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 PSSST. . .
  I’m sitting in a little tea joint in Westwood right now, and a guy has just walked in---waddled in, really---who preceeds himself. Which is to say, his stomach enters the room before he does. He is dressed in a giant hooded sweatshirt which was yellow but is now closer to brown, and jeans that have not been washed or perhaps changed since Bush first stole the presidency. He has a beard that was also yellow but is now closer to brown, and he exudes the sour smell of old socks on a hot day.
          This man does not know The Secret.
          A woman just passed by on the sidewalk outside. One of her legs is twisted and about half the size of the other, and she walks with a kind of hobble-hitch, hobble-hitch rhythm that Stravinsky would have liked. Her face is pained, defensive.
          She obviously does not know The Secret, either.
          My friend Craig, who is drinking tea with me, also does not know The Secret. When people bump into him and fail to say “excuse me,” or do not move to one side on a sidewalk, it bothers him. Same for my pal, Jenn. She’s a brilliant, modest UCLA grad student who just wants to study and learn, yet she keeps running into fellow grad students trying to push her around, drawing her into ego games. It annoys the hell out of her.
          And I sure as hell don’t know The Secret. I am the most irritated person I know. Well, next to Dick Cheney. I can’t stand the way most people drive, speak, think, dress, write, sing, tell jokes. The gluttonous manner in which humans exploit this paradise disgusts me. Pretty much everybody I admire is dead, sick, or worse, unpopular. Oh, and I hate the way everyone says “stu-dent” and “impor-dunt.” Guess that about covers it.
          The funny thing about The Secret, though, is that it is no secret. It was the top of the New York Times bestseller list, which is the greatest measure of what poorly educated people who cannot read very well are buying. And it has been touted by no less a personage than Oprah Winfrey, who tells poorly educated people who cannot read very well what to read.
          As for those poorly educated people who don’t or can’t read, a two-hour television special about The Secret was shown last year in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Europe, and probably Antarctica---where hundreds of millions, if not several billion, are reported to have watched. For those who were too poor to own TV’s, The Secret was streamed into mobile phones in Africa and China. Right now, tens of thousands are staring at
          Why, The Secret must be the worst-kept secret in history!
          If you are gleaning that your faithful weekly Internet columnist (that’s me) is being snide and sarcastic again, and that this is a piss-poor attitude for a mature male adult to have, then I’ll just bet that you know The Secret! If you are thinking, “Oh, there goes Rense being reactionary and lashing out from his wretched little website at more successful people again,” then you almost certainly embrace The Secret. And if you are thinking, “Cynical curmudgeon,” “Cranky middle-aged man,” or especially, “Loser!” then you are probably the proud owner of “The Secret”---the book, the DVD, the CD-set, the perfume, the hand towel.
          The Secret is new evidence, as if any more is needed, that, to quote the great, eerie song by Cream, we're goin' wrong. We are headed for a supersize spiritual self-immolation that will lead either to a one-world not-so-benevolent dictatorship with a corn syrup and water-based economy and no animals other than domestic dogs and cats---or a violent reversal of priorities that will see kindness, empathy, compassion, conservation, creativity, and tweetie-birds manifest as social structure. (I’d bet the bullion on the former.)
          But to end the big suspense here, allow me to "reveal" some of The Secret’s “precepts:”
          *It’s not how you play the game, it’s whether you win or lose that counts.
          *Don’t try---do! Trying is just “failing with honor.”
          *When you project negative thoughts, they become reality and your life becomes negative.
          *When you answer “not bad,” or “hanging in,” or “doing my best,” to someone asking how you are doing, then you will make that mediocrity your reality! When you say, “Fantastic!” or  “Everything is fabulous,” you create a fabulous reality!

