Saturday, August 11, 2007

"On Friendship and Philosphy" to the Muse

On Friendship and some Philosophy
“Ok, define ‘friendship’ for me, will you?”
This is a question I received from my muse, the person whose presence has inspired me as much as Apple’s best invention in the 21st century.
And I gave the muse the answer that is somewhere to be found in this entry marked by non-sequiturs and early morning cravings of miscellaneous oddities.

This post is sort of Derrida- and Plato-informed and I will get to this analogy in the conclusion. Or somewhere near there. Why be linear when I could pull a good serpentine at 4 AM ET?

We had a decent dinner tonight but I have an ironic habit of working really late, i.e., after socializing, especially on the weekend. Ideas are born then. Or something. Or perhaps writing offers a good escape. Isn’t that the beauty of web logging, after all? Couldn't we think of a better word for blog? A bilabial and a liquid together: It's not not that beautiful to the ear, no? But I digress.

My people have always had a hard time with the post-midnight switch, i.e., why I choose to write instead of socialize. However, writing, bad, mediocre, or good {notice the hierarchy!} needs to happen at some point and 4AM ET is as good a time as any.

But I digress. Again.

Fortuitously, I spoke to one of my closest friends today. A person I have known since 2002 and whose discourse always manages to inspire me. Always. We went to graduate school together, experienced many a new things together, traveled together, felt time literally come to a stop while at the Olympic Rain Forest in Washington State, shared many linguistic, mental, and emotional intimacies together, helped each other out a number of times, and if someone was not fair to the one, Oy Weh, may G-d protect them from the other. ☺ My friend, this little 105-pound structure from Schleswig-Holstein has the actual presence of a giant. You know when she is around. I sure did and do.

I mention this for a reason and a good one at that.

My good friend is now residing in Germany and she belongs to that niche in my Palm Pilot I have appropriately given the designation of ‘friends.’ Fastforward to a few hours later. Someone I met a year or so ago enters the context.

She is no German friend, that’s for sure, but she is someone I know. Derrida has a name for people like that. They are valid people, of course, they perform important functions, but I have difficulty applying the term ‘friend’ to them. Why? I simply feel like such a semantically loaded lexical choice brings much with it and applying it carelessly would be like calling one of my grandma’s orange trees a tangerine. And had you met my grandma, you’d know that her Mediterranean-touched skin was not one to play such fruity jokes with.

Yet another non-sequitur, but one I enjoy. Thanks, Joyce. James, that is.

To answer my muse’s question, I reserve the designation ‘friend’ for people with whom I share substantial history, people who know more about me than the inconsequential marginal stuff, people who know what I enjoy doing every Saturday at 10:45 AM PT and every Wednesday at 9:00 PM ET, people who know I don’t do yolk or Old Navy, but I opt for egg whites and Ben Sherman lines instead. And most importantly, they are people about whom I know similar esoteric and idiosyncratic things.

And that, O Muse, is what I mean by friendship. Along with a myriad others. I think. Perhaps I’m misreading the newly departed Derrida, or the long departed Plato, but the attempt is there. At least I’m not pulling a Dante, the inferno kind. First I’d have to do the third rhyme. So, scratch this bad analogy but try and appreciate the joke. Those who don’t do the third rhyme, critique?

So, o muse, who has been shedding light on me since that lovely spring of 2004, what is friendship to me? Well, as I derive from Plato in the Symposium, it is having a bunch of unlikely people over to break bread and discuss such strange things as love, culinary habits, seating charts, and hiking shoeless around Athens city walls. And lip gloss. Oh, and also never revealing personal information when asked a direct question [how blanche is that?] but rather over metaphors that are rendered lucid with time and earned familiarity.

But if thou, Muse, are unhappy with this answer from your most loyal servant, I will continue to brood and attempt again. For ever, thy slave.


Unknown said...

You tell 'em, Plato!

Unknown said...

Our jokes about some people's use of the verb 'get' in relation to 'friendships' come to mind.

Anonymous said...

To the muse:

You will know true friendship in the moment you have it. It is always based on a mutual feeling!

The German friend :-)

B.R. said...

The Plato-informed writing of this piece is mostly commenting on the cognitive aspect of superficial sociality which is definitely an important aspect of the human experience and relatability but it is, fundamentally, a phenomenon of the surface and does not need to be afforded another significant essense. The superficial and the essential may inform each-other without becoming each-other.

B.R. said...

I have long thought that a fundamental undestanding of the concept of friendship is what so many have a hard time 'getting' cognitively and experientially. To me, this is one of the biggest issues of our time.