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  #41  
Old 02-20-2010, 06:15 AM
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BOOK REVIEW:
"The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities", by Dossie Easton & Catherine A. Liszt (a pseudonym of Janet Hardy), Greenery Press, (c) 1997, ISBN 1-890159-01-8, 279 pages. This 2nd edition of the book (with the subtitle listed and the 1997 copyright) has more information on communication exercises and additional polyamorus resources than the first edition.

This book gets both strong positive & negative reactions from people. In part it is because it is two books in one.

The first half of the book is a manifesto. "Wanting to have sex and being a slut is good!" For those who have felt that their sexuality has been constrained by society this is a welcome call to arms. For those who feel that there is too much sexual promiscuity already, this part of the book goes over like the idea of putting out a house fire by hosing it down with gasoline.

Later the book becomes a very practical guide on dealing with the emotions and problems that someone opening up to polyamory and more casual sex will face.

The core concept that the book emphasizes is you should be highly ethical, honest and must clearly communicate in your relationships.

The book is well written and is easy to read. There is an underlying sense of fun and humor in the writing. There are many short vignettes of people experiencing joy or problems with the suggested life style. Since there are so few such exemplars in our modern society and media, it might be argued that these are the most important part of the book.

Tho I think highly of the book, there are a few parts of the book which I found uncomfortable reading. The part where an older lesbian woman went to her first orgy had me squirming, reminded of all the social situations where I felt uncomfortable.

This is NOT the book to give to an insecure spouse who is hurting - afraid of losing you to some other person! It likely will only confirm their worst fears. However it may be an ideal gift for someone who seems a bit ill at ease with their own sexuality.

Since opinions vary so widely on this work, it would be nice to get another book review written by someone who dislikes the book.

Warm regards, Rick.

Last edited by RickPlus; 02-22-2010 at 03:27 PM.
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  #42  
Old 02-21-2010, 02:23 AM
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I enjoyed "Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage" by Jenny Block. It is written memoir style, about the process of a couple's experiences opening their relationships.

I don't know if you or your partner is having emotional issues around accepting polyamory, but I did in the beginning. I was very threatened by "The Ethical Slut", because, as Mono put it, I didn't-WANT-to open up. I wanted to understand my HB better, and find out for myself if I could cope with an open relationship for his sake, or if I needed a monogamous relationship, so that we could decide where we were going, and whether it would be together or not. "Open:" was non-threatening, and allowed me to see the struggles of this couple, and also their positive outcome... it was still a challenging read emotionally, but I came away with a sense that it wasn't all about fucking, and that not everyone is magically *fine* with it right away.
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  #43  
Old 02-21-2010, 02:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
BOOK REVIEW:
"The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities", by Dossie Easton & Catherine A. Liszt (a pseudonym of Janet Hardy), Greenery Press, (c) 1997, ISBN 1-890159-01-8, 279 pages. This 2nd edition of the book (with the subtitle listed and the 1997 copyright) has more information on communication exercises and additional polyamorus resources than the first edition.

This book gets both strong positive & negative reactions from people. In part it is because it is two books in one.

The first half of the book is a manifesto. "Wanting to have sex and being a slut is good!" For those who have felt that their sexuality has been constrained by society this is a welcome call to arms. For those who feel that there is too much sexual promiscuity already, this part of the book goes over like the idea of using gasoline to put out a house fire.

This is NOT the book to give to an insecure spouse who is hurting - afraid of losing you to some other person! It likely will only confirm their worst fears. However it may be an ideal gift for someone who seems a bit ill at ease with their own sexuality.

Since opinions vary so widely on this work, it would be nice to get another book review written by someone who dislikes the book.

Warm regards, Rick.
Yeah, I really don't like that book, and I think you've summed it up here pretty darn well! It's definitely like the idea of using gasoline to put out a fire, and NOT the book to give to someone who is hurting!

