2/1/07

Reading SHAM by Steve Salerno, about the Self Help and Actualisation Movement. It’s a scathing attack on the self-help industry, in particular on gurus like Anthony Robbins (Awaken the Giant Within) and John Gray (the Venus and Mars books), and on the way the two core approaches, Victimisation and Empowerment, have corrupted public life, particularly in the US. Victimisation is the view that whatever your current problem, it’s not your fault, it’s caused either by an abusive or misguided upbringing or by a  newly-recognised syndrome (i.e. an illness).

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15/12/06 Listening and speaking

Chaired the Arts Festival meeting last night. Some anxiety about the role, until it hit me (afterwards) that that’s what it is: a role that needs to be done. It doesn’t mean I’m personally responsible for the existence and quality of an Arts Festival in the town next year. It doesn’t mean I have to make executive decisions and carry the can for them. It doesn’t mean I suddenly have to be a charismatic leader (just as well!). It’s not about self-expression or my performance. It just means that a group of people discussing something can do so in the secure knowledge that someone is listening, bringing in those who’re less assertive, summarising every now and then and moving the discussion on. That’s all. In those terms I can manage.

In a way it ties up with a meeting earlier in the day with a friend who’s going through a difficult time: the role there is to be listener, not to push my own agenda. And there’s a corollary in musical performance,  I’m learning,  where your job is not to  ‘be fascinating’ but to allow some  music to come over to the audience.  It doesn’t mean you  have to be a statue or  not get into the  emotion of the song, but it does mean being aware of when you’re delivering the song and when you’re pushing a personal agenda of ‘look at me’.

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Snake Oil and physics

Interesting programme last night by Derren Brown¬†, exploring the willingness of spiritual/New Age/alien-abductionist/evangelicals in the US to accept Brown (under assumed identities) as a possessor of spiritual abilities, which of course fit with their particular school. To his credit Brown did not mock them, although by demonstrating mediumship, laying on of hands and remote viewing … Read more

What you believe

If you like abstract thought, take a dip into this: 120 intellectuals were asked ‘What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it’?’¬† The results are here at The Edge.org , and there’s a more accessible synopsis of some of them at Jay Cross’s site . First gig of the year coming … Read more