Eat Pray Love. Why not?

September 20, 2010

in through the looking glass

Now that the fever towards the book and the movie has died down, hopefully, I feel it is safe to explain why I cannot bring myself to pick up this ever-popular book. And really, it is not like there were not a pile of books in my house waiting for me to finish, and that War and Peace I for some inexplicable reason requested two Christmases ago is still staring at me accusingly every time I scurry past the bookshelf.

Simply stated: I am tired. How come the dark-skinned, exotic, “mystic” in the third world never spouts any wisdom for me? Or women who look like me? I want an easy piece of wisdom that would help me reach my A-HA moment at the snap of a finger. Or at least get me a hot piece of ass like Javier Bardem goddammit!

I’ll let someone a lot more eloquent summarize the inner struggle I feel whenever I come across scenarios as portrayed in Eat Pray Love.

[These movies that rely on such a trope] don’t teach you anything new about Asia or the Middle East. They rely instead on the stereotype that the East is someplace timeless, otherworldly, incomprehensible, waiting to be discovered by Westerners in search of self.

Now, nobody’s protesting Eat Pray Love, or saying that you should. After all, it’s kinder, gentler and subtler than Aladdin.

But it operates with the same Orientalist repertoire. It may not warrant protest, but its proximity to Orientalist tropes should make you think twice.

By Mia Mask on NPR


There is also something quite personal: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Bali is different from the one I visited. In 1992. Or 1991. I’ve only retained very fuzzy memories of my trip to Bali. In all honesty, after all these years, they could only be fairly categorized as impressions by now.

I was very tanned and therefore I was constantly mistaken as one of the locals by the Western tourists (since NO locals would have mistaken me as one of their own. We don’t all look alike. By “we” I mean “Asians”…) The locals however did mistake me for someone from the Indonesian mainland since quite a significant* percentage of Indonesians were (are) of Chinese descent. My friend who has much paler complexion however was mistaken for Japanese. It suffices to say that all this made an excellent Comedy of Errors in which we were constantly propositioned by men of different races and national origins, and in which men, as I was surprised to find out, expected us to be grateful for the attention. Some more than the others…

Of course Bali was (is) gorgeous and spectacular as every single tourism brochure says it is. And I am not saying that it is different from any other region that relies  on tourism for the majority of its revenue. What I remember most, however, and you all know I am crazy so please feel free to ignore what I have to say and stay with the tourism brochures and/or Gilbert’s book, was…

Disclaimer: My father was a tour guide and a travel agent, my mother, a hotel maid. I have always felt ambivalent towards tourism and therefore my perspectives when traveling are always “unnecessarily” skewed.

My impressions from my trip probably had more to do with who I was than the actual locale. It is highly likely that I would have felt the same way towards some other popular tourist destination…

The vendors, mostly children, swarming the van our local tour guides drove us around in, calling out, “One dollar. One dollar.”

Our determination to bargain the price down as we were instructed so we were not taken for fools.

The shame I felt afterwards when I remembered how little one dollar meant to me in comparison.

The cottage we stayed in which was located in the midst of a local village an hour or so away from the main tourist area.

People’s stares and curious expressions because they could not easily identify me and thus conveniently label me when our local tour guides showed us around (and off?) to their friends and families.

One guy from the village decided to climb up the coconut tree to procure fresh coconuts for us and was ridiculed mercilessly by his friends for trying to impress the ladies. We all had a good laugh.

The sight of women bathing on the side of the road which was as natural as the stream that ran along the road.**

The disappearance of familiarity exhibited by our local tour guides with whom I thought we had become friends as soon as we arrived in the “city”.

The puzzlement at our friends’ refusal to join us for lunch in the city. And further puzzlement at their decision to say “Yes” to the same restaurant but “No” to the same table.

Their apparent discomfort when we were approaching the fancy upscale hotel in which a Taiwanese tour guide we met on our flight to Bali managed to finagle a room for us.

Their abrupt decision to not help us carry our suitcases into the hotel. Their sudden movement to take out our luggages and leave them by the van as the hotel bellboys materialized. Our failure to say a proper goodbye with our extended hands that were not taken as they quickly got into the van and drove off as if to say, “We don’t belong here.”

