“If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it.” — Saul Goodman
“Jerry, just remember . . . it’s not a lie if you believe it.” — George Costanza
In a blog post entitled “Trump and ‘The Power of Positive Thinking,’” Steve Sailer once more returns to the topic of, um, Trump and The Power of Positive Thinking; the latter stands here as a synecdoche for Norman Vincent Peale’s sermons at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, which Childe Trump attended with his father, Fred.
Actually, he mostly just provides an extensive quote from a review of Trump’s 1988 book The Art of the Deal by one Scott Alexander, “who may have the exact opposite personality from Donald Trump.”
The review itself is typical Cloud People snark, with Alexander faux-wondering just what these grubby little real estate Dirt People do for their filthy lucre:
I started the book with the question: what exactly do real estate developers do? They don’t design buildings; they hire an architect for that part. They don’t construct the buildings; they hire a construction company for that part. They don’t manage the buildings; they hire a management company for that part. They’re not even the capitalist who funds the whole thing; they get a loan from a bank for that. So what do they do? Why don’t you or I take out a $100 million loan from a bank, hire a company to build a $100 million skyscraper, and then rent it out for somewhat more than $100 million and become rich?
As you might expect, faux-puzzled Alexander faux-derives from Trump’s book the lesson that these people are just as grubby and unworthy and, well, infra dig as Daddy or your sophomore year sociology prof told you:
As best I can tell, the developer’s job is coordination. This often means blatant lies. The usual process goes like this: the bank would be happy to lend you the money as long as you have guaranteed renters. The renters would be happy to sign up as long as you show them a design. The architect would be happy to design the building as long as you tell them what the government’s allowing. The government would be happy to give you your permit as long as you have a construction company lined up. And the construction company would be happy to sign on with you as long as you have the money from the bank in your pocket. Or some kind of complicated multi-step catch-22 like that. The solution — or at least Trump’s solution — is to tell everybody that all the other players have agreed and the deal is completely done except for their signature. The trick is to lie to the right people in the right order, so that by the time somebody checks to see whether they’ve been conned, you actually do have the signatures you told them that you had. The whole thing sounds very stressful.
Sailer, in turn, derives — I’ll assume ingenuously — this lesson for the plague season:
Trump is good at conveying good news, but not good at conveying bad news. So when there is bad news, don’t expect him to convey very vividly what it is. Your health may depend upon you keeping this in mind.
Perhaps. I find Alexander’s take to suggest he’s the sort of person who thinks The Producers is, au fond, an expose of the dirty business practices of those people; rather like the two salesmen in the lobby at the première of Death of a Salesman who were heard, supposedly, by Arthur Miller to agree that “I always said that Northeast territory is no damn good.”
The commenters have a field day eviscerating this Cloud Person’s intellect, of course: one “Dano” says:
And let me also say the blurb Steve quoted, shows the author has literally NO IDEA about business. No clue whatsoever how a commercial real estate loan is put together. Truly a first-grade level of understanding. Pathetic is WAY too nice a word in describing what Scott Alexander wrote. Infantile in its description. Complete, total Hollywood level of stupidity. If anyone, and I mean even the half-wits at HuffPo, considers what Alexander wrote to be even a minuscule of accuracy is fooling themselves. 
But I was rather more interested in a later comment on having an IDEA (with or without caps); for “newrouter” takes it upon himself to set the dear boy straight:
They have an idea of how to transform a parcel of real estate from its current condition into something more profitable. The rest is just details.
At this point I heard the proverbial “click in my head”: I’ve heard this talk before! They have an idea. . . the rest is just details.
Now the connection between Trump and Positive Thinking has been explored by myself and others on several occasions since his surprisingly successful run in 2016.  Peale’s work, in particular, is basically a thin coating of Christianity over a creamy nougat center of New Thought, America’s native Neoplatonism, homegrown Hermeticism, and two-fisted Traditionalism. As the American spiritual founder Emerson expressed it:
Nature is the incarnation of a thought, and turns to a thought again, as ice becomes water and gas. The world is mind precipitated, and the volatile essence is forever escaping into the state of free thought. 
