Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Brief History of Secrets

Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret" is anything but. The Law of Attraction principles on which her book is based have been widely published for over a century. Right now, Amazon has over 3,000 books on the "Law of Attraction." More than 2,000 of them have been around before Byrne's Secret.

Law of Attraction proponents are not unlike faith healers, only without the added bother of having to worship God. Be happy, and you attract happiness into your life. If it doesn't work for you, then you must subconsiously be sending out negative energy, the same way that some Christians will spend the rest of their lives in that wheelchair, because they don't truly believe.

Here are a few books from the genre:

Ask and it is Given, A New Beginning (I & II), The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham, etc.
Written by:
Jerry & Esther Hicks, a pair of Hicks with an imaginary friend.
Admittedly influenced by:Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (1937)1.
Noteworthy because: Abraham, the spirit guide for Jerry and Esther Hicks is not one person, but a collection of entities that speak through Esther. Originally, he/they started talking through Esther by making her write with her nose, which was done out of love, not some malicious impulse to make her look silly. Honest. Now you can attend workshops to hear Abraham actually speak through Esther, for a modest fee.

Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting
Written by: Lynne Grabhorn, a quitter.
Admittedly influenced by: While she viewed the Abraham-Hicks books as "new but provincial teachings from [an] unlettered, unscientific family of teachers"(p.ix), she still admits that she's "reissued... the profoundly simple teachings from the Hicks family in Texas"(p.x).
Noteworthy because: After contracting a terminal illness, allegedly gaining a grotesque amount of weight, and living in constant pain, she committed suicide2. Detractors say that if she was so great at "manifesting," she should have used her power to heal herself. However, the truly faithful know that this is undeniable proof that she had become so powerful at turning her thoughts into reality that a moment's inattention manifested something incurable.

The Cosmic Ordering Service
Written by: Barbel Mohr, a boy-crazy German.
Admittedly influenced by: A "friend," who "had read a book about positive thinking and suggested that [Mohr] imagine the perfect man [...] and just ask the universe to send him"(p.1).
Noteworthy because: After losing his wife and his job, British "celebrity" Noel Edmonds read Barbel's book and wished for a new hit show3. He was later picked to host the UK's "Deal or no Deal," which means that Mohr's book resurrected 2 careers, Edmonds' and Howie Mandel's. However, Mandel has refused to recognize the book as being influential for his career, and without celebrity endorsements to cement it firmly in the minds of the American public, the book has not sold nearly as well in the US.

The Secret
Written by: Rhonda Byrne, the Australian who secretly hates us all.
Admittedly influenced by: The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles. (1910)4
Noteworthy because: It's the perfect storm of marketing techniques. It's packaged to look suitably old and obscure, like it really is a secret. It's well titled. "Think Your Way Rich" or "Visualize Your Dreams" can turn people off as too new-age, but everyone wants to know a secret. Plus, there's a handy DVD available, so sub-literate mouth-breathers never have to bother with the printed word. Once Oprah gave it her stamp of approval, the amount of money it made increased exponentially from obscene like a back issue of Hustler to obscene like retarded siblings fucking in costumes on stage at a NAMBLA convention.
A cynic might suggest that these were all calculated moves designed to make the book a bestseller, but the counter-argument is that Rhonda just used the law to attract savvy marketers who helped promote her book.

1 Discussed here, in an article that also describes the nose writing.

2 She even left a note.

3 Seriously.

4 Mentioned in both the linked article, and here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very similar.