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.