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from: The Los Angeles Times
June 25, 2007


Who's to blame? 'The Secret' says you are

by Tara Burghart/ Associated Press


CHICAGO—Want to know a secret? Thoughts of fear and powerlessness among the people who died in hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks attracted them "to being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

That's probably the most eye-popping claim associated with "The Secret," a book that tells us that the "law of attraction"—basically "like attracts like"—governs our universe.

"If people believe they can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they have no control over outside circumstances," the book says, "those thoughts of fear, separation and powerlessness, if persistent, can attract them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time."...

...[W]hatever you choose to think will become your life experience."

That whole concept is troubling, according to John Norcross, a psychologist and professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania who researches self-help books.

"Cancer victims, sexual-assault victims, holocaust victims—they're responsible? The book is riddled with these destructive falsehoods, " he said.

Such concerns seemingly have not dimmed sales. And "The Secret" has been featured on the TV shows of Larry King, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey....



Storming the Gates of Paradise
Landscapes for Politics

by Rebecca Solnit

University of California Press
2007 The Regents of The University of California

The Wal-Mart Biennale (2006)

It isn't that, when Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton purchased Asher B. Durand's 1849 painting Kindred Spirits last year, she got the state of Arkansas to pass legislation specifically to lower her taxes—in this case, about $3 million on a purchase price of $35 million. It isn't that the world's richest woman and twelfth richest person (according to a Forbes magazine 2005 estimate) scooped the painting out from under the National Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had banded together to try to keep it in a public collection when the New York Public Library decided to sell it off. It isn't that Walton will eventually stick this talisman of New England cultural life and a lot of other older American paintings in The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Walton family museum she's building in Bentonville, Arkansas, the site of Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters—after all, people in the middle of the country should get to see some good art too. It might not even be, as Wal-Mart Watch points out, that the price of the painting equals what the state of Arkansas spends every two years providing for Wal-Mart's 3,971 employees on public assistance; or that the average Wal-Mart cashier makes $7.92 an hour and, since Wal-Mart likes to keep people on less than full-time schedules, works only twenty-nine hours a week, for an annual income of $11,943—so a Wal-Mart cashier would have to work a little under three thousand years to earn the price of the painting without taking any salary out for food, housing, or other expenses (and a few hundred more years to pay the taxes, if the state legislature didn't exempt our semi-immortal worker).

The trouble lies in what the painting means and what Alice Walton and her personal fortune of $18 billion or so mean. Art patronage has always been a kind of money-laundering, a pretty public face for fortunes made in uglier ways. The superb Rockefeller folk art collections in several American museums do not contain any paintings of the 1914 Ludlow Massacre of striking miners and their families in Colorado, carried out by Rockefeller goons, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles doesn't say a thing about oil. But something about Wal-Mart and Kindred Spirits is more peculiar than all the robber barons and their chapels, galleries, and collections ever were, perhaps because there's no redemptive Carnegie library-building urges behind Walton's acts, or perhaps because, more than most works of art, Durand's painting is a touchstone for a set of Amercan ideals that Wal-Mart has been directly savaging.... p. 319

The book was also featured here: "The Idiot's Secret."

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