Last edited by Seasnail; 03-27-2010 at 06:46 PM.
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  #44  
Old 02-21-2010, 04:16 AM
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Check out the book list on this poly blog:

http://victoriapoly101.blogspot.com/search/label/books
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  #45  
Old 03-07-2010, 07:37 AM
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BOOK REVIEW:
"The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love", by Thomas Moore, Harper Collins Publishers, (c) 1998, ISBN 0-06-018697-6, 307 pages.

I disliked this book. As I studied it more closely I came to loath it.

I come from a science background. When someone presents an argument, it should give the evidence for and against their thesis. When Darwin was talking about Evolution, it was thought that the sun was a cooling, glowing rock - which meant the Earth could only be a few million years old. Darwin needed Deep Time for evolution to work. Rather than ignoring this problem in his theory, he brought it up, acknowledged the difficulty and rather weakly said that perhaps when we learned more about the sun, we would find it glows from some other principle.

That is the honest way to present an argument. This book is the antithesis of that approach and Mr. Moore's sloppy and sleazy way of presenting his points grated on me for the entire time I slogged thru this work.

The early chapters were the most enjoyable. He talks about the greek myths and establishes a metaphor - the Greek goddess Aphrodite is the nymph of love. We want to invite her into our hearts. It was all down hill from there.

First it is totally poly intolerant.

When discussing the holy importance of marriage: "... and in each marriage lies the deeper laboratory of sex, the holy of holies, where passion union, differences, pleasure, difficulties and even work achieve their necessary balances. If couples realized the importance of their lovemaking and its impact on the world around them, from their children and neighbors to the nation and the world, they might have a less personalistic, less psychological view of their sexuality, and in that broadening they might enter into sex with larger vision and greater joy." (Page 204.)

(I apologize for the long quotes. I try to quote full sentences and his run on sentence style assures that many of these quotes will also run on.)

"The attention to the beauty, craft, and ritual in this ancient scene [a couple approaching the marriage bed] could teach us that the bedroom is a place of holy mysteries and that sex is closely connected to what is going on in the rest of the universe." (Page 211.)

After a chapter about the holiness of matrimony, he has a chapter of infidelity. He discusses the mystery lover. This figure is not a real person that you should screw, but a phantom to tempt you.

"When we actually meet someone who seems to be a potential lover or mate, we may see them surrounded by fantasy. They glow for us, but not for their friends. The lover becomes a double star - one radiance branches out from their real presence, while another shines from an unknown source, intensifying the total effect." (Page 222.)

"The specific rites of sex are designed to engage one's relationship with the mystery lovers we usually encounter only in night dreams and daytime fantasies. Because the soul lover is not really part of this world, our attempts to give body to those loves will always fall short of the mark and be somewhat disappointing, but we can keep trying. There is always the possibility of confusing private fantasy with life." (Page 229.)

"Because sex is so enveloping and inclusive, because it can't be separated from the fabric of life and personality, and because it is so often essentially implicated in developments and transitions, people faced with unexpected and unintended or even unwelcome sexual longing feel profoundly confused." ... and a paragraph later... "Care of the soul is a simple phrase that seems to represent an easy adjustment of life's basic elements. But at times it may take all the courage and wisdom at a person's disposal to have the patience and presence of mind to keep the soul distinct from life, to reflect deeply on developments rather than take the easier, though more dangerous path of acting out." (Page 233.)

The author's discussion of mystery lovers make them sound like movie stars - far off and surrounded by glamour. On page 228 he specifically says that these lovers are not really part of this world. As for the real life, very lovable people close to you - keep your pants on and maintain the sanctity of the holy wedding bed. AND the civilization that holy marriage maintains!

On page 188, the author says that about 1/3 of the people he provided therapy for were deeply worried about the "impossible conflict" of keeping their marriage intact, yet feeling crazy in their love for a third person. "Typically one sensation was notably absent amid all the confusion - the feeling of personal integrity & individuality." (Page 189.)

The author counsels a mystical celibacy and chastity in order to maintain the marriage. (Chapter 9: The Joy of Celibacy.)

The moral superiority of loving but a single person is mentioned again at the top of page 282.

