Oh Holy Hell, nothing gets me as riled up as The Secret. So let’s go there. First of all, I need to confess that I am an occasional dabbler in the New Age arts (aka bogus witchcraft). I am, I admit, a foul weather witch and when I’m waiting to hear back after a particularly promising job interview, I try and use the power of positive image-based thinking to draw goodness into my life. This is the essence of The Secret according to the promotional videos I’ve watched on Youtube.
Now, I don’t have any serious problems with middle aged women trying to spearhead their own destinies and uproot their negative thinking patterns. That’s all fabulous. But I do resent it when I see charlatan spiritual leaders banking millions on the misery of America’s moms.
For a couple of decades the New Age movement has been positing itself as the antidote to organized religion. Organized Religion, viewed from the lens of the New Age, is stodgy, old fashioned, superstitious, and thoroughly un-spiritual. What’s bothering me is the fact that there is nothing more organized, more old-fashioned, more superstitious, and more un-spiritual thanThe Secret.
It’s old-fashioned, after all, in a couple of ways. For one, there is nothing more vintage than a classic con. In the good old days we had charlatans moving from town to town selling tonics that were supposed to cure all your ails. They couldn’t explain how they worked, but they had the confidence of experts, and thus didn’t have to. Plus, they banked on the “might as well” attitude of the buyer. After all, if the tonic does even half of what it’s supposed to, it’s worth the three pennies I was saving for my son Jedediah’s new wooden leg.
In a similar vein, the secret is simple. It’s not that expensive to buy a new book. The font is big and it won’t take me as long to read as say, the Bible… if it even does half of what it promises (and it promises to give me financial happiness, spiritual fulfillment, and romantic/sexual satisfaction) then I’ll be real happy with this purchase.
It is also old fashioned in that it draws for itself a long and rich lineage. All the great thinkers in the whole of human history have been avid practitioners of The Secret, according to their official website. This is a great selling point. Hell, it is a similar form of branding that’s gotten me to buy about seven Moleskine notebooks over the past three years. Da Vinci had one? I’m all over this shit!
Now let’s move to superstitious. Positive Visualization, argues Rhonda Byrne, the filthy rich, bleach-blond crook behind The Secret, draws positive results. How does it work? Well, don’t worry about that. You see, in one of the greatest feats of rhetoric this writer has ever witnessed, Rhonda tells us that, hey, you don’t know how electricity works and yet it still enhances your life, right? Right? Right????
Actually Rhonda, because I went to High School I do have a pretty basic grasp of how electricity works. And furthermore, I’m 100 percent sure that anyone who would deign to write a book about electricity would know exactly how it works. But that’s because electricity is real, and there is something to know.
At the end of the day, there is nothing inThe Secret that will hurt you. It’s all harmless junk. Think positively and your life will improve. It’s simple. In fact, it’s the simple wisdom that’s dogged us since we were kids. Think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. She had the power all along. She didn’t need a Wizard. In fact, the Wizard was a phony.
So why the heck are we giving our money to some skank behind the curtain?