Because it’s broken
by Sady Doyle
It’s easy to read the buddhist as a feminist text. It’s also easy to read it as a book about dissolving the boundaries between high and low art, or a performance piece about obsession, or a book about the abuse of spiritual authority. It’s even possible to read it as simply a book about abuse and its aftermath. Bellamy explicitly acknowledges that her subject — an ex-boyfriend, whose gruesome break-up tactics and even more gruesome post-break-up communications demonstrate him to be an endlessly creative and energetic mindfucker — was psychologically abusive. She acknowledges this about halfway through the book, at which point I was already suppressing the urge to mail her my copy of Codependent No More.
But maybe all of these frameworks are deployed — politics, religion, art, a healthy dose of psychotherapy; all the neat little devices people use to extract meaning from raw experience — precisely because none of them work. The book sucks in frameworks, chews them up, and spits them out, one after another. One after another, each coping strategy is found insufficient to the experience at hand. At its core, the buddhist is a protracted fight between two people for the right to know what happened.