The Art of Conversation, The Art of Loving
Book recommendation: “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm
The Art of Conversation
Sometimes – or often, if you’re lucky – conversations energize you. In those moments everything is connected; love and law and landscape blend together. Moving in a circular motion from topic to topic, you draw observations from movies, books, personal stories, articles, songs… All the things you have experienced in life have relevance.
Too much complexity can leave us overwhelmed, which is why the mind instinctively creates black and white models of the world. Those models enable us to move forward without doubting everything all the time.
But, during those captivating conversations, our minds feel comfortable letting go of those models. Even better, in those moments the shades of grey that make up the world vitalize us. We feel inspired and – thoughts all over the place – crave an outlet that will allow us to create.
The Art of Loving
The reason I am writing about this is because the other day my family and I had a great conversation over dinner. We talked about gender equality, gender identity, religion, and alcohol culture. When I went back to my room I was buzzing and felt inspired to write about a book I read a while ago called “The Art of Loving” by Eric Fromm. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while now, only I was having difficulty finding my words.
It’s not how it sounds; “The Art of Loving” isn’t a book with a “how to love” checklist. Instead it is a book about self-awareness.
Eric Fromm analyzes why we love and the nature of various relationships (parent and child, individual and object, romantic partners, individual and God, etc.). He discusses how unaware we are of our need to conform and how equality shouldn’t mean uniformity. And, in the part that had the greatest impact on me, he talks about how you cannot love selfishly.
Even if you don’t agree with all his opinions, I definitely recommend the book because it will make you think. If my words haven’t yet enticed you, perhaps his will.
“Equality today means ‘sameness’, rather than ‘oneness’. It is the sameness of abstractions, of the men who work in the same jobs, who have the same amusements, who read the same newspapers, who have the same feelings and the same ideas. In this respect one must also look with some skepticism at some achievements which are usually praised as signs of our progress, such as the equality of women. Needless to say I am not speaking against the equality of women; but the positive aspects of this tendency for equality must not deceive one. It is part of the trend toward the elimination of differences. Equality is brought at this very price: women are equal because they are not different any more. […] Men and women become the same, not equals as opposite poles.”
“The truly religious person, if he follows the essence of the monotheistic idea, does not pray for anything, does not expect anything from God; he does not love God as a child loves his father or his mother; he has acquired the humility of sensing his limitations, to the degree of knowing that he knows nothing about God. God becomes for him a symbol in which man, at an earlier stage of his evolution, has expressed the totality of that which man is striving for, the realm of the spiritual world, of love, truth and justice. He has faith in the principles which “God” represents; he thinks truth, lives love and justice, and considers all of his life only valuable inasmuch as it gives him the chance to arrive at an ever fuller unfolding of his human powers…”
“Most people listen to each other, or even give advice, without really listening. They do not take the other person’s talk seriously, they do not take their own answers seriously either. As a result, the talk makes them tired. They are under the illusion that they would be even more tired if they listened with concentration. But the opposite is true. Any activity, if done in a concentrated fashion, makes one more awake (although afterward natural and beneficial tiredness sets in), while every unconcentrated activity makes one sleepy…”
“If someone would want to reserve his objectivity for the loved person, and think he can dispense with it in his relationship to the rest of the world, he will soon discover that he fails both here and there.”
Until next time.