It is thrilling and galvanizing to admire our greatest friends. Ιt fills our heart with joy to know they excel in skills, qualities, and virtues. It is even more exhilarating to see them praised in public. When they are applauded, we take more pride in their accomplishments than we do in our own!
I am always fascinated by the capacity of pianist Pantelis Polychronidis, my “other self,” to use several “languages,” whether they are verbal (Cypriot Greek), scholarly (musicology), artistic (performance), cultural (fashion), or other. I admire his command, versatility, and eloquence. For example, I feel that his German is a most expressive idiom of poetry, music, love, melancholy, and contemplation. Ethereal singers flow out of it and float. Parks and alleyways, storms and sunrises echo its horns.
My admiration becomes pride when I see Pantelis praised in public for his playing, speaking, teaching, or coaching. At those moments of collective praise our conversations and collaborations are fulfilled, and I become convinced that the left hand descending runs in the opening “allegro con fuoco” of Chopin’s 1831 “Revolutionary Étude” were composed to celebrate his achievements. (It may not be true but to me it’s accurate.)
In addition to loving them and respecting them, we admire our greatest friends and relish the public accolades they garner. We want everybody to know that these exceptional individuals are our precious friends, and that we are devoted to them. This is one cardinal attitude that can make friendship the civic practice advocated by Aristotle. By publicly belonging to one another we belong to the world. Here is how:
“What is so fascinating about the good and virtuous friend is the affirmation of one’s own excellence. In modern times, the self-consciousness of the ancient citizen is formed in the medium of engaged knowledge of another self-consciousness, which is observed in its perfection and is directed toward the self-consciousness facing him with the same feelings and epistemic curiosity. It is the excellence of the friend – only recognizable from the standpoint of the respective other – which the one loves and admires in the other for the sake of the excellence of the other and not merely for the sake of usefulness or pleasure. That is, however, in the view of the Greek and Roman philosophers, no different than the good and useful as such, for the citizenry as a whole – what one call in English the common good” (Hauke Brunkhorst, Solidarity: From Civic Friendship to Global Legal Community, p. 15).
December 2, 2014