My inability to enjoy the fancy surroundings as what happened outside the hotel kept on being reenacted inside my overactive brains.

The casual comment by the Taiwanese tour guide about how easy it was to access the red light district: someone would come pick you up on a moped. My being surprised and immediately not-so-surprised. My sadness as I remembered what it was like in the village less than an hour away.

The two young Japanese men who offered to videotape my friend and me and focused the entire minute on breasts and asses.***

My much, much later realization that there was (is) a “myth” of the prevalence of gigolos in Bali. My remembering the smirks when we were paraded around, and my attempt to dismiss it.

My first encounter with Westerners (other than bars and pubs in Taipei) and my not-so-positive impressions of the loud, obnoxious, drunk males late at night on the “strip”.

My first experience of being mistaken for a “local” and the complexity it entailed when trying to get a vendor to serve us in a night market populated by Western tourists.

My first suspicion that there was something off about how I was treated by “foreigners” even before I learned of colonialism, globalization, Orientalism and the fact that “exotic” does not just apply to flowers and animals.


It could be that I am simply jealous. I am jealous of Gilbert’s privileged freedom to be oblivious.



* By “Significant” I mean the classic case of 1% of people controlling N% of the wealth which has resulted in conflicts and outright violence in the recent past.

** I struggled with whether to include this since I worry that this may further add to the stereotype of exoticism. But it serves as a stark contrast to what I witnessed later in the city and therefore I’ve made the conscious decision to include it, despite the potential downside.

*** Yes. We were naive idiots.


Cold Spaghetti October 13, 2010 at 1:48 pm

WAIT. If I go to Bali, I’m not guaranteed to get a hot piece of ass like Javier Bardem?! SHIT.

bipolarlawyercook October 12, 2010 at 11:55 am

Privilege. In a word. In three other words, yes, yes, yes. That was what made me put down the book about halfway through, not just annoyed but sick to my stomach, my “Really?” turning into “SHUT THE HELL UP.” Or maybe something a bit more profane.

Wonderful post.

Absence Alternatives October 12, 2010 at 11:58 am

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. And thank you for the supportive comment. 🙂

Naptimewriting October 8, 2010 at 12:25 am

Don’t want to read the book or see the movie. So tired of the “woman travels and finds herself” trope.

But about your post? Four syllables. Edward Said. He’s why I can’t read any American colonial b.s. Grad school taught me to lasso the male possessive gaze, the colonial condescension, and the gender constructions in everything. And thank Neptune, because I can save myself 90% of the crap published these days.
Naptimewriting´s last blog post…Open Letter to the Friend Who Quit

Absence Alternatives October 9, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Just imagine: how many books and movies has Mr. Said ruined for us? LOL. 😉

Lisa October 5, 2010 at 10:09 am

I couldn’t get through all the comments. What I’m reading is a lot of judgment of someone else’s spiritual experience.

Oh wait, judgment about what you’ve read of other people’s judgments about someone else’s spiritual experience. I think the comment that made me stop reading and start responding was calling it “cheap.” Wow.

Whenever I’ve participated in something spiritual, whether it’s a tantric yoga retreat or even my Episcopalian discussion group, the number “rule” has been: Wherever you are in the journey is fine. We are all muddling through as best we can. We all are ready for whatever breakthroughs we have. Or we aren’t ready for the ones we haven’t had, yet. Critiquing another’s journey or practice, judging whether it was up to par or not, was certainly off-limits. I don’t understand how this conversation has taken this turn.

I do agree that the author has been set up on some sort of pedestal – or mountain top, might be a more apt phrase. From the one interview with her I’ve read in WaPo, she isn’t very comfortable with that. She had her experience; she wrote about it. She didn’t profess to have answers for anyone else and felt uncomfortable when her fans sought them in her.

It seems to me that is more of a reflection of those in our western culture, seeking out an easy answer, wanting to buy enlightenment. I don’t see that as something we can hold against the author.

Victoria Mixon October 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Thank you for writing this.

