Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Be Cautious

Friendship and love are not one. Men and women. The difference between marriage and friendship. A last quotation from Joubert (1801): "Do not choose for your wife any woman you would not choose as your friend if she were a man."

A rather absurd formulation, I suppose (how can a woman be a man?), but one get the point, and in essence it is not far from your remarks about Parade's End by Ford Mados Ford and the funny, whimsical assertion that "one goes to bed with a woman in order to be able to talk to her."

Marriage is above all a conversation, and if husband and wife do not figure out a way to become friends, the marriage has little chance of surviving. Friendship is a component of marriage, but marriage is an ever-evolving free-for-all, a continual work in progress, a constant demand to reach down into one's deaths and reinvent oneself in relation to the other, whereas friendship pure and simple (that is, friendship outside marriage), tends to be more static, more polite, more superficial. We crave friendships because we are social being, born from other beings and destined to live among other beings until the day we die, and yet think of the quarrels that sometimes erupt in even the best marriages, the passionate disagreements, the hot-headed insults, the slammed doors and broken crockery, and one quickly understands that such behavior would not be countenanced within the decorous rooms of friendship. Friendship is good manners, kindness, steadiness of affect. Friends who shout at each other rarely remain friends. Husbands and wives who shout at each other usually stay married - often happily married.

Can men and women be friends? I think so. As long as there is no physical attraction on either side. Once sex enters the equation, all bets are off. 

Paul Auster's Letter to J.M. Coetzee, 29 July 2008,

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