2007/07/16 New York
“Mon meilleur ami”, which I saw last night is directed by Patrice Lecone who also directed “La fille sur le pont”; a movie that made an enormous impression on me when I saw it a couple of years ago. And he is the director of “Le Mari de la coiffeuse” – for all its sentimentality still one of my favorite movies.
“Mon meilleur ami” is not devoid of sentimentality itself but it raises an important question: what’s friendship when you cannot pay for it.
As one of the characters in the movie says: “We pay for love, sometimes, but we never pay for friendship.”
(I’m not sure if this is true by the way.)
People I talk to are paying me for friendship. Which isn't always that easy. But I'm getting paid anyway.
Today a guest that visited my hotel in may sent me some DVD's (little brittain: I told him I'd never seen it, so I didn't have to worry about talking for 15 minutes; Some porn; some other things) and a Football T-shirt from a team in England, Birmingham if I'm not mistaken.
You make me wonder about those movies. I hope I'll still remember it when I'm back in a place where I'm able to buy or rent those kind of movies.
That would be a typical thing for you to say. You believe in existential loneliness (while it’s nothing but a choice). You can not buy friendship nor sell it. You can however pretend. I can pretend to be the queen.
What is friendship to you, llanit?
To me it's being available at 3 am, being there when I cry, being there to laugh, being there just to sit and be quiet, to do stuff with, and to trust. And that's what I provide.
Making a list of action in friendship is not that important cause we are all different and never share the exact set of ‘rules’. You know that you have a friend when a person is irreplaceable to you.
It takes courage to have friends.
So friendship is a religion.
This connection you will need to explain. How do you interpret my words to religion?
For me, friendship starts with telling me when I suffer from doggy breath.
And I suffer from it, if I have to believe my gf, who is not incidentally also my best friend.
She's a human. She remotely resembles Bambi.
ilanit, dens and tjitze
Ilanit, don’t romanticize – we don’t need more heroism. Dens, you ask for trust and call this friendship? I call you a con man. And Tjitze, I’m afraid you confuse bad breath with performance art. What does your girlfriend do for a living? Is your girlfriend a dog? Or another pet?
Friendship is having the same enemies, philosophical and sometimes fysical, therefore friendship is sticking up for someone.
That doesn't exclude a romantic element.
The rest is social work.
Dens, you are a social worker, that's a good thing, you get paid for it and you try to give the tourists in Turkey what they want: some attention, some jokes etc. to forget about their own (tragic?) existence.
Please don't make a joke about it, be more caring, they pay for it after all.
On the other hand your desciption of friendship shows that you need your friends to be social workers. Do you pay them?
The fact you have convinced yourself that your friends must be bought does not mean that we all have to feel that way. You can accuse me of romanticizing my life or my friendships simply because you do not share these feelings or want to share these feelings toward a specific person, but that is a poor if not empty argument. As I said, it takes courage to BE in a friendship.
Looking at the hero as the one who lets no obstacle prevent him from pursuing the values he has chosen will want me to be a hero and encourage you to be one as well!
What if we don’t share the same enemies? Can’t we be friends?
Isn’t it much colourful and interesting if not all your friends think the same as you?
@Johannes, yes, maybe I need to be more caraing towards my paying people, that's true. But most often they expect too much. I respect entertainers who work for years. It eats your soul, I think. I need to differentiate from them in order to stay myself. I don't think that you know how tired it makes you when you have to talk about football, the weather, surgical matters (that are always special), or about those 'damned foreingers who are so fucking all over the place in my country'. 16 hours a day.
Believe me, when I meet a person who discusses something else, I feel the luckiest man alive. And then I can be a real friend. Someone with the same enemies, or different philosophy.
@Ilanit, if you say that having friends is different for everyone, and that it takes courage to engage friendship, you 're making a friend some kind of god, someone who's obliged to go by your rules, and someone who you musn't lose trust in, Somone you believe to be true. Believing is a religion.
A racist, a redneck, or a sexist as a friend would be very colourful and interesting, but they won't be my friends, even if they pay me.
With having the same enemies I do not mean a friend has to think the same way I do (but most of the time it happens and that can feel good). To survive it's good to hear other opinions, ideas, beliefs and interests. It's ok untill you have to explain yourself every time. There are limits to everything.
Friendship is some easy going mutual understanding, not mutual convincing.
I need somebody to love.
It seem to me that you rather have an argument in a direction you would like it to go with no regards to what I am actually saying. So let me rephrase:
It takes courage to have a friend because you share vulnerabilities and explore fears. It requires the patience to listen when you are upset, open when you are frightened, and trust when you are confused. . It requires the courage to see yourself clearly.
