully demonstrates in "The Portugal Video" that started it all last summer.

When I first saw Pete's Portugal video, I remember being struck with how directly he appeared to read the mind of the young woman he worked with.  His ease of presentation made it the performance all the more credible, and having read his book, I know now that Peter's easy confidence came from the thorough understanding of the system he has created. 

As anyone who has read any of my books can attest, I always appreciate mentalism and mind reading that can be performed with apparently no preparation or props, because I find that--when presented correctly--it can leave the audience with a more personal connection to the performance than if I have to fiddle with objects.

When you can do this, in essence, the only prop is the participant themselves.  Some people will buy an item and spend years mastering the prop.  Peter has bypassed the idea of purchasing something that comes in shiny packaging and has taken to mastering his interaction with the human props in front of him.

I'm a chess player.  As White, I play the Queen's Gambit.  I'll play it accepted or declined or flatly ignored.  I have played this opening over five hundred times.  I win with it an awful lot.  It makes sense to me because I understand that what I am fighting for is based on what my opponent does.  Am I taking the center and holding it to the last?  Am I building an insufferable pawn chain and trading out my Bishops for his Knights so that I am the only one with mobility?  Am I opening the flank on the side of the board opposite to the one in which he has deployed all his pieces? 

Part of the reason that I know this opening so well is that when I first learned it, I took the time after each move to ask myself "Why did the guy on the other side of the board just do that?"  Every time I played, I kept notation and would review a loss or the mechanics of the win. 

Peter has done this with people, and "The Portugal Notes" is his treatise on the whats and whys of people as a stereotype.

He then took all that he had learned and boiled it down to a formulaic process, not unlike a chess opening.  At certain points, the moves may change, but the end goal remains the same.  As this is the case, you will have to take time to learn this system.  I hate to say it requires memorization.  What it really requires is mastery.

Memorization can be easy, all it takes is practice.  Mastery will require constant performance with the aim of gaining an understanding of the nuances associated within the process.

I genuinely believe that this is why the price tag is so high for the 72 pages in this book.  I think Peter wants you to treat this with respect.  Don't be tempted to just read this and set it aside.  Try it out.  And then try it again.  And then once more.  And make notes.  And then tweak your performance and try it again and again and watch your confidence grow.

If you bought something else for such a high price, you wouldn't simply look it over and then set it aside.  You'd recognize that you have a high end piece of quality gear and you'd take the time to make what you had in front of you workable.

I'm still working with this system myself, and I've made a few minor changes to suit my needs, but it really is a high end bit of thinking from a kid that must have wormed quite a few secrets out of his friends.

I'm just glad he has decided to share one of his own.



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