Love of love

What’s love got to do with it?

Yesterday morning, one conversation partner spoke of wanting to “love life without limit.” We spoke about how to draw out the meditative aspects from the ordinary run of life. In the afternoon, Cheyenna Weber, Interim Director at the New Economy Network and Founder of SolidarityNYC, told me that, in her activism, she hopes to “meet oppression with love.” (Years ago, I attended a talk by the political theorist Michael Hardt on “love as a political concept.”) Apparently, love is not just a romantic concept confined to the family; nor merely a theological concept wedding the transcendent component with the immanent; it is also a metaphysical concept as well as a political concept.

The metaphysical: The Presocratic philosopher Empedocles claimed that two forces moved all of nature: love brings things together while strife tears them asunder. The early Hegel writes that “True love, or love proper, exists only between living beings who are alike in power and thus in one another’s eyes living beings from every point of view; in no respect is either dead for the other. This genuine love excludes all oppositions.”

The political: The young are raised well only if they are able to love the political community which has made the flourishing of each and all a pregnant possibility. In this kind of political community, the primary force would not be resistance of some enemy at the gate but the affirmation of one’s fellows and the welcoming of open-armed guests.

What we are noticing in this survey is the reappearance of certain dyads in the context of love: limits/unlimited; oppression/affirmation; strife/life; oppositions/unions. What may be less apparent from the examples I listed is the requirement that one undergo a transformation. There must be an education of the spirit, an itinerary through which one would have to pass, the formative experiences of conflict and severance (the Age of Experience) one would have to have had in order for love to resonate on all levels of one’s existence. The tragic will have to leave some scars and memories before our calm–a love of life as much as a love of love–can redeem us.

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