Friendship: Meta All of the Above, and Combinatorial Experience

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist

The Old Alchemist, (S.Calhoun 2012)

John M. Reisman wrote an amusing, and sometimes edifying, book about friendship, Anatomy of Friendship (1979.) At the beginning he provides a survey of luminaries, all men, with something to say about friendship. Reisman’s luminaries are: Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Montaigne, Emerson, James, Freud, Adler, Sullivan, Erikson, Lecky. The men of this list wander around friendship like the blind men hope to grasp the real elephant.

For friendship is nothing else than an accord in all things, human and divine, conjoined with mutual goodwill and affection, and I am inclined to think that, with the exception of wisdom, no better thing has been given to man by the immortal gods. Some prefer riches, some good health, some power, some public honours, and many even prefer sensual pleasures. This last is the highest aim of brutes; the others are fleeting and unstable things and dependent less upon human foresight than upon the fickleness of fortune. Again, there are those who place the “chief good” in virtue and that is really a noble view; but this very virtue is the parent and preserver of friendship and without virtue friendship cannot exist at all.
Laelius de_Amicitia – Cicero

(Even if I sustain Reisman’s masculinist prejudice, I could reel off a bunch of additional luminaries, guys such as Rumi & Shams, Shakespeare, Kant, Levinas, Jung, Carl Rogers, and contemporary thinkers such as Tversky and Kahneman and Christopher Bollas.)

To build the field of fields about friendship would tackle the odd structural contradictories: the masculine scholarship presents findings begun in ancient times, yet, because friendship is so able to be idealized and because it is almost the prototype for one-sided relationship–say, with respect to its good object relations–this same literature is–in the scheme of such bodies of work–modest, while friendship itself in important ways is a boring subject matter.

The latter point merely suggests middling aspects, friends are often taken for granted, and, friendships are often low risk relationships. As a subject friendship has been covered in philosophy as a subject of moral and ethical philosophy; in evolutionary biology as a subject attached to altruism; and within psychology, for example, there are instructive forays into a relational dyad’s journey from ‘Other’ to Forgiven.

Then there are the implications given by reflexive folk psychology. Indeed, how do we step back from a relationship for the sake of evaluating what really happens in the friendly meeting, engagement, and interpsychic penetration of minds?

Folk Psychology intrigues me because the mediation of minds provided by friendship is, theoretically speaking, worked out by the praxis implicated at some higher order in a theory theory, or simulation, or phenomenological reckoning; or, to bring this closer to my own sense, such a praxis embodies enaction that encompasses whatever works and plays in the relational moment of mediation.

Confucius said, “There are three friendships which are advantageous, and three which are injurious. Friendship with the uplight; friendship with the sincere; and friendship with the man of much observation:-these are advantageous. Friendship with the man of specious airs; friendship with the insinuatingly soft; and friendship with the glib-tongued:-these are injurious.” Analects 16

As I have come to view it, the most local intersubjectivity is that through which two persons share: the perception, the fact, the conceptual apprehension, the dream, the hope, and, the fear, the anger, the sorrowful. From these mutualized offerings, also, the two (now) subjects, may step back.

Additionally, as Ken and I came to together understand, this stepping back returns the single, or individual subject, into his or her home frameworks (Stephen,) or collection of lens (Ken.) For our local intersubjectivity, its meta-content was both object and action. We didn’t usually spend much time at all explaining our frameworks/lens.

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

The Unity of Entanglement (S.Calhoun, 2015)

Our mutual receptivity was subtle.

Years ago, while networking at a meeting, I got into some matter at hand, and the first response from the person I was talking with, was:

What you have just told me is so abstract!

I replied.

What is abstract to you, is completely concrete to me.

This never came up in Ken and my dialogues. We never talked about why it was how easily we could access being in phase with each other. Although, I suspect in our conversations through which we came to put a lot of pressure on the overly-structural personality typology of C.G. Jung/John Beebe/J.L. Giannini, we touched upon possible reasons for subtle typological alignment, and, the varieties of (what I term) phase alignment that exemplified our not needing to explain background concepts and frames to each other.

We joined my social cybernetic classes with our deconstruction of Analytical typology, and with his astropsychology.

For example, we might analyze the entanglement (my term) or embeddedness (Ken’s term,) of the Nf (intuitive feeling,) and implicit thinking sensation of the “conceptually apprehending” or sorrowful mental function (my term,) and, likewise, “conceptually apprehending” or sorrowful consciousness, (his term.) The distinctions given by different mutual terms would be, in effect, translated once or twice

We seemed often over the last three years to be most of time in a sweet Emersonian spot.

Yet, there would be no reason to review the “masculinist” perspectives on friendship with a view toward differentiating and nailing down the particulars of our quest-filled friendship. Ken and my friendship was: all of the above. We would put our selves together, select our instrument, and then play.

What was most thrilling was the topline: Ken and I partnered so as to make exploratory investigations, and the principal alchemical property of our quests is easy to characterize:

Our intuitions–my ENF and his INF–came together in deeply compelling brushwork that was all about setting to the canvas of instantaneous learning our combinatorial intuiting, where we would discover insights both as discerning paired subjects, and, at the very same time, as a unified investigator.

Forward processing, on the other hand was very different for Ken and me. He journaled and took detailed notes and enthusiastically worked our findings over. Whereas I captured short notes and cues, and went onto to other external possibilities.

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