Book Review: The Art of Loving – Erich Fromm

The enigma of Love & the secret behind its triumph have long been the foremost concerns of human kind, men and women alike- falling in love (all perks attached: passion, blindness, butterflies in the stomach)- then falling out of love (all nuisance once again guaranteed: heartache, aloneness, rage, doom and gloom).  Why do people fall in then out of love? Is there no middle ground somewhere along the way? Is human kind doomed to keep “stumbling on love” rather than “standing in love”?

Poised with class yet practicality, Fromm’s “Art of Loving” is a shocking eye opener, an impeccably written work of art that highlights all different aspects of love, human kind, matters of the heart- in 4 very much enlightening sections:

1. Love as a form of Art (love ought to be treated as a main concern, nourished, developed, etc)

2. The condition of human beings today( love in theory – Human beings tend to get over their aloneness by resorting to an orgiastic state- whether through drugs or sexual orgasms which chase away separateness for a while but do not actually bridge the gap between 2 human beings except temporarily)

3. Effect of Capitalism on Human Relationships (demolishing of uniqueness and selfhood- equality in our world today has transformed from “oneness” to “sameness”- standardization of men- like products-  has reigned over our world and we sadly misinterpret that for equality)

4.  Putting love into practice (Love requires 4 fundamental elements: Care, Respect, Responsibility, Knowledge) – It is an action, an activity- to be more accurate, it is an act of freedom by which one gives instead of expecting to receive.

Fromm argues, throughout his masterpiece that, while we, humans, are desperately seeking what we call love (in spite of the fact that we are not quite sure what it is, what it entails, the right means to get to it and then stay STANDING there) – our main concern remains “being loved” rather than “loving”. To love is to give, he says, to give from one’s soul, one’s feelings, one’s existence.  Love is by all means, the highest expression of power and happiness, as it does express one’s aliveness (and uniqueness) in every possible way.

Alas, the struggle between being independent, yet striving to fit into the social machinery that capitalism imposes on the Western World’s men and women today, explains Fromm, leaves no room for the integration of love, no room for learning an art of utmost significance in every individual’s life, an art that is, according to the author, the answer to the “Problem of Human Existence”.  Love, like living or painting or any other form of art, does require, essential steps – (mastering of theory and practice). The fact is Mastering of theory & practice of loving are unfortunately overlooked, or non-existent in our world today (due to quickness). Treating Love as a matter of ultimate concern and investing one’s energy in learning the “art of loving” is mandatory, should one wish to transcend to a human being who is loved and who is loving. This applies to all kinds of human relationships- mother and child- man and woman, man and God , etc…

What we need, according to Fromm, does not really consist of mere butterflies in the stomach (although at the initial “falling” phase, this might come true), what we actually need is discipline, concentration, patience and supreme concern. It is only once we commit to giving ourselves completely – hoping that our love will produce love in the loved person – that we start touching at the peculiar notion of love! Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love!!

Well said Fromm!


About monakaraoui

Editor by day, journal blogger by night.. View all posts by monakaraoui

One response to “Book Review: The Art of Loving – Erich Fromm

  • Fruit Roll-Ups |

    […] no matter how grounded of an individual I am, no matter how many literature books I read, or anti-capitalism movements I root for, there is something so enthralling about beauty that the mere woman in me […]

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