Saturday, March 10, 2012

Heart of Darkness. Epilogue.

Mimi Alford copped a lot of criticism from the mainstream media for her autobiography. The Kennedy administration enjoys an almost divine like status on the left and any criticism of it is akin to sacrilege. Had Alford produced an expose detailing the extramarital affairs of a Republican President, the feminist yenta commentariat would have been thumping the table for his impeachment, but since the perpetrator in this case was a charismatic male Democrat, it was the "victim" who was the object of their scorn.

The media, with their typical celebrity worship and superficiality, were more interested in the lurid details of her presidential liaisons than the effect that it had on the rest of her life. Yet, it was this aspect of her biography which I found the most interesting. It's true that a book about the break up of two, otherwise ordinary people, would not have not garnered any commercial interest, and yet,  the mechanics of their estrangement is probably of more practical interest to students of male/female dynamics than the sexual persona of JFK.

In trying to understand the mechanics of their marital failure it was neccessary to try and form a character assessment of Tony Fahnestock.  Which is not that easy to do,  because with a few exceptions, either deliberately or not, she more alludes to his behaviour than explicitly states it, and when trying to look at the book from a psychological perspective, in an effort to understand him,  I was left trying to fill in the gaps based upon my clinical experience.  What we do know is that he was initially romantic, chivalrous and sexually restrained. We also learn that he was capable of decision and action but tended to avoid conflict. His tastes were simple and he had friends. It's pretty safe then to assume that he was an "ordinary guy."

Now, Love doesn't get much time in the man-o-sphere, and  yet it is what ultimately motivates most good men and gives life its meaning. For most normal men, the sex is not enough, and life devoid of love is empty. Normal men are not content enough to possess a woman's body they also want to posses her soul. That's what's so divine about love; is that the thing that you cherish most loves you back in the same way. It's a state that can exist amongst two people who feel the same way about each other. The well being of the lover is contingent upon the well being of the loved: it's symbiotic.  The problem for  Fahnestock however is that he got he loved Alford symbiotically, but she loved him parasitically; and this was his private hell. Alford's primary concern was not for her partner but for herself.

Alford may deny this, but that's because she suffers from that universal romantic notion which confuses love with affection. I have no doubt that she had affection for Fahnestock, but love is not just a feeling, it's an obligation to another person's happiness. The medieval theologians, who were frequently far more hard-arsed than the moderns, recognised that love and affection were two separate things. To them, love was a disposition of goodness toward another person and it was manifest by doing good toward other, the happy feelings of affection are therefore in a way irrelevant. They would have argued that if a person was acting in a way that could harm another,  there was no way that they could be considered as loving.

Viewed in this light, Alford could never be considered as loving Fahnestock. Sure, she had affection for him, but she acted in a way (with JFK) that was guaranteed to hurt him. And remember,  Alford's infidelity was not episodic, as a in a moment of weakness, rather it was systematic and deceptive. Had she had truly loved Fahnestock she would have acted in his best interest. For example two options which would have shown that she loved him would have been:

1) Not get into a relationship with him, in order to avoid hurting him,  and continue sleeping with Kennedy. Or,
2) Stop sleeping with Kennedy before she got into a relationship with him.

Each one of these options would have resulted in a loss to her, something she was not prepared to take, as she was out for number one.

I imagine when he found out about her infidelity, what knocked him out completely, was the realisation that he'd been taken for a fool as Alford was manipulating the situation to her advantage. But what really put the twist to the knife in his heart was the realisation that she was acting as if he did not matter, whereas he was acting if she did matter...... completely.  He loved her but she enjoyed being in his company.  Her delight in him was for her own pleasure, her love was solipsistic.

Fahnestock was a man who thus could not trust his wife even if he wanted to. He could never be sure of her love to him especially (as it appeared to him) that she denied him her body whilst giving it to another man.  So it escapes me why he married her, especially when Alford description of him is that of a man of resolute action. The only reason, I feel, that adequately explains his actions is love. Reading about their early days together, Fahnestock seemed totally awestruck by Alford and pedestalised her. Even though she betrayed him, he loved her and still wanted to make a go of it. Even though he was angry, his disposition to her was one of goodwill. He wanted her to be happy, to have a good reputation, to have a wedding: he wanted to keep her. In going ahead with the wedding he had forgiven her even though he could not trust her.

This was his first fatal mistake. It's one thing to forgive, but another to forget, and infidelity is one of those things that is very, very,  hard to forget. Fahnestock could never be sure if Alford is being true to him and was always insecure in his relationship with her.  Therefore by his insecurity he radiated beta. But on a more fundamental level he was choosing to marry a woman who was incapable of the gift of the Magi. They individually, approached the marriage from different psychological perspectives.

What Fahnestock should have done is dumped her. Any love he had for her could have been expressed in trying to break of the engagement discretely, and in a manner that could have preserved Alford's reputation. Some Christian types may argue that it was his duty to forgive her. But it needs to be reminded to these types that it is possible to forgive a person but not marry them.  A man must choose his mate not just on infatuation but on a hard-arsed assessment of her long term potential. Fahnestock ignored the warning signs.  But then again he was in his early twenties, a nice guy, and he loved her.

His second fatal mistake was his approach in dealing with their problems. He ignored them. Whilst this may keep the peace in the house, it is a defacto abdication of the natural order. The husband is the head of the household and must give it direction,  and in the absence of any direction,  the wife will assume it with a corresponding contempt towards her partner. Once again, a beta behaviour.

So it's no surprise to students of game that after twenty-six years of marriage, it was Alford who initially was so desperate for marriage that initiated the divorce. 

I recommend Alford's book to the students of Game. Not only because it so superbly illustrates the automatic female willingness to submit to an alpha male, but because it also illustrates  the consequences of infidelity and the fate of the beta male. At the end of her book, she credits JFK, the man who treated her as a concubine, with more veneration than her "good provider husband" of twenty-six years. She still thinks being his mistress was the special formative event in her life.  Such is the power of alpha.

I can't but feel an overwhelming sadness for Tony Fahnestock. Here was a man trying to do good and suffered for doing so.  Even Alford seemed to express a certain pity towards him:
He was right in a way.  I didn't know exactly what I had wanted, but I knew I had to take a step toward change. I knew that Tony wasn't solely to blame for my unhappiness or the ruin of our marriage. It was my fault as much as his. I had not made his life happy. But I also knew that I had reached an endpoint to the misery we created for each other.

Mimi Alford dated for the next sixteen years and was married again in 2005. In her book,  she describes the marriage as happy.

Meditating on events, I cant help but be melancholic when it comes to the life to Tony Fahnestock. He seems to be a good representation of a type of man that has done particularly badly in love since the sixties. In the clamor that arose after Alford's revelations, no one seems to have taken notice that he was an unwitting victim of the affair. The female commentariat seem more interested on what it was like to be part of JFK's harem or have devoted themselves to protecting JFK's memory. Alford was particularly savaged for desecrating the Camelot memory by Barbara Walters; herself, an adulteress.

Alford doesn't write much about what happened to Tony Fahnestock afterwards. However a little bit of searching on the internet revealed that he had married again, this time to a New York socialite, Andrea Henderson. She has kept his dignity and refused to comment on the affair.

Tony Fahnestock, who was divorced in 1989,  died in 1993 from cancer.  Alford was not allowed to attend the funeral.

I hope he found both love and peace.