(comentarios quizás demasiado apresurados sobre el libro #2. Fluyeron en ingles; como estamos leyendo en ese idioma, espero nadie se tome a mal esta concesión lingüística).
According to Jared Diamond, among the key traits that differentiate us, humans, from our ape cousins are culture and language, the latter understood as an expression of the former. Language allows us to create narratives, to construct explanations of events which, often times, are transmitted from generation to generation as unique, unquestionable truths. These explanations become beliefs, which in turn make up individual mental models.
We experience and shape our world through our mental models; they are the very basis of our understanding of how everything is. Without them, our most basic foundations, our identity, are shaken; without them, we are faced with the vertigo of uncertainty, with the uncomfortable feeling that all may not be what (or how) we believed it to be.
I am one-fourth through Sex at Dawn and confused. Very confused and uncomfortable. Through some parts I get sorely angry at what I am reading; in others, totally depressed. Thus far in the book, Ryan and Jetha reduce sex to a mere "commercial" transaction, in which each part is pursuing its "sole purpose in life" of leaving a genetic legacy. The "war between sexes" is as inevitable as the fact that "by nature, both men and women are whores, cheats and liars." A very "optimistic" outlook, if any, that does not quite align with my beliefs.
Ryan and Jetha question the "standard narrative" that we have accepted as true regarding human sexual behavior. However, if my understanding is not erroneous, what they propose is also a narrative (at some points fairly lightly supported), which can be questioned for its historic and cultural influences, as easily as they challenge the fact that Darwin's theories were inextricably permeated by Victorian culture and values.
Having said this, the authors may be right in all that they propose with a universal perspective. My individual, current despair resides in the fact that, to me, at least for now, it is way too hard to separate sex from the deeply rooted, popular (and, at this point in time, probably equally commercial) notion of romantic love, which, at this point of the book, is presented as a mere cultural construction without any apparent biological foundation.
How much of the narrative that I grew up repeatedly listening to can I truly get rid of? How many of the overly popularized Grimm brothers' "and they lived happily ever after" can (and most importantly), do I want to question and replace with a more evolutionary perspective? Would changing my views make me any happier? Would changing my perspective bring me any closer to achieving my "sole purpose in life" of leaving a genetic legacy? Where does our hard-earned individual choice fit in all this? Am I able to unlearn such deep-deep rooted lessons?
I honestly don't have clear answers to any these questions yet.
I have a lot of book still to go and I am fully aware that these observations may be dangerously rushed. Maybe this newly-born-sex-related-existential-anxiety of mine should be discussed privately with a shrink and not in this open space...
In any case, let me conclude these random ramblings by proposing a fork in the path proposed by Lucas: can some of us opt to read Sex at Dawn while others simultaneously read Sex at Dusk? From the reviews it seems like an interesting and enriching dialogue could come out from combining these two perspectives, which appear to be quite antagonistic.