The corporate media (our mythic gatekeepers) have built up General Petreus’ celebrity/warrior status for over ten years. In fact, this man has never seen combat. He made it to Brigadier General solely on his managerial skills, as essentially a corporate executive.
However, I am interested in neither his pseudo-warrior status nor his sex affair, but in the mythic implications. Modern culture long ago replaced the creative imagination with its the toxic mimic. It substituted reverence for the gods (within) with the culture of celebrity.
We have always had a profound need to see our deeper nature projected onto kings and queens, figures of “nobility” (which comes from the same Greek root as “gnosis.”) A “noble” person is one who knows him- or herself. But these are archetypal images – and therefore they are images of perfection. When we project those images onto actual human beings, those beings, being human, inevitably disappoint us. This explains why their fall is so precipitous, and why we revel so gleefully in their downfall, when only yesterday we adored them.
What makes this “affair” so specifically American, however (in Europe, this thing wouldn’t make the second section of any daily newspaper), is the fact that it’s a sexaffair.
The man who must take ultimate responsibility for two failed wars, the deaths of thousands, the waste of billions and a culture of torture and misogyny, where more soldiers die from suicide than from combat, where female soldiers are more likely to get raped than at home, where their assailants are almost never charged with a crime, has fallen because he cheated on his wife! Only a society steeped, like ours is, in a profoundly puritanical legacy can fail to see the irony in this story.