- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (August 26, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375421890
- ISBN-13: 978-0375421891
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 70 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,035,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Against Love: A Polemic 1st Edition
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Less against love than against the cultural constraints that leads us to create wrong-headed ideas of love, this is book is the perfect antidote to any lingering social guilt about being happily single. Against Love: A Polemic will both shock and irritate, especially when you find yourself nodding your head in agreement while laughing at another broken taboo. Laura Kipnis (author of Bound and Gagged, Ecstasy Unlimited) clearly enjoyed writing this; she lets her wit run rampage over classic married situations and human emotions with results that include comparing adulterers to freedom fighters (using sharpened spoons to tunnel out from under love's barbed wire fences) and referring to tearful confessions of cheating as "funny little couple rituals." These make it fun, but the iconoclastic beauty is in her questions. How did good relationships come to be considered work instead of play? Why, unlike most of history and many other modern cultures, do Americans assume love and marriage go hand-in-hand? What lead to infidelity committed by public figures becoming a source of outrage? Kipnis doesn't have answers. Although urging us to have more compassion for our own desires, she expects her readers are smart enough to supply their own in response to her ideas. That attitude itself is a treat--if you're prepared to keep up through a complex whirlwind of Freud, Marx, Gingrich, Wollstonecraft, and several generations of pop culture. Jill Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
In this ragingly witty yet contemplative look at the discontents of domestic and erotic relationships, Kipnis (Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America) combines portions of the slashing sexual contrarianism of Mailer, the scathing antidomestic wit of early Roseanne Barr and the coolly analytical aesthetics of early Sontag: "Aren't all adulterers amateur collagists? We're scavengers and improvisers, constructing odd assemblages out of detritus and leftovers: a few scraps of time and some dormant emotions...." With a razor-sharp intelligence and a gleeful sense of irony, Kipnis dismantles the myths of romance surrounding monogamy and makes the case for why adultery is a reasonable, often used, escape hatch. Kipnis is often most funny when at her most provocative ("Feel free to take a second to mull this over, or to make a quick call: `Hi hon, just checking in!' "), but even her moments of sarcastic humor can have a sobering effect, as when Kipnis considers the reasons behind the public's obsessive need for reading about real and fictional stories of spousal murders, noting that "perhaps these social pathologies and aberrations of love are the necessary fallout from the social conventions of love." Kipnis is adroit at detailing (sometimes with "notoriously unreliable" sexual self-reporting statistics) how our desire for fidelity is often at odds with basic human needs for personal freedom, and is terrific in dissecting how-or so Kipnis's case goes-"family values" politicians like Newt Gingrich fail miserably to live up to their own rhetoric. In the end, she concludes that adultery and fidelity have to exist side-by-side: "let's face it: purity always flirts with defilement." Kipnis balances her scintillating, on-target observations on straying with an honest sense of compassion for human experience.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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A good friend sometimes tells you what you don't want to hear, but probably should. I was amused and bewildered by this little tome. To say "I love you" in the West sometimes seems to be shorthand for "I own you". This books does a good job of explaining why, and the fallacy in the belief that love and ownership are the same thing.
In my own idiotic way, I've come to think that really loving someone is when their happiness is tantamount to your own and sometimes more important than your own. Not the most original thought in the world, I will admit. But if you really love someone, I think their victories and successes and life bring you as much pleasure as your own.
She's quite right, love shouldn't be hard work, it should be a pleasure in itself. It's something you should enjoy on it's own merits and not expect to last forever. Well, until they package an effective dopamine surpressor , the best antidote we can have to falling crazy in love with someone is this book. It's a little subversive, too. I think I will keep in on a shelf with my own book, far away from my daughter, until she's about twenty...Everyone should have a chance to be blindly in love once in their lives.
The crazy and stupid love we are capable of in our youth is not such a bad thing. It's quite fun and always provides a good chance for spiritual growth, or at least learning to appreciate moody, depressing music.
The soundtrack for this book? Josh Rouse's "It's The Nighttime." Aimee Mann's "Deathly", Sting's "I burn for you" and of course, "Falling Out of Love" by Mary Guathier. Where is a dingy hotel room with hissing pipes when you really need one?
The author finds that passion and attraction, those things that make courtships so exhilarating and that are considered to be core elements of marriages, disappear rather quickly. Frequently, what remains are relationships bubbling with rancor that have become deadened. All manner of surveillance of the marital partner is used to squash any possibility of infidelity. Large doses of blame are doled out because of perceived failures to attend to, and even anticipate, the psychological and emotional needs of the partner. The reactions are withdrawal, subservience, or hostility. Among the counselor community this state of affairs may need adjustment, but is regarded as basically normal. The author derides the notion that this state of affairs is in any way normal and all that is needed is "hard work" to increase marital harmony.
The author compares the control regime and lowered expectations of marriages with workplace environments and even citizenship. In an era of economic dislocation, the admonition to work harder is hardly liberating. Rebels, meaning those who actually attempt to grasp for more and counter established authority, are dealt with harshly. This is the context in which the author places adultery. When passion suddenly appears, many will take large risks to escape marital suffocation. The author, well aware of the risks, does not advocate adultery, but does find it to be far more than a spur-of-the-moment whim.
The book is witty and unfortunately captures the reality of many, if not most, marriages. It is a valid criticism to say that the book is one-sided; however, the author does acknowledge that some marriages manage to escape the strangulation syndrome. The writing style is a little difficult, but not impossible. It is pretty hilarious to see some reviewers so offended by the book; if the institution of marriage is so strong, surely it can take hits from critics.