The Fourth New Sermon of the Neo-Catholic Church

A distraction from the day’s festivities. I want to tell the great unwashed public a little something about friendship.

I have shunned, for a little while now, the usual mores and requirements of civilised society. I can do this because if there are only a few utility monsters, like myself, then the world finds us charming and we can get away with ediquitte murder. Still, that is a matter for another time…

And that time is now!

Sorry, dizzy spell.

One benefit to my nature is my almost blase approach to friendship. I do not feel obliged to friends perhaps in the way that society dictates I should. I like my friends and when I think of them, sometimes rarely, sometimes often, I think of them fondly and want to be with them. I do not, however, feel that I have to maintain friendships.

It’s a weird phrase, ‘maintain friendships;’ I suspect that most of you will both find my disdain of this maintenance both good and bad.

The bad first, because the bad is the most obvious; we do not like to maintain such things because such maintenance indicates a level of work that denigrates the notion of friendship. A friendship that needs this kind of maintenance is no real friendship; it is pure obligation and nothnig more. The friendship is kept alive via esoteric, quasi-erotic rituals designed to make you forget that you have moved on, matured or killed one of their family members (or vice versa).

The bad is obvious and it is unfortunate just how often it is true… Especially of you.

The good notion of maintenance is that friendships should not become stagnant and thus be of need of constant work. This is, of course, not true. I’m not denying the terrors of stagnation, but I am wondering why we feel that a friendship needs work to avoid. Surely the maintenance cost just indicates that the bad notion has arrived and you’re not willing to admit to it just yet.

Happiness is a strange form of apathy mixed with contentment.

I have a few really good friends. I am happy with the number; I have some of my very best friends safely ensconced in foreign climes and there are some people, two couples to be precise, who have kept me sane over the last few years, and to them I owe a great debt I can never repay. One of these sets of people I see weekly, the other I see twice a year and speak to just over double that.

Yet I am as close to the other as I am to the former.

Friendship is a bond, possibly one with filligie and naughty lingerie. When I feel its call I obey it. Yes, I regret not hearing it more often, but then again, perhaps it would not mean as much if I did.

Well, that’s serious. I was going to give a talk on why underwear is oppressive and I find myself waxing lyrical on platonic-bonding.

I really shouldn’t drink tea.


phats says:

Are you coming out?

Here’s my ignorant Judeo/Christian interpretation.

Wildly unfounded assertion: “It is impossible to love someone without sacrafice.”

Corollary that doesn’t actually flow: “If it never cost you anything, you are utterly incapable of appreciating it.”

Insert invitation to generic Jesus activity here.

While I’m not in a position to make vast, sweeping generalizations about the subject of Friendship (Friendship??? Sub-zero turns himself into a snowman)
and while I can’t provide a logical argument as to why the two propositions above might be true, I find myself tending towards accepting the two statements above anyway.

The Hand of Morthos says:

I’m not entirely sure that I follow; you start with ‘Are you coming out?’ which does somewhat suggest that I am announcing some change in sexuality (whether that be hetero to homo or homo to bi, or bi to bestial, ad nauseam) and then move on to two interesting assertions about the human condition in re other humans.

I dispute your first claim; I think that sacrifice can either make you love smething more (or, conversely, less) but that sacrifice is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for love. But, then again, love is a delightfully ambiguous term, so without a common definition I think we will get nowhere there.

The second claim (your corollary) about being unable to appreciate anything you haven’t paid for I dispute as well. I appreciate Lake Tarawera; I have not paid for it (not in any direct sense; my tax dollars go towards its preservation – even we want to take this as a claim of payment then I can say (truthfully) that my appreciation of Lake Tarawera predates my having any income at all); not only do I appreciate Lake Tarawera I love it. It is the only place in the world that I like as natural feature. Nature, by and large, doesn’t really interest me, but Lake Tarawera does. I can stare at it for hours and never be bored.

What exactly is your point? That my stance on the nature of friendship is alien or that my stance on the nature of friendship is incorrect? And, to quote pop culture, what’s love go to do, got to do with it?

phats says:

My apologies, that was hardly fair of me.
“Are you coming out?” was the result of a large amount of internal bitterness regarding how much time, effort and neural activity is devoted (by basically everyone) on activities related to the particular gender(s) dictated by one’s sexual disposition, to the detriment of everything else. It’s rare to hear anything about platonic friendship. Rare enough that perhaps only homosexuals consider it at all. I was going to say something about homosexuals having more similarities between their platonic and, uh non-platonic friends, and therefore being forced to distinguish between them more thoughtfully, but I’m bored and I can’t be bothered.

I think we are working on different definitions of sacrafice and cost. I mean, provide at least some inconvenience to you, not necessarily monetary. We can adopt the ‘Time, Money, Skill’ measures, but there are also other sacrafices you can make – undergoing emotional distress or anxiety, etc..

I’m one of those closet romantics that think that what / who you love can be measured best by what you think about most and what governs your actions. I have to concede that perhaps this more fits under the definition of ‘Devotion’, although in my experience the two are tightly-enough coupled to warrant a single term. If we were to take a long run statistical measure of what thing(s) you were conciously thinking about at any given moment during your life, I’d say what you love would be the things you conciously devoted most of your neural processing to.

I find it interesting you adopted L. Tarawera as your example, rather than say… air. Breathing is obviously much more important to you than L. Tarawera.
However, air did not come to your mind first; and I would think it a stretch to say you “love” air. It doesn’t largely affect your day-to-day actions because it has never, (and probably will never) cost you anything. Food is similar, although that of course will cost you something. I therefore propose an adjustment to my argument that what you love are the things that you devote yourself to, spending your precious time (more valuable than money, as I recall) over and non-inclusive of having your basic needs met.

What say you?

Anonymous says:

Right, firstly, this conflation of love and devotion is one that I think is hardly necessary (if you take your definition of the things you love being the things you are devoted to (and thus spend most of your time thinking about) as one of the points of the Fourth Sermon is that I love a great many people of whom I need hardly think all the time about. Then again, Might be misinterpretating you there.

It is a fair enough point, however, that platonic friendships seem rare, especially between heterosexual males and females. However, in my experience, this is because New Zealanders are utterly reserved and thus do not like to share anything particularly special about themselves in such a way to cause closeness and comfort. This might be why some of my best friends are a) foreign and b) in foreign climes. A little time out of the country and in the company of less reserved individuals can break a Kiwi of their inability to properly communicate. It seems that if Kiwis express feelings to opposite sex Kiwis they are making a play…

Bugger, I have to go before I can properly finish this…