A friend of mine told me he paid a rather absurd sum for a very short book. It’s out of print, an instructional manual.
The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading by Ian Rowland.
I found a copy for myself and compulsively read it when I am tired of all the other things I have to read – it doesn’t lend itself to a cover-to-cover type of treatment. The book is a how-to guide on making yourself into a tarot card reader or psychic – using talking cues and techniques to get someone to tell you about themselves, and to say things that sound like their personalities and lives.
It’s nice to know, actually, that there is a technique. I went to a psychic once because it was “free” that day – I was walking home from the grocery store and had my palm read by a woman in her living room while children made noise in the other room. She told me a couple very vague platitudes, and let know she would get more specific for 15 dollars. I walked out feeling great that I was going to do something “creative” with my life.
Probably the most interesting thing that I have found so far in the book is Rowlands’ insistence that you can tell someone that there were life choices that they made, and they spend some time thinking about what would have happened if they chose another path. This is, of course, profoundly true. Decision making is the curse of mankind – all this damned free will that we don’t know what to do with. We are all thinking about our Robert Frost-ian selves, and wondering if that other path would have made a better kind of difference, rather than “all the difference.”
I’m not going to buy any tarot cards any time soon. Well – maybe I will, actually. But I’m not going to be opening up a psychic booth at a county fair any time soon – partly because I’m only halfway through the book, but also because I don’t know how I’d feel putting on a charlatan act of truth when I don’t know any better than the person whose palm lines I’m pretending to read. It’s nice to pretend, though.