For the seminal psychiatrist R.D. Laing, the firebrand Scot who led a revolt against orthodoxy during the ’60s, ”love is a long and arduous practice — an art.” On Eros, Love & Lies, made near the end of his life (Laing died at age 61 in 1989), he speaks with sharp insight about the dangers and promise of that art.
Shot during Laing’s 1987 appearance at the Naropa Institute, in Boulder, Colo., this unadorned ”talking head” tape starts slowly, meanders often, and poses no video threat to M.C. Hammer. As a presence, Laing doesn’t light up the screen. But his ideas light a path through the thickening haze of the pop- compassion industry.
He talks about the danger of being with someone who doesn’t love you but claims otherwise, and who insists, ”If you love me, how dare you doubt that I love you.” And he has uncommon thoughts on sex — at least as sex is practiced in the America of Dr. Ruth and how-to manuals. But for all his skepticism, Laing is an intellectual romantic in the end, believing that ”truth and life and love are one.” B