, October 26, 2008
(view all comments by Katherine Stuart)
It’s hard for me to know whether or not to recommend this book at all. Parts of it are brilliant, breath-taking with such a fascinating command of the English language and such youthfully exuberant joie de vivre that I want to rush out and tell everyone to pick this book up right away. Behold the intensity of optimism and let it carry you away.
But then some passages are exceedingly dull. Plodding and monotonous, I wondered while reading them if the book would ever end.
And then there’s his arrogance, his lack of sympathy or feeling for anyone. The impression that he only really respects philosophers he’s never met and a group of compadres whom he parties with every week but otherwise has no knowledge of or outside contact with. His attitude towards his friends is condescending enough but his attitude toward women is. . . definitely not enlightened. His view of sex, and he is famously graphic, is worshipful and comprises some of the best passages of the book. Miller however treats the ecstasy of sex as an essentially solitary journey. Women are contemptible sluts whom sex should be performed on. It’s not that they’re interchangeable, and one should have sex with as many women as possible to further the journey of the self, to free the soul, but while sex with different women is different, the woman herself is hardly worth considering. And consensual sex is not something Miller feels particularly important.
In the end I am left exhausted and heart-broken. Such a brilliant mind holding such an indefensible position.