Monday, October 22, 2007

Warm Today

Tonight I was thinking about how great my job is. Where else could I sit all night in silence on a wooden folding chair surrounded by El Greco’s 15th century vision of the Spanish Inquisition, Toledo, Jesus the Healer, John the Revelator, and ultimately himself? And if this melancholic sweetness is not enough, whenever I want I can borough deeper into the collected memories and sadness of the eclectic mix of Persians and Turks known now as Uyghurs in Northwest China from the always growing collection of anthropological monographs in my cavernous locker downstairs. The past year of Asian Studies has given me a vision of the emerging sub-field of Xinjiang Studies and I feel now that I am finally making some real sense out of it. The best part is I can’t imagine anything more fun than studying what I am studying. I’m starting to feel as though I might someday be able to make a positive contribution to the knowledge and potential of who these weird Uyghurs are. Bending the ears and pages of two of my favorite professors is giving me the deep cultural background I thought I wanted when I started putting in my time with the books.

So this blog is off to a postive start then tonight one of my co-worker’s foisted a book on me that he has found transformative in his life. It’s a book called The Secret which is sweeping across the country like Chicken Soup for the Soul or like Wild at Heart in a mega-church. It’s mostly pop positive psychology which plays on the Prosperity Gospel tradition, Transcendental Meditation, and other somewhat suspicious quasi-truths.

Basically The Secret is that: “Your current thoughts are creating your future life. What you think about the most or focus on the most will appear as your life. Your thoughts become things.” The problem is that: “In our society, we’ve become content with fighting against things: fighting against cancer, fighting against poverty, fighting against war, (drugs, terrorism, violence, obiecity, etc). We tend to fight everything we don’t want, which actually creates more of a fight.” So what the book is saying is if you are anti-war you should be pro-peace instead. If you are anti-capitalist be pro-equity; anti-dog-barking be pro-quiet.

I think this semantic croquet is perhaps helpful in a way, but the problem for me is that in our interconnected world being pro-wealth might actually mean being pro-poverty for someone else. In my opinion narcissistic positive thinking won’t necessarily reduce inequality and injustice in the world – real creative and constructive critical thinking might. I think The Secret’s advice that in order “to attract money,” the acolyte should “focus on wealth,” and, “It is impossible to bring more money into your life when you focus on the lack of it” is a morally corrupt position for someone like me who is one of the 10 percent of the worlds wealthiest.

Yet the change that The Secret has made in my former-caustic-atheist friend Matt’s life is phenomenal. He is in many ways a Born-Again Believer. He’s started praying for people, affirming them, meditating on the blessings he’s been giving, playing with children (which he used to hate), and helping people who have problems with negativity. He witnesses and gives out free copies of The Secret to all who ask. He now sees co-incidences as happenings bound together by the universal law of attraction or as events which he has prayed into existence. He is a changed man; and he challenges me to be a changed weird person too. It does seem that being pro-quiet-sleep rather than anti-dog-barking is a more constructive way of being in the world. This morning when I was falling asleep one of the dogs on the other side of my bedroom window howled in harmony with a passing ambulance – it was nice in rocking-chair-on-the-porch sort of way.

Does anything smell more like death than flossing after of a few days of not flossing? I’m pro-flossing.


Post a Comment

<< Home