I lived in rural South America for two years as a child in the 1970s, during which years we dealt constantly with the issues you’re talking, especially about among our local schoolmates. We were white (white-blond). We were privileged (we got to go home to America). We were unfathomably rich (we wore shoes). It was horrifying to be treated as zoo animals by our schoolmates, who pulled our hair to see us cry, at the same time that it was horrifying to see the black cloth over the doorways of their adobe cottages whenever one of the new babies in their families died. When we ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe in a major port city, and the beggar children hovered around our chairs telling us what not to eat because they intended to clean our plates the minute we got up, it altered everything we thought we knew about relationships between children.

The disconnect between cultures–particularly the economic disconnect–is so deep and complex that even those on the underprivileged end can’t possibly understand it. My parents did the best they could to approach that disconnect with a sensitivity born of their liberal, pacifist political convictions.

But we were kids. We just had to live it.
Victoria Mixon´s last blog post…4 Big Reasons to be Grateful for Independent Editors

Absence Alternatives October 4, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Thank you very much for reading this post, for commenting and for sharing your story with me. I sometimes wonder whether my reluctance to visit areas where there is a big economic difference from my “comfort level” is actually detrimental to those areas since they definitely could use the tourist income. It is a struggle for me each time when I travel outside of my comfort zone.

Sarah P October 3, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I hadn’t thought that deeply about the cultural implications. I don’t know much about the book, except for my one reason for not supporting it – she got a huge advance to go on this trip with the agreement she’d write a book about it and didn’t disclose that in the book. OK, so it’s not the worst thing ever, but I really like my nonfiction as honest as possible.

Thank you for the perspective.
Sarah P´s last blog post…No one wears pantyhose on purpose

Absence Alternatives October 3, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Thank you for visiting and commenting! And you are welcome! I’m glad I did not ruin the book/movie for you. LOL.

Jenny, Bloggess September 22, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Honest. Poignant. Sad and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story, my friend.

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Thank you m’lady.

Jane September 22, 2010 at 10:14 am

I enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love until I found out she got a heafty book advance in order to take this pilgrimage to eat, pray and love her way across Asia and Italy. I put the book down and was no longer interested in the revelations and self-discovery she was paid to discover.

On another note your comment “The shame I felt afterwards when I remembered how little one dollar meant to me in comparison” just jumped out at me. So true. So very, very true.
Jane´s last blog post…It’s True Mother Nature Is Out To Get Us

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:29 am

I sometimes wonder whether we would care as much if the book were not such a big success?

This may just be my excuse to NOT add another book to the long list of BOOKS I SHOULD READ IF I CAN TEAR MYSELF AWAY FROM THE INTERNET… ha.

dufmanno September 22, 2010 at 9:52 am

Oh p.s. today I got a wonderful package from a wonderful gal in honor of my birthday. That was above and beyond fantastic. I’ve impaled four ears of corn on the cob with great joy!!
You are incrediblexoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
dufmanno´s last blog post…Van Gogh Says

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:28 am

You are welcome!

dufmanno September 22, 2010 at 9:50 am

I hate the book because it’s obviously lifted from my own memoir “Gluttonous Intake, Curse, Hate” she just reversed everything. Mine is a tale of sitting home, stewing in my own juice, eating barbeque fritos and crying with bitter resentment about all the things I didn’t have the time, money or guts to do.
On a more serious note, I found your experiences in Bali fascinating. Would you ever go back seeing what you saw and feeling the way you felt?
Also, I need to get another free pass from my husband to have one shot at a fiery roll in the sack with one smoldering Javier B.
dufmanno´s last blog post…Van Gogh Says

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:27 am

I don’t need to go back to Bali since I am not seeking any spiritual guidance. 😉

And yes to Javier.

The Barreness September 22, 2010 at 7:40 am

Hrm. Tough one.

I suppose it is a subtle form of racism, but every time I encounter a kilt in Scotland, a bullfighter in Madrid (or uh, okay really most of ANYONE in Madrid. Mmmmm…Spanairds….) or a flat-capped Englishman in a tweed jacket with cane, I giggle a little bit delightedly.