I personally will not consider someone a lesser friend if he doesn’t want me to call at 03:00am or if he forgot my birthday or can not be there when I cry. Not all friends can do that or be that for you. The moment you project onto other people and expect them to live according to your values instead of their own, you label them as “bad” (or some version of that, such as a judgmental ‘rude’, ‘unfriendly’, ‘egoist’ etc.). You think they need to be changed, and you’re just the one to do it. That will merely express your ideas of being the one with the “right” values. No one should be obliged to go by anyone’s rules. If anything this is for me the most important way of friendship and appreciation, of letting someone just BE who they are. I will admit that it’s not always as easy.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide.” So you shouldn’t put someone on a pedestal with infatuation, nor put someone in a pit with resentment. So a friend is not some kind of a god to me any more that it is some kind of vegetable salad.
Believing is a religion? What a funny thing to say!
I’m afraid you are having a discussing with yourself.
I never stated that you have to pay for friendship – I do think that friendship is an exchange of services among other things, but the word “payment” has a negative connotation so maybe it’s better to avoid it.
If you insist on using the word “courage”; fine -- maybe it empowers you, maybe you need the fantasy that you are courageous because you have friends. (Or you think you have.)
It all depends on the situation – maybe one day you will end up in prison and your best friend there is a racist. The idea that we are free to choose our friends and in the process of choosing we think only of pure friendship has of course no connection to the reality we live in.
The friendly racist, that sounds very romantic. But what if he says my black wife is of the lower species and should be hanged or burned? Come on.
But yes, being in a prison changes a situation and someone who you haven't thought of being a friend can suddenly be a friend.
That's what I meant with having the same enemies. In a prison everyone is stuck in rut.
What is exactly the reality we live in?
Ilanit, sharing vulnerabilities and exploring fears do also sound like social work to me.
That's right yeah.
I read in a newpaper that children with imaginated friends are more clever.
The way you approach life in general is a factor which will influence the friends you will make. I agree with that. I do however have friends who have completely different political views, or are in my opinion less tolerant then I am. But I agree with the mutual understanding and not convincing.
I also agree with Arnon that life circumstances can also change your choice of friends.
why do you choose to define our openess with friends to social work and what is social work then?
Replacing the word payment with ‘exchange of services’ still leave some kind of a negative connotation in my opinion. I will assume you do not approach it from the negative point of view. So- ok, dropping it.
I am afraid you will ridicule my words when I will say that ‘spiritual growth’ for me is THE goal of friendships (By that I mean the growth of ones spirit and not the growth of any kind of spiritual process or habits)- but I say it anyway and I hope some un-cynical mind will grasp my intention.
Me thinking I have friends is enough for the whole process. I do not feel the need to convince myself or you for that matter that it’s true.
I do not need the fantasy of me being courageous. I often time think I’m just a coward. That will apply to some aspects of my life. I do have the courage to show my weaknesses and be vulnerable simply because I think life will be too shallow otherwise.
I’m not suggesting that the racist in prison in my example is friendly or good-hearted; just that he is useful to you and you are useful to him: in other words your friendship was born out of necessity. With reality – a problematic word indeed – I mean in this context that circumstances, which we don’t control or at least not completely, can force us to rethink not only our principals but even our ideas about who we are, what friendship is etc.
I’m not sure by the way if a life without friends is by definition worthless. I do think that you need others, and I do think that loyalty is an asset. There are many reasons for loyalty, some of them sentimental reasons. And I’m not badmouthing sentimentality, but I don’t see why you should idealize it.
How could a racist in a prison be useful to me, other than to escape?
And when someone is useful, he is not necessarily a friend of course.
Also, you can help someone and not being a friend of that person.
Love Sex Friendship Company
'We pay for love' : shouldn't it be 'We pay for sex'?
We never pay for friendship. I think this is true. We can pay for company though.
To me, friendship is a historical process.
A friend is a person with whom you have shared a strong experience.
Sometimes this experience is strong enough to be friends for your whole life.
Sometimes it is not.
My point was and is rather simple: don’t be too sure that this kind of that kind of person never can be your friend.
And it is very well possible that services are exchanged without friendship.
In prison you are rather dependent on your fellow prisoners, and not because you think of escape. Anyhow we are dealing here with a situation that is imagined –we both would not know exactly how we are going to act, and what the meaning of friendship might or might not be then and there.
Certain circumstances might force you to be more inclusive when it comes to friendship. That was and is my point. You might still think differently, we all have different survival techniques, and some of us are more attached to their principals than to life.
