A Life Worth Living

‘If a list could be made of all the things that are valuable for their own sake, these things would be the ingredients of a life worth living’.

J. Glover, Causing Death and Saving Life, p.51.

I think most of us have the concept of a life worth living at least in our own cases. I mean that we have an idea of what would make our own lives worth living, and what would take away that. These things include all the activities that we currently enjoy doing for their own sake.

What does it meant to do something for its own sake? Well all of us at times have to do things that we don’t particularly enjoy or want to do, but we do them in order to achieve some other goal. For instance take a common household chore like doing the laundry or dishes, many people do these chores because they have the goal of having clean clothes and dishes not because they find the activity of washing clothes and dishes enjoyable for its self. When we are doing something for its own sake we are doing it because the activity we are engaged in is the end goal for us.

If what makes life worthwhile is doing something or some set of activities that are end goals in themselves then if we knew all the sorts of things are worth doing in themselves then we would know all the sorts of things that make life worthwhile for people.

Such a list would surely be disputable if we thought that it must apply to all people since people vary and have different goals and what they take enjoyment out of differs. Yet it is likely that we can identify common elements if we describe them in very broad terms.

 

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Fromm on The Art of Loving

 

Erich Fromm wrote the powerful lines:

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”

It might seem at first that it is the feeling of falling in love that is the answer to human existence, that makes life feel like it is worthwhile, that gives meaning to life. After all the heady feeling of being smitten by someone motivates people to do all sorts of things that they might not normally do and can fill their life with positive emotions and thoughts of the future.

However Erich Fromm is keen to distinguish between the feeling of being in love and the activity of loving someone in the sense of caring for them. Surprisingly according to Fromm it is not the heady romantic feelings that is the sane and satisfactory answer to human existence.

This strikes me as odd given that in Fromm’s own words he describes the feeling of falling in love as one of “the most exhilarating, most exciting experience in life.” He says “it is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitated if it is combined with , or initiated, by sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting.”

Fromm explains why love is not lasting when it is romantic love -the sort of love at first sight that people talk about. He claims that when the two persons become well acquainted, their intimacy loses more and more of its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disappointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the initial excitement. Yet in the beginning they did not know all this: in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation, this being ‘crazy’ about each other, for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness.

This attitude that nothing is easier than to love – has continued to be the prevalent idea about love in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  What is easy is falling in love, what is difficult is sustaining a loving relationship with a person that we know and accept. By focusing on the former idea of love as something that happens to us we lose sight of the importance of developing character that is necessary to sustain loving relationships.

It is clear that with the above analysis in mind we need to distinguish two components of love. There is the automatic part – the falling in love, this is normally seen as something that happens to us, something that is not under our control. Then there is the part that is under our control – acting in a loving way, spending time with someone, choosing to put that person as a priority in our life, listening to what they want.

In making this distinction we learn to distinguish between obsession, infatuation, and actually caring about someone in the sense of giving them our time and attention.  It may be that the heady feelings of falling in love are more concerned with our imagination about what the other person may be like and what they will do for us especially in terms of sexual pleasure.

Yet, it is only when we are caring about the other person – as another person with their own interests and needs that we can say that we truly love the other person.

Fromm on Self Love and Loving Another

According to Fromm self love and love of another are very similar. Loving oneself involves caring about oneself, taking responsibility for oneself, respecting oneself, and knowing oneself i.e., being realistic about who we are, our character traits, strengths and weaknesses.  In order to love ourselves we need to have an accurate assessment of who we are and take care of those traits.

In order to truly love another we again need to know and understand them, we need to care about what other people are interested in, what is important to them, what sort of person they are. It is only when we have a realistic understanding of who they are can we say that we love them – rather than our fantasy of what they are like.

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American Hustle

http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s3903348.htm

”I felt like we had a secret. Just the two of us. You know like that thing where you want to just be with the one person the whole time..You feel like the two of you understand something that nobody else gets. I could just tell her everything about myself. And I never had anybody like that in my life before. I felt like finally, I can truly be myself without being ashamed, without being embarrassed….”

