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Do we Americans know what love is when it comes to love. Are we acting as people or puppets. This series people or puppets is produced by the Union Theological Seminary in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center on today's program entitled What Is This Thing Called Love. You will hear the views and voices of novelist Geoffrey Wagner anthropologist Solon Kimball psychoanalyst Earl a Luma Studer and theologian Paul Scherrer. These are the man who will analyze some of the concepts created by our modern mass media and compare them with our traditional moral religious values. Here is the commentator for people or puppets. The president of the Union
Theological Seminary in New York Dr. Henry Pitney even to you isn't what is this thing called love. The mass media provided us with several answers. Perhaps the most attention getting type of love is the variety offered by Hollywood. You'll see the kind of love the wonders of exploring. Right down below. Even when the content is very sensitive The selling appeal is the same. There is a pocket book containing 15 fine short stories by such writers as old as Steinbeck Bose and others. The collection is entitled The love makers and it is described as. The element of a lot of. Memory intimacies. I feel brilliant writing a review to you and then make it through.
An expensive network television show and titled the changing ways of love depicted only a variety of views of sexiness. Perhaps no modern medium however does as successful a job any waiting love with sex as the popular song. Here's one entitled shut up by Otis Blackwell and Elvis Presley. The words are spoken so you can grasp and appreciate their full meaning. I well know that's. What it's like. In addition to the idea that love equals sex an idea aided and
abetted by such different present day developments as censorship committees and Kinsey reports the popular song also illustrates another common concept of love love as an escape. Here are difficult questions. What Is This Thing Called Love. How significant are the views of love that you have heard. Are there other views of love. Are they significant. These are the questions our producer Philip Galba asked of our guest authorities. Dr. Earle heirlooms Jr. is a psychoanalyst. He is also a professor at the Union Theological Seminary and director of its program
of the interrelations between psychiatry and religion. Dr. Louis. Love is a human emotion that is operative you know relationship. It's an emotion. That is a striving toward action and the action is. Reducing the distance between ourselves and the loved person or ourselves and the loved object in a sense is an attempt to bring together things which do or which we feel belong together. It has in a certain quality of urgency a certain quality of striving. A certain quality of hunger in its more infantile and childish forms and I use these for these terms descriptively and not in the sense of depreciating infantile it's quite. Quite. Desirable to be infantile when one is an infant. It's quite desirably childish
when one is a child. And it's quite to be expected that the infantile and childish will always be with us to some extent but as we become more mature newer possibilities for love arise in which we can and do love that which is different from ourself. Love that which can not necessarily bring us immediate gratification. In other words begin to love other persons in their own right as persons in their own right and to seek their joy in their fulfillment as a as a joint operation with our own finding our fulfillment in other words we may find as we grow in love our highest joy and in the freedom and growth of the other person. Jeffrey Wagner lectures in literature at Columbia University. He is also the author of the study the rate of pleasure. Six novels including The Passion of the land and born of the sun. Two books of poetry the singing blood and the passion of Clive.
Geoffrey Wagner also has translated the poetry of Charles Baudelaire. He principal question in fact the title for this program is what is this thing called love Mr. Wagner. No thank you is to go but I'm not any authority on love and today my God I challenge that because my six novels now haven't you. And a book called parade of pleasure many people interpret this as the novelist of course he's a man who knows all about love. Well you have to admit that if you write novels today I would guess that 99 out of 100 of them are going to revolve around a. I love situation an erotic situation and as I say that I have to realize that this is a relatively new thing in our culture. And that certainly. In the classical period love is nuclear in this way in the Greek or Roman literature it is often a disaster of what they call a perch a body oh. And in the medieval period of
course it's. Within a seated culture it isn't nuclear to literature in the way it is for us and I think it's healthy to remember that it is only in the so since about perhaps the 17th century really that this whole psychic attitude to love being absolutely basic every time we pick up a novel or see a movie is quite new. Dr Solon Campbell is a social anthropologist. He was an authority on the family and marital patterns of several cultures. Dr. Campbell is now a professor of education at the Teachers College of Columbia University in New York City. Love. Is very different and means very different things depending upon what time and place one is concerned with. Thus.
