Love is a fundamental feature of how people seek to create meaning in their lives, but what do we really know about the nature, experience, and history of love; about its breadth and depth and ubiquity? What, if anything, is common to our love of life, love of God and/or love of reason; maternal love, romantic love, love of work, good and bad forms of self-love, love of friends, love of places, love of books, love of ideas, love of RSA public events...
Here are ten of my favourite quotations on love as an appetiser ahead of Thursday's event at 6pm, What kind of love do we need?, including three from our prospective speakers Devorah Baum, Simon May and Mark Vernon:
1. “When I am asked: ‘Does the word love express the same realities now as it did before?’ I answer: ‘What love, what realities, what before?”
-Denis De Rougement1982, Love in the Western World(prologue).
2. "Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real."
- Iris Murdoch
3. “One day we realize that we are completely possessed and dominated by a set of beliefs that we, as individuals, never chose. It is as though we breathe them in from novels and movies, from the psychological air around us, and they become part of us, as though fused with the cells of our bodies. We all know that we are supposed to “fall in love” and that our relationships must be based on romance-nothing less will do! Every man knows what he is entitled to demand from his girlfriend or wife. It is spelled out in detail in some unseen layer of the unconscious mind. This is “romance”.
- Robert Johnson, The Psychology of Romantic Love, 1983.
4. “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
5. “The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. In one high bound it has overleaped the massive of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being. Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival. It is even (well used) a preparation for that.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
6. "Woman brings life into the world. In the depths of her womb and the intimacy of her being she participates in the mystery of pouring something of eternity into the field of time"...."The mother's bond of love has the potential to activate Will- shift priorities, make choices, take new directions-but it can also be hard to bear. For it is in her moment of greatest vulnerability that she is charged with securing the survival of this fragile new life. Whilst her opening may call her into the fullness of who she may be- it will also remind her of her own limitations and vulnerability."
-Susan Holliday, To Hold Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand, Post-natal disturbance and the emergence of self- a psychospiritual perspective p137 and p141
7. "(Love is) the rapture we feel for people and things that inspire in us the hope of an indestructible grounding for our life".
- Simon May, Love: A History. (Look out for his account of love as 'ontological rootedness' on Thursday)
8. "There are people, perhaps you are one of them, who find it hard to say the word love... And there are other people, perhaps you are one of them, who have never said: 'I love you'...And there are people, perhaps you are one of them, who speak only of love...For others, love is always a parting word....And there are those for whom love is a constant demand...There are people who are free and easy with their love, and people who are waiting for the right moment, or the right person, to speak amorously for the first time."
- Devorah Baum's wedding speech, July 2010 (first 3 minutes) - highly recommended viewing!
9. "...For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth."
-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.
10. "Perhaps family and friends, work and the like are enough. Maybe there is nothing more in life than life and so it is futile to seek the divine. Spiritual love is deluded love. However, I suspect that this is a possibility that cannot be decided upon by reason or psychology, by myth or evidence alone. Ultimately, it can only be answered by the ever-expansive journey into life called love. If there is a way back to God, only love will reveal it to us."
- Mark Vernon, Love, p125.
What kind of love do we need? RSA Great Room Thursday July 17th, 6pm.