The Art of Loving

Monday, March 16, 2009

Foreword XIX "This book ... wants to show that love is not a sentiment which can easily be indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. It wants to convince the reader that all his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop his total personality ... that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one's neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture where these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare achievement."

P. 1 "Not that people think that love is not important. They are starved for it; they watch endless numbers of films about happy and unhappy love stories, they listen to hundreds of trashy songs about love - yet hardly anyone thinks there is anything that needs to be learned about love. This peculiar attitude is based on several premises ... Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, or one's capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable. In pursuit of this aim they follow several paths. One, which is especially used by men, is to be successful, to be as powerful and rich as the social margin of one's position permits. Another, used by women, is to make oneself attractive, by cultivating one's body, dress, etc ... what most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal."

P. 3 "Our whole culture is based on the appetite for buying, or the idea of a mutually favorable exchange. Modern man's happiness consists in the thrill of looking at the shop windows, and in buying all he can afford to buy ... He (or she) looks at people in a similar way. For the man an attractive girl - and for the woman an attractive man - are the prizes they are after. "Attractive" usually means a nice package of qualities which are popular and sought after on the personality market. What specifically makes a person attractive depends on the fashion of the time, physically as well as mentally ... the sense of falling in love develops usually only with regard to such human commodities as are within reach of one's own possibilities for exchange. I am out for a bargain; the object should be desirable from the standpoint of its social value, and at the same time should want me, considering my overt and hidden assets and potentialities. Two persons thus fall in love when they feel they have found the best object available on the market, considering the limitations of their own exchange values."

P. 4 "In a culture in which the marketing orientation prevails, and in which material success is the outstanding value, there is litle reason to be surprised that human love relations follow the same pattern of exchange which govern the commodity and labor market."

P. 4 "If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitiated if it is combined with, or initiated by, sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting. The two persons become well acquainted, their intimacy loses more and more its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disappointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the initial excitement. Yet, in the beginning, they do not know all this; in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation ... for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness."

P. 10-11 "As long as these orgiastic states are a matter of common practice in a tribe, they do not produce anxiety or guilt. To act in this way is right, and even virtuous, because it is a way shared by all, approved and demanded by the medicine men or priests, hence there is no reason to feel guilty or ashamed. It is quite different when the same solution is chosen by an individual in a culture which has left behind these common practices. Alcoholism and drug addiction are the forms which the individual chooses in a non-orgiastic culture. In contrast to those participating in the socially patterned solution, such individuals suffer from guilt feelings and remorse. While they try to escape from the separateness by taking refuge in alcohol or drugs, they feel all the more separate after the origastic experience is over, and thus are driven to take recourse to it with increasing frequency and intensity. Slightly different from this is recourse to a sexual orgiastic solution. To some extent, it is a natural and normal form of overcoming separateness, and a partial answer to the problem of isolation. But in many individuals in whom the separateness is not relieved in other ways, the search for sexual orgasm assumes a function which makes it not very different from alcohol and drug addiction. It becomes a desparate attempt to escape the anxiety engendered by separateness, and it results in an ever-increasing separateness, since the sexual act without love never bridges the gap between two human being except momentarily."

P. 13 "If I am like everybody else, if I have no feelings or thoughts which make me different, if I conform in custom, dress, ideas to the pattern of the group, I am saved; saved from the frightening experience of aloneness. The dictatorial systems use threats and terror to induce this conformity; the democratic countries, suggestion and propaganda ... if there is no other or better way, then the union of herd conformity becomes the predominant one ... people want to conform to a much higher degree than they are forced to conform, at least in the Western democracies."

P. 14 "Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideals and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinions as the result of their own thinking - and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as those of the majority. The consensus of all serves as proof for the "correctness" of their ideas. Since there is still a need to feel some individuality, such need is satisfied with regard to minor differences; the initials on the handbag or the sweater, the name plate of the bank teller, the belonging to the Democratic as against the Republican party, to the Elks instead of the Shriners become the expression of individual differences. The advertising slogan of "it is different" shows up this pathetic need for difference, when in reality there is hardly any left."

P. 15 "Following the ideals of the Enlightenment, Socialist thinkers of various schools defined equality as abolition of exploitation, of the use of man by man ... In contemporary capitalistic society the meaning of equality has been transformed. By equality one refers to the equality of automatons; of men who have lost their individuality. Equality today means "sameness" rather than "oneness". It is the sameness of abstractions, of the men who work in the same jobs, who have the same amusements, who read the same newspapers, who have the same feelings and the same ideas ... Contemporary society preaches this ideal of unindividualized equality because it needs human atoms, each one the same, to make them function in a mass aggregation, smoothly, without friction; all obeying the same commands, yet everybody being convinced that he is following his own desires. Just as modern mass production requires the standardization of commodities, so the social process requires standardization of man, and this standardization is called "equality".

P. 17 "A third way of attaining union lies in creative activity, be it that of the artist, or the artisan. In any kind of creative work, the creating person unites himself with his material, which represents the world outside of himself ... This, however, holds true only for productive work, for work in which I plan, produce, see the result of my work. In the modern work process of a clerk, the worker on the endless belt, little is left of this uniting quality of work. The worker becomes an appendix to the machine or the bureaucratic organization. He has ceased to be he - hence no union takes place beyond that of conformity."

P. 18 "This desire for interpersonal fusion is the most powerful striving in man. It is the most fundamental passion, it is the force which keeps the human race together, the clan, the family, society. The failure to achieve it means insanity or destruction - self-destruction or destruction of others. Without love, humanity could not exist for a day."

P. 20 "In contrast to symbiotic union, mature love is union under the condition of preserving one's integrity, one's individuality. Love is an active power in man; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity. In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two."

Posted by St. Drogo at 6:30 PM  


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March 31, 2010 at 9:58 PM  

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