Are you making me an offer?
I know what your point was and I confirmed it, because I like the idea.
'But yes, being in a prison changes a situation and someone who you haven't thought of being a friend can suddenly be a friend.'
In extreme situations like prisons, wars, etc. etc. - and extreme situations show what is really underneath - everything can change and indeed, you cannot know who will be your friend or what friendship is in the first place.
I cannot make you an offer as I do not sell sex or company.
Friendship is not something you offer. It just happens. It could happen but we would need a strong experience to begin with. Chances are small we will ever share such a strong experience.
Did you have something in mind?
When I was a child, my dad used to buy friendship for me. And it worked at the time. I've therefore never believed in friendship. But sometimes pretending to be friends is good enough.
That's good to know.
Sharing strong experiences can also seperate people.
your story sounds very interesting. Please tell...
and if you feel shy about it to share the details with us, you can perhaps swop e-mail addresses with Ilanit? For example I'm having a lively correspondence with many commentators of this site.
You don't sell sex, you don't sell company, what on earth do you sell? T-shirts?
My dad was an influential (and extremely wealthy) South African. We lived behind really big gates, bars if you like. I was never a very 'sociable' type (let me remind you: I'm ugly). So everytime we went to the beach or so, he'd decide what cool looking kids were to be my friends, bought them ice cream or when we were older rum and waterskiing/helicopter/skydiving/basejumping trips (all of which I despised). Their parents loved the prospect of their kids being my friend as it brought them close to my father (and the parties in our home). And so, all was peachy, I had zillions of 'friends'. Unfortunately, I now live in Holland and I'm finding it hard to buy friends here: white South Africans aren't really the politically interesting tokens-friends to have. So maybe I should move to Dubai.
Johannes - do not be mistaken. I am not depressed, suicidal or in need of therapy. Let alone shy. I'm just out of money, and my father's dead. But hey, maybe I could find some new friends here. Arnon - would ice cream do the trick?
It seems that your dad was also a very nice guy if he did that for you.
Does your mother still live?
I am glad you are not depressed, suicidal or in need of therapy.
If my father was still alive and southafrican , he certainly would have been a boer. I come from a very wrong family and my father always favored every organisation that supported apartheid.
To the loss of money and status, hey I too knows what that means, my parents where the co-owners of a plant in the past.still going 'backward' only makes me laugh.
Head high, I think you are one of the more interesting commentators on this blog.
I find your story and your perception of it as a child very interesting indeed. I can imagine why you have problems with believing in friendship. Especially when trying to create some in the Netherlands. Everybody is oh sooooooo bussy. I don’t know for how long you have lived here and if you feel forced to be here (you wrote “unfortunately I live in Holland”) but I can assure you from my experience that at the moment you open up yourself it can change. My first 10 years in the Netherlands were terribly lonely, and now after 16 years and I’m almost leaving I realise I’m living some amazing friends behind.
If you think a one on one conversation via email are so great why don’t you have a lively correspondence with me?
@Mieke - a co-owner of a plant? Do you mean a plantation in the Caribbean or something of the sort?
@Ilanit - where are you moving to and why?
I'm moving back to Israel because my hart never left!
@ Noa , May be I should have used factory instead.
@ Ilanit, I can understand why. I think Israel is a hartbreaking beautiful country, but that's hard to explain to someone who has never been there. I met some beautiful people over there.
You see, now this is what interests me. Your heart is still in Israel (which I take it is where you were born and raised?) I can't say my heart is in South Africa, if anything, it's floating around somewhere.
Is it safe to say your historical cultural background is so deeply rooted into Israel that your soul automatically is too? If so, does everyone with your cultural background have that same sensation, even of they weren't born there? Or does more come to play? My historical cultural background would then be here (Holland), but I'm not feeling the connection.
Or, Ilanit, is it fair to say that perhaps once you're back in Israel you'll be missing Holland and you've actually ruined your own sensation of home/wellbeing by moving around. Perhaps someone like Arnon could argue: "I feel at home everywhere." Personally I'd say: I feel a little at home everywhere, but nowhere entirely.
And I don't sell T-Shirts either! This could be a game: what does Lila L sell?
The question is not what you sell, the question is do you have anything I would like to buy.
(I assume you sell coffee and bagels, and I have enough people who are selling me coffee and bagels.)
Out of bagels
Okay Arnon, I'll be the coffee lady you come to when all the others are out of bagels as my shop is too far walking for you. Fine to me!
You see, it's not what you are selling it's what I believe I'm buying. Thanks for serving me coffee. Your coffee is awful, but I tend to be loyal.