In American in contemporary American society the concept of romantic love is given. Pre-eminence. On the other hand there are. Other societies in the world where romantic love is often seen not as the desirable goal of people. But more particularly as an interference or a disturber of the normal course of life. The caution that I would make is that one must be careful to use the term love. In a variety of ways in which it. Has meaning. Erotic love or romantic love is only one aspect. Of the kind. Of deep emotional attachment. Which refers to this. Relationship between
people. There are other kinds of love too. There is love of country love of God there is parental love there is self love each in their own way represents some aspect of what is contained within this term. Dr. Lewis is there any danger in this emphasis upon sexual love in our society. I think that there's always a. Certain amount of of oscillation in life between desire and satiation. And that pleasure is perceived as. Let's say as hunger is satisfied. And that after a time satisfaction leads to boredom and there's a new building up of tension but I think that as we grow we we love in different ways and urgencies arise in other areas. Also as we grow we we learn to handle urgencies with less
frantic Innes and the man on the fuzzy tree. I think where our hostility is not handled not recognized and does not have. Appropriate expression. It makes our love go sour. Do you think other sometimes is hostility or aggression and this kind of urgency that we now call love. Oh I think a great deal I think that I think that what we call love is urgent without regard to the welfare and growth of both partners. It is either extremely immature love baby love which wants what it wants when its want when it wants it and is a gimme gimme proposition. Or else it is love mixed with hate and love masked as hate. And really what one wants is to control and overpower and master the other person or to get the other person to do this to do one rather than really to relate creatively to the other person.
So sometimes a loss of urgency might be a loss of some negative. Yes I think that we could talk both of the of the of the urgency that is is negative in the urgency that's positive. I don't think that anything as strong as it is is as genuine love as no urgency to it I think it has a kind of urgency but it's its urgency probably is a whole lot less ruthless than what we're alluding to here. What is significant about our popular views of love. These song hits that are under discussion are quite interesting in this respect and you get asked what is some of. This Elvis Presley song All Shook Up. And as I talk the New York Times is printing a series of articles on The shook up generation. Harrison So is Brit. So I suppose that's taken from this song I'm in love I'm all shook up. And I think that that's another
example of for instance the lack of articulation the lack of control the feeling of chaos. I mean love I'm all shook up and the last lines of Oh yea yea and so forth real the devastation of having to articulate and never having to correspond to. I do a somewhat scientific universe and indeed the universe that imposes rational discipline on you. It didn't bother you that all the automatic way that people accept the fact that this must be love again obviously is a symptom which I'm sure will pass. Yes well I think that's a very good point indeed I get elaborate on in this extent that the characteristic of this popular song is an extremely unrealistic idealization of course. Now if you take a song like I took one look at you that's all I meant to do. And then my heart stood still. It seems to me that the singer is saying precisely what the Troubadour was saying or what done to he was saying in the beat and moreover when he takes one look at
Beatrice just all he meant to do in fact. And its might seem with love. Now this is of course in the Renaissance is regarded as a conventionalized love approach and it isn't taken seriously and it isn't taken seriously in our culture. It seems to me a normal release. However if of course it becomes a narcotic and the teenager indulges in it beyond simply regarding It is an idealization I should think it has a distorted effect on the personality to put it at its least. But I think that frankly these kind of love lyrics that one hears in commercial music and that is of course quite different from the love lyrics of true jazz which is unsentimental very often. I would say that this is a very strong flight from reality appears appeals to a very low level. First of all a lot of people don't listen to the lyrics and secondly even my youngest kind of students of 17 and 18 year old I mean there's a lot of sounds lemon or I mean our listeners may have an
affair than you think. I suppose it might have an effect. Some people think they have an effect. You know Frank Sinatra has apparently made a statement about. This particular song that you quote from Presley and he says that. I refer to the bulk of Rock n Roll it fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people. It smells phony and false. It is song played and written for the most part by Kryten his goons and by means of its almost imbecilic reiterations and sly nude in fact plain dirty lyrics manages to be the martial music of every sideburn delinquent on the face of the earth. But how are you going to find out whether a song hit actually. It kind of distorts the personality the erratic personality of an individual. I would say if the person is very immature and they indulge in it as a knock in a narcotic way it looks it looks odd. Are there other views of love that are there other views of a different