The author, in glowing terms, described the saving of loveless marriages. (See pages 285, 286 & 287.) I thought, "he will soon discuss the exception - marriages where one partner is being physically abusive". I was wrong, a hateful marriage weakens his argument so he ignores this possibility in an intellectually cowardly fashion. Or perhaps he found rhapsodizing about the nymphs of love does not fit well into sentences about spouses & children being neglected or abused?

***
There are many other things in this book that rubbed me the wrong way. I've not space or time to list them all, but here is a sampling:

"We have to invite the spirits of sex into our bedrooms, or else sex will remain a secularized, egocentric, narcissistic, and exploitive endeavor; even in the midst of our supposed sexual enlightenment." (pg 109.)

This is part of a circular argument that is repeated in the final chapter on Epicurean love. Since no one can really tell if the spirits of eros are with us, all nasty sex is with out the spirits. All nice sex has the proper religious overtones. Nice sex is epicurean. Thus the author is free to look down his nose at any form of sex he does not approve of.

***
The author seems to sneer at BDSM, so I started to reread this book to find the exact places where he does so. However, he never actually comes out and makes a declarative statement. (Very typical.) However, he does cast what sound like aspirations at this style of love making:

A woman craved rough sex. A sadist, over 3 years, beats her and steals all her money. "Eventually she came up from that dark place, ..." (Page 164.)

When discussing the holiness of marriage he mentions: "What is required is not a masochistic act of literal debasement, ..." (Page 237.)

"But there is another aspect of sexuality that can be easily be lost in the dark and downwards emphasis on the sensuous life." (Page 265.)

"Sexual experiences long fantasized and hoped for may fail to give the promised satisfaction." (Page 270.)

"Other men and woman I've known have entered relationships where the sex was very aggressive and experimental, and they enjoyed it at first but then reached a point where the joy disappeared. Then they craved some purity and found it difficult to convince their partners that their sudden inhibition didn't spring from their fear but from a deep need for purer sex." (Page 198.)

Page 218 argues against novelty in sex play even within the marriage. (He may be referring to avoiding loving someone else, hard to tell what he is saying. But if that is the case, wouldn't the argument be more logically placed in the chapter on infidelity?)

See also the lower half of page 275 for more on sexual fantasy. It is hard to say what he is saying, but he does not sound supportive about "acting out" and actually trying some kink. (The phrase "acting out" makes people exploring their sexuality sound like spoilt children.)

(Posts must be 10,000 characters or less. Review continued in next post.)

Last edited by RickPlus; 03-07-2010 at 11:08 AM. Reason: Left out a page number.
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  #46  
Old 03-07-2010, 07:38 AM
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Book review of "The Soul of Sex" continued.

***
A typical passage from the book:
"Spirit is typically concerned with facts and principles. Soul is lead by nuance. It looks for guidance in image, poetics and implication." (Page 169.)

I don't believe in the soul so the quote above, to me, is nonsensical. But the author would have us believe in not only in a soul, but also in a spirit. These insubstantial entities he asserts, have the stated properties. How does he know this? What facts or evidence does he give? Has God Spoken and vouchsafed our prophet Divine Revelation? Or is Mr. Moore just making things up? I say, "It's pretty. But made up." Therefore, any statements depending or supported by these assertions are very weak.

That sums up this whole book. Pretty. But made up.

***
About half way thru reading this book the first time, the alchemists of the dark ages occurred to me. They mixed chemistry, numerology, astrology, the theory of 'humors', mystical geometry etc. in a fruitless quest to turn base metal into gold or find the secret to eternal life. Theirs was a intellectually sterile and useless branch of human thought. Much of what they thought up was clever, neat and self consistent. Wonderful mental fairy castles in the sky. However, these inventions, however appealing, were WRONG. Much of this book felt the same way to me. Clever intellectual inventions with out fact. However, to Mr. Moore's publisher's delight, talking about souls and sex nymphs are less likely to be disproved than the alchemical fancies.

Imagine my thrill of joy when on page 269 he starts rhapsodizing about alchemists. Out side of video games, alchemists don't get much respect today. But in his book he admires them! At length!!! Fitting.

