Gwyneth Paltrow is getting divorced, and I don’t care. I can’t say that I’ve ever even given a thought to her marital status before. But what is rather fascinatingly bizarre is her pretentious gooeyness: she calls her divorce Conscious Uncoupling…and reading elsewhere through her blog you get the impression of a young woman with so much money that she can cheerfully indulge in every poorly justified and absurd fad.
But that’s not what caught my eye. After her announcement, she has a long justification for divorce (really, Gwyneth, you don’t need to make excuses — if you’ve grown apart, it’s fine to move on), and the reasons offered are based on a Hollywood version of evolution. Not real evolution, of course — these people are too airily superficial to ever bother with reality — but a fairy tale evolution in which they are elevated above the brutes and bugs.
It’s not written by Paltrow, but by two of her friends, a married couple, a dentist, Dr Sherry Sami, Founder of Happy Kids Dental Planet Homeopathic Dentistry and Orthodontics in Los Angeles and Dr Habib Sadeghi, an osteopath who is co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. So a homeopathic dentist and a quack. Fills you with confidence, don’t it?
How bad is it? It is so bad that I’m going to skip right over the lazy evolutionary psychology at the beginning, in which we’re told that marriage is a Paleolithic adaptation for short-lived early humans, to go right to the really funny bits.
It’s about insects.
Intimacy & Insects
To understand what life is really like living with an external shield, we have to examine the experts: Insects. Beetles, grasshoppers, and all other insects have an exoskeleton. The structure that protects and supports their body is on the outside. Not only are they stuck in a rigid, unchanging form that provides no flexibility, they are also at the mercy of their environment. If they find themselves under the heel of a shoe, it’s all over. That’s not the only downside: Exoskeletons can calcify, leading to buildup and more rigidity.
If only insects could sue for libel…
This is all wrong. There’s nothing unchanging about having an exoskeleton — holometabolous arthropods undergo some of the most amazing transformations during their life cycle. Have these people never heard of metamorphosis? As for flexibility, insects are the most diverse and successful animal group on the planet.
And what organism isn’t at the mercy of their environment? If I found myself under the heel of a giant shoe, it’d be all over, too.
Calcification of the exoskeleton…is this a significant problem for insects? I don’t think so. They’re just making things up.
By contrast, vertebrates like dogs, horses, and humans have an endoskeleton. Our support structure is on the inside of our bodies, giving us exceptional flexibility and mobility to adapt and change under a wide range of circumstances. The price for this gift is vulnerability: Our soft outside is completely exposed to hurt and harm every day.
Hey, they were just complaining that insects were vulnerable to passing shoes, now they’re saying the price of internal skeletons is vulnerability. It seems to me that just existing, no matter what your skeleton looks like, is a risky business.
They don’t let the incoherence bother them, they’re on a roll.
Life is a spiritual exercise in evolving from an exoskeleton for support and survival to an endoskeleton. Think about it. When we get our emotional support and wellbeing from outside ourselves, everything someone says or does can set us off and ruin our day. Since we can’t control or predict what another person does, our moods are at the mercy of our environment. We can’t adapt to the situation if our intimate partner doesn’t behave the way we think they should. Everything is then perceived as a personal attack and attempt to upset us. Up goes our armor and it’s all-out war.
Life is not a spiritual exercise in ‘evolving’ from an exoskeleton to an endoskeleton. Real life wasn’t about evolving from exoskeletons to endoskeletons, either. Their metaphor makes no sense. They have this weird idea that exoskeletons are associated with inflexibility and an inability to respond to the environment, which is just wrong.
With an internal support structure, we can stand strong because our stability doesn’t depend on anything outside ourselves. We can be vulnerable and pay attention to what’s happening around us, knowing that whatever comes, we have the flexibility to adapt to the situation. There’s a reason we call cowards spineless: It takes great courage to drop your armor, expose your soft inside, and come to terms with the reality of what’s happening around you. It’s a powerful thing to then realize that you can survive it. When we examine our intimate relationships from this perspective, we realize that they aren’t for finding static, lifelong bliss like we see in the movies. They’re for helping us evolve a psycho-spiritual spine, a divine endoskeleton made from conscious self-awareness so that we can evolve into a better life without recreating the same problems for ourselves again and again. When we learn to find our emotional and spiritual support from inside ourselves, nothing that changes our environment or relationships can unsettle us.
Are all woo artists like this? What a load of psycho-spiritual hooey. It’s all flawed metaphor, and I don’t even see how to apply this inconsistent, incoherent rubbish to my personal life.
There’s a scientific theory by Russian esotericist, Peter Ouspensky, that the creation of insects was a failed attempt by nature to evolve a higher form of consciousness. There was a time millions of years ago when insects were enormous—a dragonfly’s wings were three feet across. So why didn’t they end up being the dominant species on earth? Because they lacked flexibility, which is what evolution is all about, and couldn’t adapt to changing conditions like humans can. The lives of people who imprison themselves in an exoskeleton of anger usually don’t evolve the way they’d like them to, either. Being trapped inside negative energy like anger and resentment keeps people from moving forward in life because they can only focus on the past. Even worse, over time, these powerful emotions often turn into disease in the body.
Ouspensky was not a scientist and did not come up with any scientific theories. The idea that insects are a failed attempt at anything is absurd, and judging a species by whether it is conscious or by how big individuals are is inappropriate.
And insects are the dominant form of animal life on earth. There are 200 million insects for every human being; insects have been here for 400 million years, while humans have been around for about 6 million; when humans go extinct, cockroaches will still walk the earth. I can’t even comprehend the head-up-assedness of declaring that insects lack flexibility and can’t adapt — if they are so incapable of adapting, how did we end up with 10-30 million extant species?
But I can comprehend how they can claim emotions turn into disease. They’re quacks. That’s the sort of thing they lie about to make money.