Sunday, March 29, 2009

View From the Treetops (29 Mar '09)


You’ve got cucumbers on your eyes
too much time spent on nothing
waiting for a moment to arise

Memory comes when memory's old
I am never the first to know
Following the stream up North
Where do people like us float



Harry Potter for late breast-fed fools

Some years ago, driven by the wide eyed publicity surrounding it, I read Paulo Coelho’s much acclaimed piece of "inspirational" fiction "The Alchemist".
I was less than under-impressed - a half baked fairy tale that expounds the 'philosophy' that in order to achieve your dreams you merely need to wish them to be true.

Some weeks ago I stumbled across the author’s blog – and like a moth to the flame, was drawn back again and again.

The hallowed author graces his adoring disciples with free readings from his latest offering, quote of the day (from his own extensive back catalogue and, for the lucky, a chance to pose a question on his blog.

Day by day I became more and more dumbfounded by the his philosophical offerings. I kept trying to put my finger on exactly what is was that I found so exasperating.
It wasn’t just the emptiness of his daily aphorisms or even the messianic air that fills his blogspace like the smell of farts captured in an airtight room, it was the air of deep respect that the man seems to hold for his own wisdom.
The one that tipped me over the edge was:
Quote of the day:

"The inevitable always happens. We require only the discipline and patience to deal with it."

Call me bitter and twisted (if you will) but how the fuck did this guy get published? Surely somebody in his publishing entourage should be saying “hold on Paulo – this sentence is meaningless”

"The inevitable always happens. We require only the discipline and patience to deal with it."

So astounded was I that I felt compelled to leave this response:
"As a pseudo-philosophical statement this starts off on the wrong foot - there are two problems with it:
1.To say that the “inevitable always happens” is redundant!
Inevitable derives from the Latin word vitare (to avoid) and the prefix in (meaning not or without). It refers to something that cannot be avoided.
2. to say we require ONLY the discipline and patience infers that discipline and patience are one thing.
Perhaps you should have written: “Discipline and patience are required in order to better deal with the inevitable.”
Perhaps I am being disingenuous here, but I find fault with your “philosophical” statements simply because, at first read, they sound like philosophical statements, but on closer inspection they are merely statements."

What makes these ridiculous statements all the more annoying to me is for one thing the quasi-religious weight given to these offerings by the author (who describes himself as a pilgrim) and for another, the mindlessly adoring (and often arse-kissingly nauseating) responses offered up by his flock.

Now, good luck to the man for finding his niche and making a successful go at it - I don't begrudge him that, but surely he cannot believe that what he puts forward as crumbs of wisdom are to be taken seriously?.

Just as flowers often bloom in shit – all of this pseudo-philosophy got me fired up enough to dredge up something I wrote a few years ago and rewrite it. Unlike Mr. Coelho, however, I can’t pretend that my Fables are by any means philosophically sound, nor should they be seen as 'life lessons'

I have stewed over this for weeks now and just cannot shake my indignation - it is bad enough that people live their lives trusting in some god to make everything better (at least the bible is reasonably well written - in parts) - but this to me is a subversion of the empowering idea that we are capable of making our own way through life. Coelho returns it to the mystical without includung any substance, the man is a charlatan, a tent evangelist with no message, an elixir salesman without elixir.
I sure many will disagree with me and find my indignation puzzling; pop over to Paulo Coelho’s blog and make up your own mind, but if you do happen to find yourself reading one of his inspirational novels... don't say you weren't warned.


The Far Queue Welcomes Careful Diverse


Anonymous said...

Ha! Did he publish your comment? I bet not!

I will have to dive over to his blog to see....

Anonymous said...

Ah so he did publish it! Well at least he did that.

Funny when you get a bug under the skin about someone. I am afraid Richard Dawkins does it for me- although he speaks a lot of sense- it is his absolute arrogance about being right that bugs me. Maybe arrogance is too strong a word. I described him as evangelical in my very frist post and got a comment saying 'he is as evangelical as someone who tells you to look both ways before crossing the road' Good point. How did I get on to Richard Dawkins?

I wouldn't let Coehlo's psychobabble get to you. A good place to read more of this rubbish- but put firmly in its place as rubbish- is in Private Eye.

Anonymous said...

