Monday, January 21, 2013
There's a so so book review in TNR,http://www.tnr.com/book/review/friendship-better-romance, on friendship. It makes one point I like and that is this: the "scientizing," my neologism, of folk psychology: "This tendency to repackage the obvious carries over to citation, with professional identifications giving false authority to anodyne comments." And it speaks briefly though inadequately about the power of friendship:
...We all have friendships, premonitions about friendships and regrets about friendships. The best friendships seem to activate our best—usually dormant—parts. They can end in betrayal or outrage or in that more tragic..
and refers to a brief example from the book:
...'For the past forty years, Richard Levinson has spoken on the phone with his friend and fellow trial lawyer John every single day'...
I had such a best friend, my law partner in fact, James Rose, who died too young two years ago and a bit, in December 2010. From September 28, 2004 to the day he died, December 23, 2010, to be exact, he practiced law in Bracebridge, Ontario, and I practiced law in Toronto, both under the banner, Basman Rose. Before that for about 15 years, we were partners in a larger downtown Toronto law firm, where our friendship formed and cemented itself.
What didn't we do together but everything, traveled--an annual tradition inaugurated by a last minute decision to fly from Toronto to Little Rock to be there for Clinton's winning the presidency first time round, fought cases, fought each other, got drunk a million times , ate a million meals, sat it out in a million bars, listened how many times to the blues, saw each other through all our relative crises, got pissed off with each other, laughed about it after.
It's said people are as sick as their secrets. Well on that score we were healthy. We talked about everything and everyone, the glorious and the shockingly inglorious. No secrets.
From the time we became friends till the day he died, we kibitzed and laughed at everything. Always, and more than anything else, we were laughing.
The trial lawyer daily phoning his friend put me in more intense mind of my friend--he's always on my mind, more or less. I had dinner with one of my best friends last week and told him a long story about certain experiences I'd been having.
He asked me who else I'd told or would tell this story to. I mentioned a few people who were our mutual friends and ruled some in and some out and said the reasons why. He then asked me if I would have told this story to James Rose. "Oh my God," I said, "in a heart beat. We thrived on sharing these kinds of stories with each other. This kind of story was so us."
And in thinking about it, though I've had the same thought innumerable times, as I lived through the experiences forming the story, complicated, bittersweet, enlivening, making-life-worthwhile experiences they are, I was again struck but even more forcefully, like a hammer to the head, how much of each other's lives we shared and in a way lived, and how we in our friendship lived a certain life together, like a marriage but it was a friendship between two men who believed at bottom they were forever kids.
Him dead is like living without something, say one of your senses, or an arm or a leg. It's living with a certain kind of irreparability. You keep on. You keep having a relatively full life. But too you live that life with a sizeable hole in it and there is, ultimately, nothing to fill it in. But at least there is the poignant and intangible concreteness of memory and the deep thanks to the way things sometimes go that I had such a friend.
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Atheism means without belief in god, just as atypical means without typicality or amoral means without morality, the prefix “a” meaning without. An agnostic is therefore someone without Gnosticism, which is to say, without spiritual knowledge, an epistemological proposition, that we can’t know what is beyond materiality.
So there is some confused thinking about agnosticism.
Those who doubt God’s existence but hold themselves open to the possibility of his existence are not agnostics even though their disbelief is tentative. They are not agnostics because their tentative disbelief renders them without belief in God’s existence and therefore atheists. Doubt here constitutes disbelief, and the militancy or tentativeness of this disbelief doesn’t go to an analytical distinction between agnosticism and atheism. So if there is virtue in open minded disbelief, atheists can have it.
As noted, agnosticism is an assertion about what we can know: that we can’t know what is beyond nature. Therefore the claims of agnosticism don’t go to belief or disbelief in God. And in this sense, it follows, that theists can be atheists because they can say that they cannot know the supernatural but believe as a matter of faith in God’s existence.
So my question is what is the faith that necessarily marks atheists? Is it faith in the proposition that God does not exist? If faith is belief not based on proof, then what does it mean to say that the assertion of god’s non existence is a matter of faith? Does it mean that the assertion of non existence of anything is a manifestation of faith, like unicorns or cosmic tea cups, or the existence of any number of gods, (why just one?)
This reasoning seems absurd. So until someone can persuade me of the difference in principle between disbelieving in unicorns not implicating faith and disbelieving in God not implicating faith, I’d contend they can’t make a case for atheists as necessarily marked by faith.