Skip to main content

What are friends for? Some quotes on friendship.

Let's brainstorm a few purposes for which friends are for!

To provide something you want (e.g. cocaine, secretarial skills, chocolate)

"In The Americanization of Narcissism, Elizabeth Lunbeck explains that Freud wrote his book on Leonardo during the climax and dissolution of one of the most important relationships in his life, an intensely intimate friendship with Wilhelm Fliess, an ear, nose, and throat doctor who was, for some time, Freud’s coke dealer. Beyond that, the exact nature of their intimacy is a matter of debate. The two exchanged hundreds of letters; Freud’s friends thought Fliess a fraud and a charlatan.
* * *
Freud traveled with another close friend, the psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi, to Sicily, a trip that both seemed to have highly anticipated. Despite having sent dozens of passionate letters to Ferenczi in anticipation of the trip, however, once they arrived in Italy, Freud reversed course, treating Ferenczi as his secretary, suddenly more interested in working on the book alone than in spending time with his companion. When Ferenczi objected, Freud performed what the narcisphere calls “doing a discard”: he left him, Ferenczi complained, “out in the cold” for the rest of the trip. For his part, Freud criticized Ferenczi for idealizing him, for imagining him omnipotent, something that, Lunbeck argues, Freud had done to Fliess."
Kristin Dombek. The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism. FSG Originals, 2016.

"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate."
Charles Dickens, quoted in the Peoria, Ill., Journal Star.

To partner in crime

"What is that old saying? A friend is someone who helps you hide the body — that was the gist of this new rapport. I sensed it immediately. My life was going to change. In this strange creature, I’d met my match, my kindred spirit, my ally. Already I wanted to extend my hand, slashed and ready to be shaken in a pact of blood, that was how impressionable and lonely I was. I kept my hands in my pockets, however. This marked the beginning of the dark bond which now paves the way for the rest of my story."
Ottessa Moshfegh. Eileen. New York: Penguin, 2015. p. 97.

To listen to your suffering

"I was so afraid that every session would be the last time I saw her [my therapist] that I made full afternoons out of driving west to see her. I now knew what beauty and intimacy were: this thing we had for one or two hours when she could fit me in between doctor’s appointments."
Jill Soloway. She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy. Crown, 2018.

To reflect your suffering

"I didn’t know if the universe actively taught lessons. But if it did, the lesson was that I could not handle what I thought I could handle. The lesson was that I didn’t need to act out with Theo to learn the lesson. I didn’t have to suffer again. The suffering of others, Claire and now Diana, could remind me of my own suffering: the suffering of the past and my potential future suffering. Maybe this is why we did things in groups. Maybe this is why people had friends: so we could see ourselves and our own insanity in them."
Melissa Broder. The Pisces. London: Hogarth, 2018. p. 120.

To answer your call

"Perhaps we’re obsessed as a species with romantic love because it helps propagate our species. But isn’t friendship just as necessary to emotional survival?
When we find the right friend at the right time in our life, or the right teacher, or the right student, our lives are changed forever. Max was the voice that answered back. And he still is."
“An introvert’s guide to friendship.” Sarah Ruhl. New York Times. Dec. 1, 2018.

To sit in silence

“When we see someone again after many years, we should sit down facing each other and say nothing for hours, so that by means of silence our consternation can relish itself.”
E. M. Cioran. The Trouble With Being Born. (1973)(Trans. by Richard Howard.) New York: Arcade, 2012.

To enlarge your community

“In The Spirit of Intimacy, the Burkinabé writer and teacher Sobonfu Somé wrote that in Dagara knowledge systems, ‘Each of us is seen as a spirit who has taken the form of a human in order to carry out a purpose. Spirit is the energy that helps us connect, that helps us see beyond our racially limited parameters.’”
Minna Salami. Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach For Everyone. Amistad, 2020. Chapter 4. “Of Identity.”