***
This feels like a book written in the middle ages. It reads like poetry but behind the lovely words and imagery is a contempt for the reader's intelligence. The book is filled with the techniques of advertisers and propagandists. People trained in logic will see thru his orator's bag of tricks.

Finally, Mr Moore takes cheap shots at science and technology thruout his work. (See pages: 5, 88, 266, 267 and others I don't care to bother rereading his book to find.) I believe that science has done more to ennoble humanity, reduce slavery, extend life, ennoble the crippled (or handicapped), reduce disease, reduce superstitious fears, etc. than any other human construct. Anti-intellectuals may amuse themselves by bad mouthing science, but their unsupported slanders do nothing to endear me to their work.

I actually agree with some of the points the author makes. But the manipulative form of his writing keeps pissing me off.

The honest and straightforward sentences of books like "The Ethical Slut" are infinitely preferable to me than this book's apocryphal assertions. It is very hard to summarize what the book actually says - meaning is hidden behind never ending layers of metaphor, simile, analogy and innuendo.

Bah!
Warm regards, Rick.

Last edited by RickPlus; 03-07-2010 at 11:11 AM. Reason: edited for style.
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  #47  
Old 03-07-2010, 01:11 PM
HowDidIGetHere HowDidIGetHere is offline
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RickPlus, I'm continually impressed with the quality of your posts - you seem like a fella who's thought deeply about love, sex and the new-to-me ideas behind polyamory for some while. I'm curious, tho: many of the better posts on this forum are from Canadians. Is it just that y'all have more sense (something many Americans secretly fear <GRIN>) and are more open to newish ideas like polyamory? Or do people gravitate to different websites partially based on geographic location? Probably just rehetorical questions...
I also echo River's sentiment for a book review page. Maybe a Wiki would be a good tool? I'm picturing a bunch of book titles and covers: you click thru to a forum-like list of reviews, both good and bad. Maybe a 1 to 5 rating system so the best reviews percolate upward thru the dross?
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  #48  
Old 03-07-2010, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickPlus View Post
About half way thru reading this book the first time, the alchemists of the dark ages occurred to me. They mixed chemistry, numerology, astrology, the theory of 'humors', mystical geometry etc. in a fruitless quest to turn base metal into gold or find the secret to eternal life.
A high school social studies teacher mentioned something to the class one day about alchemists that stuck with me. His view was that they were mostly about things like fermentation, and distillation. So while they might not have gotten gold from lead, they could from Wheat.

On a less tongue and cheek note, I can see why you'd have ended up not liking the book. I doubt I would have gotten past the back cover, much less read it more than once.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HowDidIGetHere View Post
I'm curious, tho: many of the better posts on this forum are from Canadians.
What can we say? We're good!
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  #49  
Old 03-07-2010, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowDidIGetHere View Post
I'm curious, tho: many of the better posts on this forum are from Canadians. Is it just that y'all have more sense (something many Americans secretly fear <GRIN>) and are more open to newish ideas like polyamory? Or do people gravitate to different websites partially based on geographic location? Probably just rehetorical questions...
Perhaps either your taste is Canadian or perhaps its that Canadians tend to be the one's who post most often on this board. There are plenty of other polyamory boards that are frequented by Americans if you were interested in finding out.
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:31 PM
HowDidIGetHere HowDidIGetHere is offline
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I humbly redress my previous post to include Ceoli (and by extension other Brits, need to be inclusive here) in the list of those having "more sense" ;-)

Jeesh, I just found a site http://www.lovemore.com/ which is run by some people in the NEXT TOWN to the south of me, maybe 15 minutes away. Small freakin' planet, eh?

Ceoli, you mention other polyamory boards. We know the the polyamory.com board is the best [shameless huckstering] but might you have any recommendations? I'm NOT looking for "personals", but for places with wise people who've already been down the road I'm on and know the territory. Actual geographic location isn't an issue, but I did note a bunch of Aussie links when googling around.

Thanks again, everybody! Mucho appreciado!
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