Monday, June 25, 2007

Thinking Fat Thoughts

You've probably heard of The Secret, which is an Australian TV producer's attempt to quantify the cosmic "law of attraction" that governs the allocation of consumer gee-gaws, rich husbands, anorexic-but-stacked mistresses, and other desiderata of the spiritually enlightened:

"The law of attraction says that like attracts like, and when you think and feel what you want to attract on the inside, the law will use people, circumstances and events to magnetize what you want to you, and magnetize you to it," Byrne said in an e-mail in response to several questions posed by The Associated Press.
The gist of this daring new philosophy seems to be that you get what you deserve; if Iraqis don't have clean water, perhaps they'd better put their thinking in order and stop conspiring against themselves. After all, the law of attraction is, as Ms. Byrne says, "impersonal, exact and precise."

Amazingly, there are people who object to this idea.
While "The Secret" has become a pop culture phenomenon, it also has drawn critics who are not quiet about labeling the movement a fad, embarrassingly materialistic or the latest example of an American propensity of wanting something for nothing.
How's that for razor-keen critique? It's a pop culture phenomenon, but some malcontents are calling it a fad. Others say it's too materialistic, which is - God knows - the last thing we want from batshit-crazy new age obscurantism. And finally, it's an example of Americans wanting something for nothing: even if "The Secret" worked like a charm (views differ!), the garish fripperies that designate success in our culture must only be obtained through hard work. Or failing that, the lottery. Or marrying someone rich, as long as you're not too fat.

Speaking of which, the amiable Ms. Byrne doesn't believe in metabolic or genetic causes for obesity; if you're overweight, it's because you're "thinking fat thoughts."

Theoretically, I suppose it'd be possible to use "The Secret" to attract men who don't require you to look like an undernourished 12-year-old with enormous breast implants.

But what if such men don't exist? One must be realistic, after all. The photo above depicts an "overweight woman" from a Brazilian ad for low-fat yogurt. The caption says, "Forget about it. Men's preference will never change." There are other laws of attraction, apparently, to which "The Secret" must eternally play second fiddle.

All of which reminds me of Adorno's complaint about astrology in The Stars Down to Earth:
It implies that all problems due to objective circumstances such as, above all, economic difficulties, can be solved in terms of private individual behavior or by psychological insight, particularly into oneself, but also into others.
He has a point, granted...but at the same time, isn't it precisely this sort of gloomy Jewish defeatism that made the Holocaust inevitable?

No comments: