proto friends
January 9, 2017, 11:46 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , ,

The purposes of friendships are to share interests, to reassure one another, for fun, and for learning about our selves.

But we waste time with proto friends who basically distract from some or all of these purposes.

[4:40] One side affect of getting a bit more precise about what we’re trying to do with our social lives, is that we’re likely to conclude that in many cases we’re spending time with people for no truly identifiable good reason. These proto friends share none of our professional ambitions or interests, they aren’t reassuring and may indeed be secretly really very excited by the possibility of our failure, we can’t be cathartically silly around them, and they aren’t in the least bit interested in furthering our or their path to self knowledge. They are, like so many of the people in our social lives, simply in our orbit as the result of some unhappy accident that we’ve been too sentimental to correct. We should dare to be a little ruthless in this area. Culling acquaintances isn’t a sign that we’ve lost belief in friendship, it’s evidence that we’re starting to get clearer and therefore more demanding about what a friendship could really be. In the best way, the price of knowing what friendship is for may be a few more evenings at home in our own company.

Alain de Botton, The Purpose of Friendship


a need
September 18, 2012, 11:34 pm
Filed under: the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: , , , ,

Not Love Perhaps
This is not Love perhaps – Love that lays down
Its life, that many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown –
But something written in lighter ink, said in a lower tone:
Something perhaps especially our own:
A need at times to be together and talk –
And then the finding we can walk
More firmly through dark narrow places
And meet more easily nightmare faces:
A need to reach out sometimes hand to hand –
And then find Earth less like an alien land:
A need for alliance to defeat
The whisperers at the corner of the street:
A need for inns on roads, islands in seas, halts for discoveries to be shared,
Maps checked and notes compared:
A need at times of each for each
Direct as the need of throat and tongue for speech.


Amour Sans Tomber, Sara Aanwyl

finding pleasure
November 5, 2011, 6:07 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , ,

Sometimes we think pleasure is narcissism.  I’m sure we may not in our day to day lives, but the din of the popular culture pushes getting mine and getting more.

Pleasure has been neatly tied to money.  In Philip Larkin’s poem, money becomes a man – an understated incarnational event – that chastises him for not living his life:  Quarterly, is it, money reproaches me: / “Why do you let me lie here wastefully? / I am all you never had of goods and sex. / You could get them still by writing a few cheques.”  Clearly this poet is not convinced that pleasure should be quite so tied to acquisition and consumption.

There are of course other more hopeful routes to finding pleasure.  Here is one written by a disciple of the stoic Lucretius.  For him pleasure is found in a restrained, measured life; the diametric opposite of a life of narcissism and consumption.  He adds that pleasure comes from taking risk, making friends and helping people.

Here is his path:

[It is impossible to live pleasureably] without living prudently and honourably and justly, and also without living courageously and temperately and magnanimously, and without making friends, and without being philanthropic.

Lucretius’ disciple

Stephen Geenblatt, The Answer Man, The New Yorker

love not possession
January 24, 2011, 4:41 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , ,

Here is a definition of philosophy by Critchley which is quite democratic.  It wrestles the discipline out of the iron grip of the intelligentsia of the day – sophistry – and presents it transparently for anyone and everyone who will have it.  It says it can’t be owned or quantified, and rather it is a quest, a procession toward friendship and knowledge and truth.

Last month I was sitting in the office of a dean of a school, pitching a new course.  I was making a case for a connection between high energy consumption and outdated property development ideas, and I happened to mention blogs among other media as a source for my observations.  And got a wrinkled nose from the university administrator.

He’s in his 50s and has a PhD in history and a blog simply isn’t a good source of information.  His retiscence protects quality; and it also commodifies and controls sources of knowledge.  The new media tends toward democracy, shattering that block between the academy and people.  Maybe like the church replacing it’s Latin liturgy for the peasant lingua franca.  The sudden new knowledge is a flush of love.

From the book:

So philosophy begins with a critique of the Sophists; the Sophists are those people who claim to know and offer to exchange knowledge for a fee.  Philosophy begins with a critique of Sophistry and its claims to knowledge.  In place of the sophistical pretensions to wisdom, philosophy offers a love of wisdom, a philia, an orientation of the soul towards the true, which is not the possession of the true.  So philosophy begins with love in a non-erotic sense:  a kind of friendship, usually between men, usually between an older man and a younger man.

How to Stop Living and Start Worrying, Simon Critchley

i wish you were here
March 25, 2008, 11:04 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , ,

This is about yearning; being in a state of suspension and ambivalence and seeing another state of connection and consequence, and wanting it.  Wanting it enough to take great risk to get it.  And the beauty of the state you want is described by someone in it who understands it and acts as an apologist for it’s joy. He is a friend, and maybe this is what a friend is, someone who explains and recommends risk, life, and the ultimate dividend joy.

“Here, to smoke, have coffee. And if you do it together it’s fantastic. Or to draw: you know, you take a pencil and you make a dark line, then you make a light line and together it’s a good line. Or when your hands are cold, you rub them together, you see, that’s good, that feels good! There’s so many good things! But you’re not here – I’m here. I wish you were here. I wish you could talk to me. ‘Cause I’m a friend.”

~ Peter Falk, Wings of Desire