Thursday, October 22, 2009

bleeping banality

Interesting discussion of Rhonda Byrne's perennially-popular Secret this afternoon, especially with Holocaust survivors and liberators just outside our classroom door. Kristen was quite right to bring Hannah Arendt's perspective to bear on the conversation. The"banality of evil" comes as often through carelessness, critical inattention, and indifference, as through active malice. As Ingrid Smythe asked,

what can the believer in karma or The Law of Attraction possibly say about an event such as the Holocaust? Again, the believer in karma is forced to say that each and every individual got what he or she deserved and that karmic justice was served. “Whatever one deserves … he deserves by virtue of his actions and he gets all that he deserves and only that which he deserves. Nothing which accrues to a doer on account of his actions is ever lost and nothing accrues to him on account of anything other than his actions.” What about those who hold the belief that, through your feeling-state, you attract either positive or negative events? Here is a little visualization for the believer in the Law of Attraction: Imagine looking each of those six million Jews in the eye and telling every one of them that due to the negative feeling-states they were each projecting, they were all, in effect, asking for it. They got what was coming to them because, “What you think and what you feel and what actually manifests is always a match — no exception.

Like Byrne, I'm all for creating a better reality for myself and others. But like Arendt, I'm pretty sure we're going to have to do it together. The Secret, like its cinematic precursor What the Bleep Do We Know? ("debunked"), mixes physics and New Age ideas in an unsatisfying cocktail of confusion not much more stable than those serotonin concoctions Brandon told us about.

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