I love actually witnessing the stereotypes which we all consider a figment of Hollywood’s collective imagination. So when I was in India and went to a Buddhist temple, i got all spiritual-like and imagined myself on the set of a Hollywood film (co-starring Javier. Obv.). Even though I knew better than to believe that India was somehow the source of all hidden mystery, I still revelled inthe fantasy for a while.

Perhaps it’s because it’s not so close to me, perosnally.

Totally get why you won’t read the book though. Personally, I won’t read it because it sounds like a load of sentimental wank.
The Barreness´s last blog post…Feminists are stupid Unless I am one

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

Fantasy about Spaniards in bullfighter regalia? Check.

And yeah, I’d hate anybody who comes to me and lecture me about animal cruelty in bull fighting…

Catherine September 22, 2010 at 7:10 am

This is why I love reading you. I always come away with something to think about.

As for the book, I only got about 1/3 of the way through and put it down. Not for me. Didn’t see the movie either but I’ll tell you what, I’d rather read your account of Bali – no question. Very well done.
Catherine´s last blog post…Romanticism at its best

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

Thank you!

linlah September 21, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I tried, I couldn’t. When I hear/read someone say “I want to take a year off” I have to turn around and walk away.
linlah´s last blog post…and stuff…

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

I am jealous too. 😉

Miss B September 21, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Here’s my other main issue with the message of the book (and the movie, I suppose) — bearing in mind that I’ve neither read nor seen it, but I’ve certainly heard enough about it to feel like I have, good heavens. The whole thing is supposed to be this voyage of self-discovery and enlightenment and rah rah rah, I’m a self-actualized woman, hooray! Except…it all seems to hinge on the fact that she found a man in the end, yes? So…take time to get to know yourself or experience life or whatever…until you can find the right man to complete you? That just makes me feel icky, frankly.

And I get that the book (and the movie) is just fluff — but that isn’t how it’s being marketed, and that is my problem. If it was made out to be just a clit lit sort of beach reading piece — more substantial than a stack of magazines, but not by much (and I am not at all averse to the sorts of books that I think of as Written Junk Food — I’m a massive Janet Evanovich fan, I’ll admit it) then I don’t think I’d have any opinion about it at all. But the way it’s being sold to women (and the way that they are apparently eating it up) makes me feel some combination of sick and exasperated. So I suppose my problem is not with the concept of the story or the author, but with the marketing and all that goes along with that?
Miss B´s last blog post…Silver Medals

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

You have to admit though: the marketing is brilliant!

Unknown Mami September 21, 2010 at 10:17 pm

P.S. Thank you for being such a wonderful and supportive friend.
Unknown Mami´s last blog post…Encouraging News…

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:23 am

{{{{hugs}}}}} Still thinking of you.

Unknown Mami September 21, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Haven’t read the book, haven’t seen the movie. I am not drawn to it.

I did however see Aladdin and remember my face flushing in anger. No one in my world seemed to understand why I found it so offensive.

Then I took a class in college and we were discussing Said’s “Orientalism” and my professor spoke disdainfully of Aladdin and I felt like I was home.
Unknown Mami´s last blog post…Encouraging News…

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:23 am

I did not know about “Orientalism” until I was in the U.S. I am part of the MAINSTREAM “back home” so it all made a very interesting turnabout.

Elly Lou September 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I have mixed feelings on the book, honestly. I mean, I think anyone embarking on that sort of self-searching journey should be applauded. I think it takes some bravery. And yes, she’s very fortunate to have the financial means to do so. I understand this makes her “un-relate-able” for many people. And no, I didn’t particularly “like” her as I read the book. But there were still moments that rang true, that drove me to wonder about what a different kind of life would be like if I could stop long enough to try it. Maybe it’s naive of me, but I think sometimes it’s worth just taking a thing at face value. I don’t think she set out to write a guide to finding yourself or is in anyway suggesting this is what other people should do. Nor was she attempting to really portray a culture and all it’s idiosyncrasies. I think she just wanted to share her journey from her perspective, and I can respect that.

