On Ambivalence: The Problems and Pleasures of Having it

On Ambivalence: The Problems and Pleasures of Having it Why is it so hard to make up our minds Adam and Eve set the template Do we or don t we eat the apple They chose, half heartedly, and nothing was ever the same again With this book, Kenneth Weisbrode offers a crisp, literate, and provocative introduction to the age old struggle with ambivalenceAmbivalence results from a basic desire to have it both ways This is only natural although insisting upon it against all reason often results not in both but in the disappointing neither Ambivalence has insinuated itself into our culture as a kind of obligatory reflex, or default position, before practically every choice we make It affects not only individuals organizations, societies, and cultures can also be ambivalent How often have we asked the scornful question, Are we the Hamlet of nations How often have we demanded that our leaders appear decisive, judicious, and stalwart And how eager have we been to censure them when they hesitate or waver Weisbrode traces the concept of ambivalence, from the Garden of Eden to Freud and beyond The Obama era, he says, may be America s own era of ambivalence neither red nor blue but a multicolored kaleidoscope Ambivalence, he argues, need not be destructive We must learn to distinguish it from its symptoms selfishness, ambiguity, and indecision and accept that frustration, guilt, and paralysis felt by individuals need not lead automatically to a collective pathologyDrawing upon examples from philosophy, history, literature, and the social sciences, On Ambivalence is a pocket sized portrait of a complex human condition It should be read by anyone who has ever grappled with making the right choice

10 thoughts on “On Ambivalence: The Problems and Pleasures of Having it Both Ways

  1. Mykle Mykle says:

    I met the MIT Press booth at Wordstock last summer, and I had to have at least one of their gorgeously designed bound books Because I m cheap, I bought the smallest one this treatise On Ambivalence I wanted a tiny, pretty book object to tuck in my pocket or stick my nose in on the light rail, and I got one Given those criteria, I don t have much right to

  2. Reid Reid says:

    No joke, I m ambivalent about this book and I m relieved most reviewers seem to be so, too Not a brilliant essay or argument by any means, but it does getintriguing toward the end, talking about Obama s ability to make hay out of our society s ambivalence, and talking about war and peace and how there are no clear victories any, with so many outside actors and int

  3. Jesse Ballenger Jesse Ballenger says:

    Took me the longest time to read this little book I started it many times over the past few years, enjoyed what I read well enough, but just couldn t bring myself to finish it The book itself provides a thoughtful explanation.

  4. Kirsten Kirsten says:

    This is an essay in book form the 88 pages are each only as big as my hand The dearness of the package and the title persuaded me to make an impulse buy I m not sure it was worth my hard earned pennies, and yet I do find it an appealing litle book to contemplate just as an object, and the one illustration is lovely a reproduction of a 15th c painting of Adam and Eve They re the fat

  5. Dakota McCoy Dakota McCoy says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This tiny book is packed full of interesting ideas At its worst it is a bit of a linguistic game my primary gripe with some areas of philosophy , but at its best it is chock full of examples and analysis He concludes So long as we embrace, or at least accept, ambivalence as individuals, we may continue to decry

  6. Kerem Kerem says:

    Not so much a book, but an essay on ambivalence For me the most insightful part of the book was this sentence the ambivalent soul will probably want all of the above, andto enjoy the benefits without the costs to value and to overcome the luxury of idleness in other words, to have it both ways

  7. Markus Markus says:

    This book did bot make me any cleverer Finished it, although rather quickly, but with a feeling that the author did not want anyone who is not super elite academic to understand what he is trying to say In other words This book made me feel stupid.

  8. Timmytoothless Timmytoothless says:

    Really, an essay that interestingly links all the most prominent examples of ambivalence in western cultural production then results in the unsatisfying conclusion that it may be noble to be stuck in the middle.

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