Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We Need More Celebrity-Authored Self-Help Books

If there's anything you can say, with conviction, about celebrities, it's that they're all good writers. And smart. And insightful. If that weren't the case, how would they have become famous in the first place?

What? You said something about a couch? Crests? They had big crests? I didn't catch that. Why would producers care about nice, high crests?

Last year Signet sold 10,000 copies of Othello; Marilu Henner's Wear Your Life Well just had its initial printing of 25,000 in hardcover. In it we learn to "love ourselves," "pay attention to your spouse," and "the brain is the sexiest organ in the body."

Yes, we learn all those things.

If things you "learn" are taught--frequently--on daytime television, then maybe you're better off living among the Pennsylvania Dutch. That's just my opinion. But I was reading Sean Ireton's An Ontological Study of Death today, so maybe I'm just too low-brow.

If people would just buy paperback anthologies of Freud's work, all these self-help books could be shredded; the pulp used to make environmentally friendly shin guards. Freud explains it all. And he actually explains it. He doesn't give you cliches or platitudes. Mourning and Melancholia. The Ego and the Id. Try it sometime.

Or if you don't like Freud, what about Nietzsche? And if you don't like Nietzsche, try Plato. They're the M*A*S*H episodes from which every single Family Ties and St. Elsewhere plot was ripped. They're the Mel Brooks whom Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer attempted to paint their faces to match.

It's all about being lazy. Few people actually want to understand things. They just want the kernel. They just want the palliative. So you have men and women living among piles of old sweaters, shoppings bags, and boxes. And in comes someone to tell them to "respect your stuff." That's better than "be who you are," but not by much.

I think TV robbed people of introspection. So you get shows like How Clean is Your House going into disgusting, disgraceful pits, and the denizen of the hovel emerges to claim it's not really a priority to be clean. No, why would it be? Paradise Island is on. Order some more Sonic burgers.

But what happens? In comes the TV host to tell them what to do. And, magically, lives are turned around. Because TV has stepped in. TV has steered them in the right direction. TV knew what was best for them, and changes were made.

It's the same with celebrity-authored books. I can't imagine the kind of person whose life would change after having Ivana Trump tell them to live every day to the fullest. But they must exist.

That reminds me of a story once told to me by a friend who went to Yale. On the final day of his freshman-level metaphysics class, a student asked the professor to name the one book he'd recommend as required reading to live an informed, honest life. The professor looked at the student, paused, and said, "Mine."

No comments:

All Posts On This Site Are Intended As Juvenalian Satire. If They Veer Into Horatian Satire, That's OK Too. Just, Please, Don't Take Them Too Seriously. PhD Students Can't Afford Libel Suits. CUPE Doesn't Cover Court Costs.
Site Meter