Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On Friendship

"Friendship must be about something." --C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis wrote a classical interpretation of many emotions central to human life. In his book, The Four Loves, he addresses the meaning of friendship. Drawing upon rich resources such as the ancient Greeks, Romans, traditions borne through millennia, his view may be termed as western, if not universal.

Lewis delineates the many views of friendship; he describes it as mutuality, as 'seeing the same truth, looking outward, much as French writer, St. Exupery does; he explores friends in the context of erotic love; the search for Beauty, the engagement of spirituality, companionship, and he asserts that it's the least jealous of all the loves.

Where Lovers seek privacy, friends experience enclosure between themselves and the 'herd' rushing around them, and they may not be jealous so are often willing to admit another into their circle.
The American poet Emerson posed the question of a friend several times, simply asking, 'do you care about the same truths as I do?' The answer to this is the point at which a companion may move to a friend.
Shared activities and insights may be a draw for companions who 'share the road.' But a deeper, inner sense recognizing certain truths brings them into the realm of friend.

And while friends may not fully draw the same conclusions, they generally agree on the importance of questions. Seeing the shape of the world in similar fashion draws them to similar questions, if not responses.
Further Lewis argues simple friendship is entirely free of the need to be needed. He writes, "in a circle of true friends, each is simply what he is: stands for nothing but ones' self."

While Eros seeks out naked bodies, friendship seeks naked personalities. There is no absolute duty to friend anyone, nor is there a legal contract such as marriage. 
Friendship comes freely, entirely unencumbered with these other types of strictures.
Yet in modern, industrialized societies friendship is so often undervalued in favor of contractualized relationships as if these are somehow inherently better, more legitimate.
One cannot fail to notice the number and degree of divorces that abound in any given community.

Friends form moreover an appreciation of each other. They not only travel the same roads but their values within the realm of truths inform their judgement, leaving them more clear-eyed about one another.
They are observant of a mutual love and knowledge, and this forms itself into an appreciation a sentiment that often leaves one feeling in his deepest heart, humbled, what is he among those seemingly better, how lucky to be.
And when together among these friends, there is the knowledge that each brings out as if by magic the better in one self, the best, the funniest, the most clever, the beauty. In the conversation, the mind opens to something more, a perception of the self previously unknown comes into view. Life has no better gift to give than a good friend or two.

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