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ALL ABOUT LOVE by bell hooks


New Visions

by bell hooks

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-688-16844-2
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Love is the answer, but it’s also the question posed by a cynical generation “bombarded by [love’s] failure.” Though the dilemma is not solved here, huzzah for a valiant try. Love, these days, is a four-letter word that has lost as much of its meaning as those other familiar four-letter epithets. Lowercase cultural-critic hooks (English/CCNY; Remembered Rapture, 1999, etc.) tries to resuscitate love’s meaning, exploring love in its history, its definitions, its cultural context, and its values. Here is love betrayed by both men (who may lie to achieve dominance) and women (who may lie to manipulate). For no matter how slight the untruth or secret, lying always does damage to love, says hooks. Her counsel: Use affirmations to bolster self-acceptance, if necessary, and replace negative thinking with positive thinking. If the “love ethic” is present in every aspect of life, we will treat one another with care, respect, knowledge, integrity, and the will to cooperate. Calling on commentators as diverse as Marianne Williamson, Nathaniel Branden, Erich Fromm, Alice Miller, Saint Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Eric Butterworth, and M. Scott Peck, hooks buttresses her arguments in chapters devoted to the alienation of greed (she cites President Clinton as a victim of greed for hedonistic pleasure); the power of love in community and between individuals (the Mars and Venus dichotomy is about power, not about love); and dealing with death and loss (choose life, but accept death with love). A final chapter describes the angels among us, sometimes in human form—perhaps as Alice Miller’s “enlightened witness”’sometimes as pure spirit. The recent cultural fascination with angels indicates a religious reawakening in America, hooks believes, and the angels are saying that “love [is] our true destiny.” A spiritual handbook, weighty with platitudes, yet refreshed with some thoughtful analyses that offer seekers a way to explore love’s meaning, or meaninglessness. (Author tour)