Now this is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while. Now that I’m a blogger I can. And now that The Secret has been out for a while (on the shelves, I mean) I don’t have to waste my time giving you the lowdown on what the book and film is all about. You surely all know its basic premises by now: that our reality is somehow, kind of magnetically, a manifestation of our thoughts.
Where to begin? Let’s begin with the scientific. In my limited, layman’s understanding of quantum physics, it is a big leap, in fact, a total abandonment of scientific thinking, to say that because things behave in such and such a manner on a sub-atomic level, then that’s how the world of human affairs behaves, especially when it comes to who gets what. That, after all, is what The Secret is all about isn’t it? “With, without…And who’d deny it’s what the fighting’s all about?” as Pink Floyd said. We’re all just squabbling over stuff. In our simian past it was foodstuff, now it’s plastic and shiny metal stuff.
But the secret would have us consign the effects on humanity of the complex machinations of complex economic systems to meaningless footnotes in a non-judgmental, non-threatening fairy tale of how the rich got rich and the poor became poor. A fairy tale that absurdly implicates no-one except (and this is rich) the poor themselves!
It would have us turf colonial expansion and the long, tragic history of exploitation by the technologically advanced over the inferior to the dustbin, and reduce everything down to ‘visualising success’. So then…what? Belgium is full of lovely grand palaces because King Leopold visualized it and willed it to be so? No, you fools! Belgium is full of lovely grand palaces because King Leopold in his lust for ivory and rubber actively engineered the largest genocide since the Spanish and Portuguese in South America!
This is essentially one aspect that has given The Secret such impetus and so many followers: Our need to explain human evil. All religions, every single one, have sought to do this, often with disastrous consequences for humanity, for example, for Jews (ever since the death of Christ), and for women, during the Inquisition.
The Secret’s solution to this age old conundrum is that (and this I find offensive to the point where I would like cause injury) the poor, the downtrodden, the fucked over, the dispossessed, hell, even the victims of earthquakes and the like, have all attracted this to themselves. Rhonda Bhumm or whatever the fuck her name is seriously wants us to believe that it is impossible for bad things to happen just out of the blue, or because of something as complicated and inconvenient as history (or tectonic plates, for that matter). We have attracted it to us with our thoughts. This kind of delusional insanity (it is a hallmark of the clinically insane to believe their thoughts can be read by others, their thoughts can alter the course of events and a whole host of other miraculous powers they attribute to those thoughts) could only exist in a prosperous first world country where very little bad stuff happens to people, and you have a very high expectation of reaching old age, with all your stuff still in your possession and still intact.
Well lemme share something with you, Rhonda, you delusional first-world cow: SHIT HAPPENS!!! And I’ll tell you a little story from my life to illustrate, for that is the only proof you can offer for your outrageous theories in your book: unsubstantiated anecdotes.
I live in a city in Africa where the majority of people probably only own one pair of shoes and live in corrugated iron huts that wash away when it rains. I’m lucky though. I was born white. We’re all quite rich here, comparatively speaking, us whites. Our forefathers were great thinkers: lots of very positive thoughts went into the building of our wealth. Anyway, let me reign in the sarcasm and tell you about me.
I’m one of the most negative shits you’ll meet here. I sneer at the way people flaunt their wealth around. I have little or no faith in the future of this country. I hate the government and its vast army of corrupt civil servants. I hate the arrogant, brutal, thuggish police force. I think it’s futile to try to build anything of permanence on this continent. Only the pyramids prove me wrong, and fuck alone knows how they were built. I always watched over my shoulder, in the suburb I lived in when my story takes place, always expecting the worst. (My girlfriend never watched, and sure enough the worst happened.) In short, in most regards mentioned above, I am the same in outlook as I was under apartheid: mistrustful of the State, negative, and cynical. Except in those days I was constantly depressed. Now I don’t care. People must mos carry on.
On the other hand, I laugh a lot, and have tons of great friends. One of these friends is a guy called Joe. Joe lived two houses away from me. Joe is the most positive person I have ever met. Joe gets along with everyone. Seldom a negative word to say about anyone. He is like a poster boy for your book. If anyone should attract good things to them, it’s Joe, and on the whole he does. But then he had a minor break-in. Some kitchen stuff taken and some washing off the line. Par for the course in Africa. He had good burglar bars and all that. Then they tried to steal his car. He woke up and chased them away. Then they did steal his car.
