My writing students have an ongoing, full-semester, every-night-of-the-week-including-weekends assignment: Each day, every student must find a piece of professional writing and hand-copy approximately 150 words, paying careful attention to word-choice, punctuation, etc. Since the only true way to learn to write is reading, this forces students to read at least a little bit each day. And the additional physical labor of hand-copying (as opposed to typing) forces students to slow down and pay some attention to the way sentences are formed.
An added bonus for me is that I encounter all manner of writing to which I would not otherwise be exposed. And this is how I came to read selections from Rhonda Byrne's mega-best-selling self-help book, The Secret. And I must say. . . Wow! This woman really is a dangerous lunatic, isn't she?
For those of you who may not be familiar with her thesis, it seems to boil down to this: If you believe something will happen, it will happen, so you need to believe the right way. Her "Law of Attraction" sounds, on the surface at least, like nothing more than a rehashing of the tried and true "power of positive thinking." Except she takes things a step further. For example, are you hoping to lose weight? No problem! According to Ms. Byrne, "Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can." Calories are effectively just a failure of the imagination.
And imagination--or, if you prefer, belief--is Byrne's main (and as far as I can tell, only) ingredient for success. If you believe it, it will happen. But it's not enough to just believe that something will happen: In order to activate the Law of Attraction, you must act as though whatever you want is already reality. You can't actively try to lose weight: You must believe and act as though you are already thin! You can't try to make money: You must believe and act as though you are already rich. Even as I type this entry, I am being serviced by Angelina Jolie! Which is whyy ther mite b more typrs than usualll. . . .
"Except," you will object (and WOS will insist), "you're not being serviced by Angelina Jolie." Of course, this is no refutation of the Secret. Like all good pseudo-science, Byrne's theory is utterly unfalsifiable: If Ms. Jolie is not standing naked in my office with a feather-duster and a jar of mayonnaise, it is undoubtedly because I do not sufficiently believe that it is happening! Curse my rational mind!
None of this would be of particular import if it weren't for the fact that, apparently, millions of people actually subscribe to this insane philosophy. Because I believe the technical term for what Byrne is advocating is "psychotic delusion." If Byrne doesn't believe her own nonsense, then she is a highly successful con-artist. I find that, however, somewhat more comforting than the alternative explanation--that she actually believes what she says. In fairness to her, though, the inexplicable success of her own delusional ramblings certainly suggests some proof of her own theory.