Thursday, May 06, 2010

And so the pot interviews the kettle.

Much as I hesitate to say this
based on a theory that goes, more or less, "Don't encourage him!"I must commend The Macho Response's current blog on the sensational Hunter/Winfrey interview. Better than any other analysis I've read, TMR goes a long way toward explaining the surprisingly tamein truth, almost solicitoustone Oprah took in "confronting" John Edwards' mistress (and, of course, the mother of his love-child). Some reviewers missed the boat altogether.

In Rielle Hunter, after all, we have a woman who clearly and admittedly was "living in the Now" when she corralled John Edwards, and who also claims that her interest in "her Johnny" sprang from a near-philanthropic passion to "help him find his real self." In fact, as told to Oprah, Hunter came to regard their adulterous liaison as a mutual pilgrimage to authenticity, "personal truth" and overall harmony with the universe.

As TMR muses, what can Oprah
patron saint of the New Age in general and tireless advocate for offerings like The Secret in particularpossibly say to that? Indeed, if you watched the show and you listened carefully, what you heard was an hour-long treatise on precisely the sort of immersion in designer realityand utter detachment from (and disavowal of) judgment and consequencethat forms the most socially destructive element of the New Age. And here is where I must confess that I've been remiss in not jumping on this angle of the interview myself.

TMR goes off the rails, as he often will, where he tries to generalize his thoughts to All Womandom, drifting into the realm of misogyny in a way that works to undermine both the elegance and credibility of his canny observations in certain limited areas. And it starts with his unfortunate choice for a headline. But the post itself is worth reading and thinking about.


Mike Cane said...

"designer reality" <- that is GENIUS!

Anonymous said...

Mike, good catch. I went right by that, but oh how fitting!

Frances said...

I've been talking about this for months!-- how the Edwards affair was about hia personal SHAM journey.

I read your posts on Gerry/Think Love and the woman who fell under the Marianne Williamson spell. How these people seemed to do a complete 180 with their personalities after finding self-help and a willing guru... just like Edwards.

About how self-help and "personal spiritual growth" IS a way that a person can commit all manner of horrible, immoral actions and not feel a twinge of conscience; for that would be too negative and anti-growth.

Especially about how people are willing to chuck everything they stand for and that matter to them, once they start the self-help journey. Again, just like Edwards. Who HAD everything he wanted in his life except the Presidency, who HAD true love... and threw it all away for a specious promise of ecstasy and so-called "personal truth".

I've been writing about this for the past year, Steve. Would you like to read my pieces?

Frances said...

My greatest fear, Steve, is that Edwards is going to become the latest SHAM guru. Such an ignoble pursuit after having lived a very noble life. Substituting a life where he ACTUALLY did good, for a fantasy world in which he merely THINKS he's doing good. Where he pats himself on the back for the riches "the universe" gave him for being so gosh-darned charismatic and communication-skilled.

I think Elizabeth should write a book about SHAM, and what it can do to a person!

Frances said...

I think too many people are missing the boat on this affair, Steve. They're missing a very valuable opportunity to talk about the dangers of self-help, and the dark side of the mind-body approach to health. How it instills in you a narcissism that has the full approval of your conscience and morals; because after all, you're doing these things for your health.

They're saying that Edwards *always* was narcissistic and reckless... when there's considerable evidence that he was not. From his earlier experiences as a politician to how his wife described him to even the book "Game Change"... which detailed a gradual rise in his egocentricity, but never the kind of radical personality change he underwent post-Hunter.

We all know that spurious personal-growth regimens tend to enhance narcissism, right?

I do think that Edwards was always prone to magical thinking. He once said that it took his son's death to convince him that he was not in control of everything in his life.

And with his kind of social skills, communicative abilities, wealth, and good looks-- all highly prized, even de rigueur, in American society-- who wouldn't believe they were special? That they were uniquely able to weather, even immune from, life's frustrations?

I don't think it's a coincidence at all that the thick of the affair happened at the height of The Secret's popularity.

I think that the socially and emotionally intelligent, in particular, are prone to a particularly insidious and deadly self-righteousness; because not only do they "live the right way", they have the full support of both society and, increasingly, the medical community.

Hunter probably said to him that Elizabeth brought her cancer on herself, through not "living in the Now" enough. She probably said that John was potentially making himself unhealthy by sticking with his wife. And who'd be worried more about their own health thana person with a sick loved one?

Hunter probably believes that her unique connection to "the universe", her spirituality, and her "positive attitude" means that she'll NEVER get sick. Oh, and did I mention the medical literature says that people who have more sex are happier and healthier?--she's a walking health machine, with a full seal of approval from the Oprah woo-woo club.

But what was that Martina Navratilova said?-- "You don't choose cancer; it chooses you"?

Suck on that, Hunter. Some day, YOU will get sick and die, too. Your "living in the Now" cannot guarantee you health... not even emotional health.

Frances said...

