Friday, May 18, 2007

Secrets and Lies

The Artswipe
Pass the Salt, 2007
'Video art' still

At the end of 2006 I felt that there were just some topics that had been thoroughly exhausted in last year's Artswipe blog. I'm not mentioning any names but one starts with a Big O and I don't mean Roy Orbison, bless his heart.

OK, so admit it, I got sucked into
Oprah's special on this new age junk DVD called The Secret. The ads for Oprah's special featured soundgrabs from Oprah saying she'd found some "secret" from all the way from "down under". Nothing irks me more than the phrase Down Under. It is like that phrase is reserved for Americans - maybe because Australia sounds too much like Austria? Who fucken knows.

Anyway, the chick from Down Under who professes to have a bestselling secret is
Rhonda Byrne. Good old Rhonda, who sports this cute little bindi on her forehead, wrote a book about the so-called "science" of positive thinking. The book is now a best-selling DVD that instructs duped and desperate consumers how to make lots of cash, have lots of sex, have lots of fun, have lots, lots, lots, lot. Last time I checked there was this guy in the Old Testament called "Lot" and he had this wife who turned into a pillar of salt, as you do.

On the news this morning there was a story about how new research indicates that iodised salt is brain food, and that there are moves to put it in sliced bread so Australians will become a smarter people. Is it just me or was that news story implying that "Ossies" aren't too bright? Maybe we should all go "down under" with Lot's salty wife and get a bit smarter in the process? I lost a few brain cells this week watching TV so can someone pass the fucking salt?

Whatever the case,
The Secret is supposed to be a miracle drug that makes everything better. Success is measured by excess, so there's no wonder Oprah's eating it with a spoon. Oprah even claims that she knew the secret all along - she just didn't have the wisdom of "teachers" like Rhonda Byrne to articulate and package it. The Secret works like this: Buy the DVD and Paris Hilton might go to prison for more than a paltry 20something days. Read the book and George Bush might eat some salt. Watch Oprah and you may get a lifetime subscription to her magazine or bookclub. Goody!

A single mother was profiled on
Oprah talking about how The Secret helped her out of the downward spiral of debt. Another woman told how she hadn't had sex with her husband in a year. Now they're whorin' all over the goddamn place. What beautiful stories. Then an ad break came on. Belinda Emmett's album is out in case you didn't know.

I plan on buying
The Secret. As part of my positive thinking adventure I will envisage a world where bullshit new age culty propaganda does not exist and people eat more salt.

The Artswipe
Belinda, 2007
'Video art' still


jade said...

hey the secret is crap i know, its crap and cheesy and lame but i do however believe that thinking positive does attract good things and visualisation is a very powerful tool. happy friday!!!!

Skanky Jane said...

"Positive thinking", just writing it makes me pissy.

Lot has got a lot to answer for too. My theory about the story of Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt after "looking back" is that this story is an example of "biblical codification", used to blur anything that might otherwise contradict the good book's narrative and upset the goats. Applying my theoretical cypher: it was Lot's wife's "framework of reality" that "crumbled" when she "looked back" over the story about Lot and how he came to roger his two daughters. Lot's wife turned to salt when she realised her two daughters did not in fact "seduce" Lot.

My own theory concurs with Arty's in that "turning into a pillar of salt" is, in this instance, smart code for "Mrs Lot suddenly became wise to her husband's incestuous indiscretions".

(With nods to Jade) - sure it is generally more helpful to interrogate the bad voices in your head - the ones that tell you you're no good (we all get those from time to time - right???) But me thinks Arty makes a good point about success equalling excess.

This damn "resilience" concept that has become so popular all of a sudden does a similar thing - if you look back at it - in that it seems to be based upon an all too imperialistic norm. This norm is an individual, white, heterosexual, smiling, wealthy, fit, thin, well read, well travelled, well endowed, "cultured", able-bodied, able-to-shop-at-Ikea, "employed"....etc, etc


SJ xx

Skanky Jane said...

PS I'm not seeing the video art for some reason?

SJ xx

PSS - LOVE your Peripatetic Poems!

Artswipe said...

Hi SJ and Jade
Thanks for the comments!
The 'video art' (ie Oprah taped on video and watched back later with my mobile phone ready for action) is back there now. For some reason Blogger mysteriously disables my images a few days after I've uploaded them and I don't realise until someone alerts me to it.
Arty x

Anonymous said...


I've found the same thing with images uploaded directly to Blogger - I've gone back later and they're missing - so I've put them on Photobucket and uploaded them from there. Must check my old posts to see if images are still there - maybe I've exceeeded my limit for images or something? A letter to Blogger might be in order.

SJ xx

PS - thanks for letting us know your video art images are back - very nice work - ha! the one of MS Byrne is unsettling!

Anonymous said...

i'd never heard of the secret until the weekend, when i read in the herald that miss byrne has made millions from it, but she hasn't given her poor mum in adelaide a cent!

another secret to wealth, learnt from waitressing and renting - rich people are tight.

Liina said...

I read that article in the Herald too where psychologist experts state that the Secret is dangerous, promotes greed etc. and is based on theory of cognitive behaviour therapy but excessively simplified yardayarda.

Artswipe I am so glad that you have written about the Secret - I found out about it late last year due to an in law relative being addicted to watching the dvd over and over and over again. I have been skeptical and overly cynical about it ever since I heard about it - I have nothing against thinking positively but to focus on the self centered monetary blah blah aspects of 'receiving' without taking responsibility for the doing or attaining, well that's just doomed. Another quick fix, another way to attempt to fill the void, another way to waste one's money.... and time..... I grew up feeling guilty for not saying enough affirmations.....and visualizing for those carparks - so I feel I have the right to be overtly cynical - but hey did anyone see Chasers last week making fun of the secret? So funny!!

Meanwhile I have been eating way more salt then normal.....

Anonymous said...

after 'the secret' a bunch of folks asked Oprah review 'Never Saw It Coming' - a book on the power of negative thinking...

Anonymous said...

This article at Salon is a really interesting, thoughtful critique of Oprah and the Secret.