Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to...

Editor's Choice

January 13, 2002|By Michael Pakenham

Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe, by Andrew Boyd (Norton, 112 pages, $11.95, softcover).

You'd have to cross stratospheric distances to find a person more skeptical, indeed more hostile, than I am of the treacly sentimentalities and simplisms that infest and infect the bulk of New Age self-help gimmickry. So I delight in this delightfully lean and smart send-up of the entire genre. The idea's simple enough. As the introduction puts it: "Affirmations bathe you in light and manifest all that is positive. ... Afflictions ... remind you that when you feel desperate and alone, you are. ... If your inner child can help you cry again, you must imagine what your inner critic, inner bigot and inner psychopath can do to you." There follows a brisk and brittle series of one-page litanies: A legitimate "inspirational" quote from someone famous, followed by a mock sermonical paragraph by Boyd, and finished up by a conclusionary declaration. Try this: "Mysteries are not necessarily miracles. -- Goethe" And, to finish off: "Everything happens for a reason I make up." Great common sense tonic!

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