A couple of months ago I linked to a YouTube video of a trailer for Mary Poppins as a horror movie. I guess this would be the exact opposite:
"The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
And (I always feel like)
(Somebody's watching me)
And I have no privacy
-Rockwell, "Somebody's Watching Me"
Consider City Number One. In this place, all the myriad cameras report their urban scenes straight to Police Central, where security officers use sophisticated image-processors to scan for infractions against the public order -- or perhaps against an established way of thought. Citizens walk the streets aware that any word or deed may be noted by agents of some mysterious bureau.
Now let's skip across space and time.
At first sight, things seem quite similar in City Number Two. Again, there are ubiquitous cameras, perched on every vantage point. Only here we soon find a crucial difference. These devices do not report to the secret police. Rather, each and every citizen of this metropolis can lift his or her wristwatch/TV and call up images from any camera in town.
Here a late-evening stroller checks to make sure no one lurks beyond the corner she is about to turn.
Over there a tardy young man dials to see if his dinner date still waits for him by a city fountain.
A block away, an anxious parent scans the area and finds which way her child wandered off.
Over by the mall, a teenage shoplifter is taken into custody gingerly, with minute attention to ritual and rights, because the arresting officer knows the entire process is being scrutinized by untold numbers who watch intently, lest her neutral professionalism lapse.
In City Two, such micro cameras are banned from some indoor places... but not Police Headquarters! There, any citizen may tune in on bookings, arraignments, and especially the camera control room itself, making sure that the agents on duty look out for violent crime, and only crime.
Steve Martin used to do a routine that went like this: "You too can be a millionaire! It's easy: First, get a million dollars. Now..."
If you put that routine between hard covers, you'd have "The Secret," the self-help manifesto and bottle of minty-fresh snake oil currently topping the bestseller lists. "The Secret" espouses a "philosophy" patched together by an Australian talk-show producer named Rhonda Byrne. Though "The Secret" unabashedly appropriates and mishmashes familiar self-help clichés, it was still the subject of two recent episodes of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" featuring a dream team of self-help gurus, all of whom contributed to the project.
The main idea of "The Secret" is that people need only visualize what they want in order to get it -- and the book certainly has created instant wealth, at least for Rhonda Byrne and her partners-in-con. And the marketing idea behind it -- the enlisting of that dream team, in what is essentially a massive, cross-promotional pyramid scheme -- is brilliant. But what really makes "The Secret" more than a variation on an old theme is the involvement of Oprah Winfrey, who lends the whole enterprise more prestige, and, because of that prestige, more venality, than any previous self-help scam. Oprah hasn't just endorsed "The Secret"; she's championed it, put herself at the apex of its pyramid, and helped create a symbiotic economy of New Age quacks that almost puts OPEC to shame.
I was taught "The Secret" when I was younger by a well-guarded book shown to only those who can understand the secret. It's called "The Little Engine that Could". He thought he could do it, he worked towards his goal and he took the chance to prove he could do it when the situation presented itself. AMAZING!