Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled

Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled

Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled

Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled


What single person hasn't suffered?

Everyone, it seems, must be (or must want to be) in a couple. To exist outside of the couple is to assume an antisocial position that is ruthlessly discouraged because being in a couple is the way most people bind themselves to the social. Singles might just be the single most reviled sexual minorities today.


Arguments for the Uncoupled

offers a polemic account of this supremacy of the couple form, and how that supremacy blocks our understanding of the single. Michael Cobb reads the figurative language surrounding singleness as it traverses an eclectic set of literary, cultural, philosophical, psychoanalytical, and popular culture objects from Plato, Freud, Ralph Ellison, Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, Barack Obama, Emily Dickinson, Morrissey, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Hannah Arendt to the Bible, Sex and the City, Bridget Jones' Diary, Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," and HBO's Big Love. Within these flights of fancy, poetry, fiction, strange moments in film and video, paintings made in the desert, bits of song, and memoirs of hiking in national parks, Cobb offers an inspired, eloquent rumination on the single, which is guaranteed to spark conversation and consideration.


Je fermerai partout portières et volets
Pour bâtir dans la nuit mes féeriques palais.

[I’ll lock up all the doors and shutters neat and tight,
And build a fairy palace for myself at night.]
        CHARLES baudelaire, “Paysage” (“Landscape”)

The necessity for this book is to be found in the following
consideration: that the lover’s discourse is today of an
extreme solitude.
        ROLAND barthes, A Lover’s Discourse

One Is the Loneliest Number

On her deathbed, my grandma Jewell commanded me to do something she (and the whole world) had been commanding me to do my entire teen and adult life: find someone to love. By “someone,” she didn’t mean friends, colleagues, pets, ideas, beliefs, or things. She meant a “significant other,” a person with whom I could settle down, get married, have sex— definitely share a life. This command, which I never could quite convince her I was obeying, was always coupled with the following threat: “Michael, you don’t want to die alone!”

Of course, these comments were inspired by her faith in romantic couple love, proven by years of personal experience, especially as a woman traversing the twentieth century well before second-wave feminism. Jewell had, at least from our perspective, a terrific marriage to my dear grandfather, Joe: a 1930s romance; a long and sentimental separation while Joe was a cook on a naval ship in the middle of the South Pacific during World War II; the adoption of an adorable blonde girl, with curls, whom they took to Disneyland the year it opened; and so on. in fact, as would . . .

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