“In a better world, sexual education would be concerned with the development of taste. All the great lovers in literature were also lovers of tales and had their heads full of sublime rivals in their divine quest. The progress of civilization is intimately connected with the elaboration of erotic sensibility and a real examination of the delicate interplay of human attractions. But everything today conspires to suffocate imagination. There have been hardly any great novelists of love for almost a century. Scientific sex claims to tell us about the real thing. Reading classic books has become less and less of a taste among the educated, although cheap romantic novels, the kind that are sometimes stuck into boxes of household detergent, apparently flourish among housewives who haven’t heard that Eros is dead. And now the most respectable authorities in the study of books tell us that their messages were always pernicious and sexist. There is practically nothing within our horizon that can come to the aid of ideal longing. Sure, you can be a romantic today if you so choose, but it is a little like being a virgin in a whorehouse. It just doesn’t fit with the temper of the times and gets no support in the current atmosphere.
Talking about love has suffered the most.
Eros requires speech, and beautiful speech, to communicate to its partner what it feels and wants. Now there is plenty of talk about relationships and how people are intruding in on one another, and there is talk akin to discussions on the management of water resources. But the awestruck vision of the thing-in-itself has disappeared. It is almost impossible to get students to talk about the meaning of their erotic choices, except for a few artificial cliches that square them with contemporary right thing. Out of self-protectiveness, no one wants to risk making arguments, as Plato’s characters did, for the dignity of his or her choice and its elevated place within the whole of things. What one cannot talk about, what one does not have words for, hardly exists. Richness of vocabulary is part of richness of experience. Just as there is a disastrous decline in political rhetoric, rhetoric necessary to explain the cause of justice and form a community around it, so there is an even more disastrous decline in the rhetoric of love. Yet to make love humanly, the partners have to talk to each other,” – Allan Bloom, Love and Friendship.