Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: All About Love: New Visions

All About Love: New Visions
All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Our book club chose to read bell hook's All About Love: New Visions. Ever the procrastinator, I finished the last two chapters this afternoon, hours before our first meeting.

I have mixed emotions about All About Love. I've been meaning to read this book forever, have even started reading it once or twice in the past before getting distracted with something else. I admire hook's overall project, which is to look at what love is apart from out societal expectations, and to investigate how we can truly live with love. Of course, love does not merely refer to romantic, partnered relationships. Rather, hook's applies love to all areas and spaces of life: love is crucial to how we see and relate to ourselves, to our families, friends, communities, partners, and even those we do not know. Her concept of love is much broader, calling for larger, grander societal changes.

bell hooks uses M. Scott Peck's definition of love, as found in The Road Less Traveled: Love is the "will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth... 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."

I really appreciate hook's cultural analysis, how love is often not present in relationships where people use power and dishonesty to control and subjugate others (whites to non-whites, men to women, adults to children, etc.), how our ideas of what love is and what love does is not truly loving but self-serving and destructive. hooks does have some great ideas and some powerful words.

That said, this book was unexpectedly difficult to get through. Although hooks is probably the easiest feminist theorist to read (I LOVE LOVE LOVE so much of her work), this book felt muddled and somewhat disorganized. hook's analysis and good ideas seemed to drown in quotes from self-help books and lack of clarity and cohesiveness.

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