sad state of affairs, not surprising

I have read a few reviews of this book Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert, which have not inspired me to read it.  But maybe I should, just to know what her problem is.  This one review from the New Yorker gets it on the head with these last lines:

The “peace and contentment” at which Gilbert abruptly arrives in the final chapter of the book is a little suspicious, given the hundreds of pages of panic that have preceded it. She shifts from her previous narrative—marriage as incarceration—to its lighthearted antithesis: marriage as deliverance. As in all romantic comedies, from the novels of Jane Austen to the “Sex and the City” movie, “Committed” ends with a wedding that brings with it the cessation of doubt and strife. Gilbert’s aunt sings “La Vie en Rose,” and the family dog curls up “on the floor right between Felipe and me just as we were sealing these promises.”  There is good reason to end such stories with weddings, buoyant celebrations of love. Because what follows a wedding is a marriage. And marriage is an institution, not a party.

Here’s another section that caught my eye, just because I know nothing about it.  I’m not sure if it’s in her book or this other book that the reviewer is quoting, but it’s sure interesting:

Shiites and Babylonian Jews recognized mut‘a: temporary marriages. If a man was granted a “wife for a day,” the couple could be seen in public together and even have sex. “The man and woman had no obligation toward each other once the contract was over,” Stephanie Coontz writes in “Marriage, a History.” “But if the woman bore a child as a result of the relationship, that child was legitimate and was entitled to share in the father’s inheritance.” Couples in modern revolutionary Iran can still petition mullahs for a similar marital day pass.

And, the piece de resistance;

The modern Western ideal of marriage as both romantic and companionate is an anomaly and a gamble. As soon as people in any culture start selecting spouses based on emotion, the rates of broken marriages shoot up. “By unnerving definition,” Gilbert writes, “anything that the heart has chosen for its own, mysterious reasons it can always unchoose.”

And she is not troubled by this; only with the thought of being caught with the possibility of not having the choice.

Marriage as yesterday’s bad clothing choice; get rid of it as quickly as possible, because it just doesn’t look good today.

And yet…

I also saw this TED lecture that this same woman, Elizabeth Gilbert, did about genius.  It is also about the craft of writing.  It is wonderful.  If you/she put the same effort into marriage as she does say that you need to with writing or any other creative effort, then things might be different.  Of course, it shows how she is afraid of failing, how that has been beaten into her from a very early stage, and that, PSYCH 101 kids, is also an pretty clear indication of why she avoids things that are final.

According to me.


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