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Monogamy by Adam Philips

  • In one sentence: Harsh, circuitous, critical aphorisms on the greatest secular religion..
  • Number of reads: 2 since 2012.
  • To be read : At the start of every new relationship; when your contempt of psychotherapy boils over and needs correction.
  • Galef type: Values 2 - thought experiments for you to reflect on how you feel about something, & Style 3 - tickle your aesthetic sense in a way that obliquely makes you a more interesting, generative thinker.


I guess he’s a bit overfond of the knowing paradox (“Seduction, the happy invention of need”; “The problem of a marriage is that it can never be called an affair”) – and of course aphorisms have to compress away the qualifications that would make them fairer, easier to take in large doses.
Infidelity is such a problem because we take monogamy for granted; we treat it as the norm. Perhaps we should take infidelity for granted, assume it with unharassed ease. Then we would be able to think about monogamy.
There are no relationships without conflict. If psychoanalysis has a value, maybe one of its values is just that it abides by the idea that there is always going to be conflict… in a way the book holds out for the value of conflict [being to let] the diverse voices inside of oneself speak.
But it’s non-partisan (not anti-monogamy, not anti-polyamory) and original and funny and wise and I still haven’t absorbed the finer points.

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