All About Love: New Visions

All About Love: New Visions

by bell hooks

Paperback(1ST PERENN)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060959470
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/30/2018
Edition description: 1ST PERENN
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 16,197
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)

About the Author

Bell Hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader's "100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life," she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is the author of more than 17 books, including All About Love: New Visions; RememberedRapture: The Writer at Work; Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life; Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood; Killing Rage: Ending Racism; Art on My Mind: Visual Politics; and Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. She lives in New York City.

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Grace: Touched by Lovexiii
1Clarity: Give Love Words1
2Justice: Childhood Love Lessons15
3Honesty: Be True to Love31
4Commitment: Let Love Be Love in Me51
5Spirituality: Divine Love69
6Values: Living by a Love Ethnic85
7Greed: Simply Love103
8Community: Loving Communion127
9Mutuality: The Heart of Love145
10Romance: Sweet Love167
11Loss: Loving into Life and Death189
12Healing: Redemptive Love207
13Destiny: When Angels Speak of Love223

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.

Reading Group Guide

For those confounded and intrigued by the nature of love, All About Love unravels its meaning and explores the ways in which it is most often undervalued, ignored, and misunderstood. With unwavering insight, clarity, and candor, bell hooks offers radical new visions of love and its force in our lives. Exploring love in its many incarnations, cultural critic and feminist theorist bell hooks challenges some of our most deeply held assumptions and reveals the potential of a life-changing reassessment of love.

All About Love reveals the ways in which love can transform us both personally and culturally, how -- through love -- we possess the power to end conflicts within ourselves and within our communities. Hooks asserts that it is never too late to return to love, to speak with our hearts. The power of such transformation resides within each of us.

Questions for Discussion
  • In the preface, hooks writes, "love returns us to the promise of everlasting life. When we love we can let our hearts speak" (p. xi). What does this mean?

  • hooks describes the inspiration and solace she finds in graffiti art declaring, "The search for love continues even in the face of great odds" (p. xv). Where have you found similar signs that have restored your faith in love?

  • Historically, how have the demands of love for women been different from those for men? How have they differed for adults and children? What does hooks suggest about these distinctions?

  • Discuss the way in which hooks uses her personal experience throughout this book. How does her personal experience enhance her assertions? Which vignette do you findparticularly meaningful?

  • hooks describes the allure of lying in relation to the allure of power. What are the lies you tell to feel powerful? How do our concepts of power -- born from the patriarchal culture we inhabit -- keep us from love? What role does greed play and where does it come from?

  • hooks probes the gap between the values many people "claim to hold and their willingness to do the work of connecting thought and action, theory and practice" (p. 90). How does our culture reward those who nurture this gap? What changes would we have to make in society to nurture and inspire the closing of this gap?

  • If we must sacrifice "our old selves in order to be changed by love" (p. 188), what is it that we're giving up?

  • Although she warns against attempting to return to the past rather than forging ahead, hooks advocates repairing and restoring family bonds. Why is this an important goal? How do these bonds enable us to live with love in all areas of our lives?

  • What are the political ramifications of hooks's visions of love? Is love a political issue?

  • Look over the chapter titles in All About Love. If you were to add a chapter, what would it be?

  • Why do we fear love? Are we more afraid of surrendering ourselves to love or of living without love? What sacrifices does love require? What relief and salve can love offer? Is it possible to be too damaged, too wounded to love?

  • How has All About Love enhanced, contradicted, challenged, altered your vision of love?
    About the Author: Bell Hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader's 100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life, she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is now a Distinguished Professor of English at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of more than seventeen books, including All About Love: New Visions; Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work; Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life; Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood; Killing Rage: Ending Racism; Art on My Mind: Visual Politics; and Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. She lives in New York City.

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    All about Love: New Visions 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
    noodlejet22 on LibraryThing 3 days ago
    bell tells us about love. That love is a verb, something that we have to do. The main thing that I took away was that there are different types of love and that love is a choice. No more falling in love if it's a verb. Great book that is in direct odds with all the messages we hear and everything that we have been raised to think. a mind workout (a good mind workout).
    pnkweetzie on LibraryThing 3 months ago
    I have never read a book on love before, I had always thought them to be useless and probably coming from a point of view I don't embrace. When bell hooks wrote this book, I had to put my prejudices about relationship books aside for her, and I am glad I did. I was pleased at the sensitivity and well-rounded approach she takes to the foundation of love in our society and relationships. It would have been nice to have less of a heteronormative point of view, but she is a heterosexual women, so I guess I can understand.
    redcedar on LibraryThing 3 months ago
    hooks is not only an activist for change, she is an activist and a believer in the right to and power of love - and her recent trilogy on the subject explores this eloquently. when i was in california back in february, a friend recommended these to me, and i¿m so glad. definitely these are some of the best and most progressive books i have read on defining, understanding, and looking for love within the patriarchal morass we often find ourselves in. love, she posits, is subverted by popular notions of love on television and in the movies - and it is a radical act to reclaim love, and to be open to it, and to live it. i found these books hopeful and moving and they made me realize my own rights to love free of coercion and violence, and that this is as worth a goal as any.
    Bethford21 More than 1 year ago
    Bell hooks book All about love is a book that really gets into the true meaning of love and what it`s like to really be in a relationship and when you trully know when you are in love.This book is a funny ,but serious book that really makes you think twice about relationship. She really gets in depth about love and when you know when you are in love and if its the right to be in love. This book was an easy read ,but at times it started to repeat itself in a different contex. I would reccoment this book for someone to read if you are really questioning if you are in love or if you are in a healthy relationship. It`s a good book,but i believe it should stay a book and be made into a movie. A lot of younger people would like this book if you are confused about where you are iwith your loved one. Overall I give this book a 3 because it wasnt over the top amazing ,but it was a good enough read that I could finish it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book presents bell hooks's deeply ethical and feminist/buddhist-oriented perspectives, experiences, and yes, research on love and its many faces. She offers a useful working definition of 'love' (quite a feat itself!) and explores love in various contexts, including work, spirituality, friendship and community. Her writing is clear, genuine and radical.