Since I and others consider Neville Goddard as the greatest spokesman for New Thought in the XXth Century,  I have on occasion tried to relate any influence of Peale’s sermons on Trump to Neville’s contemporary but more original and clearly developed presentations; in this way, rather than Sailer’s generic “happy talk,” we can see this influence in the “imaging” techniques Trump employs, which others have called “meme magic.” 
And indeed, “newrouter”’s aphorism is a concise summary of such techniques: “They have an idea of how to transform a parcel of real estate from its current condition into something more profitable. The rest is just details.”
Neville, of course, provides a bit more detail on having an idea, and the mere details.
Who knows what you are imagining? No one knows, but you can sit down and imagine, and no one can stop you from doing it, but can you give reality to the imagined state? If you do, yes, a bridge of incidents will appear in your world, and you’ll walk across some series of events leading up to the fulfillment of the imaginal state. But don’t give causation to any physical step that you took towards the fulfillment of it.
If you tell them it came to pass because you simply imagined it — no, they will point to the series of events that led up to it, and they will give credit to the bridge of incidents, across which you walked towards the fulfillment of that state, and they will point out some physical thing that was the cause. No, the cause is invisible, for the cause is God, and God is invisible to mortal eye. 
But until now I had not quite realized that Trump, like Neville, is the son of a multi-millionaire real estate investor; and Neville, far more than Trump, has frequently mined that relationship to explain his doctrines. For example:
My father stood on a beach in Barbados 30 years ago and saw it as a perfect place for a hotel. He never faltered in that dream. The years went by and the owners finally died and when it came up for sale the one person who could have paid for it twice what my father could, had gone to Brazil, and his cabled offer arrived 24 hours too late. My father’s dream came true, though he made it 30 years before. He was Jacob and he wrestled with an idea until it became real. He first made it real in his mind’s eye, and when the time came the one person who could have outbid him was called away. My father did not devise that, but when the man in Brazil remembered the sale and sent his bid it arrived 24 hours too late. 
He had an idea; the rest is just details. Now for some background; here Neville gives us some rather colorful details about his father’s business methods:
Every morning after breakfast he would sit down in what we call the Berbice chair, and put his feet up on the arms of the chair. It’s a chair made in the West Indies. And then he would simply with his eyes partly shut, he would see the day as he wanted it to be.
He would carry on mental conversations with men he had to meet that day, from his premises and brought to his conclusion, and that’s how he worked.
And my brother did the same thing. It doesn’t matter what things look like in the world, he sees it as he wants to see it. And things come up, and now they’ve made millions, but millions in a little tiny place like Barbados. 
Apart from the chair, the most interesting detail here is the nature and content of his father’s “seeing”: “He would carry on mental conversations with men he had to meet that day, from his premises and brought to his conclusion.” These are the “just details.” Neville’s father would create a little mini-drama, involving the “men he had to meet that day,” in which they would agree to whatever he needed them to agree to; their subsequent acquiescence is the “bridge of incidents” which outsiders, such as the men themselves, think is random, or caused by their own free will, never knowing that Neville’s father, Joseph — the Biblical dreamer — had dreamed it all up beforehand.
Now recall Alexander’s snarky account:
Trump’s solution is to tell everybody that all the other players have agreed and the deal is completely done except for their signature. The trick is to lie to the right people in the right order, so that by the time somebody checks to see whether they’ve been conned, you actually do have the signatures you told them that you had. The whole thing sounds very stressful.
