Lindsay Wong Figuratively Speaking

Woo Woo Metaphor and Simile

Lindsay Wong's The Woo Woo on my kitchen table
The Woo Woo book on my kitchen table

This is a coming of age story. It could be a novel except that Lindsay Wong says it is as true as she can say it. There is one great difficulty with that disclaimer. I will get to that later.

My first impression was that the purpose of the book was to blackwash the term “woo woo.” On the first page she sets out her definition of “woo woo.” She refers to “my crazy Chinese family, who were still exorcising fake demons–the Woo-Woo…”

Not one time in the whole book does she use the term the way most people do, to refer to a mystery, a non-physical thing that cannot be scientifically proven. She stays with this equivalence between woo woo and ghosts that are not real. Her eventual emancipation from this fear comes through the good offices of a psychiatrist. This happens in the first chapter. Then comes the back story.

Her back story starts from childhood. She has already been indoctrinated with the woo woo concept, except that her father is cynical and skeptical about it. It’s her mother who promulgates this idea along with emotional abuse. Oh, and her father also dishes out emotional abuse. As do her aunt and uncle. The term “emotional abuse” does not occur in the novel. But, that’s what it looks like to this reader. 

Common Use of Woo Woo

Here are a few examples of the usual meaning and use of woo woo. 

Maryann Kelly of Intuitive Services Insight said, “no one would have ever described me as a woo-woo kind of person. And I take the woo-woo and turn it into WOW, it’s practical, it’s helpful.” 

Laurie Halse Anderson at Book Riot said, “When I’m talking to writer’s groups, I say, “There’s a little bit of woo-woo in this. If you dig the woo-woo, it’s gonna be awesome.”

Sportlux talks about joining a new moon circle, “While once considered ‘woo woo’ and weird, the age-old practice of harnessing the powers of the full moon to conjure up our deepest secret desires…”

This is not a heavily pejorative use like the one employed by Lindsay Wong. She has her own definition, which she eventually shoots down in the book. But it is negative, false and of no value.

Woo Woo at the Source

The origin of woo woo may be a matter of conjecture at this point. I first became aware of the term from Clif High of For a very practical person, he doesn’t hesitate to refer to something of interest as being a bit woo woo. It was from his usage that I came to think of it as I do: mysterious, non-physical, non-material, not scientifically proven, yet of interest, none the less. 

In the book she reveals that she began writing about her “crazy Chinese family” in undergrad classes. And that writing apparently won her way into Columbia. There she got her MFA degree with her thesis being, “Woo Woo Like You.” This book has a long trail of work behind it.

If it had been a straight ahead narrative, it may have been more credible. It’s Lindsay Wong’s strongly figurative writing style that weakens any sense of reality. We all like figurative language. Saying something is like another thing (that is far from identical) stimulates our thinking creatively. Or saying it is something else, likewise. Simile and metaphor. She uses these unstintingly. In some paragraphs every sentence has a new metaphor or simile. From a logical point of view, she is saying A is like B, C is D, E is like F, G is H. Of course logic cannot comprehend poetry. She uses her poetic license to pile on the figurative language until nothing seems real. 

The main conflict in the story is Lindsay versus the woo woo. There is a prefiguring of the resolution in the first chapter, thanks to a diagnosis that she has a particular kind of migraine affliction. Then the next chapter begins the back story.

So we go from false non-materiality to practical scientific reality. Nowhere in the story is there any effort to recognize actual spirituality as a good thing, a real thing. From that point of view her book works for the agenda of the elites. They don’t really like us thinking along spiritual lines. Not even woo woo ones. 

While The Woo Woo has been out for a year and gathering much support from opinion leaders and influencers, there is no indication that I can see of any real change in the way people use the term woo woo. 

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