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Bell Hooks Affirms That Love Is Feasible, And Condemns The Culture Of Narcissism

Bell Hooks Affirms That Love Is Feasible, And Condemns The Culture Of Narcissism

As soon as upon a time, the philosophy of affection was a tremendous topic for the person of ideas, like Erich Fromm or C. S. Lewis. In recent years, the subject has been relegated to self-help, a genre that many distrust for its propensity to suggest simple answers where there are none. Self-help has its makes use of, nonetheless: it neatly undoes the facile concepts of left (we are powerless victims) and proper (we have now whole agency in our lives) alike, and it gives the calming reassurance that others on the market are as messed up as you are.

Now comes the feminist cultural critic bell hooks book Hooks along with her new book of essays, ''All About Love,'' written in a didactic fashion that may merge moral philosophy with self-help. It is a warm affirmation that love is feasible and an assault on the tradition of narcissism and selfishness. ''We yearn to end the lovelessness that is so pervasive in our society,'' she writes. ''This book tells us the way to return to love.''

Her finest points are easy ones. Neighborhood -- extended household, artistic or political collaboration, friendship -- is as important because the couple or the nuclear household; love is an art that involves work, not just the joys of attraction; desire may depend upon phantasm, but love comes only via painful truth-telling; work and cash have changed the values of affection and group, and this should be reversed.

In Hooks's view, women have little hope of happiness in a brutal culture during which they are blindsided because ''most males use psychological terrorism as a solution to subordinate women,'' whom they preserve around ''to handle all their needs.'' Males are raised to be ''more involved about sexual efficiency and sexual satisfaction than whether or not they're capable of giving and receiving love.'' Many men ''will, at times, select to silence a companion with violence rather than witness emotional vulnerability'' and ''often turn away from real love and choose relationships wherein they are often emotionally withholding after they really feel like it but nonetheless obtain love from someone else.'' Ladies are additionally afraid of intimacy but ''focus extra on discovering a companion,'' regardless of quality. The result is ''a gendered arrangement by which males usually tend to get their emotional wants met while girls can be deprived. . . . Males are given a bonus that neatly coincides with the patriarchal insistence that they are superior and due to this fact higher suited to rule others.'' Males need to be taught generosity and ''the joy that comes from service.''

Hooks contends that she and her long-term boyfriends were foiled by ''patriarchal pondering'' and sexist gender roles and never had a chance. She is correct that many women and men, gay and straight, still fall into traditional traps, but she does not spend a lot time on why some dive into them, nor does she contemplate that such shouldn't be everybody's fate. She takes her expertise, 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, however there is something sterile and abstract about them. The inventive ways the mind has to console itself, the fact that relationships don't grant bliss and perfection, the important impossibility of satisfaction, how want can conquer the need -- to Hooks, these are but cynical delusions that shall be thrust aside in a brave new world prepared ''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 unusual Pollyanna quality of her prose; it is difficult to imagine both of them beginning a paragraph, as she does, with ''After I first started to talk publicly about my dysfunctional household, my mom was enraged.'' She ends the book as Sleeping Magnificence, awaiting ''the love that's promised'' and talking to angels moderately than real people. Her book confirms fears about why jargon and prefabricated ideas, including id politics and self-assist, so typically flatten experience into cliché. Emotional waters run deep and wide. When one can't navigate them, it's attainable to take refuge in a shallow, sentimental idealism.