September 9, 2009

Friendship and Politics

Today I've been reading an interview between Ivan Illich and Jerry Brown that I found whilst exploirng my Delicious contacts page. It gives me a different lens through which to reflect upon the value The M.O.S.T. placed on feelings of love and friendship. Mostlandia had an entire bureau, The Love and Friendship Index (LFI), devoted to measuring the populace's feelings of love and friendship and reporting those feelings as frequently as local news stations report on the weather. The Mostlandian economy was built around the LFI, and multiple bureaus (eg. Your Fan for a Day Group, The Cabinet of Well Being, The What to Say Program, Clapping Team, Friday Night Movie Club) addressed the root causes of a low LFI . I always wondered how feelings of belonging could translate into politics. Intuitively I've always felt that a correlation exists, but have had trouble articulating it. I think the articulation I'm looking for lies somewhere between the two passages below.

an excerpt:
"Now, friendship in the Greek tradition, in the Roman tradition, in the old tradition, was always viewed as the highest point which virtue can reach. Virtue meaning here the habitual facility of doing the good thing which is fostered by what the Greeks called politaea, political life, community life. I know it was a political life in which I wouldn't have liked to participate, with the slaves around and with the women excluded, but I still have to go to Plato or to Cicero. They conceived of friendship as a flowering, a supreme flowering of the interaction which happens in a good political society....So we start with a world where the good society creates the virtue and the virtue is the basis of friendship. Now it's reversed. Now it seems we have to create the friendship and in the context of the friendship virtue is practiced and that might lead to a community which might lead to a society which might be a whole other kind of politics."

And, this quote from Hugo of St. Victor, written in the 12th Century

"To my dear brother Ronolfe from Hugh, a sinner. Love never ends. When I first heard this I knew it was true. But now, dearest brother, I have the personal experience of fully knowing that love never ends. For I was a foreigner. I met you in a strange land. But that land was not really strange for I found friends there. I don't know whether I first made friends or was made one, but I found love there and I loved it and I could not tire of it for it was sweet to me and I filled my heart with it and was sad that my heart could hold so little. I could not take in all that there was but I took in as much as I could. I filled up all the space I had but I could not fit in all I found so I accepted what I could and weighed down with this precious gift I didn't feel any burden because my full heart sustained me. And now having made a long journey I find my heart still warmed and none of the gift has been lost for love never ends."

If you decide to go ahead and read it, I'd recommend listening to the podcast listed here: To Long, Too Long.
I've been listening to all of the podcasts on this blog at work lately. I'm not sure whether I feel like the answers to the questions raised are satisfying to me, but the music is taking me there.

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