Steinbeck and Bon Iver | On Selfish Love

Justin Vernon's explanation of the meaning behind his song Skinny Love reminded me of a letter John Steinbeck wrote to his son, Thom, about the two different kinds of love :

"There are several kinds of love. One is selfish, mean, grasping egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you -- of kindness and consideration and respect -- not only the social  respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable.

The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn't know you had".

I've been thinking about this distinction - between selfless and skinny love - a lot lately. And about how, as we get older, love has to be more than just a feeling. It takes thought and self knowledge, but it's possible to give from a deeper place, without record or expectation. It's possible to not just love again, but to love better. 

(type) from onehollietree (quote) from John Steinbeck: A Life of Letters. The full passage can be read at The Atlantic 
(p.s) another connection : between Jonathan Safran Foer and a joke in Annie Hall


  1. Such eloquent, important thoughts. I didn't know about either of these excerpts, but I'm floored by the image they give: of how love is a growing, living thing, and it needs all kinds of care and attention.

    And now I need to read A Life of Letters...!

    p.s. I saw your tweet about my poem!! you. are. too. kind!!

  2. i adore now knowing the meaning behind 'skinny love.'

  3. these are two of my all-time favorite quotes. i have them pinned (i think), but i never thought about putting them together. they fit perfectly.

    1. Kimia, finding abstract connections between writing and other mediums (movies, songs, ect) is like a little game I play with myself. That "aha!" moment so satisfying.

  4. This post brings together some of my favorite things: bon iver, steinbeck, love, adn your beautiful writing.


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