Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Santiago is a shepherd, who apparently has a great destiny, and when you have a destiny, the world bends over backwards until you realize it. Is this anyone else's experience? Because, pretty much, I was left feeling like that little tidbit was just a load of crap. I guess this is a dream big kind of message book. I just can't buy into this. Okay, I admit to sounding very pessimistic here, but I don't find that the universe is bent upon making my dreams come true. I've got quite a backlog of unrealized dreams and I have yet to see the brass ring just bobbing there in front of me.

I remember The Celestine Prophecy. As a fantasy it seemed sort of sweet and even interesting. The idea that we're capable of being and doing so much more than we currently are. That if you are just open to it, there are these wonderful things in store for you. Then it took a leap that I couldn't follow. I went blindly along and I tried to go with the flow of the narrative. All coincidences are signs and have meaning? Okay, if you say so. You can continue to grow and evolve as long as you stay on the path? Sounds good. That would be nice. Then there was some kind of vibratey invisibility thing going on. That was it for me, I was done.

The book was supposed to be inspirational and I guess, a fable of sorts, but was intended to be read like nonfiction. We were all supposed to soak up all the new age spirituality and be the best we can be. Then they went off the deep end, taking a lot of followers with, they wrote a follow up, or two. I drew the line at the workbook. What was that about? It should have come with the fresh Nikes, the black hooded robe and the poisoned Kool Aid.

In The Alchemist, Santiago has a dream and speaks to a gypsy about it. She tells him he is destined to find a treasure near the great pyramids. He also meets a king who encourages him to follow his destiny. So he sells his sheep and sails off to Africa. With every step he takes and each time he pauses or second guesses himself, we are reminded that when you really want something all the forces in the world work together to make it happen. If you want it, then the whole world is on your side, doing whatever it takes to make sure you get it. I know I'm getting cynical, but this isn't inspirational, its pathetic.

Santiago's travels, although fraught with peril, were fascinating. He saw so much more of the world than if he hadn't given up his flock. He learned languages and experienced many different cultures. That part of the tale was lovely. I think if what Santiago realized was that the treasure he sought had more to do with all that he sauw and learned and experienced as well as the love he found, I would have loved this book. I just think the underlying message here was so hokey and phony. Why do authors or book publishers feel the need to force feed us this nonsense? There has to be a way to inspire us without treating us like suckers. How many of us really have a "destiny?" Does anyone?

So, now I'm wondering, does everything happen for a reason? Does nothing happen for a reason? Is it possible that some things happen for a reason? Does this work with, or contradict, free will? I wasn't inspired by this tale. I felt ripped off by a corny sentiment that never felt real enough to want to buy into, even for the sake of YA fiction. I came away with too many questions that can not be answered and that really really bugs me.


Doctor Life said...

Dearest Piksea,
Of course I do not believe that women ever deserve to be raped. There is a difference, however, between the spiritual world and the human world. I merely postulated that there is a question as to the nature and hand of God. I suggested (perhaps inadequately) that abortion is abosolutely wrong because we don't know the mind of God. IF rape is a punishment (and I hope it isn't) then it would make it morally wrong to abort a child. That's all I was trying to say. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

Doctor Life.

Lookout One said...

Well there will always be questions, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be answered. I think the answers should bring new questions. Have you ever read any of Gurdjieff’s books?

Doctor Life said...

I haven't. Would you share them with me?

Vegetables Go Off said...

I read the Celestine Prophecy and the next one or two and thought they were great, but it did start to get a bit airy fairy. It is an amazing coincidence that I ended up reading your blog mentioning it, (thanks for the words of encouragement about quitting smoking) and thinking about it. I remember that hopeful feeling I got from reading that book, that there may be a purpose given to me by my parents, something I could do for them and everyone. It's soft I know, but its better than propoganda.

JoanneMarie Faust said...

Lookout One - I certainly hope that there are answers and I'm not afraid of new questions the answers will inspire. That's what keeps life interesting, always looking for new answers.

I have not read Gurdjieff's works, but I will definitely look into them.

Lookout One said...

Gurdjieff himself only wrote 3 books. Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson was his first book. It's rather long, and some people find his style hard to deal with. He likes to make sentences that fill an entire page!

However I did enjoy his particular sense of humor, and what he is trying to say is most interesting, though requires an open mind.

There are many books written about him and what he was trying to teach. Ouspensky being one of the more prolific.

Vegetables: You might want to check out this book before deciding to quit smoking.
Slow Burn: The Great American Antismoking Scam

At least make an informed decision. There is much disinformation out there these days that passes for common knowledge.