On the meaning of friendship

In slight disagreement with the much-circulated definitions, I think that it is a mistake to see true friendship as the occasion where – in the presence of another person – “one can be oneself”. In my opinion, such an account mischaracterises the realities of self and being because nothing, be it person or thing, is ever really stable enough to know who or what they are, as if they were a single unit resistant to change, spontaneity and the general chaos of difference. Instead, I prefer to see friendship in its strongest sense as marked by a time and space, shared between two or more people, in which one is allowed to be no-one because, there, one is not obliged to be some-one. Basically, where and when the all-consuming stress of self-stabilisation – which preoccupies most social relations – is relieved rather than resumed in the presence of another person, the self has found a friend in that person, indeed.

In a world where most social relations demand specific identities at specific times and castigate deviations from those, surely the greatest social relation, friendship of the highest type, must be the doing away of such demands, the clearing away of the need to be someone or something distinct. It is not so much that each person has one true identity which is constantly being suffocated by all the social roles that have to be performed, but that, in reality, a person is just a cacophonous mess of different, all in all uncategorisable, people, sporadically, spontaneously spurting from the same body, and friendship becomes the vital opening of a gap within the quasi-oppressive social whole, not so that the one true self can be whatever it thinks it should be (which more or less sounds like yet another imposition of the same oppressive whole), but actually so that this complicated body of self can finally, freely sing out of all tune and trust the audience to dance, in the special harmony that comes from shared atonality.

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The peak of the peak, or the equator

[For better context of this poem, please look at: The peak (1st of Dec)]

 

Suppose that

experience can indeed be drawn

and counted in triangular form

 

and each person lives out their own geometric range,

where the angles and heights measure differently,

being of varied extension and sharpness

 

and, in that, even similar experiences

for people who are not the same person

will triangulate dissimilarly

 

so, each person’s going-about

is unique yet geometrically comparable

distinct yet always set out mountain-like;

 

Now, if all these individual and idiosyncratic textures of

experience were to be collated, put together as they have to be,

to make a single shape, a totally indicative form, would this

 

object of the experience of experience be one giant Triangle or, rather,

something more obvious: like a Sphere, marked by a unifying Equator

brining every high and every low to the same finishing line?

This is the end

A river

ends / in

more water;

 

there, a

Sea-son

is born.

 

The difference,

sweet water

salt water

 

a difference

of water,

still water,

 

from still

to less

still, but

 

still water,

and waves

goodbye

 

and waves

hello

again.

 

It waves

because

the weather

 

because

the season;

because

 

of the

sea-son

it means

 

the weather

can carry

the sun

 

the sun

will carry

the water

 

and then

like always

again

 

it ends

in tears,

it ends

 

in tears

again.

The river

 

is born

from then;

Sea-son,

 

fruit of

the same

but then

 

is neither

sea nor

sun nor

 

son of

those, but

a thing

 

both more

and less

than all

 

of them

together

again.

 

And ends /

in more

and less

 

and so

does not

end. But

 

it goes

again;

the tears

 

do not

wait for

the end,

 

they are

the end

beginning

 

again.

The seasons

the weather

 

the sun

the water

the river

 

are just

themselves

Sea-born,

 

torn from

the tears

of what

 

already

was, in

the end.

 

A river

ends, there

a Sea

 

is born,

will end

in tears

 

again.

Will end

in tears

 

again.

Will end

and end…

 

will end

and end,

again.

 

But the

fruit of

this rain

 

will be

more and

less, will

 

be more

and less

again.

 

The economy of value II [The Contradictions]

Because the value of something

rises if coveted by

those who go without it; where

the greater the force of their

desire, the greater must

happen to be the valuation

attributed; and, where, too

a transgression of the moral

law, however ill-advised,

in consequence shunning, proves

beyond all apparent doubt

the force of actual desire;

because of this odd economy,

when that of which we are in

possession is purloined, the

thing itself we mourn the loss

of, is mourned as a more valuable

item then than it had been

before leaving our keep, and

perhaps, this alone, should draw

from us some despair, not only

at that enhanced difference of

value that cannot be properly

owned, but more so at this negative

meaning of possession, overall,

where more is had if desired

by those who accept they have

less, and even more so, yet not

if violently dispossessed.

The peak

Suppose that

to experience

there is a geometry

 

a range of triangles

of different angles

different heights

 

they are set together, mountain-like

each one of its own kind

of its own time

 

to each, two vertically distinct sides, too

one for the way up, complemented by

another to come back down;

 

Now, if the better experience is

in heading up, and the best experience

of all, the tallest triangle of them all

 

how early on, in the unfolding

of your experience, would you like

to be on the ascent of that one?

The habit

Habit is not a perfect circle

but it does deceive the one who tries to abandon

for the further away has one moved from last commitment

the closer, in fact, is one

to committing again.

 

To leave a habit altogether,

it is not enough to walk away

the route from habit bends all the way round

and the faster the escape

the sooner is the trap met again.

 

Likewise, the soonest time after a habitual satisfaction

is all of determination strongest, too

to drop, to rid, never to repeat that again

yet this is also so habitual, so en route

that it is never by itself sufficient sign of circle evaded.

 

What, then, can be done and guarantee of habit-breaking?

Habit is not an indefinite circus

but it does elude the one who tries to abandon

in the belief that commitment is avoided at distance

when, in habit-having, distance is less truth and more performance.

 

So, circular, and the meeting more or less ineluctable

success is reduced to that moment

not away from, but in the face of, the latest encounter with a habit

where avoidance is limited to a jump

a saying “no” when most likely, for most prepared, to say “yes”.

