(or What To Read – book recommendation)
When I was thinking about a book I wanted to write about, I thought about Hugh Hefner. Did this eternal bad boy in a bathrobe knew that his photos of Merlin Monroe in the first issue of Playboy magazine would bring him so much popularity? Once I saw an interview with him, Hugh was talking about Merlin with immense respect, and the first thing he did when he earned a little money was to buy a grave right next to hers, and he said something like: “I owe all my gratitude to her.” Here I am not so interested in popularity of men’s magazine no. 1, as much as in his choice. First edition HAS TO BE phenomenal. To gain attention, so people can talk about it and remember it forever! That’s why the very first book that I write about cannot be ordinary… And while I was thinking which novel left the biggest impression on me, I remembered From and The Art Of Loving.
This is the book that I keep coming back to, but The Art Of Loving will totally disappoint you (as From himself says). Especially if you are looking for how to answers about love. This is not a novel, but a handbook on love. There is no answer, we are here to learn about love – eternally. Because love, like any other art, can be learned and nurtured. From does not reject the notion of romantic love completely (as many people implied), but he does say that we have to first learn to love ourselves, so we can love all others. And although love may sound simple, this is a skill that we have to practice every day (and not just when we’re in the mood); love is like a body exercise, if you do not exercise – you’re out of shape. And if it’s not your highest interest, you cannot expect miracles; similar to: how you give, so shall you receive. And in love, you can not give partially… Or so we think? At the beginning, From discuss a general belief that we know everything about love, more accurately we assume to know, and not many people think that you can learn something. Because who has time for that?! In the instant society where images and impressions change within a fraction of a second, would not be ideal if we get fast and complete love product that would be “adjusted to our needs”? From mocks constant trying of modern man to save time, who at the end of the day, kills his time, because he don’t know what else to do with it. The problem is in the self-perception and our personal depth that we will never discover (thank God!) and the constant discovery of the other person, whose personality could only enrich us.
Also, From notices a general conviction where the major worry is to find somebody to love us rather than learn how to love. That’s why women are subjected to persistent beautification and care for the body, while men try to prove themselves through business success and money. He also calls into question the general “misconception” that it is easy to love someone if he/she has certain characteristics. This is a pure capitalistic exchange – I love you if you have the necessary qualities! And instead of these general beliefs, From is finding value in concentration, discipline and the highest interest – some things that are not so easy to learn. This shows us that love, like every art, requires not only theory but also practice. And the way out of these wrong (mis)conceptions and high expectations of love, From finds in the idea of union through love. It seems that this is precisely what From wants his readers to understand: unconditionally giving through love, without the expected compensation. But, how do we get to that? Perhaps this is what keeps me coming back to this book, and what always surprises me in its infinite wisdom, and the reason why Christiane F. put quotes from this book all around her room, at the time when she (at least for the moment) found her salvation.
It seems that every question in the book does not sound so idyllic in the world of filtered images and photoshop, where the value is measured through the number of followers, cubics and prices of exclusive clutches… In the end, I leave this quote, where the weight of the issue might intrigue someone to read this book:
Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinion as the result of their own thinking – and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as this of the majority.