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Habeas Blogus

Book reviews, more for my memory than anything else.

Location: Austin, Texas, United States

Monday, February 26, 2007

Keep The Secret Away From Me

Nobody had better bring me this shit. No email forwards, no suggestions over lunch, no "hey, I just thought you maybe wanted to, I don't know, improve your life or something..."

The Secret just smells like something I'm going to hear about far more than I want to.

But let me impart the thing that makes this dangerous and evil. It's from a Newsweek interview with the author, Rhonda Byrne:

"The law of attraction is that each one of us is determining the frequency that we're on by what we're thinking and feeling."

Ok, so far so good.

"If we are in fear, if we're feeling in our lives that we're victims and feeling powerless, then we are on a frequency of attracting those things to us ... totally unconsciously, totally innocently, totally all of those words that are so important."

Again, this doesn't sound bad. Here's the thing: Rhonda Byrne said this in response to a question about how villagers could have avoided being massacred in Rwanda.

Oh yeah she did. She just said that fifty children barricaded into a school then burned alive could have avoided their fate through positive thinking. She just said that half a million people who were shot and chopped up by machetes, often killed by their own neighbors, could have avoided death by thinking their way out of it.

She has seen evidence of this in her own life, she says, where "many tough things" happened to her. "The Secret" devotes several pages to the weight she gained after her pregnancies. Unaware of the law of attraction, she mistakenly believed that eating made her fat. She now recognizes her error: "Food is not responsible for putting on weight. It is your thought that food is responsible for putting on weight that actually has food put on weight."

From Rwandan genocide to the solution to the American waistline. I love the "many tough things" in quotes up there.

Normally this bullshit wouldn't even be on my radar. It would be a little blip that I would listen to politely while my folks drone on about it. Well I'm not taking it if it ever does come. This lady is now on My List, along with Paulo Coelho and, to a much lesser extent, Richard Ford: the List of people who not only mean well, who not only think that they're doing good, but who have legions of followers and apologists surrounding them and enabling to lead them further into ignorance. You don't just cast off genocide. You don't compare trying to get down to 116 pounds to hacking off the arms of small children whose "ethnic classification" is slightly different from your own.

And, aside from that madness, here's why Marcus doesn't want to hear about yet another pat answer to everything, another simple solution to all of life's problems:

Life is complicated. I like it that way. Leave me the hell alone about it, because even though you may all be right and it would actually make my life better, I love my life the way it is already. It'll get rid of my problems? Fuck you, I like my problems. I like my problems and I like my orneriness and I like my outlook on life. I like the way I handle my problems. Literature is my self-help. Reading about a man who sprouts horns after falling from the sky, or about a woman who becomes lost in the Saharan desert but finds herself in better company than when she was back home, or about the 16th president of the United States who had his own problems: all of these things help me to look at the world from a lens other than my own. This fresh hell is the same garbage we've been getting since phrenology, since bloodletting, or more recently, since What the $#*! Do We Know?

Quantum physics my ass. Believe, don't believe, just keep it the hell away from me. No debates, no contradictions, no "but don't you think--". None of it.

Read a fucking book written by someone who actually has something to say. Then we can talk.



Anonymous Corie said...

Some people just need to be gaged. Shove a good book in their hands and duct tape their mouths shut and maybe they'll learn something.

Speaking of good books, Check out "Mutant Message from Down Under" can't remember who read it but its about an American woman who goes on Walkabout with one of the last aboriginal tribes in Australia. I think you'd like it.

Tue Feb 27, 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

I hope this isn't a double-post. I've been having some problems with cookies, and I think I lost the first version of this, so I'll try to reconstruct what I said. Because I think it's important, dammit :P.

The first time I heard of The Secret was when my friend Min blogged about two separate friends who contacted her saying that she should see it; it would change her life, and she should tell all her friends. At that time, I thought it was something dodgy, like they're paying people to do 'word of mouth' marketing. Blech. But I have to say, the remarks about positive-thinking your way out of genocide are so offensive I can barely talk about it.

Tue Feb 27, 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger Zaim Bakar said...

"...a man who sprouts horns after falling from the sky, or about a woman who becomes lost in the Saharan desert but finds herself in better company than when she was back home, or about the 16th president of the United States who had his own problems"

Apologies for my literary ignorance (and for being off topic), but would you be so kind to tell me what books were you referring to? Sounds interesting :)

Mon Mar 05, 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Yeah, sorry :) My blog is usually not seen by more than 4 or 5 people, so I write to them specifically more than to a general audience.

"a man who sprouts horns" is from the Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.

"a woman who becomes lost in the Saharan desert" is from the Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles.

"the 16th president of the United States" is from Lincoln, by Gore Vidal.

Mon Mar 05, 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

Marcus, thank you.

It's really therapeutic to see someone standing up and calling this shit out.

If a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant gives ridiculously, mind-numbingly bad advice - advice so bad that it's offensive - they have to face responsibility for their actions. These "self-help gurus" are disgusting (and deeply, deeply ironic).

I'm hoping for some sort of televised debate... between the self-help "Dream Team" and someone like .

I really just can't believe that people get away with passing such arrogantly ignorant drivel off in the mainstream media. Grrrrrr...

Mon Mar 05, 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous alec said...

Do you think Oprah's head will implode from cognitive dissonance for peddling this book like cheap wares in Chinatown? Or am I just asking too much from this world?

Mon Mar 05, 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you didn't like the book?

Mon Mar 05, 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once read that by thinking "happy thoughts" and using a little pixie dust, you can fly off to Neverland.

Tue Mar 06, 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike Cane said...

Some link luv in case a Trackback fails:
More On The Secret

Tue Mar 06, 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you should learn to open your mind before you critique something. read the book. you can't just denounce an entire way of living and thinking, by one statement. I'll admit that's hard to hear, but even a good critic studies his critiques well.

Tue May 15, 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike Cane said...

The Secret: I Can’t Finish Reading It!

Tue Jun 26, 11:27:00 AM  

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