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Friday, April 27th, 2007

Time Event
4:19p
Clap your hands if you believe ...
Ah, poor Tinkerbell ... I'm afraid that if it came down to me, she'd have been toast. And, that's the key problem I had with this book. Now, those of you who follow my reading via these reviews (or my main journal) are asking yourself "What the heck is Brendan doing reading something from Oprah's list?", and I've had to ask myself that several times as well while working through this one. If, however, you are a regular reader, you'll recall that I have been in a long, frustrating, and seemingly futile search for paying employment over the past ... well, lets just say very long time. I was venting about this situation at a close family friend's wake (yeah, I know), and an acquaintance that I hadn't seen for the better part of 30 years was fervent in her recommendation of Rhonda Byrne's book The Secret, and I'm just desperate enough that I figured it was as good a use of my time as cranking out another hundred resumes that will be summarily round-filed by assorted HR drones.

Of course, The Secret is exactly the sort of book that I would, in the normal flow of events, simply mock. However, having had at least a second-hand rave presented to me as to its usefulness (the gal knew this elderly couple who were even in a worse hole that we are and who managed to "use this" to change everything around in a matter of months), I dove in. Now, this is not a bad book, and has a reasonably interesting structure, being built around blurbs by assorted "new age success guru" types, and interspersed with quotes from sources ranging from the Bible and Buddha to Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein, all of which do seem to be pointing to the same "secret". As I was telling a newage bookstore owner a couple of days ago, these "references" did manage to keep my "BS meter" in check while reading this.

So, you're itching to know "The Secret", right? OK .. here ya go: "You need to feel good and really believe that you already have whatever it is you're focusing on" ... that being a bit condensed and paraphrased, but the essential thrust of the book. Sounds just ducky, doesn't it? Why, I'll go right out and write all those checks that I've been holding off on because ... because ... because ... oh, DRAT!, the reality of my checking account balance just intruded and ruined everything! I guess I don't have "perfect belief" (and I now feel like crap).

And there be the rub ... or rubs, actually. See, first of all, this stuff doesn't work unless you are a Happy Shiny People type ... depressed? sad? stressed? angsty? ... well, too bad for you, Mr. Pouty-Face ... no Unlimited Abundance from the Universe for you! ... no, you have to "snap out of it" and be HAPPY! Now, if anybody reading this has ever had to deal with depression, how useful was it to be told (not that the book puts it in those words, but that's the essence) to "snap out of it"? Not very, right? In fact, that approach is pretty much counter-productive from what I've ever seen/heard/experienced. But, "The Secret" doesn't work unless "you turn that frown upside down!".

OK, so, just for argument's sake, say that your "staring into the abyss" sort of guy manages to painfully wrest some twisted facsimile of a smile (ala Christina Ricci's brilliant portrayal of Wednesday Adams) out of the deep morose depths of his IRL existence, what then? Ah ... believing that what you want is already yours, and acting like what you want is already yours. Now, I'm not angling for a car, I'm not angling for a house, I'm trying to get a job that I wouldn't hate, or, better yet, a huge sum of money (they say the "how" doesn't matter, and that it is "as easy" to manifest a million dollars as a single dollar, so I picked a hundred million dollars as nice round figure) to manifest. What am I supposed to do, show up at some random office at 8:30am and plop myself down in an empty cubicle? Start kiting checks as in the above? What? Well, obviously, I don't have good enough "belief".

And that's the second real ball-buster about "The Secret" ... if you don't believe well enough, not only will Tinkerbell die, but you won't get the goodies. This reminds me of Xtian fundamentalists who suddenly turn on their own when they're found with gay hookers or a briefcase full of blow ... "they weren't real Christians!" is the typical cop-out. Well, just as how the fundies cut-and-run from any "Christian" who has the bad luck to get caught, it seems like "The Secret" only works for those who clap real hard and chant that they believe. If you don't get the stuff your heart desires, well, sorry, Skippy, I guess you should have wiped the prints off the steering wheel when you took that unscheduled test drive of the BMW.

Oddly enough, I didn't hate this book. It's well enough written, has interesting stuff from interesting people, is quite attractively designed, and avoids being newage treacle for the most part ... it's just that the logic of it seems to be lacking, and that only like 1/10th of 1% of the people reading this would be able to do the mental gyrations to not only deny the factual realities of their current existence enough to generate the necessary internal emotional state for this "to work", and walk the tight-rope between a delusional level of belief in having something they don't and getting thrown in jail for acting on that delusion! This has, of course, practically become a cult, with videos, audios, and a web site (where you can download "blank checks" from the "Universal Bank (Un)Limited" to better visualize money manifesting), so a lot of folks are no doubt buying into it.

Maybe I'm too far down towards the Pits of Hell for this stuff to be any good for me ... if you want to have a go at The Secret, you can barely walk past a bookstore without getting hit over the head with it. Amazon has it for 40% off of cover, but the new/used guys are asking almost that, so you're looking at discounted retail on this one. Again, it wasn't a bad book just something that seems to have too damn many caveats to really get me on board.


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