Review – Understanding Lovelove
Philosophy, Film, and Fiction
by Susan Wolf and Christopher Grau (Editors)
Oxford University Press, 2013
Review by Bob Lane
Feb 24th 2015 (Volume 19, Issue 9)

With the possible exception of television, which more and more is turning to old movies for its programming,  film is the popular art form in North America today. Millions of North Americans every week sit in front of movie screens to be entertained, titillated, educated, or simply to find an escape from quiet desperation.

Read the review.


Love: Emotion, Myth, and Metaphor   Love: Emotion, Myth and Metaphor
Prometheus Books, 1990. 347 pp.

In this reprint of a 1981 Anchor/Doubleday book, Prometheus has brought us an inexpensive yet attractive edition of’ Solomon’s discussion of love: romantic love, silly love, committed love, enduring love, phony love, and more. First of all, this is a readable book. Do not be put off by the fact that Professor Solomon has written widely on the existentialists, or is also well known for his introductory texts in philosophy — Love is a pleasure to read. You will find no technical vocabulary to wrestle with and no bloated prose. It is also fun to read.
The book is rich with examples from psychology, literature, films, personal experience, and is given form by a continued and systematic argument that identifies love as one of many emotions we experience in a complex way which is finally not irrational but
decidedly rational. “My purpose in this book,” he writes, “is precisely to separate the passion from the illusions, to explode the myth without in any way demeaning or denying the importance of the emotion.” To talk about love in this way requires a discussion of
emotions, and Solomon, drawing on his earlier book, The Passions, provides us with the necessary theoretical groundwork. “Our emotions are neither primitive nor ‘natural,’ but rather intelligent constructions, structured by concepts and judgments that we learn in a particular culture, through which we give our experience some shape and meaning.”
Drawing on the work of John Austin, Solomon gives us an analysis of how the simple sentence “1-love-you” functions as a speech act in our culture. “I- love-you” is not a “description or confession of feelings already felt but the creation of an emotion, a work
of conceptual art, the shared fabrication of an experience.” In short “I-love-you” is a performative and not a descriptive act.
Here are a number of “love is . . . ” sentences from the book which will give you a flavour of the work:
– Love is an emotion, just an ordinary, non-cosmic luxurious but not essential emotion.
– Love is more a process than a single scenario.
– Love is a development, a matter of mutual creation.
– Love is an emotion through which we create for ourselves a little world — the loveworld, in which we play the roles of lovers and, quite literally, create our selves as well.
– Love is a decision.
– Love is a process, a dialectic, a movement.., toward a shared identity, the creation of a shared self.
Solomon’s book is worth reading. It is solid without being stolid; personal but not confessional, philosophical and thoughtful, but certainly not a “self help” quickie.
People from teen-agers to golden-agers can learn from this book.

States of Being:

Drawing. Jacques Lacan, french psychoanalyst.

Drawing. Jacques Lacan, french psychoanalyst. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

an online art exhibit curated by Julia Schwartz

I think of these works as ‘states of being’ paintings rather than self-portraits, the artist being immersed in a state of being that shines through the work. The artists in this exhibition may be working with different materials, some may be working with recognizable figurative elements and others not, and yet each one identifies a particular state of being at the time the work was being made as essential, whether articulated or not. Is it a state of mind? A state of being or way of being is not necessarily a state of mind, as described in the accompanying paragraph by psychoanalyst/philosopher Robert Stolorow, Ph.D. Our paintings and sculptures are like Lacan’s “symbols written in the sands of the flesh.” They are how we find ourselves and show ourselves- as mothers, fathers, women, men, artists, survivors, and humans above all else.

This show runs through May 15 on the home page of curating and then will be accessible in the archives.

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Sunday’s Sermon


I almost didn’t make it through “Amour,” which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday. It wasn’t that I wasn’t prepared: I knew what the movie was about and, having seen several other of Michael Haneke’s movies and read about his work, was familiar with his sadistic tendencies as a filmmaker. “Depressing” was the word used by everyone I spoke to about the film, but depressing has never been a descriptor that puts me off; it’s rare that a movie, even an aggressively tragic one, depresses me. More often, I find myself simply fascinated, and even delighted, by the range of emotions cinema can capture. – From The New Yorker

It’s also an extraordinary performance piece for Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges and lead actress nominee Emmanuelle Riva as Anne, a woman beset by the relentless and ruthless physical decline of old age — blocked arteries, two strokes, confusion that might be dementia, partial paralysis, incontinence, pain, and more pain. Riva makes the journey frighteningly real. – From LA Times

Amour Trailer (Winner: Best Foreign Language Film)

Several of our readers have not seen this movie yet so I will not say much about it now. I want to write a review of it for later publication.  The movie is a fine film and one that raises some important issues. See it and return for a discussion! [My review below the split.]

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Sunday’s Sermon


Those readers who still go to church will relate to this opening:


The readings for this morning are:

  • A review of Glen Pettigrove, Forgiveness and Love, Oxford University Press, here.
  • A review of Leila Haaparanta and Heikki J. Koskinen (eds.), Categories of Being: Essays on Metaphysics and Logic, Oxford University Press; here.
  • A number of science related items: here.