I’m not being argumentative, lovely. I think all you say is true and valid and all those other positive descriptive words. I just can’t bring myself to get outraged over the book. Haven’t seen the movie.
Elly Lou´s last blog post…Yankee Ferry Dandy

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:22 am

I know. I would have enjoyed the movie JUST TO WATCH the smoldering Javier… 😉

Kernut the Blond September 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I really enjoy the frankness of your review, the honest telling of your experience. These are the things I want to know, not the mainstream, Hollywoodized clean version. You should write a book about it, seriously. You tell a it in a way that I can picture it.
Kernut the Blond´s last blog post…Cuff Em Danno

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:21 am

*blushing* Thanks

Absence Alternatives September 21, 2010 at 10:23 am

I have been sitting on this post for over a month. I know how polemic it gets: I have read reviews by people who absolutely loved it and also by those who absolutely hated it. However, none talked about the stereotypical trope of Asia being where you go and find yourself and then LEAVE until I heard the review on NPR. I only meant to present my perspectives from my experiences in Bali, granted almost 20 years ago. This is by no means a critique of the book, the movie, and people who enjoyed them.

Absence Alternatives September 21, 2010 at 10:24 am

And simply that: I cannot criticize the book or the movie since I haven’t read the book nor seen the movie.

Wicked Shawn September 22, 2010 at 5:26 am

Methinks the lady should not appear to apologize or write exceptions to writing whatever the fuck she chooses on her own blog! This is your space in the world. Your opinion is the ONLY thing that matters in this little corner of the world, feel free to express it. We come here to read it, to agree or politely disagree with it, but without a doubt because you always eloquently present it. (oh, let’s not forget the beautiful photos) Seriously my dear!! Write it, publish it, let it be! You owe no one any explanation, you have every right to your thoughts and feelings, just as much as the next person. More so when it is here in your space!
Wicked Shawn´s last blog post…Experienced Strippers Wanted as in OLD as in EEWWW

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:21 am

Thanks sister! BUT I do feel a bit guilty for ruining people’s vacations… DAMN PEOPLE WHO ARE NEUROTIC AND NEED TO SHARE!!!! LOL

TheKitchenWitch September 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

I thought that book was so freaking boring. All she did was whine.

I’m sorry about the Bali you experienced, but am grateful and interested to have read about it here.

Absence Alternatives September 21, 2010 at 10:21 am

Thanks. I forgot all about my trip to Bali until the Brouhaha over this book.

Velva September 21, 2010 at 8:06 am

I read your post twice. Should I mention that I also saw the movie twice? My perspective was shallow compared to your real-world experience. Had I had a similar experience or understood the culture and the history, my perspective may have been different.

I enjoyed the movie this way…. This is a “chick flick” for the forty something crowd. I needed a good chick flick….Now, I gotta tell you if I am ever in transition and any of those men in the movie want to spend time with me-oh yes! The deepest part that I took away from this movie was a gentle reminder that life begins when you step out your comfort zone. That’s it. Oh and damn Bali was beautiful,and to remember to eat more because it’s okay to have a muffin top for a belly.
After your thoughts, mine are shameful.
Velva´s last blog post…Everyday is Saturday

Absence Alternatives September 21, 2010 at 10:17 am

Not sure whether you’re being facetious 😉 Just in case you aren’t, please don’t feel that way. Nobody’s perspective/experience is deeper, or more authentic, than the others. I was not accusing Gilbert for false presentations. Just different from mine. And I understand Bali is only 1/3 of the story.

I didn’t mean to position myself as all holier than thou for not wanting to read the book. This was my gut reaction when I read the summary of the book and I found myself not able to even read the first page. Bali means something significant, I didn’t realize that until I felt that gnawing feeling inside me when holding the book inside Borders, in my personal Bildungsroman, and I felt the urge to share. Would I have picked up the book if it were not Bali but say, India (another popular locale for self-discovery in pop culture) where she found enlightenment? Maybe.

And I agree: If I were single with no kids (yeah, I am not really into adultery… 😉 ) and any of those hot guys came to me, I’d say Hell Yeah! Bring on the pasta too! And I seriously just want her metabolism.