In all this time (twice this length of time actually) I sit in my house two doors down, festering in my cloud of maudlin negativity, writing gloomy songs, complaining about how every second person in this country is on the lookout to see what they can steal or how they can screw you over. But I have no burglar bars or security gates. In fact I would go out for spells and leave the front door wide open. If I was out for the whole day, the back door would be wide open. Never once did anyone even attempt to steal from me. You know why Rhonda? BECAUSE MY SHIT WAS PROTECTED BY A FUCKING DOG THE SIZE OF A SMALL HORSE!!!
That’s how it works: bad shit happens because we’ve always been squabbling over shit, and if you live in a place where very few people have lots of shit, and a great many have almost fuckall, Bad Shit is going to happen, in all likelihood to you, no matter how positive you are. Our hominid-like ancestors killed each other in squabbles over yams and mammoths. We kill each other in squabbles over cell-phones and wallets. And this, Rhonda, is the nature of evil. There were tons of other types of hominid-like creatures running around but we’re here and they’re extinct because, in the fight for resources, we were the best at killing. Not so complicated at all, is it? Being brutal is in our genes. Being evil is in our blood. Were it not so we would be extinct.
The Secret is nothing more than a new religion for the age of rampant, conspicuous consumerism, this drive for Stuff. A new religion comprised, it must be added, of cobbled together bits of New Thought transcendentalist teachings that arose in late 19th century America.
“Among those giving birth to New Thought in America were Mary Baker Eddy, founding mother of Christian Science, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Ernest Holmes, and Charles Fillmore. What was "new" about New Thought at the time of its inception was its departure from Calvinistic, shame-based Christianity which taught the inherent sinfulness of man, proclaiming instead man's innate goodness and perfectibility through the use of the Divine Mind which the transcendentalists believed resided at his core,” says Carolyn Baker in her critique of this book.
Baker’s critique is most interesting in how it shows this crazy belief system to be a quintessentially American thing, so I won’t repeat what she writes. Let me instead share with you some pearls of wisdom from this daft book.
“You cannot “catch” anything unless you think you can, and thinking you can is inviting it to you with your thought. You are also inviting illness if you are listening to people talk about their illnesses.”
So all those millions and millions of people who were wiped out by the new germs the colonisers brought with them to Africa and South America died because they sat around talking about it? Right… And when we discovered germ theory, and invented cures? What? That sudden drop in deaths was because… Help me out here Rhonda…
Let’s face it: the only thing you can catch by not thinking is stupidity.
Here’s another one
“The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts. Every negative thought, feeling, or emotion is blocking your good from coming to you, and that includes money. It is not that the money is being kept from you by the Universe, because all the money you require exists right now in the invisible.”
I wonder what an economics professor would make of that last statement: it all exists right now in the invisible… What are we dealing with here? Tuppenny Feefo and Jinks by Enid Blighton?
In the DVD there is footage of a little boy visualizing his new red bicycle and… presto, there it arrives. I recall one of the people interviewed saying something to the effect of “You want that new job? Visualise it. You want that new car? Put that thought out there in the Universe.”
Well let me assure you: that poor bastard working slave wages in Korea or India making that new car, for you in the developed world, will never, no matter how much he visualizes it, own that car, or get that dream job. He can put as many shiny new red bicycles out into the universe as he likes but his kid is always going to walk to school. If the kid is lucky and both parents are working two jobs in order to send him to a better school than other kids, then maybe he has a chance in changing his material circumstances. It’s got sweet fuckall to do with visualising.
But let's suppose it does, just for a minute. Let’s suspend disbelief here, and say that hypothetically, this is the way the world works. Now let us say, hypothetically, that every adult in the world reads The Secret. Let us say, for the sake of our argument, that they all decide they want cars. And they all visualize it correctly, fulfilling the requirements of this benevolent Universe, whatever those requirements are. So now what? Who is going to make these cars? Where is the metal going to come from to make 4 billion new cars? Probably more, because, well, I’m not going to be happy with just one. I’d like two or three, because, you know, things get stolen a lot here in Africa, and since it’s all so easy…. Do you see how absurd and physically impossible this is? Once the steel is finished the steel is finished.
I’m now finished too. I’ve devoted enough of my precious magical, magnetic thoughts to this absurd kindergarten fairytale of a book. Anyway, I’m visualizing breasts right now…
For Ms Baker’s critique go to http://jwlsweblog.blogspot.com