So I'm in the bookstore at the airport a couple weeks ago, my flight having been delayed an hour. I buy Ian McEwan's latest novel, Saturday, and start looking at The Intellectual's Devotional, that best-seller that gives you a page a day of cultural knowledge (kind of fun, but no substitute for actual education). But the cashier wants to sell me the other book on the counter, called The Secret, which as far as I can tell is a cross between Oprah and The DaVinci Code. He testifies that he's sent it to a buddy in Iraq and he can't wait to hear how he responds. I don't buy it, and I'm irritated. Why is it that everyone wants to convince us that there's a "secret" to life, which we can purchase for $19.95? Why are so many people willing to read and digest this crap? Here's the blurb from the book (which I'm pasting from Amazon, not because I bought the thing):
"Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it."
Oh, please. Fragments of a Great Consumerism have been spotted throughout the 20th and 21st century, but now, not for the first time, someone thinks they can sell the Secret of Life, and actually thinks people will believe they have discovered something new. And, judging by sales, people actually are buying it. Unbelievable.