You know you’re wading in deep bullshit when you see the title “The Unsparing Genius of Esther Perel.”
Oh please do spare us.
Sorry. “Leading Mindful Living Expert” and “Certified Yoga Therapist” Ira Israel broadcasts to The Good Men Project and Huffington Post that Esther Perel is nothing short of GENIUS. (Like picnics are a few sandwiches short. Or loads are a couple bricks short. Or casseroles are a few peas short…)
Maybe Ira lost oxygen to his brain attempting a double Buddhasana (Google it). How else can you explain?
“Esther Perel commands a much more expansive breadth of knowledge regarding relationships than anyone I have ever read, her insights are blistering, and the manner in which she has aggregated the academic literature and assimilated her clinical observations is nothing short of genius.”
Maybe you just haven’t read a lot, Ira?
Frankly, I couldn’t get past the douche-y first sentence. “For patients who wish to deconstruct the myth of romantic love I always recommend…”
I thought people went to therapists to learn to get along with their mother-in-laws better. Or fight fairly with their spouses. Or cope with their children’s drug habits. No. Apparently there is an entire segment of the therapy market that goes to Deconstruct Myths.
Do they sit around camp fires and read John Campbell? Are there hash brownies?
Anthropologically she observes that the shift during the Industrial Revolution from village to city life caused the burden of selfhood to shift from the tribe to the individual. Just as Sartre posited that we are “confronted” by our relatively new freedoms, Ms. Perel notes that contemporary urban life places the onus on the individual to decide “how much we eat, sleep, work, and fuck.”
I hate when the tribe tells me what to do. The tribe is not the boss of me! But how will I ever deal with the Burden of Selfhood unless the tribe tells me how much to eat, sleep, work, and fuck? I can’t be expected to make decisions! Damn you freedom!
The UBT can’t take much more of this article. Just one Esther Perel concept at a time, otherwise the engine starts to melt.
..her work on infidelity which she reframes as “a desire to feel alive;” she claims that the majority of people who stray from their marriages have been faced with their own mortality in some way during the preceding three years and their affairs function as a temporary antidote against certain demise.
I’ve done some work on bank robbing, which I’ve reframed as a “desire to have money.” I’ve also done some work on hegemonic systems and colonial rule, which I’ve reframed as “I can take your stuff because I have guns and chicken pox.” And I’ve also done work on the stubborn existence of my squidgy midsection, which I’ve reframed as a “desire to eat carbohydrates.”
Esther and I should really compare scholarly notes some time! Over hash brownies!
Anyway, that’s not why I was writing. I just couldn’t skip over those nuggets without snarking. (I am avoiding the whole divorce is dignity over forgiveness shit. Those bitter chumps who can’t get over ONE SINGLE indiscretion! Otherwise my brain will explode.)
I wanted to deconstruct “Monogamy is a gift.”
What the fuck does that mean? Monogamy is a gift? What, you mean like a hostess gift you take to a party? Monogamy is a scented candle?
Monogamy is a commitment. You choose (oh damn those individual liberties!) exclusivity with your partner.
I’m not entirely sure why I find the “monogamy is a gift” argument offensive. I think there is this whiff of triviality, along with this monogamy as a dog treat imagery I have in my head.
Monogamy dangled over a hungry schnauzer.
“Have you been a good boy?”
Schnauzer: Pant! pant! GIVE ME THE TREAT!
“Are you deserving of the monogamy biscuit?”
Schnauzer grows more frantic, circles madly.
“Maybe I should give the biscuit to Ginger, the Australian shepherd instead? She’s been a good girl.”
NO! DON’T GIVE MY BISCUIT AWAY! (barks desperately.)
(Flings the biscuit.) “Here you go!”
Do cheaters even WANT the monogamy biscuit? Only chumps want the monogamy biscuit. I gave the “gift” of my monogamy to my cheating ex. He accepted it as his right and due, and gave me a counterfeit “gift” in return.
Here’s what monogamous commitment looks like to me: I am so lucky to have you. I respect and admire you so much, I want to be yours. To be your partner, would be such an honor.
I want someone to feel that way about me. Not give me monogamy as a grudging gift, or a badly chosen one, like an itchy sweater from Aunt Mildred. I want a commitment that is shared happily and freely. And that has substance — through sickness and health, for richer for poorer.
You can’t do that? Fuck the biscuit.
This column ran previously. The UBT is trying to work its way towards choking down “What’s Wrong with Infidelity?” — EP in the Economist for fuck’s sake. Stay tuned.