Saturday, 4 December 2010

The disappearance of friendship

I'm giving some talks this weekend on the theology of friendship. Today I talked about the disappearance of friendship, which I traced back to four modern cultural mythologies: the mythology of sex; the mythology of instinct; the mythology of the family; and the mythology of work. Here's a passage I quoted from Foucault on the modern disappearance of friendship:

Homosexuality became a problem … in the eighteenth century…. I think the reason it appears as a problem, as a social issue, at this time is that friendship had disappeared. As long as friendship was something important, was socially accepted, … it just didn’t matter. Once friendship disappeared as a culturally accepted relation, the issue arose: ‘What is going on between men?’ ... The disappearance of friendship as a social relation and the declaration of homosexuality as a social/political/medical problem are the same process. (Foucault, Ethics: Essential Works Volume 1, p. 171)

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