Don’t Believe the Hype

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I like language. The language of different languages. I can enjoy the beauty, funkiness and wittiness of language. I have never experienced being tortured by language – studying Arabic not included-  until now; I have attempted to read the Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I am old enough to remember what a massive hype it was in the mid nineties. I also remember that I started reading it in a Dutch translation, but I never got very far. I was probably too self-absorbed due to age and my course (drama school) or I just wasn’t riding the new-age wave.

While crashing on Simone’s couch I spotted the work on her bookshelf and decided that the time was right to read it in the English original. The story is a work of fiction dealing with nine ‘insights’ humans have to experience in order to lead a better and more fulfilled life. Simone, who is a bit of a hippy although she does not like the word, really likes the book and so does her boyfriend. When reading the first few pages I was immediately taken aback by the way it’s written, but I thought not to be a snob and bravely ploughed on. In a week I got through halfway the book and then decided not to torture myself any longer nor waste any more of my valuable time. As a fairy I am quite interested in alternative views. These views -new age seems a rather dated term to me, very 20th century-  are often worded in poor language, which makes it difficult to take them seriously. I remember that many a reviewer had problems with the language of the story when the book just came out. And what all those sour pissers moaned about at the time is absolutely true. The story is very badly structured, misses flow and the sentence structure is very wooden. There is very little character development as the only purpose of introducing the dozens of characters as quickly as most of them disappear again – with the exception of the main character who probably makes a major shift at the end of the story- is to provide information on the ‘insights’. Everyone speaks English in the book although the story is set in Peru -an annoyance many non-native English speakers have with the assumption of many Americans that their language is naturally spoken all over the world. Besides a disrespect shown to language or rather the inability to use proper language in order to tell the story, the ideas portrayed in the book seem rather dated and very much written just-before-the turn-of the millennium when some felt a need for defining the spiritual requirements for the next thousand years. The nine ideas called insights the story evolves around come across as pseudo science especially when the explanation of the insights are linked to the main character’s psychology (I only managed to read up to the fifth or sixth ‘insight’ and although I can’t know for sure I don’t expect the tone of the story to change when it explains the remaining ideas). Another aspect I did not like is the way the (then) current state of humanity is seen; the glass is half empty rather than half full. The ‘insights’ deal with overcoming negative aspects rather than stressing the wonderful possibilities we humans (already) have. And although all this ‘wisdom’ comes from Peru the story has a very ethnocentric stance

I guess with all world views you adapt it to your own needs and if you can’t use it you just discard it. If I wasn’t against book burning and hadn’t borrowed this paperback b*llocks I would have burned this piece of tripe as it is an insult to my love for language, my intellect and my spirituality. Word to that.

image: rinkratz

Unfulfilled and dissatisfying prophecy

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About Lemba

Non-conformist Writing Soul and Language Geek from the Lowlands with a South London accent, currently living a nomadic, location- independent lifestyle. While executing the Big Fat Writing Plan I’m invading cyberspace with my views on 'expat living', travel and other lifestyle choices, current affairs and other randomness. Welcome to the Dark Fairy Zone.

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