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Monthly Archives: May 2005

I don’t know how to quite to frame this post, because the precise thing I want to describe seems very hard to explain in any way. I suspect that most people will know what I mean, but I don’t know how I can change it or alter it or bring about any progress in the position that I find myself with a variety of people. It’s with this that I would seek your help.

In the course of friendship, there are people that you feel closer to more then others, that you can trust more then other friends. You can tell them more things, ask them about more things and trust them with more private details than you would share with the average friend. These special friends are privy to a wider range of you, they see you more genuinely then others are allowed to do so, for them your shields are fully down. You feel that you can joke more with them, talk on a wider range of topics with them, ask them more personal questions and there just generally is a feeling of greater reliance and trust.

It is clear to me that this is not a linear function. With some people you can know them for weeks or months and the makings are clearly there of a deeper and freer relationship. You see the space and the complimentary nature of each others personality. Conversely with others you can know them all your life, and not feel comfortable with them talking about things out of your collective comfort zone. The two alternate situations in which I can see this happening are that 1. They do not want to go any further and their actions indicate it or 2. I do not know how to move the friendship on any more. It is with the second of these two that I am more interested in.

It is most worrying when you know people well, but there just seems to be a deficiency in your relationship, that you just don’t know how to take it to another level. It seems to suggest that not all friendships can be taken to this level, that some people are only causal friends and will be nothing more. I find this an odd conclusion, because everyone has good friends and close friends. It seems odd that some friendships are not fated to go any further though. I have friends that people have said, that when seeing how we interact in a social situation, that they thought we were total strangers and ought to be introduced to each other, instead of friends of almost 15 years.

I also know though, that I don’t know if I can try and escalate these friendships. I don’t know that if I were to turn them into confidants, that they would be able to reciprocate, or that they would accept or understand what I was asking them to do, and conversely I don’t know if they are interested in being given such a burden of involvement. Its very hard to respond to a problem when you have no idea what the exact problem is and then how to move on to solve it.

I suspect that in a way I am conveniently forgetting the impact of time on this process. With a lot of people, I’ve stopped spending the time that perhaps they deserve, but simultaneously it seems that I stopped trying because we seemed to have hit a plateau, that we weren’t getting any more friends than we had been for years. It’s hard to keep putting in the effort when it seems to be repulsed, or bring little reward. I feel constrained to keep trying because I care for these people, and for at least a little while we were what seemed to be good friends. Lets hope that there is a way to take stalled friendships higher, and to resurrect old ones.

In many a conversation that I’ve had with a friend, a common thread that we have shared is our aversion to politics in any form. It is a famous quotation that “Man is a Political animal”, and while this is so, it is politics in its more specific sense that I find disconcertng. All this bickering, all the people saying one thing and meaning another, people making concessions that they have no intent of backing up, pledging their support for things that they have no intention of supporting. The nitty gritty politics that are involved with dealing with a specific individual or a group of people.

I guess its a particular mark of my cluelessness that I don’t know how to deal with this in people. I always expect people to value honesty, sincerity, to abide by their promise and to strive sincerely for whatever word they give to it. It appears with the vast majority of people that we don’t have this connection in common. People do not like playing these games, but they do not want to make the sacrifices that this involves. Better in the game it seems that honestly out of it.

Its a thing associated apparently with maturity. Children do not do this, they have no concept of sophisticated politics. Teenagers, are starting to get into the groove, but they don’t know enough. They are active in their aggression, if they don’t like someone then they will let them know. Its when you become an adult, that you know that you cannot be so overt, you have to hide and conceal, you have to become passive-aggressive in how you deal with people. It seems that this is the culmination of adult sophistication, to act like a petulant child. What an odd combination.

It appears that too be a truly upstanding adult, one needs to become a sophisticated teenager. All the ideals of youth, its commitment to higher ideals than that of the normal person but tempered with the maturity of adulthood in how to deal with people, in terms of not pushing them beyond what they can deal with and what you can reasonably expect of them. How odd that I seem to have come to the conclusion that what I ought to become is what I hope that I am. I need to think this through more carefully.

Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.
Frederik Nietzsche

Those who know me, will know that I am a very cynical person. I have a very short shrift for the word hope. It’s a loaded word really. It’s also in my opinion a dangerous word. I’m sure there is an essential human component of the human psyche that requires hope, and that it is fundamental to how we as individuals can survive.

