My words are being used for classes drowning me in homework, essay preps and speeches down the road. Day two and I’ve spent an hour and a half running through the exercises for my Critical Thinking class.
I know it’s basic. But it takes time I had been using elsewhere. I find my creative flow is used up when I sit down to blog. Og og og… But I’m loving Fromm in my mini-breaks from homework (I love homework. Been doing it for over 2 decades but only within the constraints of my personal dictates.). He puts Freud in proper perspective and love in a place that is accessible, solid and without illusion. Not for the faint-hearted and a sure cure for narcissistic distortions.
So, since I’ve got to next focus on what I see unfolding for me in my Public Speaking class, Western World Lit – Advanced (omg, killing me after years of falling in love with the mind of the East) and Statistics, I’m tossing Fromm quotes on the table for “fun.” These are speaking to me lately since I tend to rant about love and quote greats on love and nowhere do I try to identify what it is (as if! cough…). I see, know and experience love on spiritual levels that play out on the solid physical planes of existence and my ability to put it into words that adequately conveys is lacking. I tend to go off on poetic rambles useful only to myself. Fromm, on the other hand, has mastered the best definition I have yet to find or create. To start with, he slices and dices at what love is NOT:
“Automatons cannot love; they can exchange their ‘personality packages’ and hope for a fair bargain.”
“Love is not the result of adequate sexual satisfaction, but sexual happiness–even the knowlede of the so-called sexual technique–is the result of love…The study of the most frequent sexual problems…shows that the cause does not lie in a lack of knowledge of the right technique, but in the inhibitions which make it impossible to love.”
“Love as mutual sexual satisfaction, and love as ‘teamwork’ and as a haven from aloneness, are the two ‘normal’ forms of the disintegration of love in modern Western society, the socially patterned pathology of love.”
“Another form of pseudo-love is what may be called ‘sentimental love.’ Its essence lies in the fact that love is experienced only in phantasy and not in the here-and-now relationship to another person who is real…As long as love is a daydream, they [lovers/partners] can participate; as soon as it comes down to the reality of the relationship between two real people–they are frozen.”
And here’s my favorite identification of what love IS:
“Love is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence, hence if each one of them experiences himself from the center of his existence. Only in this ‘central experience’ is human reality, only here is aliveness, only here is the basis for love.
Love, experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place[!!!], but a moving, growing, working together; even whether there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness, is secondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience themselves from the essence of their existence, that they are one with each other by being one with themselves [emphasis mine], rather than by fleeing from themselves. There is only one proof for the presence of love: the depth of the relationship, and the aliveness and strength in each person concerned; this is the fruit by which love is recognized.”
These all come from Fromm’s awesome book, The Art of Loving. And I’ve likely already put it on this blog. Maybe not. But it’s worth embracing, revolutionizing a life intent on knowing and being known in love, as love, for love, by love…you get it.
6 thoughts on “Schoolgirl?!”
Does fromm mean that unless one experiences sexual happiness that they cannot have the result of love? What of the celibate, who abstains for purposes of higher communion with a loving entity? what of the person who for physical reasons cannot experience sexual happiness? Are they forfeit of love?
I tend to believe the opposite of Fromm’s assertion. I believe that sexual happiness is a result of love. If love precedes sex then the experience achieves emotional as well as physical completeness/
You and Fromm agree… See… “Love is not the result of adequate sexual satisfaction, but sexual happiness–even the knowlede of the so-called sexual technique–is the result of love…” I quoted that in this post but it must’ve sounded flip-flopped in your reading… I’m sure adequate sexual satisfaction doesn’t hurt the love response though! 🙂
There was a person I used to see round where I live who walked the streets barefooted, with a long beard, wearing sackcloth for garment, and holding naught but a small bag in which he kept all his belongings. The streets were his home. Upon inquiring of him I learned that he was a man of some status and money. For some reason, he left everything and chose this way of living. And people, as you would expect, ridiculed him, mocked him, beheld him condescendingly, and kept off of him as if he was some leper. I saw him, I ‘saw’ him. And I felt a tear upon my cheek. Oh how I wished for his bravery. A life of honesty, of nakedness, of free choice; that is what I wanted with all my being.
I went back to the place of my upbringing recently (I’ll try uploading some pictures if my connection helps). And I remembered what I loved most up there during my years of childhood. I loved the solitude in which I dwelled and in which I felt far from isolated. This, again, is one of most difficult ideas to pass on: that belonging is not simply, merely, physical. I used to leave home very early in the morning and wander the mountains, woods, rivers, and fallow fields for hours at time. I used to climb, sweat, swim the freezing water; I used to ‘feel’ my body in the wild, untamed, raw… I came back home usually around noon, ate and spent the afternoon reading those wonderful stories of adventure and free living. At evening I mostly met some friends, had a laugh, played… Those were the summers. And there was that year in which the war raged on the coast; we took refuge up there. And I stayed up there a little over a year. No schooling, no educating, just ‘nothing.’ Best year of my life. I worked the soil with my own hands, ploughed it, cast down in its womb the seeds, watered it daily, and then waited and watched as green life grew through the soil. Whoever did not experience this has not experienced life in its fullness. Life growing and you being there through its every unfolding; it touches your very roots. It is a tiring and long process but the sight of it growing and coming to fruition is exhilarating. It teaches you a lot. And you are happy. Then the reaping and the preservation of food for winter. The values this all engenders in you. Then long winter with his months of snow and gathering round the fire in the house.
These memories bring tears to my eyes and fill my heart. And I often dream myself up there living as a hermit.
School then continued, then life and work and responsibility. And I descended into a black hole which has taken me years to come out of.
I have childhood memories of my parents arguing and shouting. The anxiety it generated in me was unbearable. Life would’ve been better if they broke off; living like that was intolerable. It demolishes a child and amputates him/her. Though, in all fairness, they loved me and were not emotionally drained and irresponsible as other parents. It takes a difficult and responsible decision sometimes, as Fromm says. And the child will learn in time. It is in the nature of love to embrace grief. Love, Gibran often reminds us, is a smile and a tear. And yet, that is Love and it is beautiful and it cannot (and doesn’t need to) be otherwise.
Years later I read my parents this passage from Gibran’s the Prophet:
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.” And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
I remember my mother telling me to be as a grass, bending with the strong wind but never breaking. And now I tell her: but mother, I want to be the tall tree, an oak, and I want to grow deeper and higher; and let the winds blow and break me, let them shake me out of the soil; my roots shall find new soil, and I shall grow even higher and deeper. For there is a something ahead of me that I want to see, that I must reach for, grab and be grabbed by. Ah the vision is breathtaking!
i read this, pierre. and i couldn’t comment right away. the wealth of it has silenced me. and comforted. thank you…
That is my favorite identification as well. I’ve been over these words several times now and each time I read them I see something new, something which I have not seen before; and that is because I have changed and grown. And I certainly relate to what you say here, “I tend to go off on poetic rambles useful only to myself.” A period in which I was not aware of what I was saying or why, aware only that I was saying something and that I needed to say it even though it wasn’t that coherent. I needed a person to hear me and tell me: “it’s ok, I’ve been there, you’re on the right way…” The affirmation came from several people, writers, and from you and Violi. The waters were stirring and I was in disorientation, but I looked back and was glad that I was off from that place. I owe much to Fromm, he has helped me the most, perhaps. Now waiting for that Watts book 🙂
You are full of love, life, enthusiasm, and will-power. And I admire that; nowadays (if ever it wasn’t) it is a rarity.
Funny, I was thinking that this is also how forgiveness works. And how grief unfolds too. My son seems fine with the divorce but then he grows. He changes. His capacity to love increases and so…his grief. “Why couldn’t you work it out with Dad?” This is true of all our processing and growing into maturity. We must revisit truths and dilemmas sometimes in order to nourish dynamic responsiveness in love and in order to comprehend why some combinations just don’t work. I have a blog I “closed” (it’s locked) because it’s the unfolding of some disorientation and stirring. It’s appropriately called “rites of healing.” I still get disoriented. I still have so much to learn but the cohesive feltness of it all is bringing me to a place of wholeness and, as has been true for you, Fromm takes much credit in my growing strength and clarity. Watts too. Rilke. I knew Rilke would hold my hand OUT of religion, oddly enough. And he has. Your presence, too, Pierre. You are a wonderful encouragement to continue when I often want to go hide in a cave permanently. You articulate the struggle to grow, to make peace with some past influences in ways that bring healing. Keep on. It is good that some of the rare ones find each other, no? (And good luck with Watts. If you find he is too dense and Taoist in some spots, endure the confusion. You’ll find snatches of comprehension past the new territory that will affirm and clarify many things. Let me know how it goes…) 🙂