Smile or Die

Through a friend of my friend Shannon McRae, this wonderful animation of Barabara Ehrenreich's explication of the Happy People...
I suppose my first encounter with the Happy People would have been in the 1970s. There had been experiments like the attempt to levitate the Pentagon, or my friend Tom's Whole Earth theories about mucus, but these thought experiments harmed no one and made great theater; most of us still understood the difference between reality and make believe.
By 1976, the year Tom Wolfe published "The Me Decade", there was real money changing hands for the power of positive thinking. I knew some Erhard Seminar Training graduates intimately, and learned that my skepticism was not just a buzzkill, but a hindrance to any progress. I nodded and demurred while a honest-to-stereotype yuppie complained that his mother's cancer was "her own damn fault". She had given herself cancer-- not by cigarettes or swimming in chemicals, but by bad, cancer-causing thoughts.
I dodged repeated invitations to attend an est seminar, and instead went looking for Chicago theater while my girlfriend spent her money becoming more "real"-- ironic phrase, now that I think of it. I'm not bitter about never getting real with Werner Erhard; instead I attended a performance by the Japanese Grand Kabuki its own self.
Here Ehrenreich points out that the "think and grow rich" con doesn't just take foolish people's money anymore; it now contributes to our collective delusion. Hell, it's one of the building blocks.

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