Martina Navratilova said something very important, to anyone who thinks they can "live the right way" or "keep a sunny outlook" out of getting cancer:

"The day I was told I had breast cancer was my own personal 9/11. I was completely shocked . . . This just goes to show no matter how much you watch what you eat or exercise, you never know."

This is from an Australian paper, and maybe it's no wonder...

Frances said...

BTW, I saw The Macho Response's take-- and I didn't like that they quoted the extreme right-wing Victor David Hanson in support.

That's part of us skeptics' problem: the only, or main, ones visibly coming out against woo-woo are right-wingers.

This can't be. We can't have only Republicans and other righties decrying the New Age. We have to have some liberals out there doing the same thing. Or the left will become inextricably entwined with the New Age, and all that's wrong with it.

RevRon's Rants said...

Well, it's comforting to know that there's no self-righteousness outside of the New Age community. :-)

Martha said...

I seem to be into minimalism these days.

My reaction to Hunter: What a reptile.

My Australian friend's reaction to Hunter: Big fat liar.

Interesting her name is Hunter. Oooo. Synchronicity.

Anonymous said...

"TMR goes off the rails, as he often will, where he tries to generalize his thoughts to All Womandom, drifting into the realm of misogyny...."
The name and motivating theme of his blog indicates that he starts from a position of misogyny rather than drifting inadvertantly into that realm.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 3:30, that may well be true. However (and this was the case when TMR was a regular contributor to this blog), I have long been of the opinion that the red flags we may observe or intuit in someone's background circumstances or station in life do not automatically disqualify that person from meaningful participation in a forum of ideas. If Adolph Hitler says something compelling and/or intelligent, it doesn't really matter to me that he's Adolph Hitler. The ideas stand or fall on their own merit. And if I were having a good time online discussing with someone the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Cincinnati Reds' batting order (I'm a lifelong fan), it wouldn't bother me later if I discovered that the person I'd been talking to was Osama bin Laden. The way I see it, baseball has nothing to do with terrorism. That may seem bizarre to some people, but it's just how I see it. [And no, I'm not implying that TMR = Hitler or bin Laden.]

Now, could I have a pleasant discussion about baseball with someone who raped my daughter? No. I'd be enraged at the person and want to kill him. But that's my human weakness; I should be able to have that conversation, as I see it.

When I said TMR "went off the rails," I meant in terms of the insight of the position he presented here, assessing that position as a self-contained argument; nothing more, nothing less.

RevRon's Rants said...

"And if I were having a good time online discussing with someone the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Cincinnati Reds' batting order (I'm a lifelong fan), it wouldn't bother me later if I discovered that the person I'd been talking to was Osama bin Laden."

However, if that person's dialog had been liberally interspersed with expressions of seething rage toward all Westerners (or even half the population), or profound leaps of illogic, I doubt that you'd be having a good time discussing things with him. Our "objectivity filters" are not so efficient as to completely block out the expressions of ideas that we find abhorrent. Those flaws inevitably taint the entire exchange, no matter how strongly we attempt to overlook or deny them. That's why I don't watch The View or Oprah, or spend my online time at websites whose focus is upon hate and/or delusions.

Seems like we've had this discussion before, eh Steve? :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Ron: What's that old axiom? "There are only seven original story lines"? Sometimes it seems like we've covered 'em all...and many times over.

RevRon's Rants said...

That's okay Steve... The older I get, the more I find myself repeating my favorite stories. Folks that care about me might roll their eyes, but they allow me to ramble on. :-)

Frances said...

The latest post on

[S]ociopaths feel entitled to take what they want, regardless of how their actions may damage others.

Exactamundo. What Hunter is truly in love with, is TAKING the love and joy away from The Edwards family.

96% to 99% of people are like us—capable of love and consideration.

But that 1% to 4% who are sociopaths—well, they might as well be aliens. These people:

•Feel no empathy at all towards other human beings
•Have no conscience
•Are interested only power, control and sex
This is the core of a sociopath—no empathy, no conscience and desiring only power, control and sex.

This is why I say Edwards is not a sociopath-- he wasn't always the way he is now. Once, he demonstrated plenty of ability to love and consideration for other people.

Steve Salerno said...

Frances et al: I honestly think we may be overintellectualizing a few things here. I do believe that the justifications Hunter puts forth for her affair tell us a lot about the New Age and its climate of Me-ism--as does Oprah's seeming awkwardness in attacking same. In that sense I think TMR hit the nail on the head.

But as far as the original hook-up between these jokers? Let's face it, I think we have here two people who got a major case of the hots for each other, fell into bed, and basically couldn't get enough. It happens--a lot lately. And we can debate the wider social meaning of philandering, etc.

Just please don't go on Oprah and describe your bedtime romps as a search for truth, enlightenment and Oneness with the Universe. To be completely crass about it, she wanted Oneness with his dick, he wanted her complementary piece of equipment, and that's all she wrote.