Friends, I have something to share with you: A few months ago, I was at the lowest place I've ever been in my life. I was living on the streets, panhandling for money, eating scraps from garbage cans just to survive. But then one day someone threw a small book into the Dumpster I was subsisting in. When the book proved too difficult to eat (the pages were a little too glossy for my taste), I started reading it, and I soon discovered that I was responsible for my own crippling poverty. See, I kept thinking "I have to get off the streets, I have to get off the streets," but the universe only heard the "streets" part, so I remained (where else?) on the streets. From then on, I decided to take the book's advice, and treat the world like my own personal catalog. I started thinking, "I have to get a four-poster bed with Frette linens. I have to get a flat-screen TV. I have to get an unlimited supply of Godiva chocolates." I focused on these things, visualized them, day after day, week after week, until one day they materialized. And now I can sit on my four-poster bed, comfortably ensconced in my Frette linens, popping truffle after truffle into my mouth as I watch my flat-screen and it's all because of The Secret! (I'm still living in a Dumpster, but the book says that time is my friend, so we'll see…)

Anyway, in case you can't tell, I just finished watching

The Secret DVD and I'm a little delirious. The Secret is an hour and 30 minutes long, and that's a very long time to hear the same five things (like attracts like, thoughts become things, you are your thoughts, universe blah blah blah, and energy, energy, energy) repeated over and over again by a rotating cast of "experts" as they sit in front of a faux parchment background. Still, The Secret wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I pictured it more as a cheap infomercial with silly Da Vinci Code-like touches. In reality, it was much sleeker than I expected, but also much, much stupider–thanks to an unending parade of stock video clips that seemed to have been stolen from National Geographic specials (whales surfacing, people playing on a beach, a ridiculous amount of workers in rice paddies), as well as endless talking head interviews with people like Bob Proctor (a "philosopher"), Bob Vitale (aka the world's only marketing expert/metaphysician), and the guy who wrote Chicken Soup For The Soul that were punctuated by whispery quotes from famous "Secret" knowers (Martin Luther King Jr., Henry Ford). But that doesn't mean The Secret didn't teach me anything. Here's what I learned from my hour and a half of indoctrination: 1. Reading a book with a loupe may look ridiculous, but it is the best way to indicate that you're investigating the origins of "The Secret." 2. If you think about that hideous, gold rope necklace in the shop window hard enough, eventually the universe will make someone give it to you. 3. Bob Proctor is a fountain of wisdom and dubious logic: "If you don't understand [the law of attraction] that doesn't mean you should reject it. You don't understand electricity, probably. First of all, no one even knows what electricity is…Do you know how it works? I don't know how it works, but I do know this: you can cook a man's dinner with it, and you can also cook the man." 4. According to some marketing guy named Joe Vitale, it has been proven scientifically that a positive thought is many times more powerful than a negative thought. So that's good to know. 5. With The Secret, the perfect parking space is only one intense visualization away! 6. The best way to get $100,000 is to make a dollar bill into a $100,000 bill with a Sharpie and stare at it a lot. Then get a reporter from the National Enquirer to write about whatever shitty book you're peddling. It worked for the guy who wrote Chicken Soup For The Soul! 7. If you paint a portrait of yourself lounging on a blanket as your future wife feeds you strawberries, that picture will eventually come to life! Which means that at some point Rhonda Byrne must have painted a picture of herself on Oprah's couch. 8. Phrases that rhyme are most effective at getting your point across. To wit: Energy flows where attention goes. 9. Good vibes are literal–and they're only a click away. No, really. 10. Bob Proctor's hyperbole rivals that of Scientologists: "I don't care what city you live in, you've got enough energy in your body to power it for a week." 11. If you get sick, it's kind of your fault for putting your negative thoughts out in the universe. The good news is that you can heal yourself with your thoughts too! Also, you can think an elephant into existence–although there will be a time delay. But the most important thing I learned from watching The Secret isn't really about The Secret at all. It's about Oprah. I learned that Oprah will publicly scold a writer like James Frey who presents fiction as fact, but she evidently has no problem whole-heartedly endorsing writers (and Australian TV producers) who say that people can visualize a new sports car into existence. So: fiction as fact = bad, but fantasy as fact = inspirational.

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