I made it almost a third of the way through the arid wasteland of David Brooks’ didactic novel, “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement,” before I succumbed. I had begun reading it determined to be dispassionate and analytic and fair, but I couldn’t bear it for long: I learned to loathe Harold and Erica, the two upscale avatars of upper-middle-class values that Brooks marches through life in the story. And then I began to resent the omniscient narrator who narrates this exercise in unthinking consumption and privilege that is, supposedly, the ideal of happiness; it’s like watching a creepy middle-aged man fuss over his Barbie and Ken dolls, posing them in their expensive accessories and cars and houses and occasionally wiggling them in simulated carnal relations (have no worries, though: Like Barbie and Ken, no genitals appear anywhere in the book), while periodically pausing to tell his audience how cool it all is, and what is going on inside his dolls’ soft plastic heads.I did manage to work my way through the whole book, however, by an expediency that I recommend to anyone else who must suffer through it. I simply chanted to myself, “Die, yuppie scum, die,” when I reached the end of each page, and it made the time fly by marvelously well.
Actually, evolutionary psychology EP) seems hardly worth the bother of refuting – a good horse laugh is a more appropriate response to its pretensions of scholarship when even a connection to reality is missing.
Which reminds me, one blowaway is worth mentioning: These EPs never notice that, for the last 5000 years of human history – the only period about which we have at least some reliable evidence of intimate social life – it has been the exception, not the rule, that women had much choice about who they married.
Some choice, maybe, but not a whole lot. Too many people in most communities were JUST too invested in the outcome.
Also, unusually, the upper class was more, not less, constrained in this matter. Maybe a servant girl could have either Tom or Dick, or maybe even Harry, if they were within her class and culture, and her family’s convenience, but “Princess Ermengarde of Uabetta-Backhoff” had to marry within a very narrow range. Too bad for her if her bridegroom was seven years old or her half brother. And I doubt it was much different in the Stone Age.