 

Because a habit is not a perfect circle

a breaking is not impossible

but several revolutions will be likely necessary, several leaps

until a new habit is made out of that

and the trap of the old habit, still there, but not in the way anymore.

On Depression, Society and the Future

This is a difficult topic for me to open up about, especially because it is so personal. I have always been more comfortable thinking and speaking in abstractions and general ideas, the sort of things that don’t demand confessional outpourings but, rather, focus on impersonal speculation. However, my depression is a burden I have had to live with now for many years and, truth be told, hasn’t really been getting easier – I would say that the contrary is probably more accurate. Today, I have something that I would like to say about it, an appeal that I think very important and I hope brings forth some consideration.

Insofar as depression is becoming more and more “shareable” and “accepted” in a lot of areas of life, there is still a long way to go before we can, as a society, claim that depression has become totally destigmatised and socially appropriated. Currently, there are major problems with the way depression is treated at both the medical and political level. The most up to date institutional thinking frames depression as yet another disease of which the world must be cured. It is an approach that often means prescribing a lot of medication, attending extensive and expensive therapy and perhaps, in due course, undergoing invasive brain surgery – a likely development if this over-medicalised and, in my opinion, quite reductive view of depression is allowed to persist unchallenged.

With all due respect to the medical profession, I do really believe that continuing to push the issue of mental health down this route is fraught with many dangers. Or, better yet, that it is especially dangerous if we do not, at the same time, seek out and invest in the conditions to bring about a possible second direction. This one, opposite to the “cleansing” ideal, would be much closer to a real “acceptance” of depression in and of itself. Instead of placing all energy and resources into finding/producing a cure (the possibility of which is very much up for debate), there would be a societal shift towards creating the time and space where depression could actually breathe and be lived with, as opposed to suffocated via intensive pharmacological and therapeutic interventions. Alternatively, but not exclusively, what I am here advocating for is a political intervention as well.

It is not hard to see why the option of drugs and psychological analysis, has so far been preferred and why that of transformative political action actually appears to have several revolutionary implications. Selling pharmaceuticals and therapy is more profitable, and has the ideology-sustaining benefit of situating all the focus entirely on the individual as the absolute space of problematisation – where the whole of disorder, from source to manifestation is located within the individualised body of each sufferer. Effecting political reorientation, on the other hand, demands contemplating depression on a scale that surpasses the physical bounds of each person, something which is naturally going to mean fewer money-making opportunities, fewer things to sell to the individual consumer, and, in lieu of that, a greater application of collective resources – put quite crudely, adventuring down this route is, of course, much more expensive and makes pretty much no money.

In practice, it would mean socially reassessing the work-life balance, creating more flexible professional conditions, refinancing support schemes for those who struggle to sustain full-time employment, as well as ensuring that there is a wealth of pockets within the whole where anyone can seek refuge and feel safe, free of shame, feelings of failure and fear of financial reprisal. Fundamentally, it means dropping this chronic belief that the individual can be completely self-sufficient, a self-enclosed site of cause and effect, and that the only reason why he/she/they may not get on in an atomised world is due to either laziness, weakness, carelessness or some other personal flaw.

If we are going to get excited about “acceptance” and “destigmatisation”, we need to make our society truly supportive of those who suffer – and this, of course, goes far beyond depression. As friends, family and generally empathic animals, we can continue to offer our personal time and our care (conversations, cups of tea, hugs…) and play a crucial role in guaranteeing one another’s mental health. But, as something greater than that, as a massive group of people made up of sufferers and non-sufferers alike, we should be demanding that the social fabric that keeps us together, cultural, political and economic, start to adapt itself to our uniqueness and limits and not the other way round. With that greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts power that collective existence gives us to accumulate the wealth of life in such abundance, we should demand that this wealth be used to sustain all life just as much all life goes into sustaining it.

The cave

Pyramid organisation

is triangulated through one

fundamental premise:

 

  • it will always be easier to stare at the ground and move than movement whilst gazing after the universal roof

 

it is within the exercise of the body

that horizon endlessly more visible

than the cloud to threaten the clarity of the way forward.

 

To counteract this rigid truth

that the least visible be at least visible in its invisibilising cause

must the neck be trained, the head prepared

 

for the body of the Pyramid, in turn

is divided in levels top to bottom

the lower, lower, than the higher, higher

 

the lowest of all feeds all

the highest is fed by all

the at-bottom at the bottom run by all the above

the topmost running everything altogether.

 

In this principled pyramid

easiest does focus come where levels the same

and over-all especially against those below

 

and, according to principle,

hardest under-all for the sufficient stare to see

through to the top and build vision really:

 

  • the lower the floor of the eye that tries to vertex meet, the sharper the angle for the neck to risk;
  • and riskiest of all for the body remainder needed itself resource to re-source the rest of the pyramid all the same.

 

So, does not the empirical distance of this pyramid in itself to itself therefore explain

the breeding of as many myths for the skies it obscures to its many grounds

and likewise uphold respiratory structure to that down-the-neck breathing of a total power exhaled through the layers by a crown placed singular, final, atop all?

 

Well, now, if to build this neck with hopes of observing the full distance of the structure it feeds and the crown it empowers without folding over itself

the burden on its spine and sight would have to be shared amongst a collection of angle-shapers

each in turn taking in different part-moments of an image and presenting the evidence across a language yet to be levelled out…

 

To outstand pyramid organisation

and the inter-level division it reciprocates neckline intra-level

only a head-sharing language could entwine the sufficient point of view to bring about a structural collapse.