My problem with it is that it promotes unrealistic expectations. Sure hope proper is confined to the realistic and the achievable, but humans suck at understanding the proper scope of things. In the face of that I feel that the actual reality of their situation is the best place that people ought to live. Those who live in hope, are not living in the real world. Aims and targets are good, but too live dependent on hope worries me greatly.

Hope, in the words of the optimist is the essential glue that holds people together. Its what keeps them going in the darkest moments of the darkest nights of their lives. The hope that there is something better around the corner. That if you would just keep going, to keep fighting a little further you will ride into some glorious dawn that shall make you forget the harshness of the night through which you have just passed.

Frankly, I find that hope is dangerous. It’s not always smart to have it. It has a certain delusional quality. Hope cannot substain a person, or if it does I feel that it will only substain a twisted delusional person. If you keep hoping, keep believing things will get better, you just set yourself up for disappointment and frequently reoccuring pain. Hope is something that always promises more then it delivers.

I freely admit the seductive nature of the optimistic viewpoint, and I wish that I could believe it. I do not however find myself able to do that. I think that the smarter position to take is that of the cynic. Hope is good, in situations where it is warranted, but I feel that situations in which this is true are very very few. If you deal with hope at all, you should confine it strictly and tightly to that realm that is not into the fanciful, it’s about containing it within the tight boundaries of the realistic.

Compliments, a intriguing word that one. I’ve found that there is an interesting duality between people and how they react to compliments, and how they want them so much. It seems to be such an interesting duality between craving and desire and suspicion and dilligence.

The first interesting thing is that people really do desire compliments. It’s obvious that they do so. We all strive for self-validation, to be remarked about in the positive, to be reassured that we are worthy individuals, who are capable of achieving things. A compliment is amazing to us when we get given one, it gives a person such a tremendous lift, by validating the very hope and nature of a person. To be given one uplifts a person. Sadly not enough are given, and not enough are accepted when given.

The reason I think that so few people give them though is that so few people seem to know how to receive them. When people give them, they are greeted with at least outright concern if not distrust. You don’t trust the person who gives you a compliment. You presume that they have an agenda, that they are out to manipulate you, that it is flattery, some species of false praise. You never assume that it is meant to be taken as it might be given, with sincerity and honest appreciation. If only that we could trust one another enough to take it with such admirable sincerity.

If we are abysmal at receiving them its because we are abysmal at giving them. It’s very hard to give a compliment in the manner it ought to be given. We need to try somehow to give fair compliments to other people as often as possible, without raising their defenses. A sincere compliment, when well delivered will leave most people flattened if you can pull it off with the requisite skill. I recommend practice as a good way to get there, and its something I will endeavor to do more often. It requires us to go out of our way, but that should be a necessary price.

The essential core of all these elements though seems a core requirement of sincerity. Not enough people in the world are trusted enough by us to fall into this category. So few people get from us the basic trust required that it can only be viewed with sadness and disconsolation. If only we could let more people give them to us. How much better would we be?

I’m all done with my exams, and four months of summer now are around the corner. The year has gone by incredibly fast, and its been good fun while its been going. The challenge and learning was good in its place, but I’m really looking forward to vegging out for a little while. Let summer roll on, Star Wars and all.

I’ve been in a situation over the last few months, where respect has become a fundamental issue. Its been a process of setting up a new forum, and getting people who previously had no contact with each other to build up to trusting each other and working harmoniously if not productively with each other. The issue of respect, and having each others respect, and the different types of respect that can exist have become huge issues, the sub-text to the drama playing out. Its one of those great themes that historians when they get around to analyzing this will draw out and say that it explains almost everything that happened before and after.

My view of respect is that its always something earned. Different things give different people a higher or lower value to start off with, but after that where it ends up is up to them. Some jobs like Teachers earn you higher starting respect then the normal Joes you run into. I’ve found though that people in positions of responsibility feel that they have an automatic right to high respect, but that has never been my perspective of it. You are entitled to it for the first 15 minutes, you need to earn it after that.

I give everyone what I think is a pretty high starting value. Everyone is entitled by virtue of their basic humanity, to a very high level of respect and concern. At the very least they are a human being, and I ought to make that state worthy of the highest respect that I can give it. This really applies in the abstract though, it doesn’t actually attach to people instantly. When I first meet them for the first 20 seconds or so this is the standard of concern that they get.