Well, yes, rather more stressful than constructing a mental drama in a comfy chair, but what’s really going on is not a series of deadpan lies but Trump assuming the successful conclusion of the negotiations — each man putting his signature on the dotted line —  and acting accordingly, with utter confidence that a bridge of incidents will fall into place and bring that assumed fact into reality. As Neville says over and over:
Now let’s take a look at the start of the Goddard family fortune. Interestingly, it seems it was Neville’s brother, Victor, who actually taught the method to his father in the first place:
You can put me to the test tonight by learning how to move.  My brother Victor learned how to move into riches when he had nothing. Living on borrowed money and trying to operate a little shop on a side street, Victor would stand before one of the largest buildings in the island and see “J.N. Goddard and Sons” on the marquee, rather than the existing “F.N. Roach and Company”. This he did every day until the idea was fixed in his mind’s eye. Two years later, the business failed. (You may think that was wrong, but nothing is wrong in God’s name. We ate of the tree of the millennium and fell into right and wrong ). When the building was put up for sale, a man we hardly knew bought it for my brother, and the sign was changed from “F.N. Roach and Company” to “J.N. Goddard and Sons.”
What did my brother do? He moved his imagination. He had no money when he purchased the building in 1922. Now, in 1967, I don’t think you could buy the family out for $25 million. I own ten percent of the stock, but I do not know its value. I came here to tell you, not how to make money, but how to operate the law of identical harvest so that if everything is taken from you tonight you can rebuild it tomorrow. 
Elsewhere, we get even more detail:
Two years later a stranger came in, — it was for sale — and said, “Are you going to buy the building?
And Vic said, “With what?”
He said, “Well, I have money. It’s in the bank, pays me nothing.”
“But,” [Vic} said, “I’ve got no collateral.”
“I’m not asking for any collateral.” He said, “Do you want the building?”
Vic said, “I would love it, but I have no money and I have no collateral.”
He said, “I will tell my lawyer and he will bid for me, because if they know I am bidding for it, they are going to bid it up.”
And, so, the lawyer bid that day. He represented many clients; so they did not know which client he represented. When the sale was over, he — on the surface — was the owner, but we were the owner. All he got from us as collateral was my brother’s signature and my father’s signature.
They paid back the money that he paid for the building in ten years at six per cent, reducing the equity every year by so much; so at the end of ten years it had been paid. It was reduced year after year after year, which we did. We kept our promise. . . And from that little beginning, with borrowed capital, it grew and grew and grew and expanded from one island to another island to another island; it’s all over the islands now, and not one person outside of the immediate family owns one share in the business. And it is still growing, in spite of the depression. He doesn’t listen to any arguments about depressions and recessions and what-not. He is simply growing. . .
Neville even begins to channel a bit of Trumpese:
I know from my own experience with my family what they have done. They started behind the 8-ball. Today , as [for the] head[s] of all the big corporations, they are not paying very much [to investors]. No; profits are down, and therefore dividend checks are down. My brother Victor, who does exactly what I am talking about — it’s all in his imagination — started behind the 8-ball; so this year he did a forty-million-dollar business, and so I got my dividend check. It was a twenty-per-cent dividend. How many companies are paying twenty per cent? He paid me twenty per cent on my stock; and all the other ones, they are going down and down and down, but I got a big check, twenty per cent. That’s unheard of, but we are a private company; therefore, we can pay what we want. It’s not public; every share of stock is owned by the family. So, my dividend check was twenty per cent of the value of my stock, because he didn’t read the papers, and he doesn’t have a TV set, and he’s not influenced by rumors.  He can dream as much as anyone can dream. 
Now that we have the whole family involved, let me bring up one more version of the story, a semi-fictionalized dream where Neville indeed becomes his father; it serves to illustrate one of the Neville’s simplest, and most powerful, techniques for “changing the future” — “I remember when”– which was revealed to him in a dream rather reminiscent of Henry James’ story “The Jolly Corner”  as well as the private world of a Donald Trump:
I found myself, in Spirit, in the interior of a stately mansion in New York City. It was the kind of home the great financial giants lived in at the turn of the century. Fully awake and aware, I was visible to the three generations who were present. The son spoke to his children saying: ‘Your grandfather would stand on an empty lot and say: I remember when this was an empty lot.’ Then he would paint a word picture of his desire for that lot so vividly that those who heard him could see it completed right before their eyes. This is the grandfather who made the fortune we are now enjoying.”