kind of relationship and added to it in terms of love. Other views of love than water. Then we discussed essentially relating love to sex to though yes. Of course there are other there are the whole progress of the man and wife through different phases in life and so forth. That's not usually represented as one grows older one makes compromises with one's youthful ambitions and desires and it's easier to do that with a partner. It's easier to adjust to old age alongside a partner. Let's think this is presented in the media. No I don't think I'm going to be looking those up. Those are things which obviously one senses one so and they aren't presented in the media because they aren't sensational enough to be. Dr. Kimberly previous portion of the program we had examples of love. You can call it that
probably best defined in the terms all shook up and let's get lost and unbridled passion. How representative and significant are these use of love do you believe the illustrations which have been presented previously are extremely narrow and specialized versions of the concept of love. For one thing. They fall within the general subcategory of erotic love alone. And of course they exclude the other great areas of life in which love might appear. But even within the area of erotic love. These are. Or should be considered as more sensational. Expressions of an erotic feeling. One of the really important questions for which no adequate answer yet has
appeared. Is to explain why it is that the concept of romantic love has come to take such a central position in American society. There are societies in the world in which love is viewed as a form of insanity or a fever and it is a state which is not sought by the individual book which comes to him in which he would resist if he could. During this period of. Unusual behavior the friends of the individual are most considerate and understanding of the difficulty under which such a person suffers. On the other hand they are also aware that sooner or later this distortion of the world if you will will pass and the person will receive a
return to a saner condition. In societies like those of peasant Ireland and of certain other peasant peoples of the world. Love is frequently a destructive element. In the sort erotic sense rather than a construct one. This is because the institution of marriage with which we often associate romantic love is in these societies associated with family status and property. If the essential function of marriage is the transfer of property. The perpetuation of the family name and the insurance of succeeding generations then you can see that if love enters into the picture it may or may not coincide with the needs and desires of the family in particular and of the social system
in general. Thus it is that frequently in Ireland for example. Those who fall in love. And desire to go to get married must do so against the wishes of their parents and in some instances they will even find themselves disinherited. It is very difficult for Americans to understand that their form of romance as a basis for marriage is the unique and the unusual in the world and that most of the world even those portions of it which contain romantic notions of love. When it comes to the hard realities of who you marry and under what conditions a marriage is arranged conform to age long customs in which considerations other than those of romantic attachment are the important ones. Or frankly Dr. Campbell I don't think we really are that different from the rest of the world I think when it
comes to marriage marriages here are still perhaps not arranged of course but they fall patterns of class of group that people marry because it's the thing to do they marry for security and in general I think the same kinds of marriages occur as in other parts of the world for other reasons than romantic love. We probably aren't as honestly obvious about it as other parts of the world are. But it would appear to me that this romantic love is really something that's for television motion pictures and the kinds of popular songs that we've heard or is just sort of an experience that people go through but when it comes down to as you put it the hard reality of marriage then I think all these other factors are very much at play in our society too. In fact I think it's even unusual the extent to which people even tend to marry somebody who looks like them not only within the same economic and social and religious group
but even somebody who looks right let's put it that way to marry people who with whom. And the marriage to others looks good. They look good together this is the kind of thing I think which may determine as many marriages as romantic love. Dr. Paul Scherrer was pastor of The Holy Trinity Church in New York City for 25 years. He is the author of the fact that undergird life. And. There we have this treasure. Plus numerous other words. Dr. Cher is now a professor at the Union Theological Seminary. Well I think we're dealing here with one of the most crucial problems. If I may use a much overused word staged for us by a highly commercialized society. And
