In the world of publishing, a self-help author who manages to stop after one book is as rare as a poet who gets booked onto Larry King.
And, the winner for best sentence in a blogpost I've read this week, M. J. Rosenberg's dis of Pam Gellar through the mention of a blog post by Robert Wright in the Times on Jeffery Goldberg's recent cheerleading for war between Israel and Iran:
Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, "The Power":
In his next post, he writes about a vicious Islamophobe called Pam Gellar, who he aptly calls, a "lunatic racist" but begins by noting that the crazed Gellar once called him a nasty name. (This is like writing a piece on Jeffrey Dahlmer but pegging it to the fact he once called you fat).
Take the erstwhile Australian television producer Rhonda Byrne, whose monumental 2006 bestseller The Secret laid bare “the law that determines the complete order in the Universe, every moment of your life, and every single thing you experience.” Following that—and The Secret Gratitude Book (2007) and The Secret Daily Teachings (2008)—what more was there to say?
This is easy, since she tends to say the same thing over and over. The Power is a distillation of the central insight of The Secret: the “law of attraction.” It’s still true, apparently, that you can get anything you want, from parking spots to cures for obscure diseases, just by wishing for them and pretending they are already in your possession...Enough, it turns out, to half fill the 250 extremely small pages of her new opus, The Power, which the day after publication this week ranked in the top five on Amazon. This was in spite of Byrne’s apparent refusal to give interviews or publicize the book in any way, a subject of some speculation in publishing circles. It’s easy to dismiss someone like Byrne as a marginal crackpot, but The Secret has 19 million copies in print, according to her publisher, Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. To put it another way, about eight times as many people shelled out money for Rhonda Byrne’s thoughts as listen to Glenn Beck’s for free (in an average week). Maybe we ought to pay more attention to what she has to say.
Or maybe you can’t, since it’s gibberish, but all you really need to take away from Byrne is that “feelings” are everything that matters in life. The “power” of the title is the power of love, the mainspring of the universe. A good part of The Power describes how Byrne greets each blessed moment with overwhelming love and gratitude toward all creation. You can do that even if you haven’t been collecting royalties on tens of millions of books and DVDs, as she has. But it’s also a crucial prerequisite for her future success, or anyone’s, since what you put out in love, “the Universe” pays back in wish fulfillment.
This of course is the essence of spiritual - heck garden variety materialism. It is a sad commentary on our times that a prescription for what is ailing people materially, as well as psychologically and spiritually is some kind of materialist narcissism.
No, it's not all about me. Or you. What I want and what I get and how I can help all beings are not necessarily connected to each other.
(Thanks once again to the inimitable P.Z. Myers.)