Monday, August 6, 2007

No reviews for the informercial--and what about all the good stuff?

Well, it seems that no newspaper in New York reviewed the "premiere" of Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard. Certainly not the New York Times, from which I was hoping for something.

The anti-cult bloggers (by the way, I personally do NOT think est, WE&A, or Landmark were/are a full-blown cult or cults) suggest that the Quad Cinema in the Village was actually rented for the weekend, and that, not surprisingly, the place was packed with Werner/Landmark fans. From what I've been reading, the film does sound more and more like an infomercial. And it's an infomercial I'd love to see, and I know I'll recognize a lot of folks in the film, and laugh at the inside jokes, etc. (It was late when I was surfing, and I didn't copy down links. But if you just Google the name of the film, and keeping wading through the links, you'll find plenty of stuff.)

If the theater was indeed rented, that may help explain the lack of reviews. And the anti-Landmark forces seem to have mounted a campaign to communicate their concerns about the evident quasi-self-produced nature of the film to as many critics as possible.

Still, it's unfortunate that it has not been assessed by a professional critic working from some journalistic standard. It's the same old story with Erhard/Landmark stuff: everything written about it comes from a strong point of view.

The anti-Landmark/Erhard bloggers write frequently of the Forum's "dangers," as if they are self-evident (which may seem to be the case within their subculture). But one thing I don't see them do is explain why it is that so very many people do not have an adverse reaction to it. If it really is so dangerous, why do so many people keep taking it? And volunteering? Why do so many people keep reporting it as such a powerful and positive experience?

I understand that some psychologically unstable people may take it and have an incident triggered by something that happens in the program. But psychologically unstable people are incidents waiting to happen. There are plenty of psychotic episodes happening every day, with almost no external provocation, among people who don't take the Forum. People have psychotic incidents at home, while shopping, in church, etc. Life is dangerous, especially to the psychologically unhealthy. I understand the Landmark organization is as clear as was the est and WE&A organizations that their programs are not substitutes for therapy nor are they designed for or appropriate for people in therapy, unless their therapist approves. I also understand that people with a weak sense of self may develop some sort of dependence on being associated with Landmark. And people become fanatically involved with churches, clubs, hobbies, and become celebrity groupies all the time.

The vast majority of we who took the the est training (and now Landmark) emerged not just unscathed, but healthier, happier, more empowered, and more free. Yes, I went through a phase of being highly absorbed, and, yes, I think the work will be served by broadening its modes of outreach and communication. The important thing is the possibilities people create for themselves from participating in these experiences.

1 comment:

GuruTruth said...

I like your use of the word "informercial" to characterize what the film's Web site calls the "documentary", "Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard".

Especially in light of this blog post, Eagle Island Films and the Werner Erhard "documentary", and the background provided on the production staff - this does indeed seem like it could simply be a trumped up "infomercial".