Friday, April 16, 2010

Thing 3 Burn a Book

Alright, let me start by saying I'm not, nor will I ever be, in favour of burning books. Proper book burning ceremonies have been used by different dictatorships and regimes to censor independent thought, to control masses and to brainwash their public. I put it on The Project only because I knew that it was something that was totally new to me, and that's what this is all about....

Mind you, turned out to be great craic.

Self help books resist flames, apparently.

It's a difficult thing to try to decide: Which book will I torch for my own rather twisted form of amusement? The selection policy was based on my own, sometimes nerdy, sometimes pompous sense of taste. That rules out comics, science fiction or anything about zombies (I warned you, I'm a giant nerd, there's pretty much no point in denying it, everyone knows...). It also rules out any of the classics, since I appreciate a thoroughly good book, particularly one which has contributed to society. Also ruled out are cookbooks, because they're my secret love (not anymore eh?). I couldn't possibly burn a kids' book either, not in good conscience anyway...

It's going to have to be something I hate. Something that I loathe with every bone...

Chick Lit? Nah... I don't hate it enough. It's annoying, and I'll pretty much never read another one ever again, but it's not that deep down in the pit of your stomach hatred.

The Twilight Series? Now there's a possibility. That's got potential. Quite literally millions of people everywhere have been drawn in by this utter nonsense... but I think I've just transferred my loathing of the movie onto the book. I've never even read them, so I know where my ire really lies.

Self-help books? Bingo.

"How many of you have self-help books? Okay, that's your first problem. You can't help yourself, because your *self* sucks!"

That's my favourite quote from the 2006 movie School for Scoundrels, delivered as only he can, by Billy Bob Thornton. I loathe the idea of a quick fix. That whatever problems you've run into in your life, that a book can tell you how to fix them. One book. Six billion people on the planet, all with different experiences, all with different outlooks on the world, all with different problems... which apparently can be solved by one book. That's just stupid.

So the new problem is which self-help book, with all its smug, self-righteous preaching should I burn? Pixie Head has the answer. She's a useful one to have about...

It's called The Secret, and apparently millions of people all over the world have taken great comfort from it. I lasted twelve pages before my gag reflex started to act up... It's a book that tells you how to get anything you want. Literally. Anything. New car? The Secret's got the answer. Religious enlightenment? The Secret will tell you where to go. Want to fall in love and get married? The Secret has a friend that would so suit you, and you'll both be married and happy in no time. It's the miracle book for people who don't want to actually learn anything from life...

Token Northy calls me a Nazi, and I've to grudgingly admit that I'm enjoying burning the book way more than I thought I would.

There's a self-righteous, pompous, snobby, Neanderthal pyromaniac lurking inside me. It's a weird feeling, because I'm definitely against the burning of books. I'm against any form of censorship or thought-control. I'm in favour of different opinions and new ways of looking at things, so this really should go right the centre of what I don't like... but I like burning things.

Here's a photo of me being a pyro...

To be honest, I'm kind of glad I've got this one done. Thing 4 is tomorrow... what to do, what to do...

P.S. Keep the new suggestions coming. Some of them are awesome, and it's starting to pick, so we might actually get a finalised list by next month. Please and thanking you....


  1. excellent choice danny... the secret is absolute trousers

  2. Great tirade against The Secret here:

    "Secret"-style belief is a perfect product. Like Coca-Cola, it goes down easy and makes the consumer thirsty for more. It's unthreateningly simple, and a lot more facile, sentimental and, perhaps paradoxically, intractable than the old-fashioned kind of belief."

    "The Secret" is a perfect example of everything that has gone horribly wrong with our culture over the last ten or twenty years. Don't bother actually working hard for something - just think about it positively and it'll happen. There's nothing stopping you becoming a professional athlete, even if all you do about it is sit around in your jocks eating batter burgers from Donkey Fords and engaging in a bit of wishful thinking now and again... Or, to give a real-world example, there's no reason why you can't grow up to headline a major music festival even if you're the infantile, talentless bastard offspring of a gerbil and a bebo page. Jedward probably haven't read "The Secret", but you can be sure its philosophy has been flowing through their veins since birth.

    This'd all be irritating but mainly funny if it wasn't also so dangerous. A woman wrote to Oprah after she harped on about the book on her show, saying she was giving up Chemo and was going to rely on positive thinking to cure her cancer, forcing Oprah to make a statement saying that The Secret wasn't actually the solution to every problem. While most of us realise this, there are always vunerable (or just plain stupid) people who'll take books like this completely literally.

    The other problem is that while the book states that you can achieve anything simply by thinking in the right way, it also implies that anything bad that happens to you is essentially your own fault for not doing the same. To paraphrase the Salon article again, trying telling that to the survivors of Auschwitz.

    Some shit you have to work hard at for years. Other shit, for better or worse, just happens to you for no particular reason (possibly while eating batter burgers from Donkey Fords). That's the real Secret.

  3. Get in there Yann!! Maybe you should be writing this blog?!? Good stuff.

  4. Cheers. Feels good to write something again.