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That Four - Letter Word

That Four - Letter Word

Once upon a time, the philosophy of affection was a fantastic subject for the person of ideas, like Erich Fromm or C. S. Lewis. In recent times, the subject has been relegated to self-assist, a genre that many distrust for https://bellhooksbooks.com its propensity to suggest easy answers where there are none. Self-help has its uses, however: it neatly undoes the facile ideas of left (we are energyless victims) and right (now we have total company in our lives) alike, and it offers the calming reassurance that others out there are as tousled as you are.

Now comes the feminist cultural critic Bell Hooks with her new book of essays, ''All About Love,'' written in a didactic style that will merge moral philosophy with self-help. It's a warm affirmation that love is feasible and an assault on the culture of narcissism and selfishness. ''We yearn to finish the lovelessness that's so pervasive in our society,'' she writes. ''This book tells us how one can return to love.''

Her greatest factors are simple ones. Community -- prolonged household, inventive or political collaboration, friendship -- is as vital as the couple or the nuclear family; love is an art that entails work, not just the fun of attraction; need could depend on illusion, but love comes only through painful truth-telling; work and cash have changed the values of love and community, and this have to be reversed.

In Hooks's view, women have little hope of happiness in a brutal culture wherein they are blindsided because ''most males use psychological terrorism as a way to subordinate ladies,'' whom they keep around ''to deal with all their needs.'' Males are raised to be ''more concerned about sexual efficiency and sexual satisfaction than whether they are capable of giving and receiving love.'' Many males ''will, at occasions, select to silence a companion with violence slightly than witness emotional vulnerability'' and ''often turn away from real love and select relationships through which they can be emotionally withholding after they really feel prefer it but nonetheless receive love from somebody else.'' Ladies are additionally afraid of intimacy but ''focus more on finding a associate,'' regardless of quality. The result is ''a gendered arrangement through which males are more likely to get their emotional wants met while ladies will likely be deprived. . . . Men are given an advantage that neatly coincides with the patriarchal insistence that they're superior and subsequently better suited to rule others.'' Males must learn generosity and ''the joy that comes from service.''

Hooks contends that she and her two lengthy-time period boyfriends had been foiled by ''patriarchal pondering'' and sexist gender roles and by no means had a chance. She is right that many men and women, gay and straight, nonetheless fall into traditional traps, however she doesn't spend a lot time on why some dive into them, nor does she consider that such is not everybody's fate. She takes her experience, neatly elides her personal position in shaping it, universalizes and transliterates her frustrations into pop sociology.

Hooks's beliefs for love, her ''new visions,'' sound good, however there's something sterile and summary about them. The creative methods the thoughts has to console itself, the truth that relationships don't grant bliss and perfection, the important impossibility of satisfaction, how need can conquer the will -- to Hooks, these are however cynical delusions that will be thrust aside in a courageous new world ready ''to affirm mutual love between free women and free men.''

Her invocation of master rhetoricians like Martin Luther King Jr. and Thomas Merton throws into painful aid the strange Pollyanna high quality of her prose; it's tough to imagine both of them beginning a paragraph, as she does, with ''Once I first started to speak publicly about my dysfunctional household, my mother was enraged.'' She ends the book as Sleeping Magnificence, awaiting ''the love that is promised'' and speaking to angels rather than real people. Her book confirms fears about why jargon and prefabricated ideas, including id politics and self-assist, so usually flatten expertise into cliché. Emotional waters run deep and wide. When one cannot navigate them, it's attainable to take refuge in a shallow, sentimental idealism.


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