Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oprah: Pseudo-Scientologist

Working at a book store can really destroy your soul when your customer base is a bunch of fucking douchebags. I'm not talking personality wise (maybe, I am?) because 75% of the folks looking for something to read are polite. It's just what they choose to read that baffles me.
I can deal with all the loser kids who have to be forcibly dragged out of the manga section at closing time and the tubby schlubbs who buy stacks of romance novels but when it comes to the self help and business sections, I tend to lose my mind.
We're all fucked up. And we all want to improve on some facet of our lives be it romance, finance or just plain old decency. It's frustrating to guide hapless dolts to the 40 Hour Work Week or any other get rich book same as handing people copies of the Secret and, frankly, any fucking self-help book. Let's face it, if there was a book that truly solved every common emotional or financial problem humanity deals with then my store wouldn't have vast sections of titles which directly contradict one another's theories. Of course, if I could comprise a tome with some pseudo-psychoanalytical chicanery framed by bland spirituality I would in a heartbeat. Sorry, but I would much rather hang out at Debauchery Central all day, slamming Jameson than trolling the stacks for Dr. Phil fanatics.
The metaphysics section is essentially what my aforementioned, non-existent, book pitch is. Never mind that at some point there were serious philisophical discussions on the subject based on Cartesian principals, it's devolved to the point of vague religious thought without invoking Jeebus or any other deity. But now, the only living deity we're likely to ever see has jumped into pool.
Oprah has embraced "spiritual-guru" and all around dickpig, Eckhardt Tolle's A New Earth and is madly pushing it upon her minions. And they're grabbing the book off the shelves faster than we can restock 'em.
It's frightening that any one person can have such a profound effect on a book's sales. Oprah fans (and mind you, one of my dearest friends is in this camp) are generally thoughtless sheep who eagerly consume whatever bullshit she is spewing as the gospel. See the sales figures on A Million Little Pieces if you don't believe me. Or how about her annual Favorite Things show? Companies gladly fork over tons of freebies to the rich bitch for her to gift out to bored suburban housewives because they know a kudos from Oprah will drive sales through the roof. Of course, if you don't give her shit for free she won't promote your product. I'd have more respect for the woman if she dug into her deep, deep pockets and PAID for everything she gives out. You see, she's no saint either. Couple that little nugget of info with the story about how she accused some European shop of being racist since they wouldn't let her in after closing so she could peruse the racks. I don't give a fuck if Ted William's head comes barking at the gate being held by Jackie Robinson after we close the store, they ain't getting in. But, I digress.
Tolle has done something remarkable with his new book which is to rewrite Scientology and make it easily consumable for the masses. Let's compare the ideologies:
from the back description of A New Earth, our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world. Tolle describes how our attachment to the ego creates the dysfunction that leads to anger, jealousy, and unhappiness.
And now for Scientology: Scientology believes man to be basically good, that his experiences have led him into evil, that he errs because he seeks to solve his problems by considering only his own point of view, and that man can improve to the degree he preserves his spiritual integrity and remains honest and decent. According to the Church, the ultimate goal is: "a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights."
They seem pretty fucking similar to me! Both beliefs argue that pursuing personal interests is what causes us to be so goddamned miserable in our lives. Well, yeah, that's true. But the reason for that isn't our "ego" but the fact that we must encounter other people in our daily lives whose interests are not usually alligned with our own. This creates conflict and conflict causes stress which causes despair, especially when you're constantly beating your head against the wall. What I find more troubling about these "solutions" offered by Hubbard and Tolle is that they're telling us to become doormats. Become the world's bitch, suck it up and you can truly be happy since you have removed most conflict from your life by being subservient to the wills of others. That's just total fucking bullshit.
I guess the silver lining in all of this is that Oprah clings to fads and moves on briskly. However, this time she is having online classes to deconstruct and further explain this flacid ideology to people too stupid to not just see through the bullshit but unable to understand it. To me, intentionally promoting something that could further trouble the lives of the truly desperate negates all of her good will, intentions and philanthropy. And for Eckhardt Tolle, if I ever run into to that little Hobbit, I'm gonna punt his ass back to the shire.


-amanda- said...

i would just like to mention that i personally believe his book leans heavily on buddhist teachings (specifically the mahayana school)

here is an excerpt:

...Very basically, Theravada considers anatman to mean that an individual's ego or personality is a fetter and delusion. Once freed of this delusion, the individual may enjoy the bliss of Nirvana...

i see a very vague similarity to scientology in that it refers to the ego and it's troubles as the causes of the world's problems and quite possibly the solution to said problems.

readerweb said...

Pseudo is real. Real is pseudo. Both are absent and neither is present. Thanks for bringing the topic up.