Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bauman on Love, Commitment and Sacrifice

A few Quotes from Zygmunt Bauman's book "the art of life" about love, commitment and sacrifice:

“By loving we try to recast fate into destiny; but by following the demands of love, the logic or ordo amoris; we make our destiny a hostage to that fate… This is why love tends nowadays to be simultaneously desired and feared. This is also why the idea of a commitment (to another person, to a company of persons, to a cause), and particularly of unconditional and indefinite commitment, has fallen out of popular favor. To the detriment of those who let it lapse - since love, and self-abandonment and commitment to the Other, which is what love consists of, create the only space where the intricate dialectics of destiny and fate can be seriously confronted.” (pg.40)

“ ‘ Sacrificial culture is dead,’ declared Gilles Lipovetsky bluntly in his 1993 postface to his stage-setting 1983 study of contemporary individualism. ‘We've stopped recognizing ourselves in any obligation to live for the sake of something other than ourselves.’ Not that we have turned deaf to our concerns with the misfortunes of other people, or with the sorry state of the planet; nor have we ceased to be outspoken about such worries. Neither is it the case that we’ve stopped declaring our willingness to act in defense of the downtrodden, as well as in protection of the planet they share with us; not that we have stopped acting (at least occasionally) on such declaration.s The opposite seems to be the case: the spectacular rise of egotistic self-referentiality runs paradoxically shoulder to shoulder with a rising sensitivity to human misery, an abhorrence of violence, pain and suffering visited on even the most distant strangers, and regular explosions of focused (remedial) charity. But, as Lipovetsky rightly observes, such moral impulses and outbursts of magnanimity are instances of ‘painless morality’, morality stripped of obligations and executive sanctions, ‘adapted to the Ego-priority’. When it comes to acting ‘for the sake of something other than oneself’, the passions, well-being and physical health of the Ego tend to be both the preliminary and the ultimate considerations; they also tend to set the limits to which we are prepared to go in our readiness to help.As a rule, manifestations of devotion to that ‘something (or someone) other than oneself’, however sincere, ardent and intense, stop short of self-sacrifice. For instance, the dedication to green causes seldom if ever goes as far as adopting an ascetic lifestyle, or even a partial self-denial. Indeed, far from being ready to renounce a lifestyle of consumeristic indulgence, we will often be reluctant to accept even a minor personal inconvenience; the driving force of our indignation tends to be the desire for a superior, safer and more secure consumption.” (pg.41-42) 

“Love, which we need to conclude, abstains from promising an easy road to happiness and meaning. The ‘ pure relationship’ inspired by consumerist practices promises that kind of easy life; but by the same token it renders happiness and meaning hostages to fate. To cut a long story short: love is not something that can be found; not an objet trouve or a ‘ready made’. It is something that always still needs to be made anew and remade daily, hourly; constantly resuscitated, reaffirmed, attended to and cared for. In line with the growing frailty of human bonds, the unpopularity of long-term commitments, the stripping away of ‘duties’ from ‘rights’ and the avoidance of any obligations except the ‘obligations to oneself’, love tends to be viewed as either perfect from the start, or failed- better to be abandoned and replaced by a ‘new and improved’ specimen, hopefully genuinely perfect. Such love is not expected to survive the first minor squabble, let alone the first serious disagreement and confrontation…” (pg.132-133)

File:MMG ! Zygmunt Bauman (10325121585).jpg

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