All about Love: New Visions

All about Love: New Visions

4.0 2
by bell hooks

View All Available Formats & Editions

"The word 'love' is most often defined as a noun, yet ... we would all love better if we used it as a verb," writes bell hooks as she comes out fighting and on fire in All About Love. Here, at her most provocative and intensely personal, the renowned scholar, cultural critic, and feminist skewers our view of love as romance. In its place she offers a proactive new… See more details below


"The word 'love' is most often defined as a noun, yet ... we would all love better if we used it as a verb," writes bell hooks as she comes out fighting and on fire in All About Love. Here, at her most provocative and intensely personal, the renowned scholar, cultural critic, and feminist skewers our view of love as romance. In its place she offers a proactive new ethic for a people and a society bereft with lovelessness.

As bell hooks uses her incisive mind and razor-sharp pen to explore the question "What is love?" her answers strike at both the mind and heart. In thirteen concise chapters, hooks examines her own search for emotional connection and society's failure to provide a model for learning to love. Razing the cultural paradigm that the ideal love is infused with sex and desire, she provides a new path to love that is sacred, redemptive, and healing for individuals and for a nation. The Utne Reader declared bell hooks one of the "100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life." All About Love is a powerful affirmation of just how profoundly she can.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Maya Angelou
Each offering from bell hooks is a major event, as she has so much to give us.
Seattle Weekly
She provides a refreshing spiritual treatise that steps outside the confines of the intellect and into the wilds of the heart.
Toronto Sun
Like love, this book is worth the commitment.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Taking on yet another popular topic in her role as cultural critic, hooks blends the personal and the psychological with the philosophical in her latest book--a thoughtful but frequently familiar examination of love American style. A distinguished professor of English at City College in New York City, she explains her sense of urgency about confronting a subject that countless writers have analyzed: "I feel our nation's turning away from love as intensely as I felt love's abandonment in my girlhood. Turning away, we risk moving in a wilderness of spirit so intense we may never find our way home again." With an engaging narrative style, hooks presents a series of possible ways to reverse what she sees as the emotional and cultural fallout caused by flawed visions of love largely defined by men who have been socialized to distrust its value and power. She proposes a transformative love based on affection, respect, recognition, commitment, trust and care, rather than the customary forms stemming from gender stereotypes, domination, control, ego and aggression. However, many of her insights about self-love, forgiveness, compassion and openness have been explored in greater depth by the legion of writers hooks quotes liberally throughout the book, such as John Bradshaw, Lucia Hodgson, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton and M. Scott Peck, among others. Still, every page offers useful nuggets of wisdom to aid the reader in overcoming the fears of total intimacy and of loss. Although the chapter on angels comes across as filler, hooks's view of amour is ultimately a pleasing, upbeat alternative to the slew of books that proclaim the demise of love in our cynical time. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
English professor hooks (Remembered Rapture) has myriad views on the subject of love in this serious work; she touches on honesty in relationships, spirituality in our lives, greed as a destructive force, and the death of loved ones. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Elise Harris
[hooks's] best points are simple ones. Community -- extended family, creative or political collaboration, friendship -- is as important as the couple or the nuclear family; love is an art that involves work, not just the thrill of attraction; desire may depend on illusion, but love comes only through painful truth-telling; work and money have replaced the values of love and community, and this must be reversed.
The New York Times Book Review

Read More

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.85(d)

Read an Excerpt

All About Love
New Visions

Chapter One

The men in my life have always been the folks who are wary of using the word "love" lightly. They are wary because they believe women make too much of love. And they know that what we think love means is not always what they believe it means. Our confusion about what we mean when we use the word "love" is the source of our difficulty in loving. If our society had a commonly held understanding of the meaning of love, the act of loving would not be so mystifying. Dictionary definitions of love tend to emphasize romantic love, defining love first and foremost as "profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, especially when based on sexual attraction." Of course, other definitions let the reader know one may have such feelings within a context that is not sexual. However, deep affection does not really adequately describe love's meaning.

The vast majority of books on the subject of love work hard to avoid giving clear definitions. In the introduction to Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of Love she declares "Love is the great intangible." A few sentences down from this she suggests: "Everyone admits that love is wonderful and necessary, yet no one can agree on what it is." Coyly, she adds, "We use the word love in such a sloppy way that it can mean almost nothing or absolutely everything." No definition ever appears in her book that would help anyone trying to learn the art of loving. Yet she is not alone in writing of love in ways that cloud our understanding. When the very meaning of the word is cloaked in mystery, it should not come as a surprise that most people find it hard to define what theymean when they use the word "love."

Imagine how much easier it would be for us to learn how to love if we began with a shared definition. The word "love" is most often defined as a noun, yet all the more astute theorists of love acknowledge that we would all love better if we used it as a verb. I spent years searching for a meaningful definition of the word "love," and was deeply relieved when I found one in psychiatrist M. Scott Peck's classic self-help book The Road Less Traveled, first published in 1978. Echoing the work of Erich Fromm, he defines love as "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." Explaining further, he continues, "Love is as love does. Love is an act of will-namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love." Since the choice must be made to nurture growth, this definition counters the more widely accepted assumption that we love instinctually.

Everyone who has witnessed the growth process of a newborn child from the moment of birth on sees clearly that before language is known, before the identity of caretakers is recognized, babies respond to affectionate care. Usually they respond with sounds or looks of pleasure. As they grow older they respond to affectionate care by giving affection, cooing at the sight of a welcomed caretaker. Affection is only one ingredient of love. To truly love we must learn to mix various ingredients-care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust, as well as honest and open communication. Learning faulty definitions of love when we are quite young makes it difficult to be loving as we grow older. We start out committed to the right path but go in the wrong direction. Most of us learn early on to think of love as a feeling. When we feel deeply drawn to someone, we cathect with them, that is, we invest feelings or emotion in them. That process of investment wherein a loved one becomes important to us is called "cathexis." In his book Peck rightly emphasizes that most of us "confuse cathecting with loving." We all know how often individuals feeling connected to someone through the process of cathecting insist that they love the other person even if they are hurting or neglecting them. Since their feeling is that of cathexis, they insist that what they feel is love.

All About Love
New Visions
. Copyright © by bell hooks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Read More

What People are saying about this

Gloria Steinem
All About Love is a brave, intelligent, vulnerable look at the most sought after and least examined emotion. By being honest about the barriers to love, bell hooks makes it more possible.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >