The presence of the friend

Close friends who practice together the exercises of friendship-as-ethic                             mold each other into their Aristotelian “other self” under a bright sun like Vienna’s.

In addition to comprehending the friend as an internal condition of thought, their collaborative ascesis in friendship affects the way they sense each other’s presence, a remarkable attitude of attunement that we also notice in chamber music recitals.  Musicians in a duo, trio, or quartet do not need to signal or look at each other as they play since they are musically aware of each other’s physical presence.  Likewise, friends are intellectually and affectively aware of each other’s presence.

I realized the scale of my at-tunement to Pantelis Polychronidis when I became aware of my fascination with his left-handedness.  As a right-handed person, this was never an issue for me until I noticed that, not only is Pantelis a left-hand pianist but he also does his writing, cooking, and hugging in a left -handed way.  Soon I found myself noticing left-handed persons and objects everywhere, as well as pianists’ left hands (in pieces not written for the left hand alone) such as Michelangeli’s, Arrau’s, and Ciccolini’s (in the last minute of the piece).

There is no practical point in doing that.  I do it all the time for no purpose other than sensing my friend’s presence through a distinct feature of his bodily conduct.  (“I’m a lefty in every respect,” he jokes.)  I continue to do it to this day as it reminds me of his creative involvement in so many things I do or ponder.  This sense of proximity is particularly strong on occasions we celebrate together regardless of geographical distance, such as his birthday today.

8 May 2019

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