Velva September 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I read your post twice because I totally appreciated how your real life experiences shaped your thoughts.
In the movie, she eats in Italy, prays in India and finds love in Bali. The movie really is not deep but, it hits a chord with most women who struggle to break out from what is familiar to them. The movie does make a point of highlighting the lack of women’s rights in Bali but, it mostly focuses on that sexy Brazilian dude that she falls in love with-

I loved your post!!!
Velva´s last blog post…Everyday is Saturday

Absence Alternatives September 22, 2010 at 10:20 am

I did not think you were upset: I know you well enough to know that you are even-handed, level-headed and rational. And I was right! 🙂

Erica@PinesLakeRedhead September 21, 2010 at 8:03 am

Honestly, I didn’t even make it to the Bali portion of the book. The author thoroughly alienated and annoyed me before she ever left New York.

However, I did see the movie with a friend who wanted to see it. I was bored and kept checking my watch. No A-Ha moments for me. I wonder what it would be like to have such a shallow life that would make the story of Eat, Pray Love profound.
Erica@PinesLakeRedhead´s last blog post…Life with Boys- Thats What She Said

Absence Alternatives September 21, 2010 at 10:08 am

At least you read the book and saw the movie. I did not mean for my post to be a “critique” of anything since I can’t. Just my gut reaction. And who am I kidding? I haven’t really finished reading any book ever since I got entangled in the Blogosphere…

Wicked Shawn September 21, 2010 at 5:09 am

This is so well written and needed to be heard. I am so proud of you for having the courage and being the Kick Ass super hero you are for putting it out there.

Also, I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but that is just because I am too busy trying to get through each day to take time for self helpy type books. When I have time for a book, I want some good, old school literature, thankyouverymuch!!!
Wicked Shawn´s last blog post…Experienced Strippers Wanted as in OLD as in EEWWW

Absence Alternatives September 21, 2010 at 10:03 am

Thank you. I just wanted to present my perspective since a few people have asked me whether I have read the book. In hindsight, I wonder whether a simple “No, I haven’t.” would have been a more prudent idea…

Nance September 20, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Thank you for the other side of the picture. While I’ve never been to Bali, I doubted it could be the way the movie depicted it. History laughs at that picture, anyway.

Here’s what has surprised me, though. The book was fluff. The movie was even fluffier. I didn’t expect more from either, so I’m surprised that so many people are annoyed by both the book and the movie. When I pick up a People Magazine at the hairdresser’s, I don’t expect it to be The New Yorker. Has Julia Roberts done anything that wasn’t lightweight? My enjoyment of both was based on their contrast to my usual pastimes — an uncharacteristic bit of escapism. Like enjoying “Mama Mia.” I’d put the two movies on about the same plane.

And I’m so grateful to Javier Bardem for giving me another image to wipe out the ones that have stayed with me from the last movie of his I saw, “No Country For Old Men.” I guess that’s what you call acting!
Nance´s last blog post…Mother Teddy Bears Unite

Absence Alternatives September 20, 2010 at 10:00 pm

THAT BOWL CUT! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget that hair style. I did not even see “No Country for Old Men” – too intense for me (although I am ok watching violence in movies but not “realistic” ones or violence in the form of tortures)

I get what you are saying: here is a person who gladly devoured the entire series of Sookie Stackhouse which is unabashedly mindless entertainment. I think it has something to do with the way it has been marketed to women and held up as an alternative spiritual guide? And I am guessing, the fact it is a memoir? Then of course, hers is a runaway success complete with merchandising on QVC (?) I may not read the book or watch the movie yet I am very impressed with how the marketing strategic plan has been executed. I think it is one for the B schools.

Miss B September 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm

The book is firmly on my list of things that I will deliberately never read. The movie, too, though that has more to do with my dislike of most of the actors in the movie than the fact that it’s based on a book I’m prejudiced against. For me, it’s a combination of being rather tired of this notion of enlightenment as some sort of pre-packaged purchasable commodity, along with the fact that (from the little I know of the backstory) she sounds like sort of an annoying extremely priveliged white chick who was lucky enough to have publishers that were willing to finance a year off while she, ummm, purchased herself some enlightenment in order to write a book about it. Which is great for her — I mean, good for her (seriously) for being able to wrangle her career like that, and have what amounted to a year of paid vacation/planned nervous breakdown/whatever. But the notion that she had this extraordinarily authentic (whatever that even means) experience, and that everyone should also be able to do the same thing (which, hello, we can’t all take a year off and run away from all of our responsibilities and get paid for the privelige)…this bothers me. I’m sure she found a lot of authentic things for herself on the trip, it isn’t that. Just that…to equate a year of paid vacation (basically) with a super deep soul-searching quest for enlightenment feels a bit dishonest and cheap. In my opinion. (Also the notion that one has to go far away to some “exotic” place in order to find “enlightenment”, but that’s an entirely different issue, and one that grates even deeper, for me.)

