What's love got to do with it?
We can always be better at what we do, right? My father gave me this book a long time ago and yesterday I ran across it an consumed it. It's a discuss of the art of loving (but not really). It talks about the discipline and dedication required to master any art and goes on to postulate that the art of loving is no different: to become a master you must dedicate yourself to the pursuit of the art in everything you do.
Like most philosophy books it is part bullshit and part common sense (the real value where the two meet) and 100% something that you can argue about. Most Western philosophers stick to their axiomatic Aristotelian logic to explain their ideas, but then dive into paradoxical logic when convenient to their argument and the reader will never know if it actually explains more to them than it did to the writer (or so said è€å). Everything is nothing. That which is one, is one; that which is not one, is one. All having profound truth if you define their context. This book is no different, it leaves you with a well-argued (even if not-so-compelling) opinion on that which stands in the way of good ol' lovin'.
It's more a book about the philosophy of giving love as opposed to receiving it (or more pointedly, expecting it). The only reason I've gone through all the effort of writing about it on my blog is that I rather enjoyed other aspects of this book. Now, I will digress into two unrelated topics: religion and parenting... Wow. WTF?
I do believe that the experience of being one with everything is fulfilling and leads to happiness. One can call that religion or a belief structure... I call it living. Religions that anthropomorphically approach the goal of being one with everything make no sense to me. As such, Fromm's discussions on loving God were quite fascinating. He expounds upon an evolution of religious practice: most interestingly the interpretation of religious conscience in the form of beliefs versus actions. He makes an statement that action-based religions are more evolved than belief-based religions. I like the argument because I agree.
Fromm talks about motherly and fatherly love in a way that is almost palpable in the context of the era in which the book was written (1950s). It's an interesting throw-back into a time before my existence, but I find it profoundly interesting as I see the delineation between motherly love and fatherly love (in the roles of the mother and father) eroding in modern society. Our attempts to instill equality have resulted in a profound amount of sameness. As such, in our society, fathers tend to show much of the same unconditional love that is shown by mothers. (Fromm blames this on capitalism -- that's an awesome argument, I chuckled through most of that section). This erosion is not a bad or good thing, it just is. It does however put us in a position where our previous understanding of how love works is less applicable, but hey... evolution's a bitch.