I awoke, recorded the experience, returned to sleep, and re-dreamed the dream – only this time I was the grandfather. Speaking to those present I said: ‘I remember when this was an empty lot.” Then I pictured the building placed there so vividly the very stones molded themselves into the form I envisioned.
This principle can be used in a destructive or constructive way. You can say: “I remember when this was a glorious building and look at it now” as you become aware of rubble where once a glorious building stood. Or you can stand on rubble and say: “I remember when this was all rubble,” as you imagine a glorious building. You can say: “I remember when my friend had nothing and now he has much,” or: “I remember when he had much and now he is so poor.” You can say: “I remember when she was healthy,” which could imply she is now ill, or “I remember when they were unknown,” implying they are now famous. So you see what power was in that revelation. It’s entirely up to you how you use your imagination, but the operation of your creative power is completely up to you. You make the decision, and are therefore responsible for its effect on the world. 
But is it all just a dream, or even, a lie? As he has with so many other aspects of Neville’s life and teaching, Mitch Horowitz has sifted through the available facts. As so often, truth is stranger than fiction:
In 1955, a gossip column reported that Neville came from an “enormously wealthy” family who “owned a whole island” in the Caribbean. This is invention — but over the course of time [the Great Depression!], the Goddard family did, indeed, become rich. This family of green grocers grew into Goddard Enterprises, which is today a large catering and food service that employs about 6,500 people in the Caribbean and Latin America. They cater events, and also prepare meals for airlines, oil rigs, factories, and other industrial facilities. Neville’s father Joseph, called Joe, founded the business, and ran it with Neville’s older brother Victor, of whom Neville spoke frequently in his lectures. Everything Neville described about the rise of his family’s fortune matches business records and reportage in Caribbean newspapers. 
Let’s let the Goddard company tell its own story:
On October 13, 1921, Joseph Nathaniel Goddard formed a partnership with his son, Victor, to open a meat and grocery store located on a side street in Bridgetown. At the time, neither could have foreseen [!] that this small business would develop into a successful multinational conglomerate. Today, Goddard Enterprises spans over 23 countries in the Caribbean, North, South, and Central America. While continuing to take part in the more traditional areas of retailing and wholesaling, operations are expanding into new and exciting industries.
Goddard Enterprises Limited places focus on innovation while staying true to the traditions that helped to first establish the company. Despite its commitment to tradition, the company is considered visionary as it adapts to the changing needs of its consumers. A solid foundation provides a platform to expand in new and exciting ways.
With a visionary approach to our multinational business portfolio comes an expert ability to adapt and evolve with the markets. Our businesses are found within the manufacturing, catering, automotive, building supplies, and financial fields, along with subsidiaries ranging from airline catering to biotechnology. We are constantly expanding into new sectors and reinventing ourselves while keeping our core traditions in mind.
It’s interesting to see Neville’s language adapted into corporate-speak. But let’s get back to Neville:
I could tell you unnumbered stories of this nature.  So, here, I say: dwell in the end. The end is where we begin, for if I’ve seen my name on the marquee, that’s the end. I don’t wait for the incident to take place in my world to move from one to the other to another, leading up to that; I dwell in the end. So, if I go to the very end, what would it be like were it true? 
Now, there’s no literal connection between Trump and Neville, other than an acknowledged connection between Trump and Peale, and an unacknowledged connection between Peale and Neville.  But Neville’s anecdotes, from within the New Thought system of ideas, give us a more. . . um, positive way to understand Trump’s methods.
Rather than “lying,” as Alexander would have it, we can see — or imagine — Trump at each stage of the process looking someone in the eye, shaking his hand firmly and saying, with utmost conviction: “It’s signed right now. Don’t worry about it. Trust me!” And as he says this, someone else finds himself deciding (as it seems to him), yes, I think I will sign that contract, after all.
And we see the same thing at Trump’s virus updates today. “Not a problem, easy to solve, we’ve got the best people working on it, we have the best here in America, incredible job, treatment coming soon, you’ll all be surprised how fast. . .”