it's this that physical love. Within the more or less flexible limitations imposed by law can be exploited for profit. A look at any newsstand is rather noisy gating evidence. At the lowest level quite obviously the motive held out is self gratification. Resentment follows fast on failure. The tragedy has come in however of stopping there. Beyond self gratification. There is self completion and that not as an end to be achieved but rather as a consequence. When love. Succeeds in moving out into communion. And selves are no longer used as if they were things and
so distorted. But may live as persons. Sharing life in the beauty that opens up only when the Self is no longer dominant. And all for a commentary on today's program. Here is the Roosevelt professor of systematic theology and president of Union Theological Seminary Dr. Henry Pitney even this series is concerned with the influence of the mass media upon some of the basic and most influential conceptions and loyalties in American life but the influence of the mass media upon prevailing American conceptions of love is very different from their influence upon for example ideas of success in terms of mere money position prestige and so on. In the latter the exaggerations and extravagances of contemporary mass media have introduced a new problem. But in the case of love distorted and inadequate it is are as old as Adam and Eve or second me of Romeo and Juliet
or Caesar and Cleopatra. In other words here the mass media are not precipitating a new problem they are merely aggravating a problem which has always baffled and troubled mankind. In the second place it is ways noting that religion and the churches themselves have often had somewhat the same effect on this problem as the mass media are having a great deal of exaggeratedly romantic ideas about love has been bred and nurtured by religion. It is no accident that the word love is the central word in both romance and religion although it is also important to remember that the Greek language in which the New Testament was written uses two quite different words for these two meanings of the single English word love eros for romantic love and all the peg for spiritual love. The fact that these two ideas which are so different in the Greek have the identical English word illustrates how much you know our Anglo-Saxon world.
Romantic love and religion have gotten mixed up. One other point emerges from the discussion which merits and is underscoring what we are really dealing with here is two quite different indeed sharply contrasted conceptions of what ideal human love is. Love between man and woman. And Mr. Gaby is quite right that this ambiguity is not confined to America as a matter of fact just this duality this contradiction has been most forcefully argued by a brilliant French writer to root them out. He contrasts the romantic idea of love which appeared in the troubadours and opus on the Nicolet and largely dominated Christian interpretations of love in recent times with what he calls the true Christian understanding of deliberate lifelong loyalty centering in a home and children. Here is the real issue which is This Thing
Called Love. That was Dr. Henry Pitney even do isn't the president of the Union Theological Seminary and the commentator for this series people or puppets. Next week at the same time people or puppets will bring you an authoritative analysis and dramatic presentation on the celebrity idol. How will you have your hero the guest authorities discussing this topic will be the logins Robert McAfee Brown and Ralph Hislop. Author Edmund fuller philosopher Kenneth Barker and a doctor of India's. People or puppets is written moderated and directed by Philip Gallo but the Union Theological Seminary in New York City executive producer for the seminary professor John W. Buckley. Music by Alfred Brooks. Your announcer Dean Lyman August. This series is made possible by a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center
for distribution by the National Association of educational broadcasters. Join us again next week for an exciting analysis of the celebrity idols. How will you have your heroes. On people's minds. This is the end of a radio network.
People or puppets?
What is this thing called love?
Producing Organization
Union Theological Seminary (New York, N.Y.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
A disccusion about sex and the mass media.
Series Description
Discussions of values and ethics, modern versus traditional. Faculty from Union Theological Seminary, authors Kenneth Burke and Geoffrey Wagner, critics Edmund Fuller and Martin Dworkin, Dr. Solon Kimball and broadcaster Edward Stanley are featured.
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Composer: Brooks, Alfred
Guest: Loomis, Earl A., Jr.
Guest: Kimball, Solon Toothaker
Guest: Wagner, Geoffrey
Host: Van Dusen, Henry P. (Henry Pitney), 1897-1975
Moderator: Geesy, Ray
Producing Organization: Union Theological Seminary (New York, N.Y.)
Writer: Gelb, Philip
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-7-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:36
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Chicago: “People or puppets?; What is this thing called love?,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
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APA: People or puppets?; What is this thing called love?. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from