Before I make fun of something, I usually try to understand it. Not today! I refuse to read The Secret or watch the DVD of it or look up the Oprah shows devoted to it. So I’m doomed to a life of failure and thwarted dreams. At least I have a blog from which to issue half-assed judgments. What does Rhonda Byrne have? A few million bucks, a tan, and accusations that she stole The Secret from a psychic who lives in an RV and channels the spirit of some guy who knows everything.
From press coverage (skimmed and snorted at), it all looks silly. The book/DVD is obviously a millennial version of The Power of Positive Thinking, which I made the mistake of reading years ago. I’m not saying that positive thinking is a bunch of crap, per se. Better a loving, caring, receptive, hopeful attitude than a fearful, sniping, rigid, bitter one. Being responsibly generous makes more sense than sewing money into your pockets. Thinking good thoughts about your health probably beats keeping a hearse on stand-by. But to quote someone other than Norman Vincent Peale, shit happens, man.
One of the shits that happens is that sooner or later, books full of fatuous bromides top the nonfiction bestseller list. If you can distill some long-proven principle like The Golden Rule into a simplistic philosophy with a big, obvious hook, you too can make a millionaire ass of yourself by going public with it. Take a couple hundred pages to say “what goes around comes around” and give it a catchy title. Promise material wealth, and you’re gold, baby. Law of Attraction, shmaw of shmattractshmion. (Hmmm... it won’t be easily mocked....)
I remember when pre-eminent New Age philosopher Ken Wilber wrote about his wife’s death from cancer. They’d both been proponents of the idea that “we create our own reality,” until reality itself created a deadly tumor right in her brain. It was unexplainable within their old paradigm, and in order to be compassionate through her dying days, they had to give it up and admit that, well, maybe it wasn’t some wayward sliver of carcinogenic negativity that infected her POV. Maybe illness isn’t all about burning off karma from past lives, either. Maybe any number of wifty little theories about co-creation and personal responsibility are or aren’t true. But let’s see how well we can live our lovingkindness and Be Here Now. This shit is cancer, and it happens even to the most spiritually evolved.
The boulevard of broken dreams is littered with people who thought for positive-sure they were creating an entirely different reality. A study should be done to determine if adherents to The Law of Attraction achieve financial success, marital contentment, etc. at higher rates than the average nattering nabob. The criteria would have to be objectively measurable, cuz one thing’s for sure: Positive thinkers will lie their asses off.
For me, The Law of Attraction is this: Petite, dark, curvy women exert a power that I am just about helpless to resist. This has been so from the time my testes dropped and I cannot explain it. By “petite,” I mostly mean short. But there’s also a certain delicacy -- little bird-bone hands and a way of moving that suggests a small amount of wine swirling in a bell-shaped glass. Dark eyes so big they make the face look small. And ideally, a thick mane of dark Sephardic kink.
The first time I saw my petite, dark, curvy, curly darling was a moth-to-flame moment. That she was sensitive, hilarious, Thoreau-quoting and a great writer/kisser/cusser ultimately torched me. The first apprehension is somatic and kinetic, though, and this kind of physicality embodies a particular feminine archetype. Nell Carter’s a fatty, and I don’t care. When I saw how light on her feet she was, it was all over. Closer to the center of the camp, the "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"-era Elizabeth Taylor. Natalie Wood, sort of. Helena Bonham Carter? Don’t even start. My fireplug ninth-grade Spanish teacher. My tenth-grade typing teacher, although she lacked pudge. Penelope Cruz is at the skinniness and height limit for the archetype, but in “Abre Los Ojos” (the original “Vanilla Sky”), she’s it. Ming-Na should be chubbier and less wholesome, but still. Even Jennifer Lopez, whose mystique is long gone, but who undeniably Got Back, Baby.... And if Salma Hayek walks into my office right now and orders me to buy The Secret, I’ll ask her to accompany me to Waldenbooks. Not the one across the street, but in Mexico.
I have some kind of radar for the soma-type. We were at B’nai Jehudah temple last night for the pre-K play (Jonah’s an alumnus of this storied theater program, and all the alumni return every year to take the stage at the end of the play and talk about which productions they were in – playing Cinderella 25 years ago or, in Jonah’s case, King Achaverosh in last year’s Purim classic, “My Fair Esther”). Anyway, it’s priceless to watch costumed toddlers chew the scenery and cry and sing off-key and forget their lines. But my point is, there was in attendance a woman who looked a bit like my darling, only slightly taller (5’2’ or so, about Hayek-height) and a bit Jewier in some way. Ah, the dark curly hair, the olive skin, the voluptuous hint of wanton aging here and there — I kept stealing glances, which was crass, I know, but I’m sorry, there’s no point in pretending that I’m oblivious to this particular kind of beauty. It IS my oblivion. It gets me in the gut the same way Caesar’s gut got it on this very day long ago. You can Ides, but you can’t run. The Law of Attraction dictates that I will make a fool of myself looking at certain women, and I will get busted for it, except in those cases where my darling herself points them out, which she’s been known to do, God love her.
For anyone who thinks the dainty, petite qualifier suggests a control issue, I refer you to my second-string obsession, which is the large-scale version of this same feminine type. Lisa Nicole Carson, Sofia Milos, Maria Grazia Cucinotta (the bombshell from "Il Postino"), Anna Magnani even after she grew a moustache, yea verily even Queen Latifah before she scaled herself down -- the kind of woman who could beat the slop out of me with one hand tied behind her back. Tied with her hair, perhaps. And she's standing on one foot, so she has to hop. Okay, maybe I’m a little controlling. At least I know what I like.
So. That’s my Secret. Now you show me yours.