This picture of my morning poo reminds me of the yin and yang symbol – that black and white circle with a bit of white in the black and a bit of black in the white. I came across some references to yin & yang last night in what Amazon describes as a ‘classic of personal development’, The Art of Loving, by Eric Fromm. I found the book at my parents’ home in Italy, along with a few more books on love which I bought many years ago when I was still living there and I was looking for answers, for someone, anyone, to tell me what love was about and why it hurt so bad. The impulse to take these books back with me to London is more or less the same. Except I think I may now be a bit more open to try and understand love beyond romantic love. Which is sort of where Fromm goes with the book – you can’t truly love someone if you don’t feel love for everyone, including, of course, yourself. He packs quite a lot of stuff in the small book. Some things which I don’t necessarily understand or find a bit questionable, such as in relation to gay love and Indian ‘religions’. But he also unpacks so well how the logic of capitalism kills love. Which is obvious, but it’s good to be reminded of that all the time. And although he opens the last chapter by saying he does not provide people with ‘how to’ instructions on learning to love, he actually does that. And probably much better than any self-help book. To learn the art of loving, just like any other art, you need three things: discipline, concentration and patience, Fromm says. These are all things which we have lost under capitalism because we’re so tired after the stupid jobs we have to do that we feel the need to ‘relax’. But without self discipline life becomes chaotic and lacks concentration. And if you lack these things, you can’t love.
I nearly didn’t finish this post because I kept getting distracted by, like, everything. Is the electricity running out? If I charge mobile phone and laptop at the same time, does the battery level drop faster? How much faster? Is there enough coal? Learning to live on a boat seems to require some capacity to love.