As soon as upon a time, the philosophy of affection was a nice topic for the man of ideas, like Erich Fromm or C. S. Lewis. In recent years, the topic has been relegated to self-help, a style that many distrust for its propensity to suggest simple answers the place there are none. Self-help has its makes use of, however: it neatly undoes the facile ideas of left (we are powerless victims) and proper (we've got complete company in our lives) alike, and it provides the calming reassurance that others on the market are as tousled as you are.
Now comes the feminist cultural critic Bell Hooks together with her new book of essays, ''All About Love,'' written in a didactic fashion that will merge moral philosophy with self-help. It's a heat affirmation that love is feasible and an attack on the tradition of narcissism and selfishness. ''We yearn to finish the lovelessness that's so pervasive in our society,'' she writes. ''This book tells us methods to return to love.''
Her greatest factors are easy ones. Group -- extended family, inventive or political collaboration, friendship -- is as vital as the couple or the nuclear household; love is an artwork that entails work, not just the joys of attraction; desire could rely upon phantasm, but love comes solely via painful fact-telling; work and cash have replaced the values of love and community, and this have to be reversed.
In Hooks's view, girls have little hope of happiness in a brutal tradition by which they are blindsided because ''most males use psychological terrorism as a technique to subordinate women,'' whom they maintain around ''to handle all about love bell hooks summary
their needs.'' Men are raised to be ''extra involved about sexual performance and sexual satisfaction than whether or not they're capable of giving and receiving love.'' Many males ''will, at times, select to silence a accomplice with violence moderately than witness emotional vulnerability'' and ''often turn away from real love and select relationships through which they are often emotionally withholding when they really feel prefer it but nonetheless receive love from somebody else.'' Girls are additionally afraid of intimacy however ''focus extra on finding a companion,'' no matter quality. The result is ''a gendered association wherein males usually tend to get their emotional needs met while women can be deprived. . . . Males are given an advantage that neatly coincides with the patriarchal insistence that they are superior and due to this fact higher suited to rule others.'' Males have to study generosity and ''the joy that comes from service.''
Hooks contends that she and her two lengthy-term boyfriends were foiled by ''patriarchal pondering'' and sexist gender roles and never had a chance. She is true that many women and men, gay and straight, still fall into traditional traps, but she doesn't spend a lot time on why some dive into them, nor does she take into account that such is not everyone's fate. She takes her experience, neatly elides her personal function in shaping it, universalizes and transliterates her frustrations into pop sociology.
Hooks's beliefs for love, her ''new visions,'' sound good, but there's something sterile and summary about them. The inventive methods the mind has to console itself, the truth that relationships do not grant bliss and perfection, the essential impossibility of satisfaction, how desire can conquer the need -- to Hooks, these are but cynical delusions that will probably be thrust aside in a courageous new world prepared ''to affirm mutual love between free ladies and free men.''
Her invocation of master rhetoricians like Martin Luther King Jr. and Thomas Merton throws into painful relief the strange Pollyanna high quality of her prose; it is troublesome to imagine both of them beginning a paragraph, as she does, with ''Once I first began to speak publicly about my dysfunctional household, my mother was enraged.'' She ends the book as Sleeping Magnificence, awaiting ''the love that's promised'' and talking to angels reasonably than real people. Her book confirms fears about why jargon and prefabricated concepts, including identification politics and self-assist, so typically flatten experience into cliché. Emotional waters run deep and wide. When one cannot navigate them, it's potential to take refuge in a shallow, sentimental idealism.