Anyway, rant over. That’s just to say that I am also never going to read the damn book.
Miss B´s last blog post…Silver Medals

Absence Alternatives September 20, 2010 at 10:07 pm

That’s the kind of critique I have read online so far. Some people were able to get something out of reading the book though. (I guess “some” = “MANY” in this case judging by how long it stayed on the best selling list and the discussions it engendered). Just not my cup of tea so to speak.

You travel quite a lot to “exotic” locales. You mean you’ve never had any life changing a-ha moment when you were gallivanting around the globe?! Whak??!! 😉

SisterMerryHellish September 20, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I’ve not read the book or seen the movie, but it’s tempting considering how controversial it’s be come. My knee-jerk reaction was to say I was so sorry you had to have that experience, but it’s one that’s stayed with you, and crafted you into the Lovely Lin who brings us pictures of NYC from the window of a hovering airplane and art installations from museums where pictures aren’t allowed at all. Would you see the world the wonderful way it’s passed onto us here if you hadn’t parted ways without a proper goodbye or realized how little a dollar meant to you (and how much it meant to them) when you bargained with pint-sized street vendors?

I’ll take the Lin Bali shaped over a million Elizabeth Gilberts (and Julia Roberts’s for that matter).
SisterMerryHellish´s last blog post…Beaker and My Taco

Absence Alternatives September 20, 2010 at 9:52 pm

I don’t know what to say. Thank you.

Nancy@ifevolution September 20, 2010 at 7:10 pm

For me…….it’s not about the details of her trip….the food, the “places”..etc. (Though I get your point.)

For me it was in realizing how important it is to focus on yourself on a regular basis. Be it through yoga, or meditating…or WHATEVER. There’s no way you can be good for anyone else if you’re not good for yourself too. Our busy mom minds need maintenance on a regular basis. Be it yoga or meditating or however works best for you.

She could have picked anywhere really. Her missions was to find herself….mission accomplished 🙂
Nancy@ifevolution´s last blog post…Brain-Mouth Filter……Gone

Absence Alternatives September 20, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Nancy, I hope you are not offended. I agree with you: this is a project to reclaim herself and with her book, she is reaching to women who feel such a lack in their lives and encourage them to do so. And I am glad for those who read the book and were inspired to do something.

Andrea September 20, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Yours is an interesting perspective, to be sure. And authentic. And would probably make for a better movie (though I have NOT seen Eat, Pray, Love the movie).

I read the book. It was ok. Some of it, I enjoyed — some, not so much. But one thing bothers me about all the hype around Gilbert now. She didn’t do anything THAT unconventional — her experience is very vanilla and very priveleged. But she somehow is now viewed as the expert on happiness. She spent a year eating, praying, and learning about herself, and that’s it? She can now guide us all to happiness?

Absence Alternatives September 20, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Thank you. Mine would make a comedy I think. LOL. I didn’t mean to criticize her book or the movie since I haven’t even read/seen it. I just want to explain why I had this gut reaction and did not pick up the book when it was talked about everywhere.

jen September 20, 2010 at 6:58 pm

im jealous! wish I could pick up and leave to travel for a year in but I would go to rome, madrid and greek islands, damn it. I don’t think I am gonna see the movie because julia roberts killed it for me 🙁 I did enjoy the book though but I like hearing your side to a trip like this. whoah! gives me a whole NEW perspective for sure!
jen´s last blog post…Self Reliance

Absence Alternatives September 20, 2010 at 9:26 pm

From what I’ve heard, she ate a lot of great food while maintaining a nice figure. That alone would probably make me want to throw the book out of the window. LOL.

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