Wednesday, January 4, 2012

»Eat, Pray, Laugh All Way to Bank

Eat, Pray, Laugh All Way to Bank

Elizabeth Gilbert was feeling unfulfilled. Alarm bells, albeit ethnically-sourced ones - probably Peruvian - were going off in her head. She had no passion for anything. Could it be that she was a spoiled, self-obsessed bore who lacked the maturity to understand this was simply life? No, that wasn’t it at all. She deserved better. Predictably, while she was stamping her feet, her husband got fed up with her and decided to go back to school.

“Grr,” said Elizabeth. “I’ll show him that I’m more unfulfilled than he is.” She told him he had contributed to the rut in her life. Ah yes, when in doubt, transfer responsibility. Anyway of course they got divorced and Elizabeth then advertised her insecurity by shacking up with a younger guy, a struggling actor. No clichés there then.

But something was still wrong. Getting laid while eating noodles out of containers wearing the actor’s dirty T shirt, was not as exciting as it had sounded. It wasn’t, you know, alternative enough. Elizabeth immediately rang her publishers and got a $200,000 advance for her daring plan. She would go on a spiritual pilgrimage during which she would visit randomly chosen places like Italy and Bali. What an imagination! Nobody had done this before and written about it. Aided by a heaving bank account, Elizabeth would rediscover herself by renouncing Western values. After she took the money.

And then the clichés started tumbling over each other. She met healers, soothsayers, gourmets (well you can’t starve when you’re searching for spiritual enlightenment) artists (natch) and a ‘loveable’ Texan. She prayed in India because you can’t pray unless you’re actually there. Then she went to Italy to eat pasta. There’s lots of pasta in the US but it’s not the same because in Italy you can eat carbs without the guilt. Plus in Italy they eat with love, allegedly. Then– reader, this is really too delicious – she allowed herself to love again. She gave herself permission. And she did it in Bali. With a Brazilian stud. Now leaving aside the fact that getting laid in Bali proves nothing except that the guy has slept with everyone else except you, does anyone get the feeling that this is all just a tad too convenient?

“But Ms R,” you say, “That sounds like a very valid attempt to fight her own ego.”

I must say at first I thought it was nothing more than a parade of self-absorption. And now I think it is. This is the self-entitlement card, played large, with all the advantages of middle-class wealth. It is the deification of the dangerous notion that there is always something better out there and all we need is $200,000 to find it.

Ms R doesn’t know about you but this sounds far more like selfishness dressed up in a commercial, spiritual coating. The really worrying thing is that women are falling for this thinly disguised call to arms. And the danger is that some, not all, will stop actually living their lives and start spending too much time thinking about what these books tell them they are supposed to have, which may well be an illusion.