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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Proof positive that good ideas are not good enough, 18 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes: Harnessing Our Power to Change the World (Hardcover)
It is a commonplace among entrepreneurs and business gurus that anyone can have a good idea. The difference between success and failure usually lies with the execution of that idea. That is where people come up short. And that is precisely where this book fails.

The idea is an intriguing and attractive one. Thanks to the plethora of superhero movies now, awareness of the genre has hardly been greater. They excite, they inspire, they feed some deep human need. Why not take this consciousness and funnel it into some serious reflection and application for personal development? Great idea! Pitiable execution.

Here are my problems with the book.

It feels like an add-on to Chopra's already published blockbuster 'The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success'. Did I say "feels like"? Sorry. I meant, "is". Yes, the names of the seven laws are different, but the thrust is the same, as is the Western science and Eastern spirituality fusion that is Chopra's trademark. This book very much cruises in the slipstream behind its more recognised elder.

Chopra has little knowledge of or direct experience in the genre about which he is writing, that is, comic book superheroes. This irritated me mightily. Write about what you know, please. He got round this by interjecting the text with ersatz dialogues in which Gotham (his son) enlightens his father with comic book illustrations of each spiritual point discussed. The whole thing has the credibility of an Adam West punch-up.

Much of the book reads like a foot-up for Chopra's son Gotham and his comic company. Indeed, in later editions of the book, the son is attributed as a co-author. Maybe the word nepotism is too harsh, maybe not. At any rate, I found the illustrations that introduced each new chapter, and for which Gotham was responsible, mundane and superfluous.

The actual self-help content of the book ranges from the hackneyed to the mystical. Yes, it's a personal thing, but I found the advice too generalised, and the detail too outside the boundaries of acceptable science. Self-help authors who talk too much about quantum physics make me nervous.

But my largest problem with the book lies in its content. How can I say this in a way that conveys exactly the full force of my conviction here? Here goes. WHAT THE BOOK SAYS ABOUT SUPERHEROES IS WRONG, OBVIOUSLY AND FACTUALLY WRONG. I think Chopra knows this, and attempts to slither out this dilemma with a cunning ploy.

"Superheroes remain free of those toxic emotions by not denying emotional pain but by being in touch with it and moving beyond it...Because of the clarity of this awareness, true superheroes take responsibility for all painful experiences without ever playing the role of victim." (18)

"Superheroes don't waste time or energy in self-righteous morality or judgments of the moral actions of others...True superheroes act in concert with the world around them." (45-6)

Please notice the pattern here. First, Chopra makes an absurd statement about superheroes that does not apply to many of them. Seriously, The Punisher, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and The Hulk are free of toxic emotions and in concert with their worlds?!? Then, Chopra qualifies his statement by declaring that his pious pronouncement only applies to "true superheroes". This slick manoeuvre allows him to bypass all those superheroes that don't conform to his point by excluding them as not "true" superheroes.

I can't decide whether this mistake is due to arrogance or ignorance. I suspect the latter. Chopra just doesn't know his source material well enough to realise that many of the superheroes in graphic novels are complex, conflicted individuals who have long since wandered from the goody-goody, binary worldview of the 1940's. Chopra was born in that era but has since grown up. So have superheroes.

I borrowed this book from by library and read it in one sitting. If you want some insights on superheroes for similar time expenditure, watch Unbreakable. If you want more meat on heroes, go to Joseph Campbell. If you want to learn about the spirituality of superheroes, do what Chopra should have done and read the source material. If you are British, read 2000 AD. 'The future is now' is it's motto. But unfortunately all you will find in this book is the past, and a fairly feigned one at that.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Jun 2013 22:48:45 BDT
Hill Walker says:
Chopra has been earning money for old rope for years. Well done for taking the time and energy to read the book.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jun 2013 19:23:48 BDT
Allen Baird says:
Thanks Hill Walker. On the same theme, I intend to try Gene Landrum's book 'The Superman Syndrome' in the near future to see if it does a better job.
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