Self Help All By Yourself

I can't get over how long people have been buying self-help books when all anyone has to do to improve themselves is just read this column. I realize the column didn't exist in July, 1913, when this advertisement I'm looking at, "Is Nine-Tenths of Your Brain in Darkness?" appeared, but that's a "cop-out." If you're into cop-outs and excuses, read no further. The ad peddles a collection of "28 powerful lessons bound into one magnificent volume" called Power of Will (The Science of Mental Supremacy). The ad states that such men as "Gov. Kapper of Kansas, Asst. Post-Genl. Britt, E. St. Elmo Lewis [does this mean he's from E. St., like Bruce Springsteen?], Supv. of Prod. R.A. Cooke and Dr. Barge of Newman, Ga." have followed these precepts. But I'll tell you one thing. All of these guys, each and every one, are dead. You think Elmo Lewis or Dr. Barge made it to 1940? No way. What's the use of a "strong, keen gaze" if you can't live forever and boss people around while doing so? This is what I'm selling. You buying? Let's deal with immortality first. Among the things Power of Will says it can do is help you "maintain the Central Factors of Body health" and "overcome the tyranny of the nervous system." I've got two words for you concerning both matters: powdered laxative. That's right. One tablespoon of powdered laxative in a glass of water every day and you'll see those Central Factors maintained big time. You know how. Don't make me spell it out for you. And that Nervous system will follow suit. Guaranteed. Throw in a few stomach crunches each morning, keep up with your dental appointments, and when all your friends and family are dropping like flies you'll be storming ahead to your 100th birthday, laughing and boogieing. And who knows how much further you can go? There's no limit! You'll be having sex well into the 23rd century. Another physical aspect the book says it can teach you is "How to train the great executive servant of the Mind -- the Hand." Here's what you do to train the hand. Lie down on the floor and raise both hands above your head. Tap the tip of your right index finger against your left, your right second finger against your left, and so on and so forth, down the finger line. This teaches suppleness and coordination. Before you know it that "executive servant" will do whatever you command, and whenever you command it. I do this exercise at work dozens of times daily, and although I'm told by my superiors to "stop that" and "cut that out" and "get up, for God's sake," I know that these hands will be ready for anything. Yours can be, too. As far as the brain itself goes, Power of Will promises to "eliminate Mind-wandering." This is so easy to do it's ridiculous. It's called focus. While you're concentrating on one thing, you simply banish other things from your mind. For example, I'm fully concentrated on writing this column now. I'm not, say, thinking about the Cleveland Browns' offensive philosophy. If you can call it an offensive philosophy. They score a touchdown in the first quarter, then try to run out the clock. Like that's gonna work against the Dolphins or 49ers. What a joke. Almost as big a joke as owner Art Modell not committing to keeping the team in Cleveland even if the sin tax passes. What'll I do on Sundays if the Browns leave my neighborhood? Maybe I can see more movies. I'd like to see Clockers. I still haven't seen Pulp Fiction. Is John Travolta really a Scientologist? What the hell is that? Whatever happened to all the other Sweathogs? I don't care what happened to Gabe Kaplan, that's for sure. The book says it will tell you "How permanent Influence over others is secured" -- a bunch of baloney, no doubt, about "mental attitude," "poise" and "control of others." Hell-o! Ever hear of a little technique we call "hypnotism"? Hypnotism is the key to influencing others and always has been. I've been fixing co-workers, friends and family with hypnotic stares for years now, waggling my fingers and shouting "You will do as I say and remember nothing!" at them. And while they say "stop that" and "cut that out" and "don't snap your fingers at me" they know I'm a factor to be reckoned with. And they're in a hypnotic state, too. I've just given you a taste of what this column can offer in the self-help arena. If you're foolish enough to want to try Power of Will anyway, send $3 ("a Trifle") to Pelton Pub. Co., 11-18 Wilcox Block, Meriden, Conn. But you know something? The company's probably out of business. Does that tell you anything?

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