To intrigue and inspire you with their solitude

"In “The Grape Man,” Crosley reflects on the death of her downstairs neighbor Don, an older, single man who tended an elaborate garden outside his apartment. “To live alone can be a glorious thing. Between jags of crippling loneliness and wretched TV, it’s an education in self-sufficiency, self-actualization and self-tanner. But it is possible to have too many rooms of one’s own,” Crosley remarks, with some regret for never having taken full inventory of this man’s solitude. Don had occupied for her the strange and unlabeled space between the palpable, but mostly passive, affection between neighbors, and the solid, certain affections between actual friends. The essay’s sadness derives not just from Don’s isolation, but from the author’s reminder that nearly everyone we know in some way occupies that same mysterious liminal space."
“The Essays Are Personal. The Truths Are Universal.” Alana Massey. Reviewing Sloane Crosley’s Look Alive Out There. New York Times. April 19, 2018.

"The aspect of me she called 'the hermit' she thought charming — insofar as it was artistic, part of the mysterious charm of artists. The idea of me, her new friend, holed up in a room behind a locked door hunched over a manuscript was titillating — in the abstract, as long as it happened at those times when she did not happen to call and want to chat."
Anneli Rufus. Party of One: The Loner's Manifesto. Da Capo Press, 2003. p. 71.

To have a shared heart

"We [my sister and I] longed for each other mightily but somehow understood that our love was too strong to allow for either one of us to have real relationships with anyone else, and that it was probably best that we live in separate cities. We still shared a conjoined psycho-spiritual system, where we found ourselves changing in tandem ways throughout our life."
But on this particular Sunday morning, Faith wasn’t answering the phone.
Jill Soloway. She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy. Crown, 2018.


Popular posts from this blog

Castration at the Battle of Adwa (1896)

On March 1, 1896, the Battle of Adwa "cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age – that sooner or later Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans." In this battle, Ethiopians beat back the invading Italians and forced them to retreat permanently. It was not until 1922 that Benito Mussolini would again initiate designs against Ethiopia; despite Ethiopia's defeat in 1936, the nation ultimately retained its independence. "Adwa opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the rollback of European rule in Africa. It was," Raymond Jonas wrote, "an event that determined the color of Africa." (p. 1) It was also significant because it upheld the power of Ethiopia's Christian monarchy that controlled an ethnically diverse nation (p. 333), a nation in which, in the late 19th century, the Christian Emperor Yohannes had tried to force Muslims to convert to Christianity. (p. 36) The Victorian English spelli

Review of Cliff Sims' 'Team of Vipers' (2019)

After he resigned his position, Cliff Sims spent two months in Fall 2018 writing Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House . Many stories are told, some already well known to the public, some not. One buys this book, most likely, to gape at the colossal flameout spectacle that is Donald Trump, as with most things with Trump's name. Sims exposes the thoughtlessness, the chaos, the lack of empathy among his fellow insiders in the campaign and later in the White House, but he does not at all acknowledge the real consequences for ordinary Americans — there might as well be no world outside the Trump insider bubble, for all this narrative concerns itself with — and therefore falls far short of fully grappling with the ethical implications of his complicity. Previously, Sims was a journalist. "I had written tough stories, including some that helped take down a once-popular Republican governor in my home state," he says. "I had done my best to be

The ‘prostitute with a gun’ was a middle-class high school girl

On May 19, 1992, Amy Fisher, a 17-year-old high school student in Long Island, N.Y., rang the bell at the home of 37-year-old Mary Jo Buttafuoco. Buttafuoco stepped onto her front porch and had a brief conversation with the girl, whom she had never met before. Fisher then shot her in the face and fled the scene. Neighbors heard the shot and rushed to Buttafuoco's aid. She regained consciousness the next day in a hospital and was able to recall the conversation with her attacker. This information helped police to promptly identify and arrest Fisher. Fisher's explanation of her action shocked the nation. She claimed that she had been lovers with her victim's husband, Joey Buttafuoco, 36, since the previous summer when she was still only 16. While those who knew Buttafuoco believed him to be a pillar of the community, Fisher said he perpetrated auto theft scams. She claimed he introduced her to a life of prostitution, such that she wore a beeper to her high school classes an