A friend of mine recommended a flick called Eat, Pray, Love to me after she'd seen it recently, I watched the trailer which was included for it on another film I was watching this even and decided to look it up and was nearly more interested in some of the reactions to it and the book it's based on that the movie itself. Reactions like:-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eat,_Pray,_LoveMaureen Callahan of the New York Post disliked the book because of its spiritual themes, especially its focus on Eastern religion. She heavily criticized the book, calling it "narcissistic New Age reading," and "the worst in Western fetishization of Eastern thought and culture, assured in its answers to existential dilemmas that have confounded intellects greater than hers." In addition, she was critical of Oprah's focus on the book, as well as Oprah's fans who enjoy the book, asking why her fans are "indulging in this silliness," and why they aren't "clamoring for more weight when it comes to Oprah's female authors."
Now, I understand that this book sounds like it was in part biographical, an account of someone taking an adult gap year following a divorce. Do you think as a result that therefore author could really be criticised for producing an account "assured in its answers to existential dilemmas that have confounded intellects greater than hers", to be honest if it worked for her then surely that is the point?
I've always thought that the key point about existentialism is that it suggests individuals should seek their own truth, so perhaps its an example of the "full cat versus the hungry Socrates" and which would you rather be?
I would suggest that there is a lot of writing of this kind around presently, a lot of it is pretty lightweight too, suggesting, even if only implicitly, that disatisfaction and dilemmas can be satisfactorily worked out and resolved with things like spiritual tourism. I dont like it because on the one hand it is often rich people reporting about their rich lives, rich dilemmas and rich solutions.
Not to suggest that merely because of their wealth and status differentiates them from the majority of people, probably even the majority of their readership, that they're not going to have anything of worth to share merely that often they report on a life so different as to not be that meaningful or applicable to most people.
The other reason is that they can supply superficial solutions or profile and promote navel gazing. One of my favourite authors writing in the alienated theme suggests that the absurdity of modern life, which makes it difficult to be happy for his readership will make it difficult to propose any solution because its going to be experienced individually or personally anyway and everyone has to work it out for themselves. That's in contrast to what many of these books supply to their readerships.
What's your views about this sort of writing, is it all a narcissistic exercise and hot air or worthwhile? Is it a good idea for people to share the experience of feeling that they "arent really living" and what they've done to overcome that state of mind and mood?