<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/lNbO4ToPT2Q” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
I was intrigued. A lot of Hollywood types write all kinds of things but not many of them do self-help books and Vinny G is definitely on the low side of the list of people I would have expected to do it. I’ve never seen Jersey Shore but I’ve heard quite a bit about it. From my understanding it’s just this side of soft porn. You know what though I could care less that I haven’t. I’m still mad at MTV for changing from a music channel to…that. Seriously, this is what they’re running instead of Headbanger’s Ball? II did see the clip of Snooki getting punched in the face at the bar. Several times. Needless to say I understand the influence of this show on pop culture.
I want to say first that I think it took a lot of courage for him to write it, especially all of the personal details of his life and what was going on in his head. He was definitely bragging a little about his conquests but I probably would too if I was him so I’ll reserve criticism. The fact that he did that was enough for me to feel almost obligated to review the book. I also respect the fact that he wants to use his fame to help people. He mentioned this and also I have to give him a lot of respect for that. He wants to be a good guy and I think he has the potential to do great things. I just don’t think GLT’s count as great things.
At any rate, this is a self-help book and not just a piece of fluff that stars put out to make money and get their name in the news a little more. In as such, I feel the right and obligation to dissect it a bit, the way any academic would do. Besides, if people are actually going to use this to deal with their issues they should know the upsides and downsides, and where I see him coming from. Very important to understanding the angle.
It’s pretty clear, and he does basically admit to it, is that it is pseudo-scholarship. The plan he developed worked for him. Nothing to knock but that doesn’t make it Torah from Mount Sinai. Even though he did do research while setting up the program for himself and before writing the book, it’s pretty clear the research was relatively thin. People like rabbis and gurus spend years studying material before they start preaching to the masses. He clearly didn’t do that, and didn’t claim to. He never claims expertise, to his credit. It’s pretty clear also he doesn’t think of himself as an academic, since he wrote the way he speaks. I think he did it to sound cool but he sounds like he’s trying to be cool. He lost on both sides: sounds dumber than he is and less cool to boot.
The background to understand is that he basically goes over the path of how he rejected his religious background and psychology in favor of Eastern thought/pop psychology. The priest he mentioned clearly dropped the ball by offering him a one-size-fits-all solution of go and pray rather than treating him like an individual and really understanding who he was. For whatever he’s doing in public he’s clearly a religious guy and the priest could have changed his life by taking an interest in it. I wouldn’t say that he ran to a psychologist as a result but the advice to go there should have come from him and not the aunt. I also understand why he rejected psychology since there was too much of a rush to run for the pill. I also agree that shouldn’t be the first course of action, though I firmly believe these medicines can literally be life savers and shouldn’t be dismissed.
The most positive aspect of the book is his focus on free will. This is very Jewish. We believe that G-d can dictate to us about our thought, speech, and action because we are in control of all three. He also took Rebbe Nahman’s advice to heart (not that he even knows who Rebbe Nahman is) that it is a mitzvah gedolah (great deed) to always be happy. Vinny G says several types to shift your thoughts toward happiness and this is good advice.
The major difficulty I found with the book is lack of substance behind it. Not to get on his case for not doing his homework but most people working in this field have been sitting and studying for years. Evidence for his lack of knowledge is his misuse of the term ego. Look up what Freud said. Vinny is using it the way we use the term the yetzer hara, the evil inclination. That part of you that leads you away from your true correct path in life and behavior. He’s trying to explain what “your true self” is, yet this is a point debated by philosophers and theologians over the centuries until this day.
I only have one piece of advice for Mr.Guadagnino. He needs a mentor. You can’t construct yourself out of a book. These are deep concepts and you need to know how to apply them. That being said I’m disappointed in Deepak Chopra. He could have been and could potentially be that mentor. Instead he smacked Vinny down. Let’s just see what happens when the College Rabbi gets his hands on his last book. >:-)