is love an elitist guild?
September 11, 2011, 7:38 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , ,

I recommend Alain de Botton’s twitter page.  Each tweet is pregnant with insight that no doubt comes from years of reading and writing books, particularly on philosophy and society. I’ve assembled some here in no particular order on the theme of family.  Apparently, he’s in the thick of one, and reflecting deeply, which is good news for us.  His ideas tend to upset the apple cart of standard beliefs about relationships and love.

Here’s my take on some of the ideas:  Love is work, it may not look like it to the casual observer, but relationships that look stable have been worked on.  Living in a family is like living in a fish bowl: all foibles on display and assessed.  Our children reflect our worst qualities and embarrass us.  To love, you have to understand how difficult it was to have been loved by your parent.  Real love may come to very few of us.  Love loves beauty and degradation, which confuses us. Love isn’t guaranteed, it’s hard work and often ugly.

The tweets:

You learn what real love means (forebearance) when preference for someone doesn’t come into it, when there is no choice.

Family as spiritual discipline: the art of living without mutual likes.

Community: We need affiliation that is neither family, nation – nor gang. New Clubs.

Humliliation of family life: to be witnessed for moods one would otherwise never recall to oneself.

Our children are like our runaway ids which we guiltily try to contain.

Back-to-front modern assumption: we think it’s easy to love, just hard to find the ‘right one’.

Adult love shouldn’t be about remembering what it was like to be loved as a child, but imagining what it took for a parent to love us.

Laziness in relationships endemic because our earliest experience of love was with people who disguised the work that went into it.

What if love, while theoretically open to all, in fact turned out to be an elitist guild, a rare secular version of ‘election’?

We get confused because the word love covers both awe and admiration for (apparent) perfection and tenderness towards need and frailty.

all tweets by Alain de Botton, Twitter

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