View Single Post
Old 03-09-2014, 09:08 PM
kdt26417's Avatar
kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
Official Greeter
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Yelm, Washington
Posts: 5,918

Kind of following up on what Ariakas was saying, I wonder if it isn't wishful thinking to consider any book a "poly bible." Such a book would have to cover virtually every possible poly idea, issue, and scenario, including many ideas, issues, and scenarios that have yet to make their way into widespread consciousness. Even this forum falls short of making that happen.

You could argue that a poly bible only needs to touch on the most basic/common concepts, but people will disagree on what is or isn't a must for bible inclusion. People will also disagree on what counts as adequate (or too much?) coverage of any given subject, as well as how a subject should be covered and what the book should say. Standard answers don't exist to a lot of weighty questions, unless you count answers over which there's a lot of disagreement.

In this thread so far we've talked about Ethical Slut, Opening Up, and Sex at Dawn. While all three books have merit and are arguably worth reading at least once, none of them can qualify as a poly bible, first of all because none of them are specifically about poly per se. Instead, all three are about non-monogamy in general. Polyamory is only a subset of what those books talk about. So none can claim to be "dedicated to poly," and how can any then claim to be a poly bible? maybe a non-monogamy bible, but that's about it.

Unfortunately, a lot of people (especially the "uninitiated") are sloppy in their usage of the word "poly." They tend to conflate "poly" and "non-monogamy" as if they were pretty much the same thing, or close enough. So it's easy (all too tempting) to look at a book with "open" in the title and think, Oh, a book about poly!

To really get "a book about poly," you'd need to pull up a title like "Polyamory: the new love without limits," by Deborah Anapol. But it's my understanding that Deborah Anapol is held in rather low esteem (as an author and especially as a person) by quite a few people ... a fact that all by itself disqualifies "love without limits" as a "poly bible." The author needs to be very nearly universally respected, otherwise the book lacks the simple credit it needs to function as a bible.

Which alludes to another problem: People simply don't agree on which book deserves the "poly bible" title. Some say Ethical Slut, some say Opening Up, some say Sex at Dawn. There's a lot of disagreement on that subject.

I think most of us (on some level) wish there could be a "poly bible:" one handy volume we could recommend to any poly newbie, and feel confident they'd be sent safely on their way. The truth is, all existing books fall short of covering every base most newbies will need them to cover, and I suspect that will continue to be the case, as new and important things are discovered about polyamory. A poly bible would need to somehow be constantly up-to-date.

I like all three books (Ethical Slut, Opening Up, Sex at Dawn) for different reasons. I guess if I had to call one a poly bible I'd choose Opening Up, because it's rather classy and organizes non-monogamy in a very neat and efficient way. Ethical Slut is a little "slutty" for my blood, , but I found many bits of text in it that I thought were worthwhile and valuable. Opening Up has an explicit way of being a how-to guide, whereas Ethical Slut just seems to make a bunch of generalized commentary. Sex at Dawn doesn't even pretend to be a how-to guide, it just challenges the standard assumptions about humans and their sexuality. It's much more about prehistory than it is about poly in these modern times. The entire book could (sort of) be summarized with one sentence: "Hey, humans are naturally non-monogamous." It doesn't really go into depth about how to successfully *be* non-monogamous.

If Opening Up has a fatal flaw, it's that it covers so much ground that it can only cover each patch of ground briefly. Oh it may devote a whole chapter to "jealousy" or "your kids," but subjects of that kind of magnitude each need a whole book, really, not just one chapter. It's not that there's anything wrong with Opening Up, it's a good overview of non-monogamy and arguably the best general intro to non-monogamy for any newbie. But after reading it, a newbie is still going to have a lot of questions, and need the support of a "poly group" such as this forum. The same is true of "Ethical Slut" so in that sense the two books don't differ that much. They're just two different styles of introducing people to (responsible) non-monogamy. Maybe Ethical Slut is an easier read for some, which makes it the better book if it's the book that gets read. It does get one started, which is good enough at first.

Another flaw with "covering everything" (which Opening Up kind of tries to do) is that often a newbie only needs help with one or two specific areas, and Opening Up carries on about a lot of stuff that may not be of great personal value to a particular reader at a particular time. So I'll often recommend the book, but not in every situation.

I actually think "the secret to good poly" is ongoing reading, conversing, and self-improvement. Like communication, poly is a subject that one will never truly master. There will always be some "chapter that wasn't covered," or "wasn't covered well enough," or even "wasn't studied closely enough at the time." You kind of have to study the part of poly that's having the biggest impact on your life here and now. That's the type of learning that really sticks.

Just some thoughts,
Kevin T.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
Reply With Quote