The famous Trump word salad. . . is it really an incantation?
It must be understood: this has nothing to do with the bullshit “happy talk” that our “leaders,” such as the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York State, were spewing at the start of the crisis. This sort of thing gets a pass from the MSM; unlike a random comment on Twitter ten years ago used to crucify someone who questions the received opinion of the Club, the MSM never digs up any the then-authoritative but now “no longer operative” blatherings of their favorites; never asking why De Blasio told New Yorkers to “act normally,” “there’s very little threat here,” “transmission is not that easy,” and “just like the common cold or flu,” on March 10, or why his “health commissioner” told New Yorkers to head down to the New Year’s parade in Chinatown.  But, they were listening to “experts,” and besides, they’re Democrats, so they get a free pass.
More importantly, does imaging work? Well, that’s a big topic.  But consider our current focus, Trump. While the press reflexively howls after each briefing, Trump moves from one successful prediction to another, most recently the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, in the teeth of the usual knee-jerk media howls. 
Maybe that’s why 60% approve his handling of the crisis, and his personal numbers are the highest ever. That’s higher than evah.
It’s something called faith, which Americans used to understand: “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” 
What is seen is made out of things that do not appear. Faith does not give reality to things that are not seen. It is loyalty to reality that makes things appear. Can I see the facts the world sees and still believe in the unseen state? If I can remain loyal to the unseen state, in some way I will get confirmation of it. 
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 Essays, Second Series, “Nature.”
 If “Alan Watts is the Norman Vincent Peale of Zen,” — H. Braun, “The Politics of Zen,” quoted in Alan Watts — In the Academy: Essays and Lectures (SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology); edited and with an introduction by Peter J. Columbus and Donadrian L. Rice (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2017) — then Neville (he only used one name) was the Alan Watts of New Thought. In “Doer of the Word,” the Introduction to his abridged edition of Neville’s 1952 book The Power of Awareness (Gildan Media, 2019), Mitch Horowitz says that, “Of all the writers to emerge from the American metaphysical scene in the last century, Neville was the most elegant as a literary figure and communicator. (In this regard, he’s closely rivaled by Alan Watts.)”.
 See my “Lord Kek Commands! The Origins of Meme Magick,” here and reprinted in my collection of essays on Crowley, Neville, Colin Wilson, and Alan Watts: Magick for Housewives: Essays on Alt-Gurus (Melbourne, Victoria: Manticore, 2018).
Because only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted. You hear me, you fucking faggots? A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING. A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. Attention – Do I have your attention? Interest – Are you interested? I know you are, ’cause it’s fuck or walk. You close or you hit the bricks. Decision – Have you made your decision for Christ? And Action. A-I-D-A. Get out there – you got the prospects coming in. You think they came in to get out of the rain? A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy. They’re sitting out there waiting to give you their money. Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it?”
— Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley, 1992).
 Frank Costello: I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.
— The Departed (Scorsese, 2006).
 The Power of Awareness, published in 1952. This last phrase — “for an assumption, though false, if persisted in will harden into fact” — has been attributed to many, usual a British Prime Minister like Churchill or Harold MacMillan.
Billy Costigan: Families are always rising or falling in America, am I right?
Oliver Queenan: Who said that?
Billy Costigan: Hawthorne.
Dignam: [Dignam makes a farting sound] What’s the matter, smartass, you don’t know any fuckin’ Shakespeare?
— The Departed (Scorsese, 2006).