The problem is that first impressions can make a big difference to the standard of respect that you attach. A lot of people, from what I heard of them, my own limited interaction with them and they’re attitudes deprived them of a substantial amount of the protection that they were entitled to very quickly. It caused me to make a mistaken judgment call, that a particular individual was not worthy of my respect. I’m thankful though that my later talks with him, both across the forums and on MSN, that we seem to have reached an uneasy truce and a modicum of mutual respect. Its not high, but its a base from which we can build I hope.

Respect also comes in different forms when you think about it. With people in positions of authority you give them distant respect, you are cold, formal and polite. Its about respecting their position as opposed to them precisely. With family, its about respect that is independent of form, and the closer you get to them, the more balance you need between friendly and formal. Friends is the last category. You need to be very respectful of your friends I find, but you can’t weigh it up in those terms. You have to be polite to them, friendly (well duh) as well as keeping up the tone and style of the friendship. Respect between friends is fundamental but a hidden subtext, and best not mentioned it seems.

The interesting think I have noticed though, is that the more you know a person, the closer you get to them, the more intertwined your relationship with them is, the more respect that you need for them. If you need to deal with them every day, you need the highest respect and politeness towards them to keep the relationship functioning. The rationale I think is that at this state of a relationship you know each other so well, that you can do so much damage and hurt to each other, you have to have great respect for each other to not do that when they give you an opportunity. This mix is called Trust.

Gareth is determined to find me a girlfriend, and while his virtual efforts are much appreciated, I’m left wondering what love actually is, and what it means. It’s never been my privilege to be in love with someone in the modern sense, and so its an emotion that I don’t understand. From what I see of it, it seems to be some sort of bewildering irrationality, an inner compulsion to… something… that people seem driven to.

My more cynical friends describe it as merely compatibility. It’s realizing that you have someone that you are able to adapt to and live with, and that you can offer them support and they can offer it to you. That you enjoy their presence, and they yours. But there’s no mystique or magic attached to it beyond this. Its a very granular thing, not to be falsely cast at any higher level. It seems to me that this is some sort of friends with benefits argument instead of what should be described by the loaded word ‘love’. We don’t bandy it around trivially when talking about people, yet this definition of it seems to be trivial.

At any rate the part of me that is a romantic, cannot, does not, accept this rationalization. It reduces what ought to be profound and important into triviality. Life is trivial enough I find, without trivialising the few instances when it attains magical proportions. I do accept that the compatibility is an important part of love, its a fundamental part of it if it has any hope of success, but its not limited to that. Compatibility is the big circle, in which the little circle of love resides.

My own view is that there has to be more to love, love must be something greater more powerful more profound. How it achieves this place or positioning I know not. I suspect that I might have a highly idealized view of something that I don’t claim to have experienced in any depth. Maybe that makes me the wrong person to write about it at all, my ideal getting in the way of accepting the practical nature of the world. Too many bad movies and romantic endings. Perfect people, living Perfect lives that go on Happily Ever After, are not the best place to understand the real life world that we live in.

In the end I’m left with one thought, which is that I want it to be the idealized way, and that it should be that way. The ideal should be what you are striving, trying, aiming to achieve. You may not get there, the nature of practicality may prevent you from achieving what is an ideal form. Time and circumstances may change, demanding new and altered response. In the end though the achievable ideal is what I want to believe:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring barque,
Whose worth’s unknown although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

Getting frustrated with Xanga, and its limitations. This is a chance for me to try out other blogs. I think Blogger meets all those requirements, and so I’m keen to give it a go here instead of at Xanga. Let me list why I wanted away from Xanga:

  • Typing: Crappy typing thing on Xanga. Blogger gives me WYSIWG support, and lots of control. I don’t need to type any HTML to get fancy formating.
  • Links Side Bar: I have one here, I can’t have one on Xanga. I like having it.
  • Comments: I can let non-registered people leave a comment now, and so I don’t need to implement a shout box.
  • URL: The URL is now nice and simple, a clear concise Better then the long link I have from Xanga
  • Ads: Blogger doesn’t seem to have any, which is well worth the swap for me.
  • The Right Side Bar: Its my choice on how much profile info I give, and what I need to put in there. Nothing is dicated by Xanga such as a profile box.
  • Posts: Easy use of tags, saving as drafts, editing with ease, larger typing box, oh tremendous difference.