Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Rabble Rousing Writer's Take On Tolle

I did it. I finished Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose.

Reading Tolle's prose is like digging through the stuff in a barn, occupied by the most "productive" animals, that hasn't been cleaned in three months.

I'm gonna bite this analysis task off in small chunks.

Tens, if not hundreds of millions of people around the world are being swept into this tsunami of Neo-New Ageism.

First, let me address the book for what it is. Ignore content for now.

Editors are adamant about writing tight - less is more, clarity the goal.

Clarity is nowhere to be found. Oprah claims she had to read the book three to five pages at a time because the content is so deep, meaningful, meaty. I had to read the book three to five pages at a time searching for the content!

Run-on sentences not seen since Dicken's tomes hit the press, populate the pages. By the time a reader finishes the sentence (a.k.a. complete thought) he forgets what the sentence was about in the first place. Fair use copyright laws only allow 250 consecutive words for a quote, therefore I have to be careful and count words before I quote.

But for the curious, here's one (under 250 fair-use words):

If you are alert enough, you may be able to detect some of these unconscious patterns within yourself: demanding recognition for something you did and getting angry or upset if you didn't get it; trying to get attention by talking about your problems, the story of your illness, or making a scene; giving your opinion when nobody has asked for it and makes no difference to the situation; being more concerned with how the other person seesyou than with the other person, which is to say, using other people for egoic reflection or as ego enhancers; tyring to make an impression on others through possessions, knowledge, good looks, status, physical strength, and so on; bringing about the temporary ego inflation through angry reaction against something or someone; taking things personally, feeling offfended; making yourself right and others wrong through futile mental or verbal complaining; wanting to be seen, or to appear important (p.254, 255).

150. Words.

Will Tolle's copy and line editors please stand and take a bow?

For me, as an educated person who happens to be a professional writer, blatant abuse of language structure kills credibility. Especially someone pedaled by Oprah. Most every page has incoherent, redundant sentences. The book as a whole is redundantly redundant. Tolle only needs a paragraph to share his ideology. Instead, he uses 309 pages to say the same thing over and over and over. That's a lot of dead trees. Which is in contrast to his beliefs (for another day).

New Earth is not published by a major house... wait! Let me take that back. In teeny-tiny print, Penguin books shows up as the web reference under the imprint of Plume Books. Click onto Pengin USA's page, and the banner is Oprah holding Tolle's book. Oh, I'd be so embarassed if I were them!

Penguin handles some killer writers - the best in their genres such as Ken Follet, Patricia Cornwell, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Judy Blume, Eric Carl, Roald Dahl...

What an insult to those well-studied artists to print prose that wouldn't make it past the keen eye of a fourth grade teacher.

It's all about the bottom line. The writing may suck dirty pond water through a very large straw, but Oprah likes Tolle. If Oprah likes you, you become a best-seller dominating all the lists. You make gazillions of dollars, euros and yen for the parent publishing house.

Thus, the second sad truth: it's who ya know.

Next post I'll talk about how the very existence (form) of Tolle's book contradicts his world view. No, I'm not kidding.


WordVixen said...

Just from the excerpt you showed, I can see how it's very existence goes against his world view.

Hm... He's kind of like Kevin Trudeau, isn't he? You are your own worst enemy because the world doesn't want you to know the truth. Completely self contradictory, and yet egotistical, and poorly written with no actual information.

Megan DiMaria said...

Well said, Darcie. Thanks for sorting through the ... ah, the "stuff" for us.

A prisoner of hope,

Jan Parrish said...

I am speechless. It's just pure deception - all the way up to the publishing house. Unreal. Thanks for sharing.

Matt said...

I think you need to read the book with an open mind for it to have any effect.

D. Gudger said...

Hey Matt! Thanks for dropping by. I hope you come back as I write more posts on the book to share your opinions.

Everyone else: Anyone flames anybody else on here - I'll send my army of highly trained ankle eating ants after you!

Seriously, I hope folks from varying opinions can be civil to one another - I know from reading the Oprah forums the "christian" folk are behaving anything but Christ-like. Ah, that's a whole other post. Sigh. That's why I'm moving away from the term "Christian" to describe my world view. I like Christ Follower better :)

Pete said...

"Editors are adamant about writing tight - less is more, clarity the goal."

Your comment reminds me of something Jerry Stocking said when he was trying to find an editor for his book, "Spiritual Seduction". He said every editor he gave the book to couldn't understand it and murdered the content by editing it.

The "content" is found in the words and also the form. It works on the right-side of the brain where there are no rules or structure. Tolle is trying to describe what cannot be understood by the logical, left-brain in words. Yeah, it's not going to read like a normal professionally edited book AND it will be long and redundant to a reader who wants things thus and so. An editor would squash the essence out of it.

For me, Tolle's books are better on CD than reading them -- there is less for the mind to do.