 To move from one place in the imagination to another; since man is his imagination, he is where his imagination is. “This is how it works. I imagined myself into what I am, and I can imagine myself into what I want to be. I am forever becoming what I imagine myself to be, be it good, bad, or indifferent. There is no deity on the outside who condemns and causes you to do what you are doing. You moved into the state you are now occupying either wittingly or unwittingly, for God and your own wonderful human Imagination are one. So when you say: “I and my Father are one” you are speaking of your human imagination!” “A Movement Within God,” 10-16-1967; listen here. As Bert Cooper intoned on Mad Men, “The Japanese have a saying, ‘A man is, whatever room he is in.’” (Season One, Episode 12: “Nixon versus Kennedy”). Another apocryphal saying, by the way. For more on this meme, see my End of an Era: Mad Men and the Ordeal of Civility (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015). It may seem very “woo woo” but consider Heidegger, no less, in his Zollikon Seminars, in which participants are asked to “make present” the Zurich central train station. Heidegger insists that ‘making present’ is aimed at the train station itself, not an image of it, his conclusion being that “We are, in a real sense, at the train station.” (Zollikon Seminars: Protocols, Conversations, Letters, Northwestern, 2001, p. 70)
 Elsewhere we are told that the Roach firm had unjustly squeezed out Joseph Goddard, so this was karma or some kind of justice.
 Tell me again about “All Trump’s businesses went bankrupt!”
 Ignore the fake, failing mainstream news!
 See my essay “The Corner at the Center of the World: Traditional Metaphysics in a Late Tale of Henry James,” reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others: Traditionalist Meditations on Literature, Art, & Culture; ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014), available here.
 Indeed, The Law and the Promise, Chapter Two, “Dwell Within,” contains several stories of “impossible” real estate transactions realized by Neville’s listeners in their own lives. The story told in the lecture “House on the Strip” (11-24-1959) is especially whimsical.
 After Neville left this dimension in 1973, Peale published Positive Imaging: The Powerful Way to Change Your Life (1981) which strikes me, from the title onward, as a fairly blatant attempt to ret-con his “power of positive thinking” system into something very much like Neville; or perhaps it’s just an attempt to ride the New Age imaging fad.
 See “Coronavirus No Match For NYC, Health Commissioner Says,” here. “Barbot took the opportunity to dispel what she called ‘misinformation’ circulating on social media: that Chinatown should be avoided [racism spread by alt-right trolls and Russian bots!] and that there was scientific evidence proving the virus could be contracted from a person not exhibiting symptoms. ‘There is no reason to avoid subways or restaurants or to change your daily routine,” Barbot said.’”
 For more on current psi-research and its relevance New Thought, see Horowitz, op. cit., reviewed here; and Dean Radin, Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe (New York: Harmony, 2018). Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate in Physics and Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge, says that Radin “makes a convincing case for the reality and significance of magic.” Greg (like Neville, he seems to go by one name, and is not to be confused with our esteemed editor here) reports in The Daily Grail that “In its latest issue, American Psychologist — the official peer-reviewed academic journal of the American Psychological Association — has published a paper that reviews the research so far into parapsychological (‘psi’) abilities, and concludes that the ‘evidence provides cumulative support for the reality of psi, which cannot be readily explained away by the quality of the studies, fraud, selective reporting, experimental or analytical incompetence, or other frequent criticisms.’” One recalls Emerson: “The world is awaking to the idea of unity, and these experiments show what it is thinking of. It is and will be magic.” Essays, Second Series, “New England Reformers.”
 See “Democratic state lawmaker thanks Trump and hydroxychloroquine for recovery from coronavirus”: “Some have said Trump’s broadcasting of the drug as a potential coronavirus treatment could result in a shortage for those who need it for other ailments it is used to treat, but Whitsett thanked the president for promoting it. ‘It has a lot to do with the president. . . bringing it up,’ Whitsett said. ‘He is the only person who has the power to make it a priority.’ When asked by the Free Press if she thinks Trump may have saved her life, Whitsett said, ‘Yes, I do’ and ‘I do thank him for that.’” A commenter at Unz.com recalls that “In its March 27 issue, the New Yorker ran a cover story titled “Trump’s Dangerous Messaging About a Possible Coronavirus Treatment,” subtitled “The President has continued to recommend a combination of drugs that are unproven in fighting the novel coronavirus and are known to cause dangerous side effects.” I sure hope that, should they fall ill, those New Yorker editors don’t risk their lives using that dangerous coronavirus treatment now approved by the FDA.”
 “The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, Revised Standard Version)