Commodified Relationships And Friendship

When relationships are commodified, can friendship survive? This old, plaintive question has not lost any of its urgency. Once we meet and greet our fellow humans our interactions are quickly  transformed into the transactional because that is the context within which they function. To be with our friends, to spend time with them, to engageContinue reading “Commodified Relationships And Friendship”

Acknowledging Reported Emotions Before ‘Explaining’ Them

Suppose you say, “I’m <angry, sad, disappointed, anxious, irate,….> because of X <my neighbor’s behavior, my father’s letter, my mother’s language to me last night, my husband’s antics….>.” As an example, “I’m sad because  my brother ignored my birthday this year.” Now, suppose your respondent immediately launches into an ‘explanation’ of, or ‘apologia’ for, X:Continue reading “Acknowledging Reported Emotions Before ‘Explaining’ Them”

Middle-Aged Laments: Changing, Disappearing, Friendships

I feel old friendships changing, some diminishing in affection and interest, some fading in that crucial dimension of the interest we show in each others’ lives, and thus, threatening to vanish into insignificance. Some because of lack of attention, of the tender loving care that is needed to nurture relationships; some we have tried andContinue reading “Middle-Aged Laments: Changing, Disappearing, Friendships”

Political Pathology And The Inability To Accept Love

In a post on ‘the underestimation of the capacity to love‘ I wrote of its converse, ‘the inability to accept love’: That inability, that lowered view of oneself, the judgment that one is unworthy of the love, caring and commitment that is sent our way by our lovers, parents, children, and friends, leads many to rejectContinue reading “Political Pathology And The Inability To Accept Love”

William H. Gass On The Dialectical Nature Of Love

In Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translations (Perseus Books, New York, 1999, pp. 13) William H. Gass writes: During childhood, contradiction paves every avenue of feeling, and we grow up in bewilderment like a bird in a ballroom, with all that space and none meant for flying, a wide shining floor and nowhere to light.Continue reading “William H. Gass On The Dialectical Nature Of Love”

Schopenhauer On Disillusioned Lovers

In On Human Nature: Essays Partly Posthumous in Ethics and Politics (1896:1957, Allen and Unwin, London, pp. 14), Schopenhauer writes Every human perfection is allied to a defect into which it threatens to pass; but it is also true that every defect is allied to a perfection. Hence it is that if, as often happens, we make a mistake aboutContinue reading “Schopenhauer On Disillusioned Lovers”

Force Majeure: Sauve Qui Peut, All The Way

The problem with Tomas, the now-disgraced husband and father who ran away from approaching danger and abandoned his family in Ruben Östlund‘s Force Majeure, is not that he was scared. Everyone was scared; his wife, Ebba, his children, Vera and Harry, were all scared. They were panic-stricken and terrified; they all reacted in instinctive, unthinking ways. EveryoneContinue reading “Force Majeure: Sauve Qui Peut, All The Way”

Praising One Partner, Dissing The Other

Sometimes, on Facebook, an innocent will post a photograph of himself and his female partner, and be greeted with a slew of admiring comments and ‘likes’. These will often be things like ‘you guys look great together’ or ‘fabulous couple!’ Sometimes there are  comments about the wife or girlfriend’s looks: ‘X is beautiful’ or ‘XContinue reading “Praising One Partner, Dissing The Other”

The Wedding As Public Shared Celebration

This past weekend, I attended an ‘inter-faith’ wedding, staged in a beautiful, rural, upstate New York location–on a farm. It was an emotional and moving experience. I didn’t just attend the wedding; I also ‘officiated’; that is, I ‘performed’ the wedding ceremony. I read out a brief opening address, and with a co-officiant, shepherded theContinue reading “The Wedding As Public Shared Celebration”

The Underestimation Of Our Capacity To Love

In response to my post yesterday on biological and adoptive parents, my friend Maureen Eckert wrote: Another way to think about this is that the tragedy is that people routinely underestimate their capacity to love. Maybe that is terrifying in all its implications. My older doubts about adoption, which I expressed at the beginning ofContinue reading “The Underestimation Of Our Capacity To Love”