Sunday, March 18, 2007

Amicus vs. Animus: A Clarification

Let me first say that in my previous post I did not exactly address (though I claimed to) the intent of the quote I referenced. You have heard the saying, "The doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient, and an even bigger fool for a doctor"? Well, in my case, a writer who edits himself...

Here again is the quote:

"I'm sick to death of this idea that friendship is work, that it's some grand project that comes together over months or years or decades. Knowing someone for a long time doesn't mean you're their friend, and meeting someone for the first time doesn't mean you aren't. Everything is work for us. Everything is a process. We're a sad, sick, demented people, you know that? We could stand to improve."
- From Bloom, by Wil McCarthy
This quote, in the context of the novel, arose out of a situation in which the character being spoken to was reluctant to call herself a friend of the speaker, because they hadn't known each other very long. In that context, I agree with the quote. Placing limitations such as duration or physical proximity on a relationship is ridiculous at best, comes from fear, and speaks of an inherent distrust. I know of at least one relationship which would never have existed had such limitations been enforced. In a less direct context — that is, the quote as it reminded me of related situations in my personal life — I had to think it through for a while (three weeks in this case) to get a firmer handle on what I actually think about the question, "Does/should friendship involve work?" On that question my agreement with the quote is far more mixed, as I described.

That is what I should have said in my previous post to more clearly define the question I was attempting to address. I could go back and edit it, but instead I am going to leave it up as an example of bad (and badly edited) writing. Now that all that has been said, I can better answer these questions:

Does this mean that you are now accepting the idea that friendship is work?

(By the same logic, is marriage (the ultimate friendship we can have in life (except for Christ)), also something that should be devoid of work? I think most people would tell you the opposite there, and, since that is such an exclusively intimate form of friendship, would not the work required of marriage imply that, in the least, lesser work will be required for friendships? Just a thought...)
With the much-needed clarification now added, hopefully it's a little clearer that the answer to the first question is that I never didn't accept the idea. For the second question, I wholeheartedly agree with the characterization of marriage as the highest type of friendship between two human beings (one male, and one female, if you must know). I actually thought about this but didn't bring it up because, being single, I have no personal authority or experience to speak of on the subject. Following from my previous post however, the living out and maintaining of the marriage relationship necessarily will involve work; I have never heard a sane married person say otherwise. (Would I be out of place in completing the analogy to my previous post by saying that merely being married to someone involves very little work beyond the planning of the wedding and saying "I do"? The confusion between the idea of "being married" and the idea of "being a spouse and maintaining a marriage relationship" seems to be a common one in modern American society.)

Here is where I should put my conclusion, but I can't really think of one so I will just say, "Any questions?"

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Anonymous dan said...

First, I want to commend your fine posts-stimulating and a pleasure to read.

Second, as I mull it over, it seems that the conversation needs a clear definition of 'work.' It may be implied; I may have missed it.

Third, my questions: What is work? How does it relate to pleasure? When does something stop being work? And if it is not work, what is it?

Friday, March 23, 2007 10:46:00 PM  

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