          Those fans of the great "Fawlty Towers" will understand what I mean when I say that I now hear Basil Fawlty screaming, "Brilliant!"
          The Secret was concocted by a shrew---er, shrewd---highly ambitious woman who probably had very little money and wanted to change that in a big way. Her name is Rhonda Byrne, and she is Australian, and that should tell you something about The Secret right there. When is the last time you remember anything sane happening in Australia?
          The Secret is snake oil of and for the snakes of our time, as they coil and slither their way to cheaply won riches. In essence, it pretends to be The Answer, The Light, The Revelation---a popthink Yellow Brick Road to Hap-Hap-Happiness. What it really does is to allow the aggressive to be arrogant---er, confident---with impunity, giving them license to ignore and pity those of us who can't help but see warts, scars, hypocrisy, deceit, George W. Bush, and be bothered by them. The Secret? Flush those anti-depressants away! (So they can go into the water system and cause people to grow fins and redundant sex organs.)
          Rhonda Byrne, who might or might not have redundant sex organs, claims to have culled The Secret from the thoughts of, among others, Plato and Einstein. (What, no Nietzsche?) Now, forgive my darkness here, but I vaguely suspect that Einstein and Plato were not quite happy-go-lucky, “positive-thinking” souls like Oprah, Rudy Giuliani, and Hugh Hefner. I seem to recall something about Einstein playing around on his wife a fair amount, and having oh, some mixed feelings about having paved the way for the uh, annihilation of the human race. And I’m not real well versed in philosophy, but I think Plato’s dedication to preserving the work and thinking of Socrates---someone who saw warts, scars, hypocrisy, and deceit very clearly---stemmed from being a bit disturbed by Socrates’s persecution and death.
          But never mind all that unhappy gunk. The world is screaming help me, Rhonda---and Rhonda is obliging. Who am I to spoil the party? Want to join in? Have a ball! Here is the basic Secret for you, courtesy of an article in the Hartford Courant:
          “It's the law of attraction. The power of positive thinking. Like a magnet. . .the thoughts and images held in one's mind determine what is attracted to them and, ultimately, the quality of life they live. Go anxiously through the day with a negative loop of thoughts in your mind, anticipating bad things will happen, and they will."
          Or as Oprah so Winfreyly puts it:
          "We create our own circumstances by the choices that we make, and the choices that we make are fueled by our thoughts."
          (Quick, cue Basil Fawlty again!)
          Hmmm. Maybe it's that "negative loop" that caused the well-dressed elderly gentleman on the sidewalk to yell obscenities at me the other day for no apparent reason (must have been the way I nodded a polite hello to him.) And darn that "negative loop" for making three women in a row run over my feet with their shopping carts in a Whole Foods last week. Oh! Maybe it was also that negative loop that caused my stepmother to kick me out of the house at age sixteen!
          And well, I've got this loopy problem, see. . .I tend to "go anxiously" through every day. I know, I know, what is there to worry about? Lousy health? No money? No health insurance? No job? No publisher? Iraq? People driving like prison escapees? The country going to hell? Scabies? American Idol? Pshaw! If only I could embrace The Secret!
          It got me to thinking. . .What a tragedy it is that Rhonda Byrne was not around during World War II to share The Secret. All the Jews and gypsies who died in concentration camps would have lived to ripe old ages had they just adopted The Secret attitude and projected a positive reality for themselves! If they had just ignored the fact that they weighed 90 pounds, were covered with sores and lice, and proclaimed, "I feel fabulous!", all would have turned out well. As Oprah said, they created their own circumstances by the choices they made!
          Whoops. There goes my “negative energy” again. Oh yeah---and it is all energy, you see---that’s more of The Secret, as I found on a Secret website: “Everything is energy. Your thoughts and actions control the flow of energy. A thought is a unit of mental energy that can be measured and that affects every aspect of your life (insert Elaine Benes saying blehh blehh blehh and other Seinfeld sounds here.)"
          Wow. I wonder what will come of the units of mental energy expended in typing this column? Maybe lots more people will send me no e-mail. I'm so negative, after all. Who wants to talk to a human Negative Loop? Someone who is merely Failing With Honor? Well, just in case some of you readers are also prisoners of seeing the world for what it is; in case you have a little trouble feeling fabulous, here are a few more units of mental energy for you:
          The Secret attracts what I call the tyranny of The Smilers. Oprah is the Queen Smiler, with the likes of Tom “The Scientology Jesus” Cruise not far behind. They are part of an epidemic of pseudo-positivity sweeping the land (usually found among the rich and famous) which is really arrogance in disguise.  Capped and whitened teeth are exposed from shore to shore as never before, but they radiate the leer of the slavering carnivore.
          The Smilers, in other words, are really The Frowners. They are motivated not by beneficence, but by self-aggrand-isement, a compulsion to dominate, and a fear of anyone who does not embrace their giddy, rose-colored quasi-religion. They are not far afield of holy-rolling Evangelicals, in that sense---and have even included some bastardized Christianity about "forgiveness" (piousness) and "gratitude" (my personal relationship with The Secret) to give the veneer of  humilityGooble-gobble, one of us, one of us. .
       What The Secret all comes down to is a license to indulge ego and self in the guise of projecting “fabulous” thoughts---preferably the kinds of thoughts that might make you as fabulously rich as Rhonda Byrne (but usually don't.) And to tacitly dismiss as destructive those who do not do the same; those increasingly anachronistic, empathetic souls who believe that it is how you play the game, that trying is a downright valiant act, and that “hanging in there” takes a lot of guts and fortitude. . .
 Notions that are becoming so scarce they might as well be. . .a secret.
We get e-mail:
  Hello Mr Rense,

Thanks for making me laugh and brightening my day. I have been observing the fanfare of "the secret" with great amusement. This thing is an outright plagarism of a book titled "Think and grow rich" written by Napoleon Hill way back in 1933. Mr. Hill was employed by Mr. Andrew Carnegie to create the "science of personal achievement". The purpose of this in my opinion, was to create a way to "prove" to the poor and working class, that their situation in life is their own fault. It helps to protect the rich against popular revolt if the lower classes beleive that they too could become rich if they could only master "the seceret". I think this has been an amazingly successful tool. Please forgive any spelling and punctuation errors I may have made. I am the product of the Oakland public schools and I don't have a spellchecker. However, I proudly keep on tryin' every day.

Regards, Robert MacConnell.

Hello Rip,

Perfect timing with this week's column, as one of my coworkers insisted on loaning me this wonderful, life changing DVD that she just knew I would love. Yep, you guessed it - "The Secret."

The DVD is in fact playing in the background as I write this. Along with sharing all of your observations, I have also noticed that 99 percent (or possibly more) of the program is only about acquiring material goods. Too bad no one enjoying "The Secret" experience is going to visualize being decent, compassionate humans, but I suppose only "losers" would find that goal worthwhile. Maybe I just need to visualize how to transform loving compassion and mutual respect into commodities, then perhaps they will be valued. Maybe I will visualize a Human Decency Stock Exchange! Or maybe one has to be rich and materially satiated before they can become compassionate?

But then again, based upon what I'm presently hearing coming from the TV, only losers concern themselves with anything but money, money, MONEY! "Focus on abundance. Focus on prosperity." Maybe once we are all rich we each will become as benevolent as Bono (  ) and dribble a few coins and feel-good platitudes upon those left beneath us. That should make us feel good, and positive! And that means more abundance for us!

I guess it's no secret why society is so spiritually bankrupt...


A loyal reader,
(Rev) Joe

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