guest spot

I believe in angels

Something good in ev’rything I see

I beliiiiiiiiiieve in angels

Cos I know the time is right for me

I cross the stream

I have a dream

It was Lara who first found a copy of Vibrations, in an internet cafe that offers advanced maths tuition alongside spiritual awakening and the fastest beige connection in Melville, but it is me that has been hunting down the full set. Perhaps it’s because I can laugh at the privileged white people by and for whom it is produced without feeling guilty – and believe me, you’ve never seen so much nonsense in one slim, glossy pamphlet.

You’ll have a hard time, too, finding a black face, whether among the contributors, the advertising, or even the stock-library photos they use to illustrate their ‘newz’ section (white woman on mobile phone, white couple walking down the street). Without giving anyone the benefit of any doubt, this is about rich white people who feel unhappy and think there is something wrong with their lives and are looking for a solution and finding it in either the supernatural or in sorting out their own psychological tangles. They are not considering that what is wrong with their lives is that their lives are pointless, concerned only with money and comfort and privilege. They keep their eyes steadfastly averted from politics, from the inequalities and injustices that surround them. They’re too busy looking out for angels, wondering what bottle of oil with a few drops of food dye in it would be best to spray their rooms with today. It hasn’t occurred to them that they might make their ‘community’ a bit happier if they could be bothered to attend the world around them – tip the car guard, talk to the waitress like another human being, or even get to know their white neighbour behind the 8-foot high wall – as opposed to trying to open up a mystical channel to Gaia or reach an ever more subtle communion with their own moods.

Of course you find this wherever there are over-privileged, morally vacuous, culturally ignorant people. But it has a particular resonance in South Africa, doesn’t it? The contrasts are all a bit more in your face here, aren’t they? And this has nothing to do with black African spirituality or religion (as far as I am aware). It’s about people who want religion but are frightened to be seen in church. Or maybe are troubled by all that annoying moral stuff Jesus kept on going on about, all that giving your possessions to the poor. In the New Age, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you don’t want to do it, the Universe probably doesn’t want you to do it. If you’ve got a Porsche 4×4, then that must be what the Earth has ordained. It’s OK. The most important thing is that you feel good about yourself.