Monday, June 04, 2007

Secret, The

Someday I'm going to write a book like The Secret, and yet utterly, utterly unlike The Secret. I'd like to title it something like, Dude, Stop Being Such A Dumbass, but I don't think it would sell very well. Instead it'll probably end up being something like, Yes, I Know The World Is A Complex And Deeply, Deeply Fucked Up Place, But Everything You Think You Know About It Is Still Wrong: Or, The Whale.

I like to think that pop self-help books like The Secret and their vast popularity herald the end of Post-Modernism. The twentieth century watched a line that started at Einstein, ran through Heisenberg and Schrödinger, that connected to Gödel and Derrida, and (I hope) will emphatically end with people writing books that claim that since the cat in the box is neither alive nor dead until you open the lid, it is scientifically proven that if you want a iPhone-enabled BMW enough, all you have to do is imagine having it really, really hard, and it will be yours (What? You did that and didn't end up with a BMW? Obviously you weren't doing it right).

The model in which all frames of reference are equally valid, in which the same thing observed in a wave-like way acts like a wave and in a particle-like way acts like a particle, in which the Author is "Dead" and only the Response of the Reader matters has been an incredibly productive and enlightening one. But we as a population took it about as far as it would go some decades ago, and as this model mildews, we have to live with things like String Theory (now celebrating 30 years without a successful experimental result!) and an actual government running an actual country that thinks that through faith it shapes its own reality, and that the only reason its policies are failing is because its critics really, really want them to (critics who, obviously, must have mystical Quantum-Physical powers that they acquired by reading The Secret).

I'm all about the fuzziness of the universe myself, but I'm also all about the fact that only a complete idiot would argue that a depot leaving the train is just as valid a view as the train leaving the depot. A model that implies the existence of alive/dead cats in our universe, while it is the absolute most successful and useful scientific theory ever devised, has at least one glaring, obvious problem: we do not observe alive/dead cats in our universe. Mrs. Transient Gadfly assures me that while this property of the observer affecting the observed is true about absolutely everything else in any discipline, it is just not friggin' true of friggin' cats. And this is the sort of thing about which Mrs. Transient Gadfly is always right. So I hope that The Secret is some kind of signpost at the end of some kind of road, because it's time for a new model.


Mita said...

All I know is that I have that crappy OMD song stuck in my head now.

Transient Gadfly said...

Awesome. I'm totally going to start baiting you now.