home page intimacies

love in manifold
january 1, 2012 / may 28, 2012


Classifying each of my books that relate to love (146 presently; several thousand in my library on other things) into one or more of 18 categories of love—silly? Well, it—was part of a fascination with the richness of our most highly-meaningful sense of feeling (or our highest feeling for meaningfulness), which is ordinarily a very nebulous notion—“love”?—often the bane of intimate relationships, yet an extraordinary power of, and in, poetic writing. Though seeking to understand human nature by inquiring into notions of love easily seems precious, it can be profoundly enlightening. I’m hoping for the latter, since that interest will be a keynote of my upcoming work, as conceptions of love span so many aspects of our being: bioanthropological, commonly cultural, highly artistic, and intellectual.

What mix of affection for deep friendship, sacredness, romance, and whatall else goes into love of a day (when we feel love of the day)? In a world with so much vacuous “friendship” (e.g., consumer society), what is deep friendship and how does it grow? Though love of sacredness as such may be integral to our values, it also figures into separate senses of love of friendship or romance (each of which may understand itself without association with a sense of the sacred—but should each?). So, what is love of sacredness apart from religion (my premise, in pursuing my interest; I’m not religious, but love the notion of the sacred).

I contend (or will) that love as erotic intimacy is more than sexual love. “Loving” sex for its own sake is—loving sex for its own sake. Why not. But the sexuality of erotic intimacy involves aspects of our being that want and deserve to be woven into our sexual lives. In wanting a sexual relationship with you, I’m not looking for sex. There are wonderful senses of creative love that aren’t just about creativity, yet which can figure into our sense of erotic intimacy. I would advocate a sense of self formative love (two words) that shows easily in romance, erotic intimacy, and creative love.

I’m not going to try to get comprehensive here with my 18 kinds of love. But you see that there’s possibly a luscious journey to play. The dark side of love only makes sense relative to a rich sense of what love can be and become. People easily confuse sexual love with romantic love, but that only makes sense as a confusion relative to a good sense of romantic love (especially including a good sense of erotic intimacy). People confuse romantic love with parental love (and vice versa). People fail to understand how marital love is not merely a continuation of romantic love (thus, the marriage is seen to be failing when it’s not romantic; or the marriage becomes so focused around parental love for children—and all the domestic engineering associated with parenting—that there’s loss of ability to keep romance in the marriage). Marital love is not just romance + deep friendship + sexual love + parenting. Marriage without parenting is obviously not as such an incomplete sense of marriage. Marriage in old years might be without sex (but by no means necessarily!), but in all events lasts happily only due to deep friendship (or lasts unhappily through encrusted routine—very boring and not good for longevity of life). I’m oversimplifying, and I’m not pretending to render a simple sense of marital love. But you might easily see an important issue: What is marital love as uniquely different from all the loves it may include, i.e., as a synergy that lasts?

What is the love of good parenting? How does child-centered developmental love go well?

How does a clinical psychology of love “parent” broken loves into flourishing, durable, fruitful loves? What is this wholly-altruistic love of clinical work that shepherds loves into their potential? Its therapeutic efficacy is not just developmental (like parenting or education), but clinical work can’t work without parental care—and active valuing of many kinds of love (without confusing the kinds).

Why is love such a great theme of Literature (besides the fact that it’s ubiquitous to human life)? So often, great conceptions of love in Literature become the templates of young aspiration because something possibly profound is made a legacy through great stories and poetry. Literary love may fill our souls with a beautiful genius that other kinds of love aspire to emulate. I would argue that such love is exemplified by love in Literature, but that Literary love is possibly more than the representations of loves in that Literature. Also, there are conceptions of love that are intellectual, but just as inspiring to their instances as loves in Literature. Love of scholarship between lovers can be so sublime.

Such does not imply to me that other kinds of love are lesser kinds of love. Greatly romantic love, highly intimate love (a deep merger that is sometimes true of romantic love or erotic love or creative, self formative, or Literary love), marital love, and deep friendship all have their own great potential. The greatness of parental love is not comparable to adult loves.

Though different kinds of love may have equal integrity, there are heights of difference, too. One may love the day without yet invoking sacred fidelities; or love deep friendship without wanting intimate love. It may be fair to say that love of sacredness is more important than deep friendship; or maybe it’s not fair to say that, as there is possibly nothing more lastingly sacred and wonderful than deep friendship. But the issue of relative heights is fair. If one person wants intimate love in a friendship, that desire deserves to not be treated as a symptomatic neediness, rather as a great potential that love in friendship may hope for, if not in a given friendship.

We are so varietal, so beautifully multifaceted.

Obviously, intellectual love would be drawing me into my fascinations of bioanthropological “mating minds.” I suspect that evolution of imagination through transsexual longing had a lot to do with the evolution of culture and intelligence favoring creativity over convention in social resilience, thus social evolution. In loves, we express our evolutionary legacy mindally, not merely bodily. Philosopher Daniel Dennett argues that “freedom evolves,” and Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt grounds ethics in a wholeheartedness of love. I suspect that the evolution of conceptions of freedom is entwined with the evolution of notions of Self empowered by wholehearted inspiration. So, there’s freedom in love and love in freedom that is far from merely precious.

There are so many delicious themes to pursue. I’m resisting impulses now (postponing gratifications—or displacing them to existing notes for later). But I’ll note that the history of mysticism was always an outlier of repressive societies and often involved erotic portals into freeing minds. Freedom, romance, and sexuality have always been existential neighbors.

Psychoanalysis was wrapped up in love from the beginning, of course. But it’s not commonly appreciated that psychoanalysis evolved way beyond Freud. I’ve mentioned Jung, but there has also been manifold senses of psychoanalysis in literary studies, which maps back into literary approaches to psychoanalysis (which was very important to Derrida philosophically). Though every good psychotherapist or analyst is truly there with the client as person, there is a generosity of good faith interpretation that grants integrity to the mystery of the other like sustaining openness toward a text (which may be interpreted differently, according with the interests of “reading” the other person). The theme of textuality in psychoanalysis is integral to the field. But it’s immensely elusive to grasp relative to client-centered interest. The literary reader can afford to take risks of interpretation that a therapist cannot venture. So, a psychoanalysis of Literature and playing with textuality has a freedom and potential in literary studies that can contribute to the evolution of therapy, but is motivated by love of inquiry into “mind reading” and all the themes of historical psychoanalysis that can be found in Literature—but also a love of the numinous, auratic dynamics of textuality for their own sake, as a branch of aesthetics.

“Textual intimacy, Take 2” (next section) becomes difficult to read at a few spots, though it’s largely fun, dramatic. I hope I don’t seem to not care about the reader. Cavalier play with genres may be theoretically interesting, but it burdens a reader. But experimentation can’t be premised on likely receptiveness. It’s one thing to intend accessibility (which I do easily); it’s another to share what I’m working with (or working through)—in the following case, what I was working through, early April, 2010. My working with psychological things can be especially difficult for others, as well as myself. The following expresses a difficult past, now fun to recollect for the sake of later work with narrativity.

Next: section 5 of “intimacies.”


  Be fair. © 2017, gary e. davis