Catherine Brown

On Friendship

March 2015

As today is the name’s day of a friend, I am reflecting on friendship.


Friend is often betrayed when translated. The Russian друг (original of droog in Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange) is far stronger than was friend even before Facebook. One only has one droog or two. Other friends are приятельницы (pleasant people) or знакомы (known people). For a droog one would lie, break the law, or die.


Friend and its nearest foreign friends vary not only between cultures but between individuals. We indicate as much, and much the same, about ourselves by what we mean by friend as by those whom we call our friends.


Reflecting on my own friends, friend means to me such that:


  • A partner or a spouse is first and foremost a friend.
  • Lovers need not be friends.
  • Friends are not necessarily the people one most admires, nor people one can wholly trust with one’s body, money, or heart.
  • Friends are soulmates and vice versa.
  • The fact of being a soulmate cannot be willed and needs no nurture.
  • Friends do not need to be in frequent contact to remain friends, nor for them to be happy; the important thing is their knowledge of each others’ existence.
  • Friends make each other see the world more keenly, and feel that world as of greater value.
  • One’s friends are the chord one’s soul strikes on the universe.


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Catherine Brown