It has been said that love does not want to destroy, but to preserve. Quietistic love has been praised, [yet]…mere passivity is surely no true love. The process of love is a creative drive, a force which, in spite of its tranquility of the present, lives a life of active realization.
I’ve often told the story of how I came to teach my Psychology of Metaphor class. I was speaking to the president of a small university, he asked me what class I wanted to teach, and the word “metaphor” popped out of my mouth. Since I didn’t know anything about metaphor (except as a literary device) I was a bit taken aback. He said, “Great! We’ll call it the Psychology of Metaphor” and I walked out of the room wondering what I’d just gotten myself into. I was set to teach the course in three months to 20 Ph.D. students in Psychology.
The part of the story that I haven’t shared is just as amazing. I would go to my favorite table at the San Francisco Theological Union library and odd books would just sort of happen to be sitting there, having been somehow missed by the librarian who was responsible for re-shelving them. One of these odd books was Martin Foss’s Symbol and Metaphor in Human Experience. Published in 1949, this book had been out of print for decades. I’d never heard of it. I did an internet search and learned that Martin Foss is considered by many to be a greater philosopher than Martin Heidegger and that Symbol and Metaphor in Human Experience has been called one of the most important, yet forgotten, books of the 20th century. (Although they both share the same first name, Martin Foss has no Wikipedia entry…)
The opening quote is from Symbol and Metaphor. Here is another:
Love sees in failure the ground for its necessary work. Therefore it is distracted neither by painful nor by joyful expressions. Disappointments do not reach into the depth of love—on the contrary, they stimulate love to stronger efforts…The eyes of love are not fixed on the moment, not on the social position, not on the habitual character, not on the narrow status of profession, not on the achievement and success which are important for those only who are indifferent to higher values. Love sees the future which it anticipates, and in the scope of this, its wider vision, failure and success look very much alike.
You might wonder what love has to do with metaphor. I’ll let you read the book to find out.
Foss, Martin (1949). Symbol and Metaphor in Human Experience. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.