What are the people saying?

Ventura: ... when we saw the Kevin Costner film Dances With Wolves, I remember how struck you were at that scene - you know, the white soldier and the white girl who's been raised as a Sioux, they're getting it on, and the Sioux shaman is concerned about it so he asks his wife, "What are the people saying?"

Hillman: That's terribly important, "What are the people saying?"

Ventura: Which is something you ask yourself when you get into a relationship, but you feel ashamed for asking. "What are the people saying? Do my friends like her, can they talk to her? Does she like them? Does my family like her - or, if I'm trying to break with my family, do they not like her? If we're thinking of children, do I really want something of her father in my son? How do I feel when I walk down a street with her? What are the people saying?"

Hillman: There's a communal aspect to love. Love does not simply exist as a private tryst or trust between two people in a personal relationship; it's a communal event.

Ventura: When you bust up a marriage you find that out, because almost all your friends are pissed. Even the most understanding have the air of being a little disappointed in you. And some never get over it, some friendships are never the same afterward. Not just that you tend to lose friends who came to you from the other side of the marriage; it's that, at least for a time, people don't talk to you the same.

Hillman: So the question "What are the people saying?" locates the relationship in a context. The world is the context of the love. The sentence also is saying that love doesn't belong to the two people alone. What two people do with each other is very important for other people. And if you think that love is romantic and can lead "out of this world" - that's not it.

So "What are the people saying?" says, "This marriage, this union, this love affair, belongs to us, the people, that wide context called the world. It belongs to that street down there, it's going into the world of the sirens. And we, the people, are not concerned with whether it's good for you; we want to know if it's good for us."

Ventura: "And we have a right to know. We have a right to want it to be good for us. You are even being irresponsible if it's not good for us." Though, I must add, I personally reserve the right to tell all of you to go to hell.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.173, 174, 176

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