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learning for teaching as Janus-faced appropriation of Love
may 30, 2010











Leaving home, for whatever time, is leaving a higher place, a better view: just so different irt usual life—though a place open to anyone who’s really interested. (We’re not invested in heights for the sake of heights. But the view is better).

But figuratively, the gravitation almost always goes downhill (which is fine with me).

Discomfiting (or elitist) as my topographic trope may be, it relates to two kinds of very ordinary situation: developmental differences between adults, relative to some mode of understanding; and the “town and gown” folklore of the “ivory tower.” People struggle to understand each other, believing that some lateral difference of culture or background is prevailing (without badges of legitimized status differential), because vertical difference is so easily thought to be elitist (if not sinister). People commonly lack high ability to appropriate what they’re doing relative to accurate feeling for the other’s different place, like a teacher or counselor regularly does. Discerning easily the other’s level of understanding relative to some matter and working well with that is not elitist. Worse yet, though, people (lacking other-perspective-taking ability) consequently act as if there is no such difference, just one or the other’s failure to understand.

A flourishing humanity includes idealizing our being ongoing teachers and students of each other throughout life. People readily grant obvious developmental issues of childhood and parenting, but commonly presume there’s some homogenous adulthood, such that misunderstanding doesn’t continue to be a developmental issue through the life span. My obsessions about “learning never ends,” etc., at least simply dramatize a stance I live toward adult development and ongoing potential. For every mode of impressive sophistication in a life, there’s likely an impressive lack of sophistication in that same life. For the good life openness to learning something—in every moment, ideally—does never end, if you’re smart about life’s “autonomy” or adventitiousness (or selformativity: a primordiality of autopoiesis across all levels of life: What may bite you may instead be simply curious). And learning does never end if you’re smart about human diversity (our pervasive evo-devo condition, where “evo” is not a nativism of each person’s background, I’ll later argue).

So, though I don’t take time enough to teach (so in love with going my own way), I do appreciate the need. I choose to not be cogent (laugh), too often perhaps, but I’m not ill-formed about it. Well-formedness is a high value to me (even given my beloved bouts of semantic compression).

Friendship and kindredness are as vital to me as to anyone else, I believe, but I’m so drawn to getting on with what I want to accomplish that I want to give all the free time I have to intimacy and my work, rather than casual friendship, easily then causing others to feel slighted. So, life down the hill can be a difficult, painful balancing act, as if it’s best to just stay away with only you here, making myself otherwise difficult to reach, except when I rarely choose to be reachable.

But I know true friendship and kindredness intimately, I do. I know what’s vitally integral to the usual validity of good lives. After all, it’s deep friendship that keeps marriages alive, growing, and anewably romantic (and tolerant of each other’s bad habits, bad looks, bad jokes, and what all). I know, and that’s what makes my tolerance of persistent shallowness limited (particularly bad faith cheerfulness—which drives me sometimes to play provocative therapist, when I can’t politely escape).

The older I get, the less time I’ll give to what doesn’t promise a high quality of “relationship,” though I’ll never surrender my high fidelity to graciousness (sans lapses, which come too easily, I’m sorry to recognize—to have to recognize too often—but for my own good).

Relationship”: an unappealing, but felicitous word, pertaining to the whole spectrum of how people are, from civility to solidarity, kindship to friendship, and (most of all) pertaining to senses of intimacy, possibly very rich, comprehending a great horizon of loves, most persons don’t imagine.

Complementary to the value of true friendship in marriage (and its possible exemplarity for model parenting, particularly a state I call “identity-in-difference,” which I’ll discuss someday) is to extend the common notion of partnership to a sense of Project or career—marriage as one of an individual’s Projects, pursued realistically (but also ideally—giving itself the most promise) with all the lucidity and flexibility and structure and need for endurance that we readily associate with “the world of work.” Marriage is work; marriage is a career, a Project. Friendships may be romantic and intimate, and marriage is surely romantic (probably not often enough); but more than anything, the virtue of marriage is lastingness (or early on, potential for lastingness), and that’s deliberate, that’s work—or else, it’s fantasy, though the deliberate work is largely fun (should be), if the marriage is valid—fun as often as possible, anyway.

And why not gauge validity for a life as relative to a project’s promise of fun? (Why not have the work we love be fun as much as feasible? Make that Rule #1 for organizational leadership?)

I have an obsession, intimated above, to understand and enrich the sense of Love (capped, covering various senses of ‘love’, various kinds of love). For example, love in deep friendship is not parental love—at least, not prevalently. But complication is easy to anticipate, so simple distinctions won’t do. Clear distinctions are usually ideal types: Sometimes close friends do need parental care; and good parenting of children exemplifies good friendship, inasmuch as the child grows to appreciate differences between an adult as parent and as genuine friend. Nonetheless, distinguishing kinds of love can be valid.

Thinking of love relative to distinct modes of life allows for a richer sense of love—now Love—than normal. There may be more to Love than being parental or companionate or romantic, or moral. A life might aspire to a high sense of Love, which I’ll elaborate later. Here, ‘Love’ (capped) relates nebulously to a high sense. (I don’t say “idealized” because I intend to be quite specific. It’s a rich sense of Love I want to convey.)

All senses of Love might belong to a life, including mature parental love by persons lacking children. The best marriages inherit appropriate loves from the broader horizon of lives’ potentials brought to the marriage, because the scale of Love originates from lives’ potentials, which make the marriage more promising, first giving the other or each other the chance for the marriage to enrich their lives. Persons make relationships; persons give relationships potential. Love grows from individuation in and of relationship, rather than being primordially relational (I will elaborate later).

Indeed, unmarried lives aren’t defective lives (but the economy is anchored by the traditional, reproductive sense of family, invested in market biases, thus cultural biases, against non-traditional lives). Many unmarried lives may embody more loves than many married lives. Or a valid marriage may have reconciled boundaries, no less sacred as far as it goes, but limited relative to a richer sense of one’s life that requires understanding the marriage as part of one’s larger-comprehended life, the marriage as a sacred part of a wholly-valid (and equally sacred) fidelity to one’s ownmost life, including what the cherished marriage “merely” can be.

Love only actualizes its potential relative to the richness of our ownmost imagination and idealization, which sometimes calls for courage (and may be too difficult for others to accept)—which I’ve played out in abstractions about high individuation, but not yet in terms of a high scalarity of Love. Our Project of Self actualization can validly lead our lives, i.e., our singular life with each other.

The imagination deserves all conceivable freedom. Two poets, two scientists may have something between them unavailable to each’s marriages. Literary love, intellectual love may be sacred in its own right, incomprehensible to each’s marriages, but having an important voice in the life of each, maybe sometimes prevailing for a life, contrary to constraints in the marriage. Many marriages end because something else happening with one’s life grows to prevail validly. Endings are not always failures, just closures on an era of each’s life which is to have more eras than once-upon-a-time anticipated.

My point is only that Love potentially expresses possibilities of individuation such that the traditional, relational senses of ‘love’ apply to Self, too, maybe more richly than the relational senses apply to given relationships. When great things grow, it’s natural to want to understand how and what is greatly growing. When things don’t grow in one habitation, but do grow well in another, that’s worth understanding.

Next: feeling for our time in flourishing.

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  Be fair. © 2017, gary e. davis