Grabbed this on a whim at a cozy independent bookstore in DC over the break. Started reading it over a pint of porter.
The in-depth discussion of DavidGrabbed this on a whim at a cozy independent bookstore in DC over the break. Started reading it over a pint of porter.
The in-depth discussion of David Foster Wallace's suicidal nihilism was pretty interesting, as were some of the bits about Homer. The chapter on Melville was oustanding. Otherwise, it was a mish-mash of woo-infected academic BS trying to pass itself off as "secular." Now I just want to read Moby Dick again.
To grapple with some serious, secular, useful ideas about human life and meaning, just read the Greeks themselves. I tend to agree with Nietzsche (who is typically misinterpreted, once again, in this book) - everything after the Greeks is just an unnecessary, confusing tangent.
I feel bad giving it only two stars, because the good parts were really, really good, and the book was compellingly written, so much so that it wasn't too much of an awful slog to get through the long, meaty "Christian" center; and, as aforementioned, some aspects of it were truly eye-opening, and led this English MA and former bookseller to go so far as *dog-earing pages*. But, alas, there was no real thesis, and it did not live up to its promise.
I love a good polemic, and I am hypercritical of conventional romance and sentimentality, but this wasn't really "against love." It was extremely proI love a good polemic, and I am hypercritical of conventional romance and sentimentality, but this wasn't really "against love." It was extremely pro romantic love - and lust. It should've been titled "Against Monogamy." Still, there are plenty of good points to be made on that topic, and the author did it pretty well, although the overall result reads a bit selfish and immature. It should be noted, however, that she also forewarned the reader about her aims in writing a polemic, saying it's necessarily a one-sided, overwrought treatment. Definitely worth reading if you're interested in the topic, but not the mind-blowing criticism of romance I'd hoped for.
ETA: the second half of chapter four was by far the most compelling part of the book. But it's more about criticizing marriage, and especially the marriage of marriage and civil law, than love. The state uses romantic infatuation and lust to coerce people into legalized fidelity and the nuclear family model, and she discusses this nimbly....more
I wish I had read this book twenty years ago when it was written!
Despite being a little out of date in the details (the references to "the Soviets" weI wish I had read this book twenty years ago when it was written!
Despite being a little out of date in the details (the references to "the Soviets" were charmingly nostalgic for this 80s kid), his central thesis is even more relevant today: this culture is killing the planet. Indigenous people are not passive recipients of Western charity and civilizing; rather, they are trying desperately to hold their cultures together in an effort to save the planet - *they* are helping *us*.
This is probably one of my favorite books. I wish he'd write a follow-up.
If you liked it, be sure to read some Derrick Jensen....more