Thursday, August 4, 2011
I've got nothing hey but I'm a star
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival."
In his chapter in 'The Four Loves," C.S. Lewis describes platonic friendship as a beautiful thing that is often derided and in some cases feared. When people discover common ground of one kind or another, it inevitably generates suspicion among one's overlords, especially when they do not recognize it for what it is.
"Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros (while it lasts) is necessarily between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for Friendship, is not even the best. And the reason for this is important.
... In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets... Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, "Here comes one who will augment our loves." For in this love "to divide is not to take away."
— C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
As I'm now older and a cog in the machine, conforming to dress codes albeit relaxed ones and on my own terms and a semi-regular schedule, I thought that my days of being against The Proverbial Man were behind me, but it seems that acting like a normal human being, in the sense of consuming caffeine and having the pleasure of working with likeminded souls with whom compact discs and lengthy tomes are traded with regularity, is somehow threatening to the order of things, and I'm not even in the corporate world.
"For us of course the shared activity and therefore the companionship on which Friendship supervenes will not often be a bodily one like hunting or fighting. It may be a common religion, common studies, a common profession, even a common recreation. All who share it will be our companions; but one or two or three who share something more will be our Friends. In this kind of love, as Emerson said, Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth? - Or at least, "Do you care about the same truth?" The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer."
There's something wrong with people who obsess over money and networking and whose only interest outside of that is the minutiae of micromanagement, the toxic gossip of small minds, all done in a socially acceptable way. What's wrong with them? They don't buy into this. Someday when they're older and wiser like us they'll understand..."
It is supremely ironic that in a place dedicated to reading and study and the pursuit of knowledge, that the Powers That Be are often suspicious of these very things and the friendships forged along these lines, of people who read books that are neither pulp mysteries or primers on how to be rich, who listen to incomprehensible music, and follow news that has more to do with Central Asia and the Middle East than what so and so and whatserface is up to. The irony is astounding.
But hey, I've been here four years, others have been here longer, we still get along, and what better way to celebrate the absurdity of life but with some ephemeral Daria?