Director David O. Russell out-Scorseses Martin Scorsese with “American Hustle,” a ’70s crime romp that’s ridiculously entertaining in all the best ways. “American Hustle” is actually a more thrilling and satisfying experience than Scorsese’s latest, the upcoming “The Wolf of Wall Street,”

Thoroughly enjoyed this film, Christine Bale was fabulous as toupee wearing paunced Irving Rosenfeld, running a fake art and fraudulent loans business behind a small chain of dry cleaners. He falls hopelessly in love with the glamorous Sydney Prosser who pretends to be “Lady Edith” with banking connections in London to boost his money lending business. The money lending business does take off with a profit of $5000 dollars per mark. Only their scam attracts the attention of Richie DiMaso, a low level FBI agent trying to make his name and his team pull a sting on them with Sydney taking the crime. DiMaso negotiates a deal whereby Syndey and Irving have to pull another scam to catch out congressmen taking bribes, but Sydney is also taking DiMaso for a ride incase things turn sour. Irving whose wife is having an affair whilst he carries on with Sydney is also busy preparing a scam for DiMaso. It gets a little heady, but the costumes are racy and the action is fast paced making it the best film I’ve seen this year. Much better than Wolf of Wall Street – I loved it!

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Snowdonia walking from the Brigands Inn

This gallery contains 3 photos.

I started walking seriously after a long bout of depression that stemmed from insomnia and had resulted in my staying in the house for long periods of time over the summer feeling drained of energy. A friend of mine (Anthony) … Continue reading

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Variations on the Word Love

http://matthewscottwallace.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/cooking-with-love-couple.jpg

 

 

People use to expression “love” in many different ways. We can talk of love in the sense that we strongly desire something i.e., I love a coffee mocha in the morning and evening. We can talk of love as putting a lot of care and consideration into something such as cooking with love. When we talk of loving another person both of these elements often come together, there is the strong desire or lust that we feel and there is the care and consideration of the other. But we are afraid to love another too deeply, incase they are merely mouthing empty syllables and do not love us back

Variations on the Word Love

This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It’s the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn’t what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute

Then there’s the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the star
that press us on with their deafness.
It’s not love we don’t wish
to fall into, but that fear.
This word is not enough but it will
have to do. It’s a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.
https://i1.wp.com/www.argumentpress.ro/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/ORGASM.jpg
Posted in Love, Love Poem, Orgasm, Poem | Leave a comment

Suzanne – and being touched by someone’s mind

Cohen is one of my favorite singer song writers that combine great music with telling lyrics. He started off as a poet, but found that music paid better and he has managed to combine great lyrics with moving music. This track “Suzanne” is from the album “Songs of love and hate”. The lyrics describes meeting someone they know and believe to have no more love to give them only to find that they are moved by the other person and fall back into the same connection that they once had together.

 

The lyrics nicely capture that element of uncertainty in relationships. We simply cannot tell how the future will unfold or with whom, and relationships involve an element of trust (excessive jealousy signifies a lack of trust and can ruin relationships). Further, what is involved in love is making a connection with someone. Fromm describes this as penetrating the person, not just physically, but also mentally. Lust is often associated with making a purely physical connection, it involves focusing on the physical appearance of the person. There is no doubt that this is an important component of attraction. Yet, where any form of lasting love is involved more is needed. In the words of Cohen – we need to be touched by another’s mind.
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.
You can listen to the song, courtesy of you tube here:


 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otJY2HvW3Bw

Posted in Leonard Cohen, Love, Love Songs, Mental Connection, Suzanne | Leave a comment

Dance me to the End of Love

Dance me to the End of Love
My favorite love song is Leonard Cohen’s “Dance me to the End of Love” which you can listen to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pA5UhNaYw0
In this song Cohen poetically describes love in the most extreme places. I recall reading that Cohen ( a Jew who often visits themes relating to the holocoust) was intent on capturing love in concentration camps. The lyrics “burning violins”and “the panic” are referring to two lovers who were told to dance before being burned alive.
Cohen once claimed that love could be a form of resistance against oppression, a feature of the human spirit that refuses to let itself be dominated or controlled by others. In these lyrics the lovers love for each other can be seen as transcending both inhuman conditions that were imposed on them, and the physical limitations of the body.It is a beautiful and moving song, and that is why it is my favorite love song:

“Dance Me To The End Of Love”

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of loveDance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Posted in Dance me to the end of love, Lenoard Cohen | Leave a comment