In Wayne Koestenbaum’s novel Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes, the narrator caustically remarks, “Many pseudo-friends have died of AIDS: now I needn’t fear their recriminations.” Spiteful as it is, this remark touches on something we recognize: how short can be the passage from amity to enmity, how swift the fall from best friends forever to best friends never (and how bitterly we may denigrate those friends who have had the gall to die before us).
Friendship is a perennial topic in university philosophy departments. In this class, instead of proceeding by asking "What is a friend?" and then determining the properties or qualities of friendship, we'll inquire into some of the privative or deficient modes of friendship.
Why ponder these bad breakups and too-early deaths? Maybe to follow, by a circuitous route, this dictum of The Coming Insurrection: "don't back away from what is political in friendship."
Topics and works might include:
- Giorgio Agamben on what the word "friend" shares with insults
- Avital Ronell on her debt to her dead friend Kathy Acker
- William Hazlitt On the Pleasure of Hating
- Heidegger, somewhat mysteriously, on the friend every Dasein carries with itself
Method: reading & discussing
Schedule: starts in early Oct; biweekly; 6 sessions; days TBA, but probably Mon or Wed
Fees: Free, free, free. Donations also gladly accepted; I need certain books, for example.