Pisces, something a bit better than Coehlo's prattle( and the first is aimed at him )

The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.
~~~Proverbs 10:8~~~

Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream things that never were and say, "Why not?"
~~George Bernard Shaw~~

Choose to-day whom you will serve
~~Joshua 24:15~~

As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.~~~Socrates~~~

That last one is an old favourite of mine. Makes you wonder what this guy reads, himself.

Candie Bracci said...

Hi Pisces,

I don't come here to say that he's right or you're right ect..everyone has its own opinion.But just to say that this sentence was here for a reason,I know the reason.Believe me,it's deeper than you think.It was towards a specific situation,so there's no reason for you to be in such a state.You couldn't have known.That's cool.

I like what he writes and I like what you write too.

Have a great sunday.

jams o donnell said...

Coelho's full of crap!

Pisces Iscariot said...

Cinnamon: Yes it's funny how certain things get under the skin - Dawkins is, unfortunately a bit of a zealot - not a good trait for an atheist.
Subtorp: some good quotes there. I think you are correct: this guy probably only reads his own work.
Candie: I'm not asking anyone to defend me :) I may be completely wrong about the man... but I don't think so :) The inevitable always happens - of course!
Jams: haha - you compressed my whole agonising post into 4 words!

Yodood said...

Whoa, Pi,
I haven't read him, but just from your calling the quoted piece of perfectly good advice, meaningless, only means to me you're bitching about either not getting it or that there are still people out there that need things simplified the way that statement irritates you in doing.

For myself I went immediately to my own justification of, nay, necessity for the coexistence of the ideas of free will and predetermination for either to mean anything at all, just like shadow and light, establishment and heresy, having or getting to be alive… We all have a choice of attitude about the changes nature will always deal out — free will predetermined to be exercised within the arena of the universe, here, now — we suffer if we conceive that to be too narrow a choice and choose to try and change that — its called civilization.

As Candie said above, everyone takes away their own meaning from actual experiences, let alone the tangents rampant in the written word. There's a time in everyone's awakening to who they are that that quote would make very valuable connections correcting some purposefully debilitating miseducation. You just happen to be beyond it and it lookes like "Dick and Jane" to you.

Pisces Iscariot said...

Dood: it doesn't look like Dick and Jane to me, it looks like quasi-messianic bullshit - the statement is nonsensical - The man has put together a series of words that have absolutely no meaning and delivered them in a tone that pretends philosophy. A similar case can be heard in the song by the Killers that goes "are we human or are we dancer"
It means absolutely nothing, but is delivered as wisdom.
Sure, people take their own meaning from things, but charlatans take their money while delivering nothing. How can one claim to be giving something by telling people that they can achieve anything by merely wishing for it - no struggle, no work, no revolution. Bollocks!

Anonymous said...

Just remembered the name of the column in 'Private Eye' magazine.

It's called Pseuds Corner

yes, zealot is a good word :)

Anonymous said...

Ach! Zealot? Well, possibly...

A wise person is hungry for truth,while the fool feeds on trash. ~~~Proverbs 15:14~~~

There will always be some-one willing to follow the words of nothingness ~~~Subtorp77~~~

Yodood said...

So what are you implying about anyone who can be inspired by something in which you find nothing? And what does that imply about you? Forget the particular instance and please address the question in general. If this guy is vacuous, you used a poor example for your case as I read it.

Pisces Iscariot said...

Cinnamon: I have read (and enjoyed) Private eye a few times.
Subtorp & Yodood: I am not having a go at people who follow or are inspired (other than to perhaps nudge them into questioning who they follow) - I am having a go at charlatans and conmen, especially those who coat themselves in religious or quasi religious aura, since it is they who prey on the vulnerable.
Dood: Why forget the particular? I am having a go at this particular charlatan. What this implies about me is whatever you want it to imply, I don't particularly care since I am not endevouring to take anything from anybody.

Yodood said...

I guess I erred in mentioning you, his readers or Coelho when all I meant to say ia that I do not find your quote of his vacuous at all, no matter who said it. I'll just leave it at that and all it implies.

James Higham said...

Day by day I became more and more dumbfounded by the his philosophical offerings. I kept trying to put my finger on exactly what is was that I found so exasperating.
It wasn’t just the emptiness of his daily aphorisms or even the messianic air that fills his blogspace like the smell of farts captured in an airtight room, it was the air of deep respect that the man seems to hold for his own wisdom.

I'd better look to myself to try not to fall into this trap.

Pisces Iscariot said...

Yodood: If the inevitable didn't always happen then it wouldn't be inevitable. I'll leave it at that ;]
James: No danger of that happening.

Anonymous said...

Pisces, no worries! If he's truly a charlatan or con-man; it will surface. It always does.

To James Higham--if he respects his own wisdom( as you think, here ) then he has gained none. Sounds a bit narrow-minded. And your last statement reminded me of what Victor Hugo quoted~~"Caution is the eldest child of wisdom"


My God! Spare us the blog celebs! That's exactly how I felt about Waiter Rant, who also secured a book deal, based, no doubt , more on the en masse sychophanty, than his writing.The writing quite ruined by the arrogance of his own pompous voice which bled into the tale.

Applauds you for not following the herd and speaking up.

Pisces Iscariot said...

Thank you Ubermouth! If you're on side, I know I'm coming from the right place :)