Q&A: Philip Glass On The Meaning Of Love


We’ve spent the past month publishing our conversations with East Village and Voice neighbor Philip Glass. For our last installment, we pulled a question out of our hat from our days traveling around the country in recording oral history in an Airstream trailer…

I spent a year working for the NPR StoryCorps project, and a question I saw people ask each other a lot at the end of interviews, which I found so fascinating to hear people from different walks of life, was just asking the person: what do you think love is? And I’d love to hear if you had thoughts on that.

Well that’s a very interesting idea. That’s a very interesting question.

We have very different dimensions of it, but I don’t want to throw the question entirely back at you.

We can talk about the love that’s part of compassion, which is a general empathy that we have for every human being, every living being, I could say. Whether we can develop an empathy to that degree, that’s a form of love. And that’s a very high form, which most of us aren’t able to do very much with, but some do, and just knowing about it is important.

And there’s the love that happens within a family. That’s not just “romantic” love, but the love that happens with children, and maybe partnerships that go on for a very long time. They’re a bit different.

Of course we can’t have a world worth living in without both of them. Most of us, I would say, don’t do such a good job with either one. We do our best. And everybody has their demons, everyone has their problems.

But we also have our aspirations, and I think that’s important. Even though we may, we haven’t always been so successful at every form of love, but the fact that we know it’s there and it’s something that we aspire to, and I think it’s something that keeps us on some kind of a track that makes our consensual social life livable—and, really, besides that, enjoyable, and even enlightening.

And with that, we ended our interview with Philip Glass, Village voice. You can read all of our conversations with Glass and his collaborators here.