Friday, May 3, 2013

All About Love

All About Love: New Visions  by Bell Hooks
Weight: 8.8 oz
Method of Disposal: Gave to my friend, Jasmin

I decided to re-read All About Love a few months back.  Bell Hooks is a favorite, for me and many of my feminist peers, but I have not read anything of hers in years.  I will confess that when I first picked this book up, I was under impressed.  It wasn't bad, but I did not feel like I was learning anything, and I thought it was very hetrerosexual-focused.  It all seemed so basic.  My dear friend told me at the time that it would be a good thing if it was.  It was written so that people could understand it.\

I kept reading it.  I was blown away by the last half, and I never wanted to start another relationship without having the other person read it--whether that was a romantic relationship or a purely a platonic one. 

I loved that Hooks did not undermine the value of the love of a friend. 

She writes, "Most of us are raised to believe we will either find love in our first family (our family of origin) or, if not there, in the second family we are expected to form through committed romantic couplings, particularly those that lead to marriage and/or lifelong bondings.  Many of us learn as children that friendship should never be seen as just important as family ties.  However, friendship is the place where a great majority of us have our first glimpse of redemptive love and caring community(134)."

I have always been interested in the love of friends, as I have always found so much of what I need in those relationships and am always caught off-guard when a person I have just started dating cannot understand their role in my life.  I have some very intense, passionate friendships that test the boundaries I was taught about by a couple-focused/family-focused society.

I LOVED reading about community, society, and love.  I dwelled a lot on Capitalism/consumerism being anti-love after reading her section on greed.  She writes,

"Materialism creates a world of narcissism in which the focus of life is solely on acquisition and consumption.  A culture of narcissism is not a place where love can flourish (105)."

If we live in a world where people are harmed by our very purchasing of clothes (sweatshops), coffee (how much are the grower's being paid/are rainforests being cut down), our mardi gras beads (sweatshops), the soda we drink (worker's rights/labor unions), on and on, then how will we find a true way to love and connect with others?  If money and instant gratification are the goals then how will we learn the patience and dedication needed to maintain our self-care and our love of others?

Everyone I know has a lot to learn about self-love, myself included.  Hooks is being open and honest with us when she says, "One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming of receiving from others.  There was a time when I felt lousy about my over-forty body, saw myself as too fat, too this, or too that.  Yet I fantasized about finding a lover who would give me the gift of being loved as I am.  It is silly, isn't it, that I would dream of someone else offering me the acceptance and affirmation I was withholding from myself (67-68)."

She writes, "The confusion arises because most people who think they are not lovable have this perception because at some point in their lives they were socialized to see themselves as unlovable by forces outside their control.  We are not born knowing how to love anyone, either ourselves or someone else.  However, we are born able to respond to care (53)."

At the very start of the book, she talks about how it is not useful to see love as something you cannot define or describe, something that just happens to you.  You know it when you feel it and all that nonsense.  She argues that, "When we intervene on mystifying assumptions that love cannot be defined by offering workable, useful definitions, we are already creating a context where love can begin to flourish (13)."

I want love to flourish, in all avenues of my life, in my friend's lives, and in the lives of those I will never meet.

Okay, I will leave you with that.  You should read the book.

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