THE ART OF LOVING BY ERICH FROMM
- recommend for Designers
Although the title may sound like a gimmicky-self-help book, and it is a very helpful book, I promise you The Art of Loving is actually about everything; about reframing one’s relationship to world around them through a specific view of human social psychology. Written in 1956 by a then fifty-six-year-old Erich Fromm, it explains why we love, how we love, and how we can love all aspects of our live’s more honestly. Fromm emigrated to the United States in 1934, where he held a private practice and taught at Columbia, Yale, and New York University. His fields of expertise crossed disciplines as he is sited as a skilled social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist.
I am encouraging that Designers read this book because it posses an approach to mindfulness which succinctly incorporates creative practice. For a long time I have struggled intellectually to rationalize the relationship of love and work in my life, and this book is the best framework I have found so far to bring them together. It has helped me to see the links between my deep passion for creativity, why I am obsessed with the history of art and design, the joy I get from collaborating with others, and why I need my lovers and closest friends to have creative minds. I hope it can do the same for you.
The Art of Loving begins with a hypothesis; that loving is an art, and therefore it requires both knowledge and effort just like any art. He gives examples of art being everything from Music to, Medicine, to Engineering; as you might imagine, I would add Design to that list as well. He continues to state that just like any of these art forms, with the act of loving one must master the theory of the subject, and then the mastery of the subject through diligent practice. All forms of love — brotherly, motherly, neighborly, erotic, etc. — he explains, come from “the awareness of human separation” and that since we see ourselves as individual beings and “the deepest need of man, then, is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of aloneness.” I will not ruin the unfolding of his logic for you, but he does go on say that being creative is also an act of love itself:
“In any kind of creative work the creating person unites himself with his material which represents the world outside himself.”
In closing, I think it is important for Designers to read The Art of Loving because it reminds us to be mindful of what and how we are designing as it is an act of loving the world itself. I would love to hear how this book resonates with